Where to Eat Great Vegetarian Food from Coast to Coast
Vegetarian Food for Every Palate
Atlanta: Cafe Sunflower
This award-winning cafe has been accommodating special palates (dairy-free, gluten-free, meat-free) for over 20 years with an eclectic array of flavors from around the world, from Asia to the Caribbean. Though the menu includes both vegetarian and vegan meals, it leans toward the latter. Among the restaurant's many standout dishes are the Macro Stir Fry, the vegan old-fashioned chocolate cake and an oven-baked Stuffed Acorn Squash, featuring a mix of navy beans, dried cranberries, wild rice and walnuts. It's no wonder that Vegetarian Times named Cafe Sunflower the best restaurant in the South.
2140 Peachtree Rd., Atlanta, 404-352-8859
5975 Roswell Rd., Atlanta, 404-256-1675
Bridgeport, Conn.: Bloodroot
At this feminist bookstore and vegetarian and vegan restaurant rolled into one, you'll find lively political conversation happening as close as the next table, with posters for animal and women's rights in clear view. But mostly, people come for the locally sourced, seasonal and organic menu. There's no cash register and no table service. Place your order with a woman seated behind a desk after making your choice from the blackboard menu, which includes notable dishes such as French onion soup, Jamaican jerk "chicken" served with coconut rice and chocolate silk pudding with sliced toasted almonds. Enjoy your food either in the comfortable dining room or on the patio in good weather, and remember to bus your own table when you are through.
85 Ferris St., Bridgeport, 203-576-9168
Brooklyn: Zizi Limona
This charming Middle Eastern-style cafe is popular with the locals thanks to its hip vibe and accomodating menu full of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Given the breadth of choices, a good strategy at Zizi is to choose a few small plates to share, such as the hummus, falafel, the charred beet and lentil salad or the "Crazy Baba"—baba ghanoush, feta cheese and basil, served with grilled pita bread. Come in the evening, enjoy the lively atmosphere, and pair your plates with a cocktail or a fruit ale from the extensive drink menu.
129 Havemeyer St., Brooklyn, 347-763-1463
Cambridge, Mass.: Veggie Galaxy
Come for the retro ambiance, but stay for the comforting vegetarian and vegan fare. Here you'll find classic American diner staples with a vegetarian makeover and fresh baked goods from the restaurant's 100-percent-vegan bakery. Try the omelets from the all-day breakfast menu, or the fluffy pancakes topped with your choice of caramelized banana butter or mixed berries and coconut whipped cream. For dinner, you can't go wrong with the veggie burgers or the hearty shepherd's pie (a combination of quinoa, button mushrooms, peas, carrots and corn). Good news for those looking to dodge gluten: The majority of the menu items are also available in gluten-free form.
450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-497-1513
Chicago: MANA Food Bar
This 2014 Michelin Bib Gourmand award winner is the brainchild of creators Susan Thompson and Chef Jill Barron, who felt Chicago needed a meatless dining option in a warm, tasteful environment. The comprehensive menu offers a cultural array, with nods to Greek, Italian and various Asian cuisines in the form of spanikopita, spinach-filled ravioli, butternut squash curry and gyoza. As long as the weather permits, you can enjoy your dish on the covered patio, starting in March. Don't leave without purchasing one of MANA's refreshing smoothies, featuring superfood ingredients like apple, collard greens, cucumber, carrot, beet, ginger and more.
1742 W. Division St., Chicago, 773-342-1742
Denver: True Food Kitchen
With a wide, healthy selection of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, True Food offers something for every palate and dietary need. Dig into the Spaghetti Squash Casserole and the gluten-free street tacos with avocado and Cotija cheese. The hearty "Inside Out" Quinoa Burger served with hummus, tzatziki and other Mediterranean-inspired toppings is a can't-miss item. The starters, including Edamame Dumplings and Kale and Avocado Dip, are perfect when paired with a refreshing drink from the modern cocktail list, which includes favorites such as the Farmers Market Sangria. Be sure to check out their other locations in Arizona, California, Georgia, Texas and Virginia.
2800 E. 2nd Ave., Suite 101, Denver, 720-509-7661
Detroit: Detroit Vegan Soul
Detroit Vegan Soul, the city's premiere vegan restaurant, is redefining the meaning of "soul food", one vegan mac and cheese at a time. Named the Best Soul Food in the city by the Detroit Metro Times, this local fixture proves that vegan food can be just as comforting as a classic all-beef burger with a side of fries — without the added cholesterol and trans fats. Don't leave the city without trying the tofu catfish sandwich with a side of maple-glazed yams. First-time vegan diners are advised to try the Soul Food Platter, which includes an unforgettable combination of vegan mac and cheese, collard greens, black-eyed peas and a cornbread muffin. Be warned: This dish just might convert you once and for all.
Photo courtesy of Metro Times
8029 Agnes St., Detroit, 313-649-2759
Houston: Pepper Tree Veggie Cuisine
Texas may be known for its beef, but Houston has a surprisingly good selection of restaurants catering to vegetarians and vegans. Voted one of the top 10 best vegan restaurants by The Sun Times, Pepper Tree Veggie Cuisine is a must-try on a trip through Bayou City. Here, Chinese food favorites are served buffet style with a vegetarian twist, from vegan egg rolls and dumplings to veggie lo mein and hot-and-sour soup. Every dish is 100 percent vegan, low in cholesterol and high in protein, with extensive gluten-free options to choose from as well.
3821 Richmond Ave., Houston, 713-621-9488
Los Angeles: Crossroads
Since opening in March 2013, Crossroads has elevated plant-based dining to a level once noticeably absent in the City of Angels. Creator Tal Ronnen, along with Executive Chef Scot Jones, has created a small-plate Mediterranean menu that "encourages exploration." The restaurant itself is chic and visually stunning, stylishly designed with dark hardwoods, attractive chandeliers and a classic (and well-stocked) bar that perfectly complements the soups, salads, breads, cheeses and small plates served to the wide range of customers who have flocked to Crossroads since day one.
8284 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323-782-9245
Miami: Choices Cafe
While other eateries offer their customers a few tired vegetarian alternatives, Choices Cafe consistently ranks at the top when it comes to serving a flavorsome range of organic, gluten-free and 100-percent-vegan options. By and large, the entrees at Choices are influenced by traditional Latin and Mexican flavors, although the inspiration for the recipes is global. The mushroom quesadilla, chipotle nachos and tofu scramble are among visitors' favorites.
Choices Cafe Coral Gables: 2626 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, 786-600-1975
Choices Cafe UES: 646 NE 79th St., Miami, 786-803-8352
Choices Kitchen: 711 NW 27th Ave, Miami, 786-953-6053
Minneapolis: Seward Cafe
Located in the Seward neighborhood of South Minneapolis, this vegetarian-friendly mainstay has been open since 1974, making it the oldest collectively run business in town. Dishes are prepared using mostly organic, locally sourced ingredients and served in a straightforward style to reflect the neighborhood's casual, small-town vibe. Stop by in the morning for one of the Earth breakfasts — various iterations of hash browns and organic eggs scrambled together, with different combinations of vegetables and cheeses (vegan cheese is an option). The hearty Vegan Chili is a must-try for vegans and carnivores alike. True veggie aficionados never miss out on the Radical Roots Stir Fry — a choice of organic tofu or locally made organic tempeh stir-fried with broccoli, carrots, beets, ginger and kale, served on a bed of brown rice.
2129 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-332-1011
New York City: Blossom
Amid the lively streets of New York City's Chelsea neighborhood, you'll find this cozy vegan restaurant that lives up to its mission of bringing animal-caring, health-conscious cuisine to food lovers everywhere. Stop by for lunch and try the ultra-filling Tofu BLT — tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato and chipotle aioli served on a ciabatta roll. The dinner menu offers a comprehensive selection of classic plates with a modern vegan twist, including familiar items such as lasagna (made with tapioca cheese, ground seitan and tofu marinara) and Moroccan tagine (featuring pan-seared tofu strips and spiced quinoa). To really get a feel for what Blossom is all about, try the Chef's Sampler for Two, which includes vegan delicacies such as spicy quinoa sushi, raw beet ravioli and seaweed caviar canapes.
187 9th Ave., New York, 212-627-1144
In a city exalted for its cheese steaks, this modern vegetarian restaurant has made a name for itself by serving meatless dishes that are just as decadent without having to "mimic meat," say chefs Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby. Located in the historic Tiger Building on Locust Street, Vedge offers a sophisticated dining experience, thanks to its use of global ingredients, smoke and umami-rich items, like mushrooms. The menu takes a fresh approach to cooking vegetables, presented in a series of mid-size plates. Smoked Eggplant Braciole, Salt-Roasted Golden Beets and Wood-Grilled Maitake Mushrooms are among the must-try items on the menu.
Photo courtesy of Michael Spain Smith
1221 Locust St., Philadelphia, 215-320-7500
San Francisco: Greens Restaurant
San Francisco's beloved Greens Restaurant has been in the avant-garde of America's cooking revolution since it opened in 1979 as part of the San Francisco Zen Center. Through its inventive, ever-changing menus, Greens introduces its visitors to a sophisticated, meatless cuisine packed with satisfying flavor. Come and enjoy seasonal dishes in a setting overlooking the San Francisco Marina with views of the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands. Green Gulch Farm, less than an hour north of the city, is a bountiful organic farm that provides the restaurant with seasonal produce year-round, ranging from chard, leeks and winter squash to flowering herbs.
Photo courtesy of Molly DeCoudreaux
Fort Mason, Building A, San Francisco, 415-771-6222
Tempe, Ariz.: Green New American Vegetarian
Green New American Vegetarian accomplishes something rare: mastering comfort foods while celebrating vegetables. Using the freshest ingredients and choosing organic whenever possible, Chef Damon Brasch's menu emphasizes the myriad cultural influences on American cuisine. Po' boys, fresh salads and noodle bowls are just a few of the items you'll find here. Though Green prides itself on using 100-percent-vegan cheeses and mock meats, it's a restaurant for everyone — not just herbivores. The "famous" vegan soft serve, prepared daily, will surely convince you.
2022 N. 7th St., Phoenix, 602-258-1870