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The Best Vegan Restaurants in the Country

January 22, 2020

Ditch the meat and dairy with these flavor-packed plant-based restaurants.

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J. Selby’s, St. Paul, Minnesota

This regularly packed Cathedral Hill spot is just like many popular American counter-serve restaurants, except that absolutely everything on the scratch-made menu is 100% plant-based. It offers a mix of creative bowls, seitan bacun-topped salads, cauliflower wings and burgers including a vegan spin on the locally created Juicy Lucy. Featuring a housemade Beyond Burger blend filled with molten melty cheeze, accented by lettuce, tomato, onion and mayonnaise on a whole-grain bun, the sustainable and cruelty-free dish gives the dairy-filled ground turkey version a far more sustainable run for its money.

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Vedge, Philadelphia

A mainstay on roundups of top Philadelphia restaurants since opening in 2011, Vedge has an ambitious, creative meat-free menu that could convert any skeptic. Mom-and-pop chefs Kate Jacoby and Richard Landau spotlight local vegetables prepared with progressive, bold techniques. In lieu of beef carpaccio, the restaurant serves a convincing portobello version, with caper puree and shaved kale. The wood-roasted carrot kimchi "Reuben," complete with sauerkraut, carrot mustard and pumpernickel, doesn’t need any corned beef. Dessert, including Meyer lemon cheesecake and sticky toffee pudding, is excellent without dairy. Wine, beer and creative cocktails round out the experience, particularly for weekday happy hour, when select drinks and tapas are a steal.

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Photo: Eric Wolfinger

Gracias Madre, Los Angeles

Mexican cuisine conjures meaty, cheesy, chorizo-packed images. But at Gracias Madre, you’ll find all the south-of-the-border classics — tacos, ceviche, flautas, sopes — all without any sort of animal products. Look for flavorful dishes like enchiladas con mole filled with grilled mushrooms, cashew crema, sauteed greens and black beans. Bowl Dos, one of the grain bowls, incorporates braised lentils with peanut sauce, spinach, coconut rice, pico, pineapple habanero salsa and pumpkin seeds. Opened by the same folks who run ever-popular Café Gratitude, it’s become a buzzy destination for Mexican and margaritas without the guilt. On weekend nights, the bar is hopping with men and women trying boozy snow cones and smoked cocktails, all made with organic agave.

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Photo: Mikey Pozarik

By Chloe, New York City

In the not-too-distant past, New Yorkers queuing up for vegan cuisine would have been a punchline rather than a reality. But By Chloe has changed that with its flavorful salads, sandwiches and veggie burgers that people line up out the door to try. The classic is made from a tempeh-lentil-chia-walnut patty with semitraditional toppings — pickles, onion, beet ketchup and special sauce. The Guac Burger, though, has quickly made its way onto the list of iconic dishes in NYC. A meatlike patty made from black beans, quinoa and sweet potato is topped with corn salsa, onion, guacamole, tortilla strips and chipotle aioli, all stacked on a whole-grain bun.

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