Cities across the U.S. have seen an influx of eateries specifically catering toward vegan and vegetarian fare, and it’s no surprise that they’re really bringing the heat. Begone and banished is the much-maligned Boca burger, what’s hot and new is a Seitan Piccatta, a CBD-infused vegan cupcake and a faux fish taco.
The general trend seems to be toward more mindful, sustainable meals. And with a burgeoning global population, an increasing risk of climate change and a growing concern about how the way we’re eating is affecting the planet and other species, it’s no surprise that more and more diners are adopting plant-heavy diets, some even saying goodbye to meat completely. In the U.S., 5% report following a vegetarian diet, while 3% report that they are vegans, though these figures are rising.
While Los Angeles is — and always will be — the U.S.’s epicenter of healthy eating and wellness trends, New York City has much to offer for a vegetarian, and even flexitarian, population. In Manhattan alone, veg-friendly app HappyCow has listed over 480 options for those looking to go meat, dairy and fish-free on the island. Boroughs of Brooklyn alone are home to countless vegetarian-themed eateries that boast colorful and instagrammable dishes, without the animal byproducts. In fact, 16% of restaurants in the Big Apple serve food suitable for vegans, while just under 31% have vegetarian options available. And these joints are just fast casual restaurants, either. Meat-free has made its way to fine dining, as well.
Consider options like the Upper East Side’s Candle 79, a long-established and lovely sit-down venue for entirely vegan plates that are almost perfect dupes for fine-dining specialities. Consider the Wild Mushroom Crepe, Seitan Piccata, Za’atar-Roasted Cauliflower or Burrito dishes. The food here sings with finesse from chefs who know how to properly prepare vegetables and are magnificently paired with wine and other dishes from the expertly organized menu. Candle 79 is a true experience for meat-free diners and carnivores alike.
And if small plates are your thing, head downtown to Ladybird in Manhattan’s East Village. This quaint and charming bistro serves up bite-sized vegan tapas by Ravi DeRossi. Go with a partner or a group and order a bunch of different dishes, from the Beet & Avocado Ceviche to the Mushroom & Onion Toast to the Buffalo Maitake Buns. It’s all absolutely delicious and the ambiance makes it all feel a little Alice-in-Wonderlandy (that’s a good thing).
And if any restaurant has been able to elevate meat-free dining, give it a fresh spin and brand it as fine dining, it’s West Hollywood's Gracias Madre. This entirely plant-based Mexican bistro is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the stomach, thanks to its incredible attention to atmospheric details that make leaving the restaurant a sad event. At Gracias Madre, you’ll be replete with $6 margaritas, coliflor frito, gorditas, plantain chorizo quesadilla and the flautas de camote. The dessert — coconut ice cream with vegan fudge — is a yes.
We’re hoping that whether or not you’ve decided to forgo meat in favor of a more vegetable hearty diet, you’ll check out these recommendations. After all, your diet canhelp the planet.