America's Best Vegan Restaurants
February 1, 2017
These restaurants are a vegan’s dream come true
America's Best Vegan Restaurants
It’s not always easy being a vegan. Everything vegans eat needs to be completely free of any animal- or animal-based products, which, in this meat-centric country, isn’t always easy to track down. But thankfully, more and more food products and restaurants that cater exclusively to vegans are coming onto the pipeline all the time, and these are 10 new vegan restaurants that even carnivores will love.
By CHLOE, New York
This counter service Greenwich Village gem has become one of the most popular restaurants in New York since it opened less than a year ago. Co-founders Chloe Coscarelli and Samantha Wasser are serving some truly inspired creations there, including a quinoa taco salad (spicy seitan chorizo, black beans, sweet corn, avocado, tomato, tortilla strips, crema, and agave-lime vinaigrette), an already-legendary veggie burger (a tempeh-lentil-chia-walnut patty, pickles, onion, beet ketchup, special sauce, on a potato bun), a whiskey barbecue sandwich (smoky portobello mushrooms and seitan, sautéed kale, onion marmalade, grilled pineapple, Bourbon barbecue sauce, on a potato bun), and mac n’ cheese with sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce, shiitake bacon, and almond parm. Cold-pressed juice, brunch, dairy-free ice cream, pastries, and rotating specials keep the crowds coming back. With new locations set to open in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, you’ll be hearing a lot more about this place.
Crossroads Kitchen, Los Angeles
Chef Tal Ronnen’s upscale Los Angeles hotspot is removing vegan food from its hippie roots and planting it (no pun intended) firmly in the fine-dining mold. There’s a full cocktail program (L.A.’s first in a vegan restaurant), and the Mediterranean-inspired small plates menu includes items like green chickpea fagioli soup; fettucine with smoked carrot, capers, and kelp caviar; and white lasagna with oven-roasted tomatoes, basil pesto, and almond ricotta.
G-Zen, Branford, Conn.
Run by the vegan couple Mark and Ami Shadle, all of G-Zen’s vegan menu items are also marked if they’re wheat-free, gluten-free, raw/living, or contain nuts, so there’s something for everybody, no matter his or her dietary restrictions. Favorites include a selection of housemade cashew-based cheeses; a “dim sum” plate of steamed vegetable dumplings, vegetable spring rolls, and vegetable tempura with fresh ginger tamari mirin sauce and spicy cilantro peanut sauce; raw pasta (made with carrot, beets, and daikon) in heirloom tomato marinara; and “raw tacos” with Mexican-spiced walnut “taco meat,” fresh guacamole, and cashew sour cream in a romaine lettuce shell.
Ground Control, Chicago
This fun and casual Chicago spot has a wide-ranging menu of comfort food classics and favorites ranging from Asian to Mexican, and while some menu items are only vegetarian, they can be made vegan upon request. Popular menu items include housemade biscuits with “sausage” gravy and tofu patties; tofu “wings” with ranch or Asian-style sweet and spicy sauce; jibarito (house-made seitan with poblano, onion, garlic, spring greens, and tomato on smashed plantains with garlic mayo); a beet burger; Carolina-style barbecue seitan; and “Caesar-ish” salad with charred romaine, arugula, chickpeas, capers, housemade croutons, and portobello, house seitan, or crispy battered tofu with lemon garlic dressing.
Little Pine, Los Angeles, Calif.
Opened in Silver Lake in November 2015, this vegan restaurant is owned by musician Moby, and perfectly encapsulates his ethos: plant-based, organic, resembling an Alpine lodge, and the wallpaper is taken from a photo of snow-covered mountains that Moby himself snapped. The restaurant also serves breakfast and lunch daily, as well as a weekend brunch, and standouts on the dinner menu include broccoli arancini with pesto; mushroom bourguignon; spring risotto with asparagus, peas, and mint; shepherd’s pie with beluga lentils, stewed vegetables, and mashed potatoes; and macaroni and cheese with gluten-free pasta and house-made vegan cheese sauce.
Natural Selection, Portland, Ore.
This Portland must-visit highlights the flavors of France, Italy, and Spain. The vegetarian menu (many items are also vegan) is divided into two columns and four courses; diners can pick and choose from the eight available options. Vegan favorites include smoked apple and strawberry soup with parsnip, leek, turnip, orange, and basil; pocha beans with sesame mole, beets, potatoes, parsnip, and lime emulsion; and strawberry shortcake with pistachio, rhubarb, orange, lavender, and coconut. The four-course menu sells for $45.
Plant, Asheville, NC
Chef Jason Sellers is serving an inspired vegan and organic menu at his Asheville restaurant. The focused menu has an Asian slant, but also has some Indian and Southern touches. Top sellers include caramelized Jerusalem artichokes with lemon cream cheese, sweet potato chips, and Italian salsa verde; uttapam with onion and avocado, peanut-sesame duke, soy-ginger syrup, coconut moss, and cabbage; tofu bibimbap; seitan chile con queso; and an Applewood-smoked “porto”-house with kale and garlic and seared millet cake. And don’t forget about dessert; standouts include blackout pie, pumpkin s’more crème brûlée, and homemade ice cream, all vegan, of course!
Plant Food + Wine, Venice, Calif. and Miami
Matthew Kenney is a wizard of vegan cuisine, and is taking a decidedly fine dining approach at his Venice and Miami restaurants. Artisanal cheeses are house-made using sprouted and cultured nuts, and they’ve even turned cashews into melty raclette! Small plates include golden beet and avocado tartare with red quinoa crisp and horseradish dill; carrot soup with vadouvan almond crunch and pickled ginger; and nori bagna cauda with shaved spring vegetables. For the main course, try gnocchi alla romana with asparagus, fava beans, shiitake brodo, and mint pistou; cacao e pepe with kelp noodles, snap peas, pea tendrils, and dehydrated olives; and maitake carnitas tacos with almond cotija, sunflower chorizo, and avocado salsa. And for dessert, don’t miss the pistachio cheesecake, tiramisu, and a spring sundae. You can order à la carte, or a five-course menu is available for $65.
V Street, Philadelphia
This cozy restaurant, which serves vegan riffs on global street food, is the brainchild of chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, who also run Philly’s acclaimed Vedge. The sprawling menu includes XO grilled broccoli, cauliflower with whipped dal and mint chutney, carrot asado salad, charred eggplant sabich with cured tofu and harissa, Korean fried tempeh tacos, Philly shawarma tacos, dan dan noodles, and soft serve ice cream.
Landau and Jacoby’s influence on the Philly vegan scene can’t be understated; their Vedge, which opened in 2011, is progressive and in many ways helped launch the current revolution of moving vegan fare away from the “hippie” mold and closer to traditional dining sans meat products. Menu items at their restaurant include Portobello carpaccio with deviled turnip, caper purée, cracked pepper, and nigella grissini; wood roasted carrot with pumpernickel, sauerkraut, carrot mustard, and carrot kimchee; eggplant braciole with smoked eggplant, Italian salsa verde, and olive bagna cauda; and spring onions with pea pod dashi and Yukon gold potato noodles.