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Your guide to high-end Vegan Dining in NYC

Ariana DiValentino

Contributor

It's no secret that New York has a world-class dining scene, home to Michelin stars and white tablecloth service in all manner of cuisines. Vegan and vegetarian dining, plant-based eaters will be glad to know, is no exception. Despite its reputation as consisting mostly of either super-processed meat and cheese substitutes or unimaginative and flavourless vegetable preparations for dieters, the world of plant-based food is in fact as varied and full of stunning options as anything else an adventurous eater might explore. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just looking to enjoy the best that vegan New York has to offer, you have several fine establishments to choose from. From trendy downtown spots to region-specific menus, here are some of the best spots in the city for delicious and refined cruelty-free fare.

NIX serves trendy veggie fare in Greenwich Village

A relative newcomer to beautiful and historic Greenwich Village, John Fraser’s NIX only opened in 2016. But it’s already the proud bearer of a Michelin star, which is still notably uncommon for meatless fare. NIX is all vegetarian, with a large and clearly demarcated vegan menu that consists of Japanese, Thai, and Indian-inspired dishes like cauliflower tempura, Garnett yam massaman curry, kabocha squash dumplings, and tandoor roasted beet salad. In perfect contrast with the international flavours, however, is the local and seasonal market ingredients in use. NIX also serves a vegan-friendly brunch and a full list of wines and cocktails that are just as varied and creative as the food.

Modern Love offers elevated comfort food in Brooklyn

This Williamsburg spot, by cookbook author and restaurateur Isa Chandra Moskowitz, is an excellent restaurant that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The food is primarily high-end takes on comfort food dishes like pastas, pot pies, burgers, and the unforgettable Mac and Shews. Starters range from options like fondue and mushroom calamari to mozzarella sticks and buffalo wings – but you can trust that whatever you’re in the mood for, it’ll be done well. While the dishes themselves are rather casual, the preparation is always skillful and the ingredients are high-quality and anything but run-of-the-mill. Also of note is their consistently excellent but approachable wine and beer selection, usually featuring international as well as local craft beverage options.

abcV serves vegan food in an unlikely space on 19th St

Tucked inside ABC Carpet & Home is, surprisingly, an upscale little vegetarian restaurant by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. In addition to being plant-based, abcV boasts cuisine that is GMO-free and organic-leaning. Dishes range from farmer’s market-esque, veggie-forward options like honeynut squash served with tahini, sumac, and mint, to full rice and pasta dishes and those based around tofu or tempeh. Expect innovative uses of simple and fresh ingredients, and the occasional surprising flavour combination. To drink, visitors can indulge in a memorable cocktail, like the golden milk toddy or Thai julius, or something more wellness-focused like a cold-pressed juice or restorative tonic.

Avant Garden in the East Village is plant-forward

Down in the East Village, Avant Garden serves elegantly prepared vegetable-forward dishes inspired by an array of international cuisines, like their scorched cauliflower, spring onion masa cake with jackfruit, and hen of the woods served with kohlrabi and pickled hon shimeji. Also note their array of toasts with central toppings like artichoke and roasted beet, and for the particularly hungry, a paella or house-made pasta carbonara. Wine drinkers can enjoy a primarily European selection that includes on-trend pours like still and sparkling orange wines.

Kajitsu has prix-fixe Japanese vegetarian menus

For a slightly different sort of experience, diners can visit Kajitsu in Midtown East, a fully fixed-price establishment serving vegetarian menus inspired by Zen Buddhist tradition. This enticing enclave is also in possession of a well-earned Michelin star. Chef Hiroki Abe designs a full ten-course menu each month, to which diners can also add a tea and/or sake pairing program. The seasonally responsive menu typically includes several veggie-centric dishes prepared in a wide variety of ways, as well as some noodle and tofu plates, followed by dessert and matcha. The experience is sure to be as memorable as it is extravagant. 

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