Have you ever gone out to eat and been sorely disappointed to see the only vegetarian option on the menu is a bland, unimaginative salad? We have, and it’s a real bummer, especially when you see your friends choosing between dozens of delectable meat-based dishes. Luckily when you’re in New York City, you’ll never run out of options.
The Big Apple is one of the best places to go meatless. There are countless vegetarian restaurants and a variety of cuisines to choose from. Here, you can enjoy tasty vegetarian burgers, vitamin-packed smoothies, and Instagrammable veggie bowls that don’t compromise on flavor. Ahead, we’re counting down five must-visit spots that serve up the best meat-free dishes in New York City. Don’t forget to bring your appetite—these vegetarian hot spots are just as filling.
The Butcher's Daughter
This restaurant is the perfect place to start your day with a fresh juice, smoothie, or coffee. We love its Marigold Honey Bee juice made with grapefruit, turmeric, yuzu, kumquat, and bee pollen—a bright, vitamin C–rich drink to kick-start your morning. The food is equally tasty. Try its Breakfast Scramble, which features scrambled eggs, cashew carrot cheese, adzuki bean bacon, and harissa mayo on a Kossar’s bagel. Of course, The Butcher’s Daughter also serves up everyone’s vegetarian fave, avocado toast, dressed up with curry, mustard seeds, and lime. If you’re not a morning person, you can’t go wrong with ordering dinner. Try the Tacos Verdes made with seasoned ground tempeh, avocado crema, shaved radish, cilantro, house salsa, and scrambled sunny-side up eggs.
This East Village fast-food joint is no-frills, but it’s so tasty that even non-vegetarians can’t stop raving about it. Its veggie burger is delightful—grainy, nutty, and heftier than you would expect. At just $6 a pop, it has a great umami depth to it. The sides are also great here—try its burnt broccoli salad made with eggplant, red chile, and coriander. Cap off your meal with one of its imaginative sorbets or gelatos. There isn’t a lot of seating at Superiority Burger, but it’s close to Tompkins Square Park, making it perfect for alfresco dining.
By Chloe has a completely vegan menu that’s wholesome yet still satisfying. Nosh on air-baked french fries, or dig into its famous quinoa taco salad made with spicy seitan chorizo, black beans, sweet corn, avocado, tomato, and tortilla strips. Since launching in 2015, By Chloe has taken NYC by storm, opening three additional locations. Aside from serving yummy, colorful foods like beet ketchup, the restaurant is also famous for its playful, highly Instagrammable aesthetic. Snag a spot with a few friends, and chow down on its tasty vegan offerings.
Dirt Candy is the OG of New York City vegetarian restaurants—it opened its original East Village outpost in 2008 and has since received multiple accolades from Michelin, Gourmet, and The Village Voice. Dirt Candy 2.0 is on the Lower East Side in a bigger and better space that serves up sophisticated yet comforting vegetarian food. Chef Amanda Cohen dreams up addictive appetizers like Korean fried broccoli and jalapeño hush puppies. Try its Brussels sprout tacos for your main course. They are served beautifully on a sizzling stone with lettuce wrappers and accompaniments. The cabbage hot pot is also perfect on a rainy or chilly day.
Vegetarian Dim Sum House
It’s easy to share great bites and conversation with friends when dim sum is involved. Enter meatless dining destination Vegetarian Dim Sum House—an excellent choice for a communal meal where the dumplings and main dishes are made with mock meat. Enjoy its mock abalone pan with a side of cold sesame noodles perfect for a hot summer evening. Or indulge in mock orange beef with a side of stir-fried vegetarian chicken and “ham” with fresh pineapple. Also, if you love mushrooms, this place is for you—there are two dozen mushroom dishes, including golden mushrooms and sea algae or straw mushrooms with pepper in black bean sauce.