Our 10 Best Vegetarian Restaurants
While New York has no scarcity of excellent vegetarian food, actual vegetarian restaurants are in shorter supply, and categorically superb vegetarian restaurants are an even rarer breed. Or so it would appear if you limit your search only to places that specialize solely in steamed greens, brown rice, and tempeh manipulated into innumerable unspeakable forms. None of us at Fork in the Road are great fans of ersatz meat, cloying mystery sauces, or under- or unseasoned vegetables, and while we enjoy tempeh on occasion, we have much greater appreciation for a restaurant whose cuisine reflects a love of vegetables rather than a desire to make them handmaidens to myriad soy mutations. Our picks -- with a couple of exceptions -- reflect that bias, and naturally may differ from your own. As always, feel free to tell us your favorites in the comments.
10. Strictly Roots -- Vegan Jamaican food in Harlem. True, there is a lot of fake meat on the menu, but vegan riffs on traditional Jamaican dishes like ackee -- here it's served with tofu -- as well as excellent baked goods and a terrific veggie burger set it apart from the rest of the seitan crowd. 2058 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, 212-864-8699
9. Taïm -- While it's more of a takeout counter than a restaurant, this tiny storefront boasts one of the best all-vegetarian menus in town, thanks to its excellent falafel and smoothies. It's also home to the Sabich, a pita stuffed to its breaking point with fried eggplant, slices of hard-boiled egg, and hummus -- a glorious gutbomb that could convert even the most resolute of carnivores. 222 Waverly Place, 212-691-1287
8. Buddha Bodai -- There's no getting around the fact that this Chinese vegetarian palace is all about fake meat, whether it's masquerading as chicken, pork, or shark fin. That said, it's tasty, greasy fun, a perfect rejoinder to those who charge that vegetarian restaurants take themselves too seriously. 4296 Main Street, Flushing, Queens, 718-939-1188
7. Angelica Kitchen -- An oldie but a goodie, beloved by generations of vegetarians for its blend of unapologetic hippie fare with inspired, contemporary interpretations of vegetarian staples like tempeh and tofu. Its dragon bowls are classics, and even Alan Richman, a carnivorous contrarian if ever there was one, deemed its split-pea soup Worth Ordering Again. 300 East 12th Street, 212-228-2909; 102 Lexington Avenue, 212-213-9615
6. Pure Food & Wine -- Though we're inherently wary of raw food and its elitist price points, we cannot deny the considerable charms of a restaurant that does raw food so well. Pure's greatest triumph is transforming unswervingly healthy ingredients into dishes of considerable decadence -- the lasagna, which substitutes zucchini for pasta, is every bit as lavish as its cooked counterpart. A true testament to the versatility of vegetables, and to the good that comes from actually seasoning them. 54 Irving Place, 212-477-1010