Whether due to cultural traditions, health concerns, social trends or a combination thereof, travelers are increasingly seeking out great vegetarian and vegan restaurants as part of their epicurean adventures—and they’re finding much more than just lettuce and tofu.
From quaint neighborhood mom-and-pop bistros to A-list restaurants and everything in between, you—and I mean you die-hard carnivores, too!—can find something to suit your taste buds.
Check out this travel buffet of delicious, nutritious, unique, soulful and outrageously healthy places dotted around the country. This list will make you hungry just looking at it!
Blossom Restaurant (New York City)
This quote from one of the restaurant’s co-owners says it all: “My vision for Blossom was to create a place with outstanding food, not just for vegans, but for everyone to enjoy.” And they have achieved that, starting from their original Blossom Restaurant in Chelsea, later adding one in the West Village and one on the Upper West Side, their newest. At each you will find outstanding, innovative vegan fare, such as the Black Eyed Pea Cake, made with Yukon gold potatoes, black-eyed peas and chipotle aioli and their Port Wine Seitan, pan-seared seitan cutlets with a port wine and mushroom sauce served with tempura onion, sauteed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes.
Blossom Restaurant (Chelsea), 212-627-1144
Blossom on Columbus (Upper West Side), 212-875-2600
Blossom on Carmine (West Village), 646-438-9939
Plant (Asheville, N.C.)
Like many vegetarian and vegan restaurants, Plant pairs its menu with a global consciousness dedicated to compassionate lifestyles that are mindful of the environment and what we both give and take from it. Their menu is a reflection of that philosophy, with made-from-scratch recipes using organic, local and seasonal produce and spices whenever possible. An example of this is their Tomato Utttapam, made from onion, avocado, peanut-sesame dukka, soy-ginger syrup, coconut moss and cabbage, and their Fried Plantains, served with sour cream, “scall’antro,” their special hot sauce and Maldon salt.
Greens (San Francisco)
It’s no surprise that California would be a hotplate of amazing farm-to-table gastronomic fare, and that is exactly what you will find at Greens. This A-list restaurant, rated by some of the top culinary publications in the country, has been at the forefront of the green-eating movement since it opened in 1979. Among their most popular fresh options is the Wilted Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad, made with Devoto pink lady apples, slow roasted almonds and shaved Pantaleo and tossed in a savory Dijon sherry vinaigrette.
Cafe Sunflower (Atlanta)
Serving a wide variety of vegetarian dishes from the Caribbean, Asia, the American Southwest and the Mediterranean, Cafe Sunflower, with two locations, features both vegetarian and vegan options with a unique flavor and flair. A very unusual yet no less scrumptious version of lasagna is their Orzo Lasagna, brimming with roasted portabella mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, orzo pasta, tofu ricotta and their homemade marinara sauce. From the Caribbean, there’s the Jamaican Black Bean Cakes, made from scratch and topped with a pineapple jerk sauce, accented with cucumber yogurt and served with sauteed vegetables.
Sandy Springs, 404-256-1675
Natural Selection (Portland, Ore.)
At Natural Selection, the focus is on using rustic and modern cooking techniques that bring to bear the flavors of France, Italy and Spain. Pasta lovers will enjoy the Cavatappi entree with sweet garlic cream, fennel, cauliflower, sunchoke, sultana and pepita relish. If you’re into soup, try the Coconut Curry, made with lemongrass, lime, Brussel sprouts, carrots and herb oil.
Although many people use this term to mean zoning out and letting your attention just wander, Vedge in Philly does exactly the opposite, using their vision, culinary prowess and palate of intricate flavors to offer “a classically elegant dining experience with a progressive, bold approach to cooking.” This vegan joint features menu items such as the Mushrooms “Al Pastor” (a vegan take on the traditional spit-grilled shawarma meat) and Peel ’n’ Eat Lupini Beans at Happy Hour, to the Spicy Grilled Tofu with gochujang, edamame, roasted miso and Yuba cracklin’ entree. Their creativity crosses over to the beverages as well, including using house-made syrups and bitters in their craft cocktails. One note, plan ahead! The last time I was in Philly I called to make a reservation and they were two weeks out! It must be that good.
G-Zen (Branford, Conn.)
What we put into our bodies, again, is just as important and the consciousness behind it. That’s where the name G-Zen came from—a nod to the proprietor’s “G” for their green business ethics and plant-based cuisine and “Zen” representing living mindfully and in a state of peace and balance in one’s body. Billed as “a refuge for many seeking sustainable, organic and vegetarian friendly food,” the plates are a farm full of flavor, such as the organic French toast with Vermont maple syrup, scrambled tofu and tempeh bacon, breakfast burritos, acai berry bowls with sprouted raw granola and other items served during their “Buddha Brunch.” Among their organic juices and smoothies is the Tree of Life, made with organic Medjool dates, maca root, lacuma powder, mesquite powder, almond milk, Ceylon cinnamon, vanilla bean and banana topped with raw cacao nibs.
Lysa Allman is the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, featuring “Adventures for the Mind, Bod and Belly” (www.amazingescapades.com). She can be reached at email@example.com.