With some many of us on the go and even the fact that we enjoy indulging in gourmet foods doesn’t mean with have to sacrifice our diets. That is why I have put these restaurants in the forefront of my list because these will most likely be your initial tasting points into the world of vegetarian food if you dare to try it.
|Seitan Piccata, Interior of Candle 79, Guacamole Timbale|
154 East 79th Street
@ Lexington Street
Organic vegan food fresh from the Farm-to-the-Table – truly an experience for not just the vegan/vegetarian connoisseur but also for the foodie at heart. They elevate vegetarian food to a gourmet level.
My favorites: Angel’s Nachos, Guacamole Timbale and Seitan Piccata (you would swear it was chicken piccata!).
|Kimchi Doughnuts, Candied Grapefruit Salad, Jalapeno Hush Puppies with Maple Butter, Greek Salad with Fried Mushrooms|
430 E. 9th Street
Dirt Candy is the connoisseur restaurant of vegetables; they take simple vegetables and turn them into something amazing and magical. They can make any dish on the menu either vegetarian or vegan (minus the dairy).
"Anyone can cook a hamburger but leave the vegetables to the professionals."
Favorites that are good for you: Jalapeno Hush Puppies with maple butter, Kimchi Doughnuts
|Chocolate Cupcakes (dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free), Cake Balls (gluten-free), Cookie Sandwiches, Doughnuts|
248 Broome Street bwtn Orchard & Ludlow)
I don’t really have a sweet tooth but under celebrity influence, i.e. Alicia Silverstone, I purchased a few sweet cakes for us to share one evening and they were truly yummy. The sweets are gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, casein-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free and vegan. Made with agave syrup instead of regular sugar, so agave syrup is super sweet so you only need a bit and the syrup doesn't spike your insulin levels like regular sugar. You’d think with that long list of “free” ingredients the desserts would taste like cardboard or rice cakes but they were delicious.
12E 32nd Street (btwn 5th & Madison)
Love this place! My first experience into the gourmet world of vegetarian food. A staple in the middle of Manhattan, in the Korean district. The entrance is a big thick wooden door, you walk in, take your shoes off as the waitress in a cool Buddhist ensemble walks you over to your table. You slide your bum onto the pillow seats and you sit on the floor. The ambiance is filled with an Asian décor and Zen music – taking you out of the city mind set and into another peaceful world.
Try the Prix Fixe meal – Emperor’s Tasting Menu with a Starter, Appetizer, Entrée and Dessert. I love the pumpkin porridge, the stuffed shitake trio, kimchi stone bowl rice or the mixed mushrooms sizzler, and dessert is usually a bowl of cinnamon broth with fresh fruit. Or you can buy a la carte with a sampling of the pancakes (leek, kimchi and pumpkin). The only thing about this place is that if you don’t like mushrooms it’s not for you. But if you look at the menu you can tell why and how this place is healthy. It’s healthy for the body and the soul because it takes the stress away from the day into a completely Zen experience and the food is amazing and healthy clean food.
|Chips with a variety of dips (guacamole/corn salsa/tomato salsa/ spicy salsa), Vegetarian Burrito, Burrito Bowl|
Chipotle food quality and practices makes it a favorite of those who are concerned with environmental factors. They search for sustainable-raised food, supporting family farmers and using meat from animals raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones. They also source from organic and local produce and dairy from synthetic hormone-free cows.
I usual order the same thing and it tastes homemade, the veggie soft taco with fajita vegetables (green & red peppers with onions), black beans, cilantro-lime rice, fresh tomato salsa or roasted chili-corn salsa with a dollop of guacamole and sour cream a garnished with lettuce. One is pretty much enough for lunch to fill you up.
The Burger Spot
150 7th Street, Garden City
Okay we all know that veggie burgers can vary greatly from the imitation meat soy burgers or the vegetable patty filled with corn/peas/etc – they can get a little boring and some don’t even taste that great. But I have found a veggie burger that will not only satisfy the vegetarian foodie but the meat eaters we know. The Burger Spot in Garden City, NY has created an amazing veggie burger made of chickpea, parsley, carrots, panko mashed together into a patty served on a brioche bun, topped with arugula, tomato and herbed mayo. It comes with crispy fries but I usually order the burger with a side salad.
The Burger Spot serves ingredients with no antibiotics, no hormones, no fillers, no added colors, no preservatives and always made fresh. The brioche and ciabatta buns are baked and delivered from a local artisan bakery.