Quantcast
Food
Taiyou Nomachi / DigitalVision / Getty Images

15 of the Best Vegan Restaurants in America

By Anna Ben Yehuda

There has, arguably, never been a better time to be a vegan in America. As chefs across the country create menus reliant on fruits and vegetables in an effort to embrace health, eaters are getting used to the idea of entrées made entirely of vegetables (albeit souffléd, stirred and brined ones). In short: nobody will give you a dirty look if you ask to "hold the cheese."


With chefs of all calibers opening up restaurants dedicated to veganism, a compendium of some of the best seems necessary. Think of this as your personal bucket list that can double as a travel guide. Here are some of the best vegan restaurants in America, each highlighting different cuisines, cooking styles and overall dining experiences—and all worth traveling for.

Bunna Cafe in New York, New York

Nestled in a nondescript part of Flushing Avenue, within Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood, Bunna Cafe is a bustling Ethiopian vegan restaurant that doubles as a music venue. We highly suggest indulging in the feast for two (just $34), which will include all nine signature dishes: from the keysir selata (sauteed beets, carrots and potatoes served chill) to the enguday tibs (crimini mushrooms sauteed in peppers, rosemary, garlic, ginger and onion) and a rotator seasonal dish.

Bistro Vonish in Austin, Texas

Originally a monthly Supper Club dedicated to "elevating vegan cuisine," Bistro Vonish is now a trailer stationed on Austin's East 53rd Street. Expect a constantly shifting menu whose essence—delivering deliciously creative dishes made with vegan ingredients only—remains the same. They serve top-notch kolaches, those puffy pastries with fruits or vegan cheeses in the middle—so do make sure to try them all in different flavors. Suddenly, veganism sounds… doable.

Âu Lạc in Los Angeles, California

There's much to say about Au Lac. First of all, the restaurant goes beyond what is customarily expected from veggie-only restaurants, elevating the cuisine by embracing enticing Vietnamese flavors. Sure, the venue is found within a strip mall, but that doesn't prevent die-hard vegan celebrities from flocking to the space. Just looking at images of the food will make your head spin (think: salt & peppered battered yam shrimp, garlic basil rice noodles.) Bonus points: in addition to having a completely plant-based and vegan menu, the restaurant offers many gluten-free dishes. You should know that chef Ito, the genius behind the menu, has taken a permanent vow of silence.

Elizabeth's Gone Raw in Washington, DC

For $80 a person, diners will revel in this upscale dining experience (available on Friday nights only) within a historic townhome in Washington, D.C. Add another $60 and you'll receive organic wine pairings to go along with your decadent meal, which includes the likes of of crispy cassava cup made with gorgonzola cheese and cherry-chartreuse pearls, and royal trumpet mushroom and heart of palm crab cake. Remember, as the menu notes, that "any reference to conventional food is for context. The entire menu is plant based." You had us at historic townhome.

Bar Bombón in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

At Bar Bombón, the entire plant-based menu is made-to-order and imbued with Puerto Rican dishes with a twist. For brunch, expect sweetly delicious coconut-stuffed French toast while lunch and dinner may mean a harvest guacamole (butternut squash, sundried tomatoes, maple balsamic drizzle and spiced pepitas) and the Cubano club: blackened chick'n, smoked tempeh, avocado, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, grain mustard aioli and potato fries.

Plum Bistro in Seattle, Washington

If you can't decide which kind of food you're in the mood for, opt for Plum Bistro, dishing out vegan takes on all types of cuisines. From sweet potato gnocchi (broccoli rabe, wild mushrooms, garlic sage, white wine butter sauce) to jerk tofu and yam burgers (grilled Jamaican spiced tofu, yam, pickled cabbage, caramelized onions and tomato), Plum dishes out a variety of flavors—all plant-based, of course. The restaurant also boasts two take-out counters across town (one by the bistro and another in the Seattle Center Armory), a treat shop serving vegan brownies, ice cream and cookies and a food truck slinging out sandwiches and salads.

Plant Miami in Miami, Florida

If you're looking for upscale vegan cuisine, you've found your paradise. Here, vegan ingredients undergo the kind of culinary techniques usually reserved for high-end meat-focussed menus. Executive chef Horacio Rivadero and pastry chef Veronica Manolizi dehydrate, disassemble and then reassemble quinoa, eggplants and mushrooms to create menu items like the summer squash lasagna (spinach bechamel, walnut Bolognese, heriloom tomato kale pesto) and the Mediterranean bowl (almond falafel, sprouted hummus, smoked beets, buckwheat tabbouleh and tzatziki).

Avo in Nashville, Tennessee

Being the first fully vegan restaurant in Nashville (circa 2015) is a fact deserving of a spot on this list in and of itself, but add to that a vegan version of the Bushwacker—the city's classic rum-based milkshake—and you've got yourself a recipe for everlasting success. The kosher-certified menu includes a zucchini noodle pasta dish and the Southern bowl: brown rice, black eyed peas, seasonal squash, steamed kale, corn on the cob, coleslaw and roasted red pepper sauce.

Homegrown Smoker in Portland, Oregon

A full-blown vegan barbecue? You heard that right. Originally a cart but now a bricks-and-mortar restaurant, Homegrown Smoker smokes the likes of tofu fish fillets, soy-based chicken, seitan burgers and tempeh ribs. Choose the combo plate to try a variety of different flavors that will all make you wonder how in the world it isn't meat.

Seed in New Orleans, Louisiana

If you're craving classic New Orleans dishes but subscribe to a vegan diet, Seed comes to the rescue. The spacious eatery serves vegan regional favorites like eggplant po-boys, gumbo and artichoke cakes. Those craving outside-of-the-box-dishes can opt for the pad Thai made with cucumber and revel in the outstanding fresh juice cocktails.

Donna Jean in San Diego, California

The restaurant is named after chef Roy Elam's late mother. Since August of 2017, Donna Jean has been serving delectable vegan food made, partly, with herbs picked from the venue's own on-site garden. Definitley try the chickpea-flour-made socca pizzas, then move on to the mushroom risotto and cast-iron mac and cheese.

Chicago Diner in Chicago, Illinois

The early-adopter owners of this Chicago staple have been operating it as a meat-free diner since 1983. Their signature dish is a Reuben sandwich, made with corned beef seitan, grilled onions, sauerkraut, peppers, vegan thousand island dressing and cheese on marbled rye. Note: although most menu items are vegan, some are considered vegetarian only but are offered in vegan versions as well.

Shizen in San Francisco, California

Shizen offers creative vegan takes on sushi. The izakaya and sushi bar serves delicious yakimono (pan-fried dishes) like bean curd, asparagus and shishito peppers; nimono (braised dishes) like nasu agebitah and chilled oden; agemono (tempura dishes) like the shizen shiitake and croquettes; and even larger vegan dishes like spicy cold ramen, zaru soba and lily flower curry. Fun and trendy, but only open for dinner service.

By Chloe in Boston, Massachusetts

One of the most recognized vegan restaurants in the country, By Chloe first opened in New York City (it now has six locations there, plus two sweets shops), and opened its first Boston restaurant in the winter of 2017 (and the second one in the spring of the same year.) Inarguably responsible for propelling the vegan wave, the restaurant serves soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. In Boston, expect exclusive menu items that reflect the city's culinary tastings: vegan lobster rolls and clam chowder await.

J. Selby's in St. Paul, Minnesota

Physician-turned-restaurateur Matt Clayton brought this plant-based eatery to St. Paul back in 2017. Their "Dirty Secret" is their special take on the Big Mac. Also, try their take on a Philly cheesesteak. The "meat" in this burger is provided by the Herbivorous Butcher, a local plant-based butcher, while the rest is made in-house at J. Selby's.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly described J.Selby's "Dirty Secret."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
In a recent expedition, Gaelin Rosenwaks found plastic in the Great Blue Hole in Belize. Lomingen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Inspiring Interview Urges You to Cut Plastic Consumption

2018 was the year for plastic pollution awareness. One good aspect of the plastic crisis is the fact that we can solve it. Getting involved with solutions is an easy way to have our voices heard globally.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Proterra is one of several companies manufacturing electric buses in California. Jeffrey D. Allred

Buses Are the Electric Vehicle Everyone Should Be Talking About. Here's Why.

By Adrian Martinez

Dean Florez is preparing for what he calls "one of the biggest votes I've ever taken" as an air regulator at an influential agency with national clout.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A river cleanup in Union County, New Jersey. Paige Bollman / CC BY 2.0

Want to Help Endangered Species? Here’s How to Take Action Locally

One of the questions people ask me most often is what they can do locally to help endangered species. Well, I recently appeared on the Green Divas podcast to talk about that very subject. We discussed the horror of lawns, the danger of cars, great ways to volunteer, and other efforts you can take to make your neck of the woods a little bit safer for rare plants and wildlife.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Southern Resident killer whale mother and her calf swimming. NOAA

Washington Gov. Proposes 'Herculean Effort' to Save 74 Remaining Southern Resident Orcas

With only 74 left in the wild, the Southern Resident orca population in Puget Sound needs help now more than ever. That's why on Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's office announced "an unprecedented investment" to help boost the population as well as the Chinook salmon they eat.

"We are undertaking a herculean effort to save these iconic creatures. It will take action at every level of the environment across our entire state," Inslee said in a news release. "We need to restore the ecosystem to one that sustains orcas, salmon and the quality of life for all Washingtonians."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Amber Lamoreaux / Pexels

Major UK Supermarket to Ban Glitter From Own-Brand Products

British supermarket Waitrose announced Friday that it will ban glitter from its own-brand products by Christmas 2020.

The upscale retailer said its labels, wrap, flowers, plants and other single-use items will either be glitter-free or use an environmentally friendly alternative.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Natural pine trees can liven up Christmas and the environment when they are replanted after. Cavan Images / Getty Images

5 Ways to Have a Green Christmas (and Help the Planet)

It's pretty common this time of year to hear the song White Christmas, but at EcoWatch we want folks to have a green Christmas. With a couple of tips, you can make sure your winter festivities have a smaller carbon footprint. Here are five ways you can have a more environmentally friendly holiday.

1. Give Green Gifts
Share your love of the planet by giving gifts that are good for the environment. Need ideas? The EcoWatch staff rounded up their favorite gifts, and USA Today highlights items such as iTunes gift cards, reusable straws, organic wine and non-toxic cosmetics in their story about purchasing green presents.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Kingborough Council

Tasmania Builds Road From Single-Use Plastics, Glass and Printer Toner

A local government in Tasmania found a clever way to recycle single-use plastics and other landfill-bound waste by building a new road.

The 500-meter (1,640-foot) stretch outside the city of Hobart is made of approximately 173,600 plastic bags and packaging, as well as 82,500 glass bottle equivalents diverted from landfill, the Kingborough council announced Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Alchemy Goods / Bambaw / LuminAID

EcoWatch's Favorite Green Gifts for the Holidays

The holidays are coming and if you're stuck on what to give your eco-conscious friend or relative, we've got you covered. At EcoWatch, we're big fans of homemade presents, products that actually help the planet, and putting our dollars towards a good cause. This year, our staff has rounded up some of the best green gifts we've given and received, as well as the items on our wish list.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!