4 (somewhat) Affordable Vegetable-Focused Restaurants in NYC
The word “vegan” has a reputation. I didn’t say this reputation was good or bad, since it really depends on who you ask, but when someone says the word “vegan,” a certain lifestyle and diet comes to mind. For one of my friends, when he hears the word “vegan,” he thinks of people who do yoga, eats salads, and hugs farm animals, but that is just a stereotype (I do hug farm animals though). To avoid these associations, restaurants are focusing on being vegetable-focused/vegetable-forward/plant based/vegan-friendly. No matter what they are calling themselves, these restaurants are making vegetables the center of a meal. Most of the time, these restaurants are expensive, high-end, and come from the minds of one of the most famous and creative chefs. However, your wallet doesn’t have to cry yet, because here are 5 of my favorite (somewhat) affordable vegetable-focused restaurants.
Leith Hill is the founder of Ellary’s Greens, an organic eatery dedicated to providing delicious nourishment from quality sourced farms no matter the dietary restriction. Ellary’s Greens opened in 2013, named in memory of Leith’s grandmother and great-grandmother, to keep their love of connection through food alive and as a remind to only serve food that would be shared with her own family.
Ellary’s Greens has its home in the heart of the West Village, bringing some more green to the neighborhood. The walls are aligned with potted plants, the smoothie bar has fresh wheat grass, and the front of the restaurant can be opened in the summertime to let in fresh air.
The menu has labels for everything that's vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free. My favorite section of the menu is the flavorful vegetable section that boasts menu items like Roasted Brussels Sprouts with roasted pears, pecans, & mustard vinaigrette, Medley of Seasonal Mushrooms with cashew cream, fresh herbs, white wine, & shallots, Roasted Cauliflower with thyme, chili flakes, & lemon confit, and Steamed Kale with red quinoa, pepitas, and lime.
33 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014
Chalk Point Kitchen
Chalk Point Kitchen lives under the indieFORK hospitality umbrella. indieFORK restauranteur, Matt Levine and Executive Chef Rebecca Weitzman’s vision for Chalk Point Kitchen’s cuisine is for it to focus on market-to-table practices with multicultural influences using ingredients that are exclusively sourced from the Tri-State Area. Avocados, brussels sprouts, and heirloom vegetables make an appearance on the menu to show off how tasty and creative vegetables can be.
Chalk Point Kitchen's menu is an integration of modern cuisine with a commitment to heirloom, local, heritage, seasonal, sustainable, and organic products. Their space has a bit of sophisticated Southern flair with exposed brick walls, barnyard-like wood, potted plants, hanging lights that your grandma would have, and a collection of knick knacks that might be found at an antique store.
527 Broome St, New York, NY 10013
Westville was founded in 2003 to provide food that is fresh and reasonably priced. They currently have 5 locations with a 6th location opening up in the financial district later in 2017. Westville believes that if the freshest and highest quality ingredients are used, their preparation need not be fancy. Many items on Westville’s menu do not have heavy sauces, garnishes, or bells and whistles, letting the ingredients of the dish shine through.
Each of Westville’s locations are designed a little differently, but it’s a space where vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can enjoy the extensive menu in an unpretentious and welcoming environment. There is often a chalkboard menu with the vegetable specials. Westville has really made an impression on me through its market plate. The market vegetable menu contains 15+ lightly seasoned veggies like broccoli with garlic, asian style bok choy, roasted butternut squash, and more that honors the natural flavors of vegetables.
Beyond Sushi is the pioneer of plant-based sushi. It’s a 100% vegan eatery that celebrates the flavors and beauty of locally-sourced, seasonal produce. Chef Guy and his wife are the founders of this eatery, and they fuse unconventional pairings of fruit and vegetables with whole grains to create sushi, paper wraps, dumplings, noodle salads, and noodle soups. The sushi is healthy, made with fresh veggies, and it's beautiful, causing long lunch lines during the day.
Beyond Sushi currently has three locations: Chelsea Market, Midtown West, and Union Square, all which are smaller spaces and more of a grab-and-go vibe. However, Beyond Sushi is rapidly expanding with two new locations in 2017. The first will debut in April in FIDI's City Acres Market at 70 Pine St. while the second will open in May: a larger, full-service restaurant at 134 West 37th St., with a liquor license.
And for special occasions and those with deep pockets, here’s a list of less affordable vegetable-focused restaurants!
A buddhist inspired vegetarian restaurant with a monthly pri-fixe menu based off of seasonal ingredients.
Nix is a one Michelin star restaurant from Michelin-starred chef John Fraser, drawing on his personal passion for cooking with vegetables.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Paulette Cole has done it again with its new addition to the ABC family (ABC Kitchen, ABC Cocina) with ABCV, the V standing for vegetables. This highly-anticipated restaurant opened its doors in March 2017 serving a grab-and-go menu, breakfast and lunch, with dinner coming soon. The chef is Neal Harden who had worked at Pure Food and Wine and M.O.B Brooklyn (both closed, may they rest in peace), so he’s no stranger to creativity with vegetables.
ABCV is located in Union Square with elegant furniture from ABC Carpet and Home (the restaurant’s neighbor and partner). There are pink and white accents that create a dream-like state for the eater. Everything is plant based, non gmo, sustainable, artisanal and organic whenever possible sourced locally and globally from small and family farms. The breakfast menu is my favorite, with sections of the menu dedicated to a feeling like "energizing and fresh" and "warm and sustaining." Not only does the food make you feel, but it's also beautifully presented like a work of art.
The juices are served in wine glasses too, so this place really makes you feel classy.
Another Chef John Fraser restaurant, DoveTail offers an award-winning contemporary American cuisine with creative use of seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients.
Dirt Candy was the first vegetable-focused restaurant in the city and the leader of the vegetable-forward movement.
Market Table serves seasonal American food in an airy dining room with exposed brick walls and large windows offering a view onto village life.
Polynesian inspired small plates and cocktails by Daphne Chang.