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Aug 2, 2006 10:48 AM

Best Vegetarian in NYC

I've lived here forever and am still not sure that I have found the right vegetarian restaurant. I moved here from California and just have not been able to satiate my veggie cravings. Vegan, macrobiotic, all recommendations are welcome.

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  1. As an Indian who grew up vegetarian, I have never understood or appreciated the the generally bland food that non-Indian vegetarian purveyors foist on their customers. Please try Madras Mahal (27th & Lexington) or Saravannas (26th & Lexington).

    5 Replies
    1. re: nycexplorer

      I am not Indian, nor am I vegetarian, but I have been thinking the same thing for years. The food at places like Angelika's Kitchen and Souen is verging on inedible, IMO.

      Chennai Garden is also yummy.

      1. re: laguera

        I'd have to second that, Laguera. I've thought that if all vegetarian food was as good as southern Indian vegetarian food, then I could successfully become a vegetarian. And I'm not even a dosa fan.

        I really like Madras Cafe although when I went there with nine people last week, the service was slow. (We had a reservation too, so they knew we were coming.) But the food was so good that we didn't really mind. I ate an onion rava masala dosa here and it was the first dosa I've ever really liked (including one from the dosa man on the south side of Wash. Sq. Park). Actually I loved it. We also had a paneer dosa that was good. The vadas were MUCH better than some I'd had at Chennai Garden. The textured veg protein was good too despite the unappetizing name. Good fresh spinach in the saag paneer. And numerous other tasty dishes. Yum.

        Haven't been to Madras Mahal in a very long time -- glad to hear it's still good. I used to like Pongal too, right next door, but it's been years since I was there.

        A southern Indian acquaintance told me she thought Saravannas Bhavan was the best in town, and she wished there were something as good as that in London. Haven't been yet. Went to Chennai Garden once for lunch on a weekend and wasn't impressed -- maybe we ordered badly.

        Tried Zen Palate for the first time last night and it was OK but nothing special. Indian veg food is way better. For American veg, I thought Candle Cafe on the UES was much better than Zen P.

        1. re: Ike

          There are two places in Curry Hill that can cause some confusion:

          Dosa Hut is also known as Saravana Bhavan, however, it is not connected with the Chennai-based Saravana Bhavan hotel restaurant chain.

          Saravanaas IS an outpost of the Chennai chain.

          I think Saravanaas is the best south Indian place currently in NY, but Dosa Hut has remarkable uppma.

          Another excellent Indian veg place is Sukhadia's on 45th St. It is multi-regional with an emphasis on Gujarati.

          Outside of Indian, Hangawi is really the only all-veg place I'd make a destination.

          I do like some of the vegetarian dim sum at VP2, but their main dishes are basically veg versions of gloppy bad Chinese. Their mixed gluten appetizer is good, though.

          Certain kinds of non-veg cuisines are particularly vegetarian-friendly. It's pretty easy to find excellent veg choices at almost any good Italian restaurant, and Shanghai Chinese has a wonderful variety of vegetarian items. Sometimes thinking out of the vegetarian-restaurant box is the best way to get a good vegetarian meal.

          Ethiopian food is also very veg-friendly. And one needn't go to a vegetarian Indian restaurant to get great Indian vegetarian food. In general, North Indian vegetarian dishes are found in non-vegetarian restaurants. Plus, eating vegetarian at a really top Indian restaurant like Devi means you'll be able to get a relatively affordable meal at an otherwise expensive place.

          1. re: Peter Cherches

            I think Sukhadia's is awful, and the service is worse. The branch is NJ is much better.

            Chennai Garden is where it's at.

          2. re: Ike

            Postscript: Madras Cafe has gone way downhill. The food is still OK, if pedestrian, but the service is atrocious. This time I went there with a large group and they acted as if we were a nuisance instead of a boon, and treated us like dirt. We should've walked out after they basically ignored us and failed to give us more than a small handful of menus. They may also have overcharged us. Admittedly, the group was poorly organized but the head server was so rude that it just exacerbated the problem horribly, when he could've instead been trying to help, or at least acting like he cared, instead of openly sneering at us.

      2. I like Red Bamboo, S'nice, Souen, Rice, Hangawi, LifeThyme and Vegetarian Dim Sum House. Stay away from Zen Palate - it's better than regular fastfood, but barely.

        1 Reply
        1. re: piccola

          I'm not a vegetarian, but really enjoyed the food at Hangawi.

        2. I disagree with what the above psoter said about Zen Palate. Very good cheap vegetarian food. Maybe it's what you ordered.

          Also try a place called Vegetarians Paradise 2 or VP2. They are located on west 4th and 6th ave. Here's their website -
          The menu is on the webiste and my recommendations are to try the "World Famous Crispy Soul Chicken" - it's better than any chicken nugget you've ever had even if you're not a vegetarian.

          1 Reply
          1. re: NYCPilot

            VP2 seems to have been closed off and on for the past 2 months-- it was back open again when I walked by yesterday, but something is going on there. Now, it could just be a vacation, but they've given no indication that that is what is happening.

            We're big on Blossom though. That would be my pick. Pure Food & Wine is good, if a little uneven, and Counter can really hit the extreme ranges of good and bad food, even within the scope of a single meal. Plus, I think Counter is too expensive for the quality of food they serve.



          2. Best Vegetarian restaurant has to be Gobo -

            I like Red Bamboo and Angelica's Kitchen.

            I agree about Zen Palate. It's not that great. Also avoid Kate's Joint.

            1 Reply
            1. re: food_connoisseur

              Really? What's your beef with Kate's Joint? Just curious.

            2. i think s'nice, kate' joint, candles cafe, and candles 79 are the best in the city personally.

              i have no problem with zen palatte. red bamboo is okay but i always leave there feeling ill.