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Anyone have a favorite casual vegetarian restaurant?

I'm a new vegetarian and I'm looking for yummy places to dine after work and on weekends. I'm not talking about fancy restaurants that require reservations, just the type where you can drop in. Any part of town will do. Also, I am definitely not into raw food. Thanks in advance for your input!

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  1. Candle Cafe on Third Ave & about 74th....it's been there for ages & it's just what you describe...

    1 Reply
    1. re: fauchon

      I had the Aztec salad today and it was AMAZING!!! Just what I was looking for. Thanks for the rec!

    2. Chennai Garden on 27th and Lex -- my personal favorite of the Curry Hill places. It's all-vegetarian Indian food, delicious and cheap.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Yaqo Homo

          I've never been to Pongal, but I'm so glad politicfool replied about Chennai Garden bc it's definitely my fave casual indian place in all of the 5 boroughs. I'm pretty picky and I've had a LOT of Indian food in my lifetime, and it surprises me that my favorite is both vegetarian AND kosher!

          But truly their dosas are perfectly spiced and crispy; their street food appetizers are light and not greasy but still 'right on' with the spices and ingredients (altho I wish they would put green mango on their bhel puri and related dishes); their curries are always fresh; the service is always good.

          The only bad thing I've ever experienced there is that the mango lassi was clearly made with fake mango pulp, so it was all sugary and nasty. But they have decent wines to counter, and otherwise, I have always had a great experience here and highly recommend it.

      1. I listed all the veg places I could think of on this thread recently: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        My favorite is Kate's Joint. The place is scruffy and grungy, the food is straightforward-- faux-meat sandwiches and the like. Not great but comforting and tasty.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rose water

          I don't know how I missed that! Thanks for pointing it out.

        2. Chennai Garden on 27th and Lex -- my personal favorite of the Curry Hill places. They serve all-vegetarian Southern Indian food, and it's casual and inexpensive.

          1. Thanks for the fast replies, everyone! Keep 'em coming! By the way, if you have any favorite dishes that would be great to know, too. N

            1. How about Curly's Lunch on 14th St b/t 1st and 2nd Aves? It's a casual vegetarian spot I've heard great things about. Okay, I've never been, but have heard good things.

              1 Reply
              1. re: G4Gluttony

                I went to Curly's for the first time last weekend and really liked it. Kind of a small space but the staff was nice, portions were big, large variety on the menu. Non-veg boyfriend liked it, too.

              2. Caravan of Dreams on First Ave. and 6th street has a homey atmosphere and tasty food.

                1. Funny, my niece is in town and we were just brainstorming a few veg places. We settled on Galaxy Irving around 15th. Not exclusively Veg, but several real veg entrees and consistently solid food. Good atmosphere and comfortable in jeans or nicer wear. Menu changes a couple times per year with some staples. I think they have a menu online or menupages.com

                  1. 68 Mott. Amazing chinese vegetarian food. A must try is the hot steak kew appetizer.. 68 is exclusively Veg so there is no chance of getting stocked.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Sweatshirt Guy

                      Zen Palate--especially the one in Union Square--also fits the bill. Downstairs is a more casual affair than upstairs, with a more limited menu. But, either is fine for a great vegetarian meal without a lot of pre planning. We've stopped in many times without reservations, even during busy Saturday nights.

                      1. re: Moishe

                        Ew I am not a vegetarian and was still interested in going to Zen Palate (Un.Sq); my friends had hyped it up as a 'can't miss' place. I had a good attitude going in, but did not enjoy this place. I can still taste the sweet and sour asian style broccoli dish I had there and it makes my stomach turn. Maybe it was just me, but I will not go back there again.

                        1. re: sugarcookie

                          I was also underwhelmed, and this was when ZP was an "it" restaurant. I found it bland and unimaginative.

                      2. re: Sweatshirt Guy

                        I never heard of that place but it sounds great. Thanks!

                        1. re: Nikki NYC

                          You are welcome! I eat there at least once a month and am not a Vegeterian. Remember to get the Steak Kew!

                        1. re: Saul

                          I ate at Dojo years ago and it was definitely not vegetarian. Have they changed? N

                        2. These are my fave all veg places (I haven't tried the Indian ones yet):

                          Vegetarian Dim Sum House
                          Viva Herbal Pizzeria (or something like that - it's on B'way around 96th)
                          Red Bamboo
                          Sacred Chow
                          Kate's Joint
                          Angelica Kitchen

                          These guys are not entirely veg, but have awesome options:

                          Bright Food Shop
                          Café Mogador/Orlin (two different places, but adjacent and really similar)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: piccola

                            piccola, i think it's interesting that you mention Mogador. though i love it, and i think they have lots of good veg brunch options, their dinner veg options are much more sparse. iirc, there are apps, then a straightforward couscous, and a butternut squash ravioli. my partner, who's veg, doesn't like going there for dinner for that reason. what do you like there?

                            don't know anything about soy--can you tell me more about it?

                            1. re: rose water

                              You're right - I've just never been to Mogador for dinner, only brunch or lunch.

                              Soy has homestyle Japanese cooking - lots of braised dishes, simple combinations that really highlight the ingredients. It has a lot of mix-and-match appetizers - that's what I usually go for - along with the mains. All the tofu dishes are awesome and the soy rice is to die for. I haven't tried the smoothies.

                          2. Two of my favorites that haven't yet been mentioned:

                            Foodswings for vegan fast food in Williamsburg
                            Pukk for vegetarian/vegan (I think it's all vegan but I'm not 100% positive, they may have some veggie things on their menu) Thai food

                            Both yummy and casual and reasonably priced.

                            1. Madras Mahal, Lex 27/28. Veg indian. Spicy dosas are fabu.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: michlusa

                                So glad you mentioned Madras Mahal, my absolute favorite vegetarian Indian place. I don't know what it is about that place, but everything just seems to have something a little special there. We go out of our way to eat or take out from there as often as we can.

                                On the UWS, there's Ayerveda, where this is a very reasonably priced prix fixe Indian lunch and dinner daily. Ozu is also in the neighborhood, as is Mana. Both of those last two serve fish as well, but are mostly vegetarian. We used to go to Zen Palate, but the one nearby closed.

                                I love the Vegetarian Dim Sum house in Chinatown.

                              2. Another indian fav: Saranvaas at 26th and Lex - my new south indian dig.

                                Others I like that people have mentioned are Pukk, veg dim sum house (stay with dim sum, avoid other menu items), and chennai gardens.

                                One that I also go to is Organic Grill - specifically the veg reuben sandwich. I can't get enough of it.
                                Also, Tsampa has a good number of veg choices too - it's tibetan. I like the baked noodle dish.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: zorgclyde

                                  Hello. What is the location of the Organic Grill. I love a good veggie reuben every now and then.

                                  1. re: Sweatshirt Guy

                                    OG is on 1st, btw 7th and St. Marks.
                                    I am looking at the site and it doesn't say reuben, so I'm wondering if I ordered the TLT and had the reuben somewhere else or it was one of the daily specials. Anyways it was something with tempeh that was good and I'm sure you could call them and inquire if they can make it. The service is pretty friendly there.
                                    BTW I have to say ZP is not that great. It tastes like a yuppified version of chinese veg with some other creative things thrown in it, but the creativeness isn't balanced out by cooking ability. But it does have good lunch specials if I recall, and sometimes one of their dish actually turn out good. Anyways, avoid their weird fruit tea concoctions.

                                2. Blossom restaurant is always a nice option...on Ninth and 21st St....

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: 280 Ninth

                                    I saw Blossom on Food Network yesterday. It looks amazing! Can't wait to go.

                                    1. re: Nikki NYC

                                      Yes, it's quite nice....lovely interior, good menu options, great service...delicious and relaxing, EXACTLY what I want when I go out to eat. Enjoy!

                                  2. I like kate's, Counter and Anjelika Kitchen - all very different - kates tends to be greasy. anjelika is best for lunch and Counter is dreamy - best in the summer.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Ljubitca

                                      i haven't been back to counter in a couple years - used to be really good.....you still like it then?

                                      1. re: Ljubitca

                                        headed to counter this evening. but it's not summer. why is it best in the summer?

                                        1. re: TBird

                                          maybe because they grown their own herbs and produce in the summer at Counter
                                          I'd love to hear a report -- I haven't been there in ages

                                      2. Candle Cafe on the Upper East side is great; Zen in Union Square is also really good...

                                        1. I think you would really enjoy Gobo.....on 81st St & Third Ave. Very different/inventive vegetarian. Upbeat atmosphere.

                                          1. Sue En (sp) on 12th right off University...it's macrobiotic....they have fish.... the planet platter always makes mme feel like I've done something really good for myself!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Susanbnyc

                                              Souen. I haven't eaten there, I just know the spelling.

                                              1. re: Pan

                                                Eh. Uninspired. Sure you'll feel righteous about eating grains. But will you be happier?

                                                Like Zen Palate in its profound boringness. Vegetarian food does not need to be so awful.

                                            2. My vegetarian daughter and I both love Red Bamboo. We were in the city a year or so ago for a weekend and ended up eating there, and at their sister restaurant right next door, three times. They make innovative use of fake meat products, so people who don't like those might not enjoy these places. But for vegetarians craving buffalo "chicken" wings, Red Bamboo is a great place.

                                              1. Galaxy (right near Irving Plaza) is my favorite. Their food is inventive and flavorful. Those beet chips - oh my!

                                                Kate's Joint is fun, but the service is incredibly slow.

                                                I used to go to Souen often w/a friend who loved it. I found the food bland and designed to be medicinal rather than tasty.

                                                1. Is Galaxy vegetarian or does it just have a lot of veg items on the menu?

                                                  1. Yes I still love counter and they have really good drinks. I havent been there since the early fall - hoping to go back soon.

                                                    1. Gobo. Gobo. Gobo.

                                                      I cook and I love to eat out. Been many places, eat many things. Wouldn't really consider going to a vegetarian restaurant, but went to Gobo after a Veg friend strong armed me.

                                                      I've been back many times. I like the food for food's sake. Reasonbly priced, well thought out with an Asian Flair. I ate Seitan for god's sake. Me! The meat and taters girl! Seitan's goooood.

                                                      HIGHLY recommended. They've got a couple locations in Manhattan, I think. Give it a shot.

                                                      1. Ok, have to throw my hat into the ring for Vegetarian's Paradise 2 - had absolutely wonderful Peking Duck there the other day. (A veg friend of mine - who loves Red Bamboo as well - also thinks VP2 is terrific...!) They also have vegan ice cream...!

                                                        1. I LOVE gobo! There's one on 6th ave in the west village.

                                                            1. Here's my list...Some of these are not completely veg, but have many veg offerings:
                                                              Angelica Kitchen
                                                              Sacred Chow
                                                              Hangawi (korean veg)
                                                              Herban Kitchen
                                                              Souen (asian & macro) mmmm!!!!!
                                                              Caravan of Dreams
                                                              Black-eyed Susie's (is this place still around?)

                                                              1. My husband and I both love Quantum Leap – they serve fish but the rest of the menu is veggie and vegan. Their breakfast, especially is delicious! The original (I believe – it's been there since I was in school in the early 90s) is on Thompson between Bleecker and West 3rd and there's one in the East Village now as well.