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Nov 20, 2010 11:04 AM

Best Vegetarian Entrees below 34th St.

I am looking for the best vegetarian entrees in Manhattan - anywhere south of 34th St.

Here are the constraints:
1. The dishes CAN include dairy and eggs but not seafood, etc.
2. The dishes CAN be small plates, but not appetizers.
3. The dishes CANNOT include fake meat.
4. Ideally, dishes are more imaginative than roasted vegetables or just spaghetti and sauce.

Can't wait to try them!

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  1. Not sure what dishes specifically but check out:
    Dirt Candy, Angelica's, Pure Food and Wine and Gobo. You will be happy with all the food

    Pure Food and Wine
    54 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

    Dirt Candy
    430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

    9 Replies
    1. re: BLover33

      gobo has gone markedly down hill over the past few years, relying heavily on sweet, cloying sauces over gluten much in the way the prix fixe zen palate did.

      you might want to check out hangawi on 32nd street; it's vegan upscale korean. i personally find it bland, but i'm also not vegetarian by any means. i have been there 2x, and the first time enjoyed it, the second time, not so much.

      lan cafe is cheap and and does vegan vietnamese; you can avoid the fake meat here but be warned, they do serve things like that.

      1. re: selenster

        oh, this is in brooklyn (williamsburg to be exact) but one of the best entrees i've ever had is the beetroot gnocchi (Violette Di Parma red beet and goat cheese gnocchi with cheese sauce and wild arugula). it's not light but you won't want to share with anyone because it's that good.

        baci & abbracci
        204 Grand St, New York, NY 11211

        1. re: selenster

          I second hangawi. Having brought several vegetarians there, its been given nothing but rave reviews by them. I'm no vegetarian but I look forward to going there.

          You gotta love vegetables though, they aren't too fond of tofu or meat substitute.

        2. re: BLover33

          Second Dirt Candy - they're as imaginative vegetarian dishes as you'll find. Amanda Cohen is becoming the Wylie Dufresne of vegetables.

          Pure F&W... meh. Don't care for it. But they're vegan/raw, not vegetarian, so they can only be good "for" vegan/raw food, which inherently is kind of uninteresting and bland...

          Lots of vegetarian options at higher-end Italian and Indian restos... check out Devi for the latter, and any Batali place on a Monday night for the former, as he's participating in the whole "Meatless Mondays" thing. Also, Scarpetta added a full vegetarian menu - all week, not just Mondays.

          And second (or third or fourth) Hangawi. Fantastic little place.

          355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

          Dirt Candy
          430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

          1. re: sgordon

            " But they're vegan/raw, not vegetarian, so they can only be good "for" vegan/raw food, which inherently is kind of uninteresting and bland"
            That is completely untrue. I don't eat raw, but I am a vegan and have had amazingly delicious, creative raw food across the country. If you were suggesting that vegan food also is "inherently uninteresting and bland", well then, I don't even know what to do with you, because I have ten years' experience eating and and cooking fine, creative food as a vegan to prove you wrong.

            1. re: AmethystMarzipan

              Perhaps I should have said "uninteresting and bland to those of us who are used to a wider, unrestricted palette of flavors."

              Everything in context, after all.

              1. re: sgordon

                I am a voracious and enthusiastic omnivore - I love food of all kinds, whether it's meat, vegan, vegetarian, raw, and anything else, so long as it it's well-prepared and tastes great. As such, I speak as someone "used to a wider, unrestricted palette of flavors" and I couldn't disagree with smorgan more. Many of the dishes at PFW taste incredible. I'd go there a lot more if it wasn't so darned expensive. Maybe you should give it another try without thinking of it as offering "restricted" flavors.

                BTW, my favorite vegetarian dish in the city the Spaghetti Limone at Supper. Mmm.

                1. re: pork_buns

                  I completely agree. I am neither vegetarian nor vegan but cannot understand how anyone could visit PF&W and then describe the food as bland and uninteresting. The tricks the kitchen pulls are pretty remarkable. You may prefer a steak or a burger, but that's a different matter.

                  To the OP - with no dairy restrictions you should look beyond the vegetarian restaurants suggested here. Any vegetarian can eat very well at Otto and Lupa (not to mention Eataly).

            2. re: sgordon

              I completely agree with the other responders that this is not true. My boyfriend and I are both vegetarian (not vegan or raw), and we ate at Dirt Candy for a dinner date and Pure Food and Wine for a Valentine's Day date.

              Pure Food & Wine was OUT OF THIS WORLD more delicious and imaginative than Dirt Candy (though Dirt Candy wasn't bad, just mildly disappointing after the accolades I'd heard thrown about). I would never have guessed that Pure F&W was raw if I didn't know it from the start. I can't even tell you exactly what it is that my dish consisted of, but every bite of every dish was heavenly.

              Pure Food and Wine
              54 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

              Dirt Candy
              430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

          2. I am a fan of Buddha Bodai, although I only order in and have never eaten at the restaurant. They do use fake meat - and fake seafood - but if you call it wheat gluten or tofu (which is what it is), it sounds less fake-y. I also like Hangawi, for more upscale vegetarian dining.

            1. All the best South Indian vegetarian places in Manhattan are below 34 St. Are you interested in that cuisine?

              5 Replies
              1. re: Pan

                I second (and third) Han Gawi. It's a marvelous experience but not inexpensive. However, it's well worth it.

                1. re: Stuartmc910

                  it surely is a peaceful meal! the space is soothing as well. (getting the check...well that's hair raising! :)

                  1. re: Stuartmc910

                    I actually prefer Franchia to Hangawi!

                    12 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

                  2. re: Pan

                    Yes! Huge fan of Chennai Garden - great vegetarian selection of South Indian food. It's not the absolute best food in the city, but I would argue it's significantly underrated on Yelp.

                    Chennai Garden
                    129 E 27th St, New York, NY 10016

                    1. re: madjoy

                      I like Chennai Garden, too. And I like their Gujarati dishes, possibly as well as their South Indian ones.

                  3. Are you looking for only "finer" sorts of places? First off, I third, or whatever they're up to, Dirt Candy. Just awesome.
                    I would never recommend Counter in the EV--it is way overpriced for the quality and portion size, and the food is not that good. I often find the staff annoying.

                    John's of 12th is a regular Italian place that just put out a new entirely vegan menu, and everything I've had so far from it is pretty darn good. I would recommend checking that out; it is a lot of fun to be able to eat the same sorts of Italian dishes as your friends.

                    Of course, Angelica Kitchen is a vegetarian staple in the city and the food is always so remarkably fresh and usually quite interesting and inventive. It has a relaxed, clean bohemian sort of atmosphere. However, it IS cash only, which is lame because it's a bit pricey, and there's no ac or ice cubes in the summer, which can suck. Menu rotates often, so I can't really suggest anything in particular. Go in and order whatever appeals most to you--you'll like it.

                    My favorite place for cheaper eats is The Organic Grill, which is mostly vegetarian and has a wide variety of vegan options. It's kind of a hole-in-the wall in the East Village, but it seems pretty clean and the food does what so few things ever successfully do: fills you up, tastes delicious, AND is quite healthy. I highly recommend it--just avoid the waffles and wine smoothies. Everything else is very, very good. They even have mastered the raw dessert--I would have seriously never thought it was possible to be tasty, raw, and dessert before I tried stuff here. Oh, it is possible. Specifically, I really enjoy the vegan omelette with mushrooms, cheese, kale, and onions. It's served with Yukon Gold home fries. The signature salad is also really hearty and delicious and different.
                    But the best vegetarian entree in NYC imo is in Brooklyn, and you should definitely make the trip--to the biweekly Gracious Gourmand dinner. A guest chef creates a gourmet-prix fixe vegetarian meal and it is always divine. Check it out.

                    Angelica Kitchen
                    300 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                    Dirt Candy
                    430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                    Organic Grill
                    123 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AmethystMarzipan

                      Tell us more about the vegan menu at John's - not the first thing you'd expect from a 100-year-old restaurant.

                      John's of 12th Street
                      302 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                    2. (In decreasing order of perceived special-ness)

                      1. Japanese shojin restaurants - Kajitsu is lovely.
                      2. Gramercy Tavern will do a vegetarian tasting menu if requested in advance.
                      3. Dirt Candy (I agree that Pure Food and Wine and Counter are overpriced, I haven't tried Cafe Blossom in Chelsea)
                      4. Veggie-friendly loca-vore places like Northern Spy and The Green Table (very solid risotto and vegetable pot pie respectively)
                      5. Asian / Asian inspired: Gobo, Soy and Sake, Pukk, Souen (multiple locations), Hangawi, Wild Ginger, Buddha Bodai
                      6. Indian / Indian subcontinent: Vatan, Lots of places on Lex for regional Indian food, Sigiri (Sri Lankan) and the tibetan place on 1st Ave are super casual and affordable.
                      7. Angelika Kitchen, Quantum Leap (multiple locations), Atlas Cafe and Sacred Chow have very respectable sandwiches.
                      8. Otto and Paprika have some excellent vegetarian options (best gnocchi ever at Paprika!)


                      Gramercy Tavern
                      42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

                      71 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                      Buddha Bodai
                      5 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                      409 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10016

                      The Green Table
                      75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                      91 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                      Cafe Blossom
                      466 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

                      28 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

                      Pure Food and Wine
                      54 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

                      Quantum Leap
                      203 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                      Dirt Candy
                      430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                      Soy and Sake
                      47 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

                      Wild Ginger
                      226 E 51st St, New York, NY 10022

                      414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                      Sacred Chow
                      227 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012