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Vegetarian-friendly but not exclusively vegetarian restaurants

n
nb09 Jan 2, 2012 03:59 PM

Hi all,

As a "foodie" who mostly eats vegetarian but isn't much a fan of "vegetarian restaurants," I've been thinking...

What are the best restaurants in NYC that are vegetarian-friendly but NOT exclusively vegetarian? I don't necessarily just mean restaurants that have vegetarian options...I mean restaurants where the vegetarian options are really good, actually showcase the chef's style, and are perhaps even stars of the menu...rather than just being "passable."

The best example of this type of restaurant that I can think of is Scarpetta. Not only do they have a separate vegetarian menu, but two of the most famous dishes - the polenta and the spaghetti tomato basil - are vegetarian. Another example is Alta - so many excellent dishes there happen to be vegetarian.

Some examples of restaurants that are the opposite of this theme - Tertulia (the highlight and specialty of the menu is Iberico ham), The Breslin (again, the specialty is meat). Having eaten at both of these places, my experience is that, as a vegetarian, you largely miss out on what makes the restaurant so special.

So - what can you think of? What are your favorite vegetarian-friendly-but-not-vegetarian restaurants in NYC? What foodie destinations have truly great dishes that happen to be vegetarian?

  1. u
    uncledunkel Jan 12, 2012 04:23 AM

    brushstroke?

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    Brushstroke
    30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

    1. k
      Kate_N Jan 10, 2012 09:41 AM

      I was pleasantly surprised that, like Scarpetta, Buttermilk Channel and Danji have vegetarian menus upon request.

      I'm always happy at Cookshop, Edi & the Wolf, Kinshop, Frankies/Prime Meats, and Paulie Gee's (where you can get meat substitutes to top your pie!).

      On the lower end, Caracas Arepa Bar can replace the meat in most arepas with their delicious crispy tofu. An Choi has a vegetarian banh mi and a vegetarian pho. And at the very high end, Per Se and EMP were phenomenal.

      Almost as bad as the places that outright don't have any vegetarian options are the ones that seem to at first glance but actually DON'T. Empellon is NOT vegetarian-friendly in the slightest. The tortillas have lard in them, meaning the seemingly veggie-friendly tacos, queso fundidos, chips/guac, etc actually aren't. I also steer clear of Seersucker, David Chang places, the Breslin (even the "chips" aren't safe - they are fried in duck fat), and Terroir (it seemed like every menu item I asked about had some sort of undisclosed meat in it).

      -----
      Eleven Madison Park
      11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

      Frankies 17 Spuntino
      17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

      Cookshop
      156 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

      Caracas Arepa Bar
      93 1/2 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

      Terroir
      413 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009

      Scarpetta
      355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

      An Choi
      85 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

      The Breslin
      20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

      Kin Shop
      469 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

      Danji
      346 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019

      Empellon Taqueria
      230 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

      Edi & the Wolf
      102 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009

      2 Replies
      1. re: Kate_N
        v
        vegivore Jan 10, 2012 11:43 AM

        Momofuko noodle bar actually offers a vegetarian ginger scallion noodles. And they can make their cauliflower dish without chicken stock upon request. Also, milk bar offers a decent veggie bun.

        I'm not saying that it meets the requirements of the original poster. But at least there are options.

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        Momofuku Noodle Bar
        171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

        1. re: Kate_N
          c
          carlylecat Jan 10, 2012 02:11 PM

          La Grenouille has a full vegetarian menu

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          La Grenouille
          3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

        2. k
          kathryn Jan 4, 2012 10:23 AM

          Perhaps Craft or ABC Kitchen?

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          Craft
          43 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003

          ABC Kitchen
          35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

          1. sgordon Jan 4, 2012 09:41 AM

            Dovetail, for sure.

            Also Scarpetta has a full vegetarian menu with a half dozen options for antipasti, primi, and secondi - not just a few token pastas.

            All of Batali's restaurants, IIRC, participate in the "Meatless Monday" thing where on Mondays there's a full veggie menu in addition to the regular one - so Babbo or Del Posto could be options. Probably not Manzo or Esca, though. And Lupa is always a good choice, even on a non-Monday.

            WD-50 generally has a couple of vegetarian apps and one entree - and they've been known to alter dishes when they can for veggies - i.e. I've a kosher friend (well, not STRICTLY kosher, more Upper East Side Kosher - doesn't eat swine or shellfish, basically) who was given an "eggs florentine" in lieu of their "eggs benedict" when he did their tasting menu. Wouldn't hurt to call in advance, see what they've got available - it won't be listed on the website menu.

            -----
            WD-50
            50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

            Lupa
            170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

            Babbo
            110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

            Del Posto
            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

            Dovetail
            103 West 77th Street, New York, NY 10024

            Scarpetta
            355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

            1. Spiritchaser Jan 3, 2012 10:49 AM

              Per Se, Picholine, Daniel - all high end fine dining with extensive, deliberate, vegetarian menus.

              Eleven Madison Park's menu is designed to easily adapt to vegetarian diets.

              Tocqueville features a vegetarian tasting menu.

              My GF is a vegetarian and she has been supremely happy at each of the places mentioned.

              -----
              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              Eleven Madison Park
              11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

              Tocqueville
              1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

              Picholine
              35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

              3 Replies
              1. re: Spiritchaser
                StevenCinNYC Jan 11, 2012 11:42 PM

                Eleven Madison Park really deserves special mention here. I went with my mother who has a four-page list of allergies and special dietary requirements, and EMP was not only accommodating, but they went out of their way to make certain that she had an extraordinary meal. We asked them about it, and they said that they were no longer satisfied with providing a few options for people with dietary restrictions. They are now focused on making certain that people can have the same level of excellence and creativity in their meals with dietary restrictions. As an example, my mother said that they served the best gluten-free bread she has ever had, and that was just one of her many superlative comments. To me, this place epitomizes the sort of recent the OP describing in terms of making the experience special for a vegetarian (or vegan or allergic person, etc.).

                Danny Meier's other restaurants also make some significant efforts to provide a good experience for people on restrictive diets. I had a very nice meal with a vegan at The Modern.

                Lastly, I'd like to mention Hangawi. It's vegetarian so slightly off-topic here, but their entire menu is well suited to vegetarians and omnivores alike, and they do a nice job.

                -----
                Eleven Madison Park
                11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                The Modern
                9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

                HanGawi
                12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

                1. re: StevenCinNYC
                  Spiritchaser Jan 12, 2012 04:25 AM

                  Nit picking here but EMP is no longer a Danny Meyer restaurant.

                  1. re: Spiritchaser
                    StevenCinNYC Jan 12, 2012 06:42 AM

                    I stand corrected, both on the ownership and spelling of Danny Meyer's name. That said, "nitpicking" is just one word!

              2. v
                vegivore Jan 2, 2012 08:45 PM

                Kin shop has some great vegetarian options. I don't know if those are their specialties, but they are really good. Parm (Torrisi's new sandwich outpost) has a few vegetarian options. They're famous for their fresh mozzarella, which is vegetarian.

                Aldea doesn't have any vegetarian options. Period.

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                Aldea
                31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                Kin Shop
                469 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                Parm
                248 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                1. f
                  fm1963 Jan 2, 2012 06:06 PM

                  Cafe Boulud and Babbo have quite a few vegetarian options. Ciano, Perilla, Lincoln, Balaboosta, Osteria Morini, Lupa and Hearth usually have at least one vegetarian pasta as well as vegetarian sides and appetizers.

                  I've also had delicious vegetarian entrees at Joseph Leonard, Whitehall, Junoon, Nuela, Empellon, Yerba Buena Perry, and La Silhouette.

                  For high end, Per Se and Picholine will accommodate vegetarian requests.

                  In addition to Tertulia and The Breslin, the Momofuku restaurants don't seem to cater to vegetarians.

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