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Help! - Extremely Picky Vegetarian Mom Coming to Town

Hi everybody. My parents are coming to town for spring break and I need some ideas for places to eat. Normally, entertaining guests is pretty easy for me, but my mom is probably the pickiest eater you will ever meet.

First off, she's a vegetarian, but it doesn't end there. Thai and Indian, (my veggie staples), are off the table because they're too exotic. She also won't eat soy products because of hormones or something, which knocks out a lot of veggie Asian cuisine. I've been trying to get her into vegetarian Israeli places, (i.e. Hummus Place), but that's been a battle.

She likes salads, and is currently obsessed with beet salads, but prefers them or be local and organic. She'll eat pizza and Italian food sometimes, but I've got that covered, so don't worry about that. A wine bar or restaurant with a good cheese plate would be nice, or good vegetarian bar food, (spinach artichoke dip, onion rings, etc.). A high-end mac and cheese place would be nice, as would a Korean place that serves a great veggie bi bim bap. She'll eat eggs, so an exceptionally good diner or breakfast place would be great too.

We're seeing Bruce Springsteen at The Garden on Monday, so we need somewhere in midtown to grab a bite afterwards. A good bar would be fine. Despite the fact I work 2 blocks from The garden, I have no idea where to go. Most of the bars/restaurants around there suck if you want anything more than drinks.

It doesn't matter what part of Manhattan the places are in. We'll be roaming around and I'd like to be covered no matter where we are in the city. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If I don't come up with some ideas, they''ll try to drag me to Josie's again, which for some reason they like, but IMHO is probably one of the worst restaurants in all of New York.

Thanks very much!

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  1. I will look into it shortly because I have to run somewhere but if I had your mother-in-law- there would be NO entertaining

    1. Is Brooklyn also too exotic? Buttermilk Channel in Carroll Gardens has a very nice vegetarian menu, but it would a bit of a journey on the F train.

      1. Dovetail monday vegetable-focused menu
        Dirt Candy
        Check out: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/tags/V...

        1. Some places we love in NYC are:
          The Candle Cafe: http://candlecafe.com/
          Caravan of Dreams: http://www.caravanofdreams.net/#/Home
          oh and If you are down for a really awesome lunch truck, The Cinnamon Snail:
          http://www.cinnamonsnail.com/

          This guide might also help: http://supervegan.com/restaurants.php
          You can punch in a zip code and get the all the restaurants in the area that might meet you needs. Not all the restaurants are vegan, but they will list ones with vegan and vegetarian options, plus reviews

          1. Dirt Candy? Red Radish has lots of interesting vegetables? S'Mac has interesting mac and cheeses....It's not particularly popular on this board, but I've always enjoyed it. (Not a fan of Macbar on Prince street, but it's another alternative.) ABC kitchen has a beet salad on the menu, but I haven't tried it...I know you said you had Italian covered, but Verdure in Eataly has some great salads. Also, Northern Spy Food Co has lots of interesting vegetables.

            The New York Times a review of all the grilled cheese sandwich places if you think your mother would find that interesting...Most of them aren't really sit down places though..

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/din...

            My favorite beet salad in the city is Colonie in Brooklyn if you're thinking of going to the outer boroughs...

            About Madison Square garden, they recently did a massive upgrade of the food available there. I haven't been, so I don't know what the veggie options are, but it might be worth checking out as long as you're there.

            1. You say that Korean might qualify, so you're being at MSG is perfect. Others will know which places along that Vegas-y strip of 32nd west of Fifth serve the best bi bim bap, but -if you want to show her some class- it's hard to imagine doing better than Hangawi.

              [P.S. +1 on the diss of Josie's; the appeal of that place eludes me, and their dining rooms always smell peculiar.]

              2 Replies
              1. re: Phil Ogelos

                If she's really strict about soy, most Korean places would be out of the running. Soy sauce is pretty common in marinades and such - but if it's just tofu she doesn't do, then yeah, there are few options. Hangawai is amazing, and quite different than normal Korean, but even the regular Korean places - Kum Gang San and Gahm Mi Oak would be my choices - will have decent veggie options.

                That said, it sounds like the OP has a picky eater on their hands, so maybe stay away from Asian in general.

                Dirt Candy is an excellent choice for something nicer, and even the omnivores in the group will love it - I don't know anyone who doesn't, frankly. Pure Food & Wine might be good for Mom, but might leave everyone else a bit wanting.

                For other upscale places, ABC Kitchen has lots of veggie dishes, and there's always at least one veggie entree (and multiple appetizers) on the menu at Blue Hill, for something a bit higher end.

                For lunch, go by Eataly and grab a table at Le Verdure, the veggie restaurant. It's always the least busy of the multiple options, and the food is great. If it's a nice day you could get it to go and eat in Madison Square Park, even. (And everyone else could grab some Shake Shack while you're there...)

                1. re: sgordon

                  2nd Le Verdure. The vegetarian food is very tasty.

              2. BTW Scarpetta has a separate vegetarian menu with a nice sounding beet dish.
                http://www.scottconant.com/restaurant...

                For cheese, perhaps Artisanal for a cheese and wine flight, if you don't mind the noise. It's not a super far walk from Madison Square Garden. Neither is the newly opened NoMad, which has a good looking beet dish on its menu as well as cheese plates available.
                http://www.artisanalbistro.com/new_me...
                http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2012/03...

                For mac and cheese, or brunch, perhaps Westville. It's pretty casual. They are known for their daily market vegetable side list, which is very long.
                http://www.westvillenyc.com/
                http://www.westvillenyc.com/daily-spe...

                You should also look into The Green Table
                http://cleaverco.blogspot.com/

                2nd Northern Spy Company.
                http://www.northernspyfoodco.com/menu...

                1 Reply
                1. re: kathryn

                  Thanks everybody! We had lunch at the Green Table on Saturday, which was OK. I ate there years ago and had forgotten how small their portions are. But Chelsea Market is always loads of fun. We're going to shoot for Le Verdure tonight. We walked over to Eataly a few days ago and the menu looked really good, as did the one at the pasta place. Thankfully, I've yet to be dragged to Josie's. :)