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I can't believe it's not bacon
August 12, 2010 10:43 AM   Subscribe

So I'm looking to entertain a new female acquaintance in NYC who is a vegetarian. My ten years of building up my foodie cred are worthless! Where can we have a nice dinner that is not Zen Palate or Angelica's?

What is the Momofuku of vegetarianism? Does such a place exist?
posted by Threeway Handshake to Food & Drink (52 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Candle 79 and Candle Cafe
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:44 AM on August 12, 2010


Candle 79 is your answer
posted by dfriedman at 10:44 AM on August 12, 2010


Candle 79 is more "fine dining" and Candle Cafe is more casual, if it wasn't clear. Enjoy :D
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:46 AM on August 12, 2010


Caravan of Dreams. Nom nom. NOM.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:52 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why not Angelica Kitchen?
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:54 AM on August 12, 2010


CARAVAN OF DREAMS IS SO GOOD I HAD TO WRITE THIS IN ALL CAPS.
posted by josher71 at 10:57 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Caravan of Dreams. It's nice and elegant and delicious and you leave feeling aesthetically and physically satisfied but not too full.
posted by crackingdes at 10:58 AM on August 12, 2010


Blossom, in Chelsea
the vegetarian dim sum place on I think Pell St. in Chinatown
Vegetarian Paradise--more Chinese food with disconcerting fake meat
posted by bink at 10:58 AM on August 12, 2010


Pure Food and Wine

It's mostly vegan and raw, however it is quite delicious and the atmosphere is fancy/elegant. Some reviews.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 11:02 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Try Kajitsu in the East Village. It was pretty awesome. Definitely date-worthy and foodie-worthy. Here's a review with lots of photos that gives a good feel.
posted by Perplexity at 11:04 AM on August 12, 2010


You could go with one of the all-vegetarian Indian restaurants. There is Madras Mahal at Lexington and 27th. I think there are one or two other restaurants of the same type on that block too.
posted by Paquda at 11:06 AM on August 12, 2010


Why not Angelica Kitchen?

Angelica's Kitchen is the "visiting the top of the Empire State Building" of NYC vegan dining.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:06 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


For more relaxed veggie dining, I heartily second that vegetarian dim sum place on Pell St. mentioned upthread. I've been kept up at night just thinking about that place. The fruit shakes there are also fantastic.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 11:07 AM on August 12, 2010


V spot in Park Slope
posted by edbles at 11:07 AM on August 12, 2010


Kajitsu, Dirt Candy. Both veg, both places I as an omnivore am happy to go to.
posted by JPD at 11:07 AM on August 12, 2010


Bonobo's. Raw, vegan, mostly organic. Delicious and adventurous. Very casual. Sampling highly encouraged.
posted by West of House at 11:07 AM on August 12, 2010


Thanks everybody for the recs! These places look great.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:08 AM on August 12, 2010


Keep an eye on Maggie Hoffman's The Vegetarian Option column on Serious Eats. She is working on seeking out the best vegetarian dishes at omnivore-friendly restaurants in New York City.

In terms of Vegetarian's Paradise make sure you know which one you're talking about. Vegetarian's Paradise is in Chinatown, whereas Vegetarian's Paradise 2 (aka VP2) is on West 4th Street. Next door to VP2 is also Red Bamboo, its sister restaurant.
posted by kathryn at 11:15 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll be a dissenting voice here: Neither Candle location is very good. Both feel like 1970s throwbacks, and the food is nowhere near worth what they charge for it.

Blossom is miles better--and the food is good enough that non-vegetarians also enjoy it.

Pure Food & Wine is also a winner. But seriously, avoid Candle.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:17 AM on August 12, 2010


Red Bamboo
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:19 AM on August 12, 2010


Is there a reason you are avoiding taking her to places that aren't entirely vegetarian? Does she not like to be in the same room as meat? Because I eat mostly vegetarian and pretty much any good restaurant I've been to in a large city has vegetarian options. If it were me I'd rather be taken to some of your favorite places than have you seek out all-vegetarian restaurants.
posted by JenMarie at 11:21 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Counter in the East Village is pretty good too.
posted by cestmoi15 at 11:23 AM on August 12, 2010


Is Indian a possibility? Vatan's fixed-price all-you-can-eat dinner is amazing. Counter is also very good, though not as mind-blowing as it was a few years ago, it seems. (On what part of town are you keying?)

Red Bamboo is indeed awesome, but for my money (and lots of it - it's expensive) Candle 79 still rules all, especially for a date. Funny, yellowcandy - I found Blossom to be a pretty big letdown.
posted by mintcake! at 11:29 AM on August 12, 2010


Dirt Candy! Never been, just love the name and read good reviews.
posted by hungrybruno at 11:34 AM on August 12, 2010


I think Red Bamboo is overrated.
posted by josher71 at 11:34 AM on August 12, 2010


> Vatan's fixed-price all-you-can-eat dinner is amazing.

That's what I was coming here to recommend. Totally vegetarian, totally delicious. One of the few vegetarian places this meat-eater would voluntarily choose to eat at without having to for the sake of a vegetarian friend.
posted by languagehat at 11:35 AM on August 12, 2010


JenMarie, quite a bit of my favorite places in town are still in the middle of the all-things-pig hipster craze. It certainly wouldn't bother her to be at a "normal" restaurant, but it would be nice to not have to order from the one or two options (if that!) that they'd have.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:38 AM on August 12, 2010


Is there a reason you are avoiding taking her to places that aren't entirely vegetarian? Does she not like to be in the same room as meat? Because I eat mostly vegetarian and pretty much any good restaurant I've been to in a large city has vegetarian options. If it were me I'd rather be taken to some of your favorite places than have you seek out all-vegetarian restaurants.

Vegetarians have good reasons to go to vegetarian restaurants aside from not wanting to "be in the same room as meat." There are more options, and you're supporting a good cause. If he had said, "She loves Italian food, so please recommend a good Italian restaurant in NYC," I don't think anyone would say, "Is there a reason you want to go to an Italian restaurant when there are many other restaurants that also serve pasta?"

I would also appreciate someone going to a vegetarian restaurant with me as long as they didn't act like it was a big deal -- for me or the other person.

I say this as a longtime vegetarian who loves Angelica Kitchen (I didn't realize it was supposed to be looked down on).
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:39 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are more options, and you're supporting a good cause.

It is also 100% fabulous to eat in a restaurant where you don't have to wonder if utensils and cooking surfaces have been (even accidentally) anointed with meat. The ability to order anything on the menu also makes me unspeakably happy.
posted by mintcake! at 11:46 AM on August 12, 2010


From personal experience, Balaboosta and most (all?) of Boulud's places have FANTASTIC vegetarian options.
posted by frankdrebin at 11:50 AM on August 12, 2010


I've liked Vatan for vegetarian Indian food (at 3rd and 29th).
posted by aught at 12:05 PM on August 12, 2010


Oh, I also had vegetarian friends who really liked Kate's Joint in the East Village, but I have never been there myself.
posted by aught at 12:09 PM on August 12, 2010


It is also 100% fabulous to eat in a restaurant where you don't have to wonder if utensils and cooking surfaces have been (even accidentally) anointed with meat. The ability to order anything on the menu also makes me unspeakably happy.

Heh, well that's certainly true. I've tasted a distinct bacon flavor on some breakfast items that were nominally vegetarian. When it comes down to it I'm not very strict about my dining habits so your points are well-taken.
posted by JenMarie at 12:20 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


thirding dirt candy, though make a reservation. it's small and they don't take walk-ins.
very worth it, though.
posted by qnarf at 12:21 PM on August 12, 2010


Counter would be my top rec, over even Candle. Even my meat-obsessed foodie bf loves it.

(And Anjelica Kitchen is the blandest food ever created. Barf.)
posted by dame at 12:35 PM on August 12, 2010


Oh, I also had vegetarian friends who really liked Kate's Joint in the East Village, but I have never been there myself.

I went there within the past year and the food was pretty mediocre. I would go there again as a totally chill place to have tons of vegetarian options and eat a solid, filling meal with a beer. It could be a cool vegetarian date place -- but not to show off your culinary sensibilities to a "foodie."

(And Anjelica Kitchen is the blandest food ever created. Barf.)

It's called Angelica Kitchen and wow, you have extremely different taste than me. I've had some of the best food in my life there. However, the OP is clear that he doesn't want to go there.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:42 PM on August 12, 2010


Is Gobo still in existence? It's hella spendy, but I do remember it being really delicious.

For dessert, I highly recommend the Atlas Cafe, in the east village.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:57 PM on August 12, 2010


Blossom, Dirt Candy, and, if the place doesn't have to be completely vegetarian, only for there to be many extremely tasty vegetarian options, Community Food and Juice.
posted by pmb at 1:02 PM on August 12, 2010


Another vote for Counter. Good food and organic cocktails!
posted by jrb223 at 1:04 PM on August 12, 2010


Is Gobo still in existence? It's hella spendy, but I do remember it being really delicious.

I went to Gobo a few months ago. The food was great, but the service was horrendous. I'd read many reviews that said the service was poor but we went for it anyway and it was a mistake. We waited a half hour for the check after asking for it three times. Avoid.

I did have great experiences at both Vatan and Candle 79 the same weekend.
posted by something something at 1:06 PM on August 12, 2010


"How" vegetarian is she? Fish or no fish? Lacto/ovo or?
I've avoided all kinds of meat for years and years now (though I do eat fish) and have only rarely been at a total loss for what to eat.

Egg, out in Williamsburg, has some really good non-meat food (and they don't cook their hash-browns with lard/animal fat either) and is all around delicious.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:10 PM on August 12, 2010


My wife and I are both fans of Gobo. We've never had a problem with the service.
posted by fremen at 1:29 PM on August 12, 2010


Candle sucks compared to a lot of other options -- Counter changes its staff/story quite a lot but is generally okay-to-good, Blossom is okay-to-good (less good than Counter, in my experience), Pure is one of my dream destinations (I haven't been yet), but I think it might help to be really into raw food.

If you're interested in a slightly different experience than American-vegetarian or fake-meat-pan-Asian-vegetarian, I really, really enjoyed HanGawi. It is Korean, upscale (fanciest meal I've had in a while), quiet (so great for conversation and getting to know each other), and most importantly, DELICIOUS. Romantic enough for a date night, professional enough for a business meeting -- I don't know exactly what your relationship is with this new acquaintance.
posted by obliquicity at 1:44 PM on August 12, 2010


Counter is good, but Pure Food and Wine (vegan and raw) is the best - this coming from a non-vegetarian. PF&W's mint sundae is to die for. So save room for dessert.
posted by yeti at 1:53 PM on August 12, 2010


HanGawi is one of my all-time favorites in NYC, so I'll second (if you're open to Korean food). The food is refined, scrumptious, and not fake meat-y. Also, I agree, it's very romantic, but in a low-key, secluded, take-your-shoes-off-and-get-comfy-together-at-a-low-table way. Which is to say, "not stuffy". Always a good balance to strike, especially with a new acquaintance.
posted by sarabeth at 2:02 PM on August 12, 2010


I love Metafilter, and all of you. Thanks for all the tips!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 3:20 PM on August 12, 2010


When I was vegan I ate at practically every vegetarian place in NYC. Hangawi and Pure Food and Wine are great choices.

And, I have had vegetarian tasting menu at Boulud's restaurant and also Per Se does a vegetarian tasting menu. These are not vegetarian option type dishes. They are real vegetarian meals.
posted by E-Boogie at 5:12 PM on August 12, 2010


Counter has great atmosphere (aside from the huge, horrifically placed McDonald's sign across the street) and excellent food, but be aware that the portions/prices are counterintuitive. I got a pizza that was priced about the same as their entrees, and I was disappointed with how miniscule it was. It was so un-filling that even after eating the whole thing, I decided to look for another restaurant for a full dinner.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:26 PM on August 12, 2010


Speaking as a carnivore, who lives with a vegan girlfriend, these are the vegan restaurants we frequent together that we both think are just fan-fucking-tastic.

Dirt Candy (Excellent, wonderful, creative vegetables)
Vegan Dim Sum House (Pell street, AWESOME AWESOME X10000 turnip cakes, dumplings, etc)
Red Bamboo (Awesome, delicious veg soul/asian fusion)
Caravan of Dreams (organic, vegan, and very hippy, but surprisingly good)
Candle 79 (More expensive version of Candle Cafe, and much better, awesome seitan)
Counter (Great drinks, very good food)
posted by Aversion Therapy at 8:40 PM on August 12, 2010


Also, Angelica Kitchen is absolute flavorless crap. Our first date was there, and we NEVER went back. Ugh.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 8:43 PM on August 12, 2010


The OP specifically ruled out Angelica Kitchen as a possibility. Some people like it, others don't. If you want to see a more detailed breakdown of opinion, you can read the 300 reviews on Yelp. I don't think we need to keep talking about it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:48 PM on August 12, 2010


Wild Ginger is a great spot with wonderful veggie chinese food. My girlfriend and I get take out from there regularly, but the atmosphere is definitely date worthy. They have locations in Little Italy, Williamsburg and Cobble Hill. But I've found the food at the Williamsburg location to be lacking in comparison to the other two.
posted by SteveFlamingo at 5:05 AM on August 21, 2010


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