nice veg restaurant in manhattan?
September 19, 2006 1:53 AM   Subscribe

Looking for an awesome, romantic, reasonably-priced restaurant in New York City with excellent vegetarian dishes.

Does anyone have any reccomendations for a vegetarian (or a place with some great veggie dishes) restaurant in Manhattan where I could bring a date? I say reasonably-priced because I'd like to go somewhere nice, but not pay a ridiculous amount. Extra points if its in/around Gramercy.
posted by deafweatherman to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (27 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I just went to Blossom (187 9th Ave, Chelsea) and it was delicious. Very nice decor, although what kind of "reasonable" are you thinking? My entree was $19, which is ok, but the wine was rather expensive. It's a vegan restaurant. I'm not vegan, and I liked it, if that tells you anything.
posted by chelseagirl at 4:23 AM on September 19, 2006

Well, Indian places usually have lots of good veggie stuff. My favorite is Tamarind, 22nd street just west of Park. I find it romantic. "Reasonably priced" is, of course, a relative term. It's pricey for Indian food but well worth it and it's not crazy. I think of it as sort of that medium level of nice restaurants. It's nice, for sure. But they don't look down your nose at you at all. Another place in a similar vein with really good food and nice atmosphere is Devi on 18th street between 5th and 6th. But Tamarind's my favorite. Restaurant in New York.

For really reasonably priced, I like Simply Pasta on 41st just east of Times Square. It's got tons of pasta dishes, veggie or not, and the atmosphere is pretty romantic for being so inexpensive. Without wine you can dine for around $10 a head. Just don't go when the tourists are trying to get to a show after dinner. (Although, if YOU are trying to get to a show after dinner, it's a good place to go. They can turn you around fast if you need them to, and it's nowhere near as mobbed as the chains in Times Square proper. And way better).
posted by lampoil at 4:46 AM on September 19, 2006

Oh, and mine of course only apply if you're looking for just veggie and not vegan. Italian is Italian, and in my experience Indian restaurants aren't as familiar with veganism. Though those might be. Not sure.
posted by lampoil at 4:48 AM on September 19, 2006

Best Indian restaurants (haute-cuisine-style) in NYC: Tabla and Devi. One of those would probably be a good date. Both are reasonably priced compared to European-styled fine dining.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:58 AM on September 19, 2006

Tabla is nice, but I wouldn't count on them having a wide selection of vegetarian options. One or two of each appetizers and entrees at most, and I wouldn't be surprised if almost every dessert contained gelatin.
posted by lampoil at 5:09 AM on September 19, 2006

Tabla is not reasonably priced in any sense. And the food doesn't justify the price. I've eaten at Vatan on 3rd avenue, the inside is pretty cool (like a little indian village, and very spacious ~$25 prix fixe when I went). Food was delicious, but later learned from an Indian friend that it's because they supposedly overload their food with ghee (clarified butter). But it would be a great date place, as the tables are arranged that you're not on top of the people next to you. The other indian place in that area I've been to was Saravanas, on Lexington ~28th? Food is great, I usually get a thali and a few appetizers and split it with the lady. Drawback is tables on top of each other, gets very loud. My sugggestion is pack on the calories and go to Vatan, the food will be good and the atmosphere is unique and great for a date...
posted by lovejones at 6:05 AM on September 19, 2006

Zen Palate on Union Square East, near the De La Guarda theater. Awesome all-vegetarian Asian fusion (in the good sense), and pretty romantic in the evening. This fits the "near Gramercy" criterion too.

Angelica Kitchen on 12th St b/t 1st and 2nd Ave is a great little vegan place; also romantic and reasonably priced, and a bit more bohemian than ZP.

I could go on and on, but there are two good places near Gramercy.

One more place I like is Candle Cafe, which has two locations an easy 6 ride uptown away from Gramercy; it's a bit more upscale, but worth it if you're feeling flush.

And if you're feeling really flush, check this: Daniel Boulud's Daniel has a three-course prix fixe for $96 and a five course tasting menu for $155 (pdf link).
posted by The Michael The at 6:11 AM on September 19, 2006

And for non-indian, smack in the middle of Gramercy on Irving Pl is Pure Food and Wine.
posted by lovejones at 6:15 AM on September 19, 2006

For another Indian suggestion, Pongal (on Lex around 28th - 29th street) is a delicious, affordable, all-vegetarian Indian restaurant with classy decor. I started eating there about 5 years ago when I noticed several cars with diplomat license plates parked out front.
posted by saladin at 6:39 AM on September 19, 2006

I wouldn't think of zen palate or angelika's as being particularly romantic - they're both pretty hustly-bustly feeling... I always liked Old Devil Moon on east 12th for that tucked away / mood lighting atmosphere, and their veggie dishes are great, if somewhat on the heavy side (tofu steak rather than alfalfa sprouts).

But really, pretty much any restaurant in the downtown area will have decent veggie selections, in my experience. I never even think about it anymore, though now and then I get tripped up by a midtown spot.
posted by mdn at 6:44 AM on September 19, 2006

Another all vegetarian Indian place is Vatan. It's an sit down all you can eat place for not too much money. The decor is really nice. It's made up like an Indian village. Really delicious and you get 15 different dishes. Make sure you get a reservation.
posted by jefftang at 6:50 AM on September 19, 2006

I took a vegetarian friend to Tabla a couple years ago, expecting a decent array of choices for him. Sadly, this was not the case.
posted by mkultra at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2006

Counter in the east village sounds like a fit. The food is very good, the prices are reasonable, and the setting is nice.
posted by Gamblor at 8:09 AM on September 19, 2006

Gobo, on 6th ave is a great vegan place, and I am not usually a fan of vegan restaurants. They even have good fake cheese (which I always thought was an oxymoron). Not pricey if you get a few appetizers and small plates instead of the large plates. It's a very classy scene, feels like a great date place.
posted by rmless at 8:13 AM on September 19, 2006

I cannot recommend HanGawi strongly enough - I am normally a carnivore, but this is a magical Korean vegetarian place.
posted by blahblahblah at 8:23 AM on September 19, 2006

Angelica Kitchen
Caravan of Dreams
posted by jeffe at 8:56 AM on September 19, 2006

I second Hangawi strongly. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is perfect for a quiet romantic evening. Walk in and feel all the hustle of Manhattan fade away.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:17 AM on September 19, 2006

The Red Cat's menu does have lots of fish & meat, but they always have a few excellent vegetarian dishes. It's not especially expensive, the room is quiet and certainly romantic, and the service perfect. There's not a lot else on the far west side, and it's a bit of a trek, but I do enjoy it.

Gamblor's suggestion of Counter is also a good one, as is bbb's HanGawi - both great places. Hangawi's menu is extensive and there's always original, interesting stuff on it.
posted by luriete at 9:47 AM on September 19, 2006

A third vote for Vatan: great, varied, plentiful vegetarian Indian food in a nice atmosphere, although it can be hard to get a table on weekends.
posted by brain_drain at 10:07 AM on September 19, 2006

Caravan of Dreams is nice, but I didn't find it particularly romantic. I took my boyfriend there for his birthday - he's vegetarian, I'm not - and we both enjoyed the food immensely. I'd second Candle, except that it's probably a bit out of the price range you were looking for.
posted by bedhead at 10:53 AM on September 19, 2006

It seems that Pure Food and Wine is exactly what you're looking for -- good for a date and great veg food, and as close to Gramercy as you're going to get. However it's about $50 per person, if you get wine as well.

Someone above mentioned that Zen Palate is too bustly to be romantic -- that's true, but the Union Square one has an upstairs that's quiet, has tablecloths, real menus, and fancier food choices. Very nice for a date! To me, the only downside is that they don't serve liquor.

Also near Gramercy is the Galaxy Global Eatery, which has many vegetarian dishes but serves meat as well (you can see the menu through the link). It's a dark, starry restaurant/bar with music, so it can have kind of a club vibe and get noisy, depending on when you go.

So I also second Counter -- great food, beautiful room that would be a perfect date vibe because it looks great but isn't overly fancy, organic wine, not as pricey as Pure. The only downside is that it's farther from Gramercy.

But if you're outside of Gramercy anyway, there's a fun and cute vegetarian Thai place called Pukk that might do. The design isn't traditionally date-like (you can see pictures on the site); they have a lime-green resin thing going on.

And again outside of Gramercy but really good interesting food is the raw place Quintessence which has a casual and rustic vibe.

And my last outside of Gramercy recommendation would be Spring Street Natural which has a nice vibe for dates, free twig tea, but is primarily an organic restaurant so they have some veg dishes and some meat.
posted by xo at 12:00 PM on September 19, 2006

A cranky follow-up to some of the suggestions here.

Angelica is quite good, but can be a little pricey and incredibly scene-y. I used to date a girl that worked there, and even promises of free food were rarely enough to entice me to put up with all the haircuts, kvetching and Madonna sightings. Great for take-out, though.

Caravan of Dreams is mediocre, and also scene-y, but less hipster (like Angelica) and more hippie.

Pukk is delicious, cheap, and cool, and I can't believe that I forgot about it. The tofu they serve there is some of the best I've ever had.

Spring Street Natural is overpriced, understaffed, and the food is trash. I used to date a girl that worked here as well (beginning to notice a pattern?) Avoid it like the plague.

Quintessence's chef and owner has been repeatedly caught (and charged for) exposing himself to women on subway cars. Only a true asshole would eat at that place, knowing that.

Good luck!
posted by saladin at 1:19 PM on September 19, 2006

I third Hangawi. The food is different, everything on the menu is vegetarian, and the inside is gorgeous. Plus they make really good fresh apple and pear juices (don't laugh, they're so tasty!).

Also, I can tell you from experience that it's romantic.
posted by anjamu at 2:11 PM on September 19, 2006

Right on, saladin. There's an ongoing boycott of Quintessence's co-owner/chef (who made truly creepy & stalkery comments in interviews about the last girl he exposed himself to on the subway -- the one whose camera-phone pic of him in action made the cover of the Daily News...).

So: for Gramercy + great-value + romantic + veggie-friendly, I would go for Bamiyan! This is a new restaurant from the owner of Khyber Pass, the much-loved Afghani place in the East Village. We're talking c. $12 entrees and a lovely, dark, lush space.

Vatan (mentioned above) is equally lovely & private-feeling, but twice the price ($24 all-vegetarian prix fixe).

If you don't know about, they're an excellent way to find restaurants by different criteria in a given neighborhood.
posted by allterrainbrain at 11:41 PM on September 19, 2006

And if you go a couple of 6-train stops south of Gramercy, Tsampa is really outstanding, maybe the best I've found in its price range. It's a Tibetan place with even lower prices than Bamiyan (c. $9 entrees?), really high-quality ingredients & great flavors, and a dark, subtle, beautiful space (definitely romantic even when it's full of people). It's at 212 9th St near 3rd Av.
posted by allterrainbrain at 12:44 AM on September 20, 2006

Jesus, can't believe I forgot about Tsampa too. That place is spectacular, the atmosphere is great, the prices are even better. Go for the momo, you won't be dissapointed.
posted by saladin at 6:53 AM on September 20, 2006

If you're looking for indian vegetarian, I'd second Vatan - it's a great atmosphere. Although - you got to be really hungry - it's a lot of food
posted by darsh at 9:36 AM on September 20, 2006

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