The best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the US

Dining while vegan hasn’t always been the easiest of tasks, add to that the strangeness of a new city or country and you’ve got a Lacto-Ovo recipe for disaster! But – thank tofu – the tide is finally turning, making way for an ever-increasing number of vegan and vegetarian options across some of our favourite destinations. Veganism is indeed a global revolution but, for now, we stick to the US, focusing on vegetarian restaurants, vegan cafés and every plant-based kitchen in between, from California to New York. Read on for name-drops of the best vegetarian restaurants across the US below.

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1. Portland, OR

Oregon’s Portland paved the way for North America’s veganism movement in many ways, as early adopters of urban farm-to-table lifestyles, food truck culture and general healthy living. Being in Portland is like a breath of fresh air and, whether you’re vegan or not, there’s always plenty of delicious food to try across its restaurants, pubs and trucks. At first glance, you might judge Portland as old fashioned for its granola obsession and its slow-moving lifestyles, but look a little closer and you’ll see a diversity of cuisine, people and culture, all helping to inspire the city’s amazing food scene.

Homegrown Smoker is one of the best vegan restaurants in Portland for its BBQ soul food, part of a wider BBQ boom taking over the city. Dine in hip simplicity meanwhile at Canteen: in Portland, where the full-vegan menu comes complemented by art and a sustainable philosophy. Blossoming Lotus brings vegan Asian fare and killer smoothie bowls to Portland’s Lloyd District but, for a special occasion, the sky-high Departure Restaurant and Lounge at the top of the iconic Meier and Frank building is a must, granting Pacific Northwest produce in spicy Far East flavours. Then, out-of-the-box Andina, a posh Peruvian concept celebrating the best of meat-free Andean cuisine.

Portland, OR | Photo: Zack Spear

Photo: Vlada Karpovich

2. New York City, NY

Home to Broadway and a world-class array of museums, galleries and cultural institutions, New York also presents some of the best vegan food found anywhere on earth, from homegrown comfort food (Marty’s V Burger; V Spot) to authentic international fare such as Chinese dim sum (Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian) and Korean-fusion (Franchia Vegan Café). In between, you’ll find plenty more to choose from, including French flavours at Delice & Sarrasin (vegan crepes, anyone?!) and Creole cuisine at Seasoned Vegan in Harlem. P.S. Kitchen is another labelled among NYC best vegan restaurants for its artisanal menu and bar drinks.

Then, to satisfy New York’s fanciest vegans, it’s the celebrity haunt Candle 79 (sister of the longstanding Candle Café on the Upper East Side), known for its creative dishes such as Moroccan spiced chickpea cake and chipotle black bean and squash ravioli. Kajitsu meanwhile showcases Japanese vegetarian fine dining, serving up soba, soup and umami aromas derived from Zen Buddhist cooking styles. If you’ve got a headache choosing from the 111 New York vegan restaurants on offer, head to Vegan Food Court for satellite versions of NYC’s top meat-free concepts. And for dessert? It has to be a three-way tie between vegan bakery Erin McKenna’s, sweets shop Confectionery! and raw dessert shop Rawsome Treats.

Photo: Roam-in-color

NYC | Photo: Juan Ordonez

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Home to Broadway and a world-class array of museums, galleries and cultural institutions, New York also presents some of the best vegan food found anywhere on earth

3. Los Angeles, CA

A mecca for vegans and vegetarians in California, Los Angeles certainly has substance as well as Hollywood glamour! LA hosts 49 fully-vegan restaurants and 190 vegetarian ones all within the city’s 8-kilometre radius, at any of which you might find vegan celebrities Billie Eilish or Joaquin Phoenix chowing down on healthy international vegan fare. Nineteen of these restaurants are dedicated to vegan Thai cuisine, the best of which are Arraya’s Place, Bulan Thai and Satdha, while plant-based Vietnamese options start and end with Âu Lạc. Then, shifting continents in just one kilometre, you’ll find Ethiopian restaurants Rahel and Azla Vegan. Get your vegan cheese fix at Vromage or ask nicely at any of the city’s Italian restaurants and pizzerias for vegan toppings, playing it safe at fully-vegan Cruzer Pizza. Burger bars across the city can also vegan-ize their dishes on request.

Vegan travellers wanting to impress can opt for Moby’s Little Pine vegan bistro for Mediterranean fusion recipes that fund a good cause, otherwise opting for the equally upscale Nic’s on Beverly, Double Zero or Crossroads. Japanophiles meanwhile can fine dine at Shojin. Believe it or not, carbs aren’t actually illegal in LA, as seen at the time-honoured Parisian bakery Ladurée’s, as well as Donut Friend, Cinnaholic (for cinnamon buns) and The Dankness Dojo (for hoppy beverages and pastries).

Photo: Abillion

Photo: Sebastian Coman

4. Seattle, WA

A city of tech nerds in the Pacific Northwest, Washington’s Seattle has its eye on the future, championing vegan doughnuts as it goes. Based on Puget Sound and surrounded by water, Seattle has much fertile land for farming and as a result, many restaurants offer locally-sourced plant-based options. Of the best vegan restaurants Seattle has to offer, Café Flora and Plum Bistro are frontrunners. Both serve up American classics with a vegan twist, such as Plum Bistro’s Mac ‘N’ Yease and the panko-crumb portobello burger. Café Flora’s herb garden is also a great spot to mingle with the local community on special event days. Those still hungry after dinner can hit up Frankie & Jo’s ice cream shop for a long list of vegan options or Mighty-O-Donuts for sweet circles.

Seattle | Photo: Luca Micheli

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Based on Puget Sound and surrounded by water, Seattle has much fertile land for farming and as a result, many restaurants offer locally-sourced plant-based options

5. San Francisco, CA

Ever popular among the gay community, San Francisco remains a top choice while travelling in California despite climbing prices. One reason for this lies in its fine choice of vegan eats, from street food to fine dining. SF restaurants also highlight the city’s mix of cultures, with Mexican heritage to taste at Gracias Madre (dishes made with farm-grown ingredients) and Wildseed on Union Street which serves up masala, lentils and Mexican corn cakes to die for. Not far away on Union Square, Millennium Restaurant keeps things classy while showcasing internationally-inspired dishes such as Korean-spiced tempah and tamale with sesame mole. The wine list here is reason enough to visit! Another to mention is Greens, a vegetarian restaurant that has been an institution in San Francisco since 1979, demonstrating how healthy high-end cuisine should be done in the Fort Mason neighbourhood.

While passing through Cali you might also want to sample the best vegan restaurants San Diego has on offer, many of which are on par with LA and SF. We love Kindred cocktail bar and restaurant for its tofu benedict, as well as Thanh Tinh Chay to satisfy our cravings for Vietnamese spring rolls.

Photo: Brooke Lark

Photo: Austin Distel

6. Miami, FL

Spicing things up in Florida with Hispanic influence is the hothothot city of Miami where dining in swimwear is completely normalised (at least near the beach that is!). Miami’s plant-based food scene easily holds its own when competing with established meat-based counterparts, offering high-quality and creative cuisine across every neighbourhood, from vegan pizza to beyond meat tacos. First up, make a booking at Plant Miami, an elegant approach to organic dining in the exotic garden of a wellness centre, though Planta on South Beach allows you to keep things more casual over a pile of vegan cheese nachos or a vegan sushi set.

After bathing on Miami Beach, there’s only one place to go; Full Bloom Vegan which, according to Trip Advisor reviews, serves the best vegan food in the entire US. Try the cauliflower BBQ Guava Wings and the plantain-based Patacones to see what all the fuss is about. You could also try the salads and wraps at Choices Vegan Café, though the juice and smoothie menu is reason enough to make the journey. Go for the CocoBliss smoothie (a coconut, cacao, goji berry, almond butter, chia seed and agave blend) coming back for DIY pancakes and plant based breakfasts on weekends.

North of Florida where Justin Bieber gets his peaches, the state of Georgia is another US destination laden with fresh produce and animal-free concepts to try, as indicated by the 199-odd vegetarian restaurants in Atlanta alone. The pick of vegan restaurants Atlanta is also wide-ranging, our favourites being the Slutty Vegan burger bar and the Hippie Hibachi.

Photo: Samantha Garrote

Miami | Photo: Jason Briscoe

7. Austin, TX

Heading up the Deep South’s vegan scene is the weird city of Austin, Texas, where everything comes that little bit more progressive than elsewhere in the region. Texas is known for its barbecue culture and Austin is no different in that respect, offering tofu, tempeh and marinated veggie variations alongside its grilled meats. For burgers, Arlo’s is the name to remember, whose food trucks park up around town to scare beef burger vendors citywide. For Tex-Mex meanwhile, the Vegan Nom has you covered with the city’s first all-vegan taco truck, though, for pizza, it has to be Lil Nonna’s.

Another of the best vegan restaurants Austin has to offer is Bouldin Creek Café, a haven for brunch lovers where vegan chorizo, Italian-style fajitas and vegan massaman curries are dreamt into reality alongside divine desserts such as pear gingerbread upsidedown cake and blueberry lavender pie. Full points for affordability however is given to Mother Café, a mainstay of vegetarian restaurants Austin since 1980, popular among college students for its Tex-Mex artichoke-heart enchiladas and chile relleno (stuffed peppers). Two more to try on for size are Xiang Yun Temple for Chinese vegan food, while Wasota Vegan Paradise is the food truck to visit in the North Loop neighbourhood for West African dishes such as jollof rice and fried plantains. Then, The Beer Plant vegan gastropub for a drink to finish.

If Austin gets too experimental, try the smaller selection of vegan restaurants Houston has in store. Of the best Houston vegan restaurants, we’d opt for Mexican meals at Veegos or Verdine, saving time on Saturday for raw vegan food and snacks at Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market at Richmond and Eastside.

Photo: Jannis Brandt

Photo: Noemi Macavei Katocz

8. Denver, CO

Colorado’s biggest and best city, Denver has long held good standing in the vegan community, though today’s food scene is better than ever for herbivores and omnivores alike. The city’s locals are said to be somewhat health-obsessed but, luckily for us, that has paved the way for some great Denver vegan restaurants. Of these, Watercourse Foods is a pioneer of quirky vegan café culture, operating since 1998 and serving breakfast all day (hallelujah!) alongside vegan shakes. Try the Cuban Sandwich or Brussels Sprout Salad depending on your appetite.

TripAdvisor is quick to recommend City O City for good reason, owing to its casual menu of burgers, seitan wraps and savoury waffles, without an animal product in sight. Somewhat more high concept though would be the vegan-friendly restaurant Root Down, where the aim of the owners is to harness the bond between experience and the elements, using local ingredients. Or, if you’d like to dine vegan and enjoy 80s throwback music and décor, So Radish is for you. One more for the list, Somebody People, another colourful offering with a Mediterranean-leaning menu and a zero-waste ethos.

Photo: Mehrad Vosoughi

9. Philadelphia, PA

The capital city of Pennsylvania has a historic role in American independence but Philadelphia currently has another revolution underway; the vegan restaurant uprising! Subverting vegan stereotypes with cuisine that’ll make you forget you’re not eating meat, upscale Philly restaurant Vedge operates out of a 19th-century mansion, allowing for fancy fireplace orders of gold bar squash and other veggies from ‘The Dirt List’ or full dishes from ‘The Hot Kitchen’. True Food Kitchen over in King of Prussia meanwhile comes rather more unassuming with its menu of pizzas, burgers and grain bowls, sweetened up to finish with avocado key lime pie served with strawberry, cashew and coconut whipped cream.

As day turns to night, Philly turns hedonistic but foodies can still stay virtuous in their choices. The residential Miss Rachel’s Pantry kicks off the night with 5-course vegan meals (available by reservation 1-2 months in advance), or, for something a little boozier, Charlie was a Sinner café and bar ensures that vegan party animals can fill up on its selection of meat-free sliders, bao buns and fried snacks alongside sensational cocktails like the tequila-based East Atlanta Lover.

Photo: Lina Kivaka

Philadelphia City Hall | Photo: Leo Serrat

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