Ask any chef or vegan eater and they will tell you that what you’ll experience at today’s #vegforward restaurants is not your grandmother’s vegan diet. The plant-based food culture has evolved exponentially beyond bean sprouts and garden burgers. The cuisine at the 52 Best Restaurants for Vegetarians in America is thoughtful and progressive — and playful, too, as you’ll see below. And while the chefs may have decided to skip the dairy, among other things, the fact that the dishes are vegan is, in a way, a happy (and sustainable) by-product of their creativity.
You see, these forward-thinking culinary pros are simply smitten with plants — the idea of plants, the texture of plants, the colors of plants, the flavors of plants. We could go on, but you probably get the picture. The possibilities and combinations are endless, and the results, whether rustically simple or elegantly elaborate, are delicious. Check out these 17 to-die-for vegan dishes from some of our 52 #vegforward restaurants.
Langos at V Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Hungarian fried potato bread gets a vegan twist when topped with smoked beets and a lush sauerkraut remoulade from chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. Take our advice and order one for everyone at the table. You will not want to share this divine savory doughnut of a dish.
Artichoke Oysters at Crossroads, Los Angeles, California
The land trumps the sea in chef Tal Ronnen’s presentation of this delicate jewel of a dish. It includes artichoke purée, crispy oyster mushroom, a yellow tomato béarnaise, and kelp caviar.
Kale, Corn, and Sweet Onion Pakora at The Herb Box-DC Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona
These gluten-free bites from executive chef Becky Windels are made up of kale, fresh corn, and sweet onion coated in a chickpea batter with crushed fennel seed and turmeric and fried crisp in rice oil. Plated with a roasted yellow pepper aïoli and a sweet hot Serrano garlic glaze, Martha Stewart loved these so much that so much she asked, “How is this made?”
Savoy Cabbage at Natural Selection, Portland, Oregon
Stuffed cabbage finally gets the filling it deserves. Emerald Savoy cabbage envelopes a harmonious trio of quinoa, sweet peppers, and sultanas in chef Aaron Woo’s exquisite version.
Deviled Turnips at Encantada, Baltimore, Maryland
Who needs eggs when you’ve got turnips bedeviled by tofu, chickpeas, Dijon mustard, turmeric, and other savory spices from executive chef Melanie Molinaro? These are fun enough for a picnic and still sophisticated enough to accompany an ice-cold martini.
Papillote at Equinox, Washington, D.C.
Chef Todd Gray’s papillote expertly combines cauliflower mushroom and Brussels petals with curried kabocha squash, artichoke hearts, and gently sweet quince vinegar. It’s almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
Zen Salad at French Meadow Café & Bluestem Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Power up with this goodness-on-a-plate salad. Steamed organic brown rice is covered with organic blanched kale and fresh housemade hummus and guacamole. It is appointed with crispy radish, cucumber, scallion, and organic micro greens, and then studded with roasted tomatoes, kalamata olives, and toasted sunflower seeds. A roasty Harissa vinaigrette brings it all together.
Tomato. Parsley. Onion. at The Gadarene Swine, Studio City, California
Chef Phillip Frankland Lee keeps it simple when tomatoes take the plate. This seasonal stunner stars marinated raw tomato, parsley, and onion. They sit atop a throne of sweet corn pudding and are crowned with crispy tomato, parsley, and onion.