With plant-based dining growing in popularity, restaurants are embracing more vegetable-focused dishes. However, there are some things to be mindful when selecting a restaurant. In honor of World Vegetarian Day, we’re highlighting the 50 Best Restaurants for Vegetarians in America 2019, and we’ve got some tips for dining out on a vegetarian diet to make sure you have a delicious experience at those — and any — restaurants on OpenTable.
Find the right restaurant
OpenTable has a number of ways to help you select the best restaurant for vegetarian-friendly fare. Our city pages are filled with content to help you research your decisions, including lists highlighting Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly Dining Options under the “Your Local Dining Scene” carousel. You can also filter search results using the cuisine filter for Vegetarian/Vegetarian or the Vegan filter under Top Rated.
Many restaurants on OpenTable have their menus on the site. Look for spots that have what you crave and offer vegetable-forward menu options beyond salads and sides. Savvy chefs are putting vegetables at the center of the plate with mushroom-centric dishes, cauliflower steaks, and hearty fire-roasted sweet potatoes, for example. Many pasta dishes are now both vegetarian and gluten-free.
Read verified OpenTable diner reviews
See what other diners are saying about their experiences in individual restaurant reviews. Do people call out particular vegetarian dishes as being enjoyable? Your fellow foodies’ experiences are a trusted resource.
Beware of hidden ingredients
Sometimes a dish will appear to be vegetarian-friendly, but there can still be animal-based products in it. Ask about the fats used to prepare foods. Did the chef use peanut oil to prepare those fries — or was it duck fat? Is the stock used to cook the risotto made from vegetables or chicken, beef, or veal? Is a dish garnished with lardons or bacon?
Communicate with your server
When discussing the menu with wait staff, be sure to let them know you are a vegetarian and wish to avoid certain animal-based ingredients. Hospitality professionals are well-versed in guiding you to the best choices.
Don’t be afraid to ask to order off-menu
More and more, restaurants are embracing the practice of saying yes to guests. Do you see something that isn’t vegetarian but perhaps could be prepared so? Inquire with your waiter. Don’t be shy about asking if the chef could make something unique also. While it isn’t always possible, kitchen staffers are a creative bunch and may welcome the opportunity to whip up a new dish for you on the fly.
Consider restaurants serving global cuisines that have a number of specialties that just so happen to be vegetarian-friendly, such as Indian, Ethiopian, Italian, and Greek.