Mindful Meals: 13 Restaurants for Enlightened Dining Experiences

Mindful Meals

This new year, many diners will resolve to eat mindful meals — dishes that are kind to the planet and animals and support personal wellness with ingredients that feed the body and, just as important, the soul. These 13 restaurants are a perfect fit — and they’re also trending because they’re cool and innovative with forward-thinking menus and thoughtful sustainability initiatives. Smart, healthy, kind — perfect ingredients for 2019. Not near one of these spots? Visit OpenTable and discover a restaurant that’s right for you.

Stagionale, Miami, Florida
The wellness experience at this plant-based restaurant (set in an Italian winter garden in sprawling La Centrale–Italian Food Hall) is staggering. You’ll begin your meal with a complimentary shot of kimchi — to kickstart your appetite with probiotics and prepare your palate for the meal. And instead of the typical after-dinner mint, you’ll get a nutrient capsule (pictured above), with turmeric, local bee pollen, and spirulina to complete your meal — the idea being the herb combo will help with digestion. Popular dishes on the vegged-out menu are the vegan carbonara, jackfruit tacos, and chickpea gnocchi. Make a reservation at Stagionale.

Mindful Meals

Ten Foot Henry, Calgary, Alberta
The vegetable-forward menu at this loved neighborhood spot will take your taste buds to new heights. Sharing is caring here and the space encourages family-style dining with plates of chef Stephen Smee’s jerk spice cauliflower (with root chips and pineapple mango drizzle) and seasonal bites like his delicata squash with lemon tahini, pickled onion, and puffed quinoa, and marinated beets with avocado, pistachio, dukkah, and harissa. Who’s Henry? He’s the celebrated 1930’s Calgary comic strip character who became larger than life and a muse for the local artistic community. Make a reservation at Ten Foot Henry.

Mindful Meals

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood, California
If Mother Nature were to make dinner reservations, it’d be here. The restaurant is plant-based, organic, and the MO is heavy on sentiment: “To celebrate and serve the presence of the mother which resides above us, within our hearts, within the earth, and in all those who nurture us.” The recipes are sourced from the Mexican mothers of the restaurant’s employees. Order the vegan standout flautas de camote (sweet potatoes, caramelized onion, guacamole, cashew nacho cheese, black beans), and the La Quinceañera – -a boozy snow cone (blanco tequila, kiwi, mint, lime, bitters, hielo raspado). There’s also a San Francisco location. Make a reservation at Gracias Madre.

Mindful Meals

Cork & Flame, Evans, Georgia
Chef Justin Hayes treats ingredients in his dishes with “purpose, balance, finesse, and respect.” The combo fine dining/tapas/wine market culinary destination uses separate grills for vegetarian and vegan dishes, and Hayes sources regionally as much as possible. In fact, even the serving plates are crafted locally, and many of the dishes star ingredients unique to The Peach State, including the fresh local Augusta mushrooms chef uses in his uber-popular wild mushroom gnocchi; the dish also features blistered tomatoes and cheese sourced locally from Goat Lady Dairy in Climax, North Carolina, can be added, or not, if a vegan dish is desired. Make a reservation at Cork & Flame.

Mindful Meals

Firefly, Washington, D.C.
Lead bartender Brendan Ambrose tends to the on-site rooftop garden here, resulting in an impressive rooftop-to-glass cocktail program — all garnishes and produce used in his sips are from the garden, including chamomile, lavender, basil, and tri-colored beans. Ambrose also minimizes food waste by repurposing food scraps like watermelon rind and pumpkin seeds in his cocktails. And executive chef Rich Falbo also makes good use of the hyperlocal produce in his gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan menu – -think dishes like his charred shishito peppers (with green harissa, benne seed, smoked salt). Make a reservation at Firefly.

Mindful Meals

The Little Beet Table, Chicago, Illinois
The beat goes on at this Gold Coast hotspot with a menu that is 100-percent gluten-free and veggie-strong (but diners will also find chicken, fish, and meat on the menu). Dishes like the grilled cauliflower & green curry, a beet chickpea burger, cauliflower hummus, watercress guacamole, and a chickpea Caesar salad are sought-out plates. And be sure to order one of the unique and earthy vegetable-inspired cocktails like the carrot cardamom margarita (Libélula tequila, carrot, cardamom-mint syrup, and a housemade pickle skewer). There’s a New York City location, too. Make a reservation at The Little Beet Table.

Mindful Meals

Modern Love, Omaha, Nebraska
Trailblazer Isa Chandra Moskowitz is chef and owner of this swanky Midwest restaurant, with a solid reputation for lovingly dishing out modern, all-vegan comfort food — in steak-loving Omaha, no less. They come for her mac & shews (a roasted red pepper and cashew-based mac and cheese sauce), the modern cheeseburger (housemade lentil seitan burger, cashew cheddar, sesame seed bun), pecan-crusted tofu, barbecue cauliflower, and sauteed garlicky kale and okra in a tomato vinaigrette. Save room for her vegan desserts like the cookies ‘n cream cheesecake (homemade chocolate cookie crust, cookies ‘n cream filling, coconut buttercream). Make a reservation at Modern Love.

Mindful Meals

Soul Tavern, Miami Beach, Florida
A plant-based, holistic gastropub that channels ancient wisdom for harmony and balance with a menu crafted “by masters of the 5,000-year-old Five Element system.” Translation: Soul Tavern serves wholesome vegan and veggie dishes (no additives, preservatives, over-processed ingredients), with a side of soul and a healthy dose of Florida sunshine. Founder Jason Gordon, a doctor of Chinese Medical Qigong, presides over a menu with popular dishes like the hearts of palm salad with coconut curry vinaigrette, the portobello & crispy eggplant burger, and the housemade gnocchi. Make a reservation at Soul Tavern.

Mindful meals

American Son, Washington, D.C.
The new woman-owned, art-loving hotel “with a decidedly #resist mantra” is home to this popular, innovative restaurant that is turning heads in D.C. with ahead-of-the-curve plant-based dishes. Chef Tim Ma has fun with his playful menu, especially his late-night menu dishes like the Impossible large mack, a plant-based spin on a you-know-what, and a vegan tater tot poutine with Korean seasoning. The hotel also has a wellness center with drop-in classes, including yoga, reiki, and even sound bath meditations — totally tempting for a pre- or post-dinner wellness experience. Make a reservation at American Son.

mindful meals

Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
This 61-room inn fosters rescue dogs and adopts them out to guests. As if that isn’t the kindest thing on the planet, the inn’s restaurant also just so happens to have a chef who embraces the healthy and ethical importance of vegan dishes. In fact, at Thanksgiving, chef Chadwick offered a complete vegan meal alternative to the traditional turkey and stuffing. Chadwick’s hasselback butternut squash dish–sliced thin, roasted whole with bay leaf, maple, and cracked pepper — is a standout, as is his barbecued tofu with spicy sauce and lentil soup with vegan apple maple sausage. Make a reservation at Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea.

mindful meals

AVEO Table + Bar at the Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, California
This coastal Cali restaurant’s special Miraval Mindful Menu spotlights local, organic, sustainable ingredients. Area fisherman, ranchers, farmers, and food artisans partner to bring health and well-being to the table, including dishes like the local fisherman’s catch, built with the locally caught catch of the day set over a Meyer lemon puree with seasonal vegetables, almonds, watercress, and a fennel-raisin chutney. The spinach fettuccine and tangerine apple arugula salad with local citrus are also sought-out meals for health-conscious diners. Make a reservation at AVEO Table + Bar at the Monarch Beach Resort.

Mindful Meals

Onsen Bath & Restaurant, San Francisco, California
Expect the unexpected: a Japanese-inspired bathhouse, with a communal soaking tub, redwood dry sauna, and steam room — for diners to indulge before or after their meal (for an additional cost). The restaurant’s menu features four small plate categories — bites, skewers, plates, and sweets — with dishes that show off  authentic Japanese flavors with a California presence (think local stone fruit accented with fresh wasabi and ginger.) And signature dishes like the mushroom dumplings served in katsuobushi broth with snap peas, puréed yam, and dill show off the local farmers market goods, and hot and cold sake sips emphasize full-bodied junmai styles and housemade kombucha. Make a reservation at Onsen Bath & Restaurant.

mindful meals

The Reef Bar & Market Grill, Honolulu, Hawaii
Of course, the Hawaiian islands naturally encourage wellness, love, and spirituality, and this restaurant is a perfect example – -say Aloha to intoxicating Pacific Ocean views and a new vegan menu that emphasizes island-driven, farm-to-beach authentic Hawaiian cuisine — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Popular dishes include a steamed bao bun filled with soy glazed pulled jackfruit and crunchy cabbage; vegan scallops sautéed with ali’i mushrooms, pea puree, and roasted macadamia nuts; and saffron risotto mixed with grilled seasonal vegetables, roasted garlic, and red pepper coulis. Make a reservation at The Reef Bar & Market Grill.

mindful meals

What are your picks for restaurants for mindful meals? Tell us here or over on FacebookInstagramPinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.

Laurie Bain Wilson is a Boston-based journalist, author, and essayist who writes often about travel, food, and baseball. Find her on Twitter @laurieheather.

Photo credits: Outshine PR (AVEO); Visit Omaha (Modern Love); Isabel Baer (Onsen).