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10 NYC Restaurants Staging a Vegetarian Revolution

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10 NYC Restaurants Staging a Vegetarian Revolution
Forget the kind of raw, health-obsessed restaurants that welcome you with a wheatgrass shot and leave you feeling maybe a little smug but definitely still hungry. New York has a new crop of eateries where vegetables are the focus and, trust us, you’ll crave every morsel. Here, talented chefs aren’t afraid to use butter or rich sauces (usually reserved for meatier fare) to enhance flavor and leave even carnivores wanting more. It’s (finally) time to eat your veggies.
By Laura Itzkowitz
Courtesy of By CHLOE
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    By CHLOE
    Samantha Wasser, creative director and co-founder of By CHLOE, has spearheaded a mini-empire of vegan restaurants that draw in devotees for classic American comfort foods, like mac & cheese, (veggie) burgers and air-light fries, and taco salads, with none of the guilt. The By CHLOE brand—which now has eight fast-casual locations in New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles with more to come—is also an Instagram sensation: At the time of writing, there are more than 22,000 posts with the hashtag #bychloe.
    Courtesy of By CHLOE
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    The buzziest new spot is abcV by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Long known for giving vegetables as much love as proteins, the world-famous chef is venturing into new territory with this Flatiron outpost: a completely vegetarian restaurant. He has a knack for creating sublime and beautifully composed dishes out of surprising ingredient combinations, like carrots with stone-ground nut and seed butter, lime, and chili, or green chickpea hummus with Thai basil.
    Courtesy of abcV
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    Dirt Candy
    Amanda Cohen was a trailblazer when she opened Dirt Candy in a tiny East Village space in 2008, before relocating and expanding to its current Lower East Side address. While her peers were focused on raw food, she was working to create tempting meat-free dishes, rich with flavor. “I actually consider Dirt Candy a vegetable restaurant, not a vegetarian restaurant because I’m not interested in cooking for a lifestyle. Health and politics have no place here,” Cohen says. “Instead, I want to push vegetables further, faster, bigger, more. Dirt Candy is my lab and every day my crew and I experiment with making vegetables taste like nothing you’ve ever had before. We roast cucumbers and turn them into stock, we make chocolate cake with onions, we turn pumpkins into pad thai. So many restaurants treat vegetables like a beauty treatment, or a political choice, or an afterthought. I want to show that they’re the biggest playground in food and capable of so much more than anyone ever imagined.”
    Courtesy of Dirt Candy
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    Like Cohen, John Fraser subscribes to a more-is-more philosophy at NIX, which he opened near Union Square in 2016. His earthy-meets-modern restaurant serves borderline hedonistic dishes like potato fry bread with sour cream, cheddar cheese, shaved scallions, mini broccoli florets, and radishes; shiitake “cacio e pepe” with green beans and creamy polenta; and portobello carpaccio with summer truffles and celery barigoule. Book in advance—NIX recently became the only U.S. vegetarian restaurant to earn a Michelin star.
    Courtesy of NIX
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    Superiority Burger
    This tiny takeout joint in the East Village is known for its solid veggie burgers and rotating list of inventive sides at Shake Shack prices. You can get yours with melted muenster cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and a dill pickle, or made vegan, on a potato bun. A few seats with fold-down tray tables line the wall inside, but if the weather’s nice, we recommend ordering to-go and eating al fresco in nearby Tompkins Square Park.
    Courtesy of Superiority Burger
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    The Butcher’s Daughter
    Described as a “vegetable slaughterhouse” by founder Heather Tierney, The Butcher’s Daughter may just have the best avocado toast in the city. The two locations, in Nolita and the West Village, serve up a delicious veggie burger and a handful of vegan and gluten-free pastas, like the “carbonara” made with spaghetti squash and cashew cheese. Just about everything is sourced from local and organic farms—and they take their juice seriously. The restaurant’s head juiceologist worked at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen and has designed a trio of juice cleanses.
    Courtesy of The Butcher’s Daughter
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    Avant Garden
    Take Ravi DeRossi’s word for it when he says he’s a “big animal-rights guy.” He’s been systematically eliminating all animal products from his numerous restaurants and bars. At Avant Garden in the East Village, his small-plates menu draws inspiration from around the world, with ingredients like miso and chimichurri complementing the veggies and grains. Don’t miss the toasts—thick slices of bread piled with spinach artichoke puree or cremini mushrooms with onion marmalade, or the General Tso’s broccoli with sweet potato and bok choy.
    Courtesy of Avant Garden
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    Ravi DeRossi’s Cuban-inspired East Village restaurant and bar takes on a traditionally meat-heavy cuisine with a no-animal-products approach. Diners love the veggie Cuban-style rice and beans, empanadas, and yucca fries. Pair them with a top-notch rum cocktail and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Havana. Live Latin jazz on Monday nights adds to the illusion.
    Courtesy of Cienfuegos
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    Bar Velo
    When husband-and-wife team John McCormick and Vannesa Shanks closed their Williamsburg mainstay Café Moto, it only made sense that they’d bring their meat-free lifestyle to their next venture, Bar Velo, the cycling-themed bar and restaurant the duo opened earlier this year in the same flatiron building. Expect a vegan menu of bistro classics: Think pasta with slow-roasted tomato sauce, basil oil, and olives; a portobello-mushroom burger on a pretzel bun; and lentil pâté with truffle toast. They also have live music Tuesday through Saturday.
    Courtesy of Bar Velo
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    Modern Love
    Brooklyn’s newest vegan restaurant makes liberal use of rich, creamy (but dairy-free) sauces, rice, pasta, tofu, and grains to give depth to dishes sure to satisfy any carnivore. The Modern Love vibe feels modern and whimsical, with lots of dark wood and dim lighting that makes it perfect for date nights. The eclectic menu borrows from various cuisines, with Italian-style arancini, Indian-inspired lentil samosas, and Caribbean Jerk Yuba with curry and coconut rice. And save room for dessert—the pies are well worth the extra indulgence.
    Courtesy of Modern Love
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    What’s Next . . .
    Photo by Stephen Johson
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