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Healthy New York: Best Vegan and Plant-Based Restaurants To Try in 2021

This story was written for Hobnobmag.com.

New York is back and eating healthier. 

New Yorkers are having a love affair with meatless options, and the trend is likely to continue. We have no doubt that 2021 will be a year of more plant-based restaurant openings. In fact, one of the city’s most renowned and upscale restaurants, Eleven Madison Park, re-opened this June with a shocking announcement. They will serve an all plant-based menu. Owner and Chef Daniel Humm said on Instagram: “When we began to think about reopening EMP, we realized that not only has the world changed, but so have we.” 

Consuming less meat is better for our health and the health of the planet and it seems the hospitality industry is getting the message. As we get back out there this summer, we will continue to discover fun places with vegan-friendly menus. Thinking of giving it a try yourself? Discover our list of must-try restaurants we love and continue to frequent. 

Jajaja

Jajaja will make you forget meat ever existed. With four Jajaja locations, Raise Hospitality Group knows how to reel you in with tranquil vacation decor by Clear Studios, fun times, and satisfying Mexican dishes. We visited their original location on the Lower East Side. If you love Mexican food and cocktails, Jajaja’s menu will not disappoint. 

We started with drinks, and Cilantro y Mezcal Cocktail, plus Cucumber y Basil were the clear winners. As an appetizer the plentiful nachos at Jajaja were a great start to our satisfying plant-based lunch. Mexican corn is always a must. For main dishes we ordered the Dinosaur Kale Salad and the Crispy Chayote Fish. Service, atmosphere and interiors matter to us as much as the food. Jajaja on the Lower East Side has done a great job of making this location feel like a cool downtown restaurant and a holiday getaway at the same time. They did it with the help of Clearstudios.nyc.

Jajaja, 162 E Broadway (corner Essex St )

image courtesy of https://www.overthrowhospitality.com

Lady Bird / Soda Club / Cadence

Soda Club serves a selection of over 200 natural and organic wines, curated by Wine Director, Drew Brady, while Cadence focuses on soul food by chef Shenarri Freeman. Overthrow Hospitality continues to grow their portfolio with a list of modern vegan restaurants, mainly all located in the East Village. Among them Lady Bird, Avant Garden, and the newly opened Soda Club and Cadence. Ravi DeRossi’s secret to success might be his aesthetic vision. Vegan and non-vegan New Yorkers alike flock to eat and drink in an environment that serves healthy eats with tasteful decor that elevates the experience.

Our favorite location so far is Lady Bird. We recommend the Buffalo Maitake Buns and PO Boy Buns. Order both because each has a special flavor and we dare you to pick a favorite. If you and your other dinner guests feel extra hungry order the eggplant marinara and then split the chocolate fondue.

Lady Bird, 111 E 7th Street (betw First Avenue/Avenue A)

Caravan of Dreams

Caravan of Dreams has been serving New Yorkers truly vegan, kosher, and organic food since the 90s. This restaurant continues to have a loyal following for a reason, they pride themselves on serving truly healthy meals and drinks in a no frills environment. The funky decor and consistent live music entertainment makes this place a gem, and it is our go-to place for raw superfood smoothies or custom juices. Since the pandemic, Caravan of Dreams has created a fun outdoor seating area, perfect for dining out with your family, vegans from out of town, or a date. 

When eating at Caravan of Dreams make sure to order our favorites: the Nachos, Spanish Paella, Creamy Sesame Miso Ramen, and a custom juice or smoothie. 

Caravan of Dreams, 405 E 6th St (betw First Avenue/Avenue A)

Pop’s Eat-Rite

Pop’s Eat-Rite belongs to Endless Hospitality Group, which owns some of the most popular bars in New York City, like Wayland and Goodnight Sonny. The group recognized the change in the restaurant industry and opened Pop’s Eat-Right when the city needed it the most—during the pandemic. The concept made space for plant-based fast food. 

image courtesy of https://www.popseatrite.com

Pop’s Eat-Rite serves the classic smashburger, made of Impossible Meat, vegan donuts and ice cream, and sides like french fries, plus veggies. We enjoy the Classic plus a Cup of Kale (comes with vegan ranch dressing and sunflower seeds). Order, then sit back and enjoy the downtown atmosphere.

Pop’s Eat-Rite, 123 St Marks Place (betw First Avenue/Avenue A)

image courtesy of https://lebotaniste.us

Le Botaniste

Le Botaniste was created by the owner of Le Pain Quotidien. A sign above their Soho locations reads “Let Food Be The Medicine,” and it is clear that a lot of thought has been put into the nutritional value of each dish. Le Botaniste has four New York locations and three in Belgium. The concept of putting more plants instead of meat on our plates is catching on. The menu aims to keep the body energized while caring about planet health. Wondering what to order? Tibetan Mama and Vegetable Tajine always speak to us. Le Botaniste interiors resemble an upscale apothecary or a french cafe. Grab a friend for a healthy lunch after shopping in Soho or working out. 

Le Botaniste, 127 Grand St (betw Broadway/Crosby Street)

image courtesy of https://divyaskitchen.com

Divya’s Kitchen

Divya’s Kitchen remained strong during the pandemic, with easy take-out, delivery, pick up and products for sale, like Cultured Ghee and Mung Soup. Then they created a stylish outdoor dining area to match the interior. Today the restaurant is as busy as ever. If you find yourself in need of vegetarian cuisine that is largely gluten-free and follows the principles of ayurvedic medicine, look no further than Divya’s Kitchen. Chef Divya Alter takes a global approach to ayurvedic cuisine and even helps run a cultural center, Bhakti Center, right next door to the restaurant. There is much to learn from eating at Divya’s. It is an inspiring experience and an ideal place to impress a veggie loving date.

Divya’s Kitchen, 25 First Avenue (betw 1st/2nd Street)

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