13 Plant-Based Restaurants Around the World
Also known as vegan or vegetarian, plant-based restaurants — both old and new — are reimagining healthy eating.
Photo By: abcV
Photo By: Essence Cuisine
Photo By: Patricia Brochu
Photo By: Evan Sung
Photo By: Ali Pacha
Photo By: Elizabeth’s Gone Raw
Photo By: Vedge
Photo By: Farm Spirit
Photo By: Terroir by Chef Ljubomir Stanisic
Photo By: Cookies Cream
Photo By: Ellen Hughes
AbcV is the third and newest addition to the ABC family from legendary chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Located next door to ABC Kitchen, the minimalist white decor skews trendier and more casual than its neighbor. The vegetarian menu is divided into vegetables, warm and hot, noodles and rice and legumes and grains; there’s even a fact sheet explaining all the goodness to be derived from various fruits and vegetables. Chickpea hummus is a big hit here, as is honeynut squash and avocado lettuce wraps. Accompany these with matcha colada cocktails or wild blueberry kombucha.
Essence Cuisine, London
London has more than a few standout restaurants for the veggie-inclined, but Essence Cuisine earns a spot since it’s one of the latest additions to Matthew Kenney’s plant-based kingdom. It’s impossible to discuss plant-based food — including the term — without acknowledging Kenney’s contributions to the scene, from New York (Bar Verde, Double Zero, XYST) to California (Plant Food + Wine and Matthew Kenney NM). Essence Cuisine is his first London venture and based in the trendy Shoreditch area. The minimal (bordering on futuristic) decor is the backdrop for vegan versions of bangers and mash, sushi, cacio e pepe and even a dairy-free cheese board. Let’s not forget elevated avocado toast. In spite of its clean-slate looks, the artfully presented dishes wouldn’t be out of place in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
LOV opened just last year and has already become a go-to for vegans and health-conscious eaters, especially for brunch. The (mostly) vegan menu features homemade recipes, and favorites include kimchi fries, kale mac 'n cheese and gnocchi. Of course, there’s poutine doctored with vegan cheese and miso gravy. Like most plant-based restaurants, biodynamic wines round out the menu. It doesn’t hurt that the ambiance rivals the food, with whitewashed brick walls, light fixtures that resemble upside-down wicker baskets and enough plant life to forget you’re in the city.
When fine-dining temple Arpege opened in 1986, it didn’t start as vegetable-centric. That came in 2001 when chef Alain Passard made the daring decision to go meatless. Passard has since reintroduced fish and poultry to the menu, but vegetables still reign, as evidenced in the 12-course vegetarian tasting menu. The produce is sourced from Arpege’s three organic vegetable gardens. Be prepared to pay for the experience, since the restaurant has maintained three Michelin stars since 1996 and earned a spot on the 2017 list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Dirt Candy, NYC
You can say that Dirt Candy launched the city’s plant-based restaurant trend when it opened in 2008. Chef and owner Amanda Cohen holds the honor of being the first vegetarian chef to compete on Iron Chef America. Dirt Candy has since outgrown its original East Village location, now attracting foodies to its Lower East Side space for two tasting menu options. The Vegetable Patch is a good place to start, with five courses covering diner favorites. The seasonal menue, the Vegetable Garden, offers about twice the number of courses. If you’re lucky, one of the menus might include salt-roasted popcorn beets, Brussels sprout tacos and chocolate-and-onion dessert tart. Another rarely seen aspect is all the wines are from women-owned wineries and vineyards.
Ali Pacha, Bolivia
Don’t be deterred by Ali Pacha's unassuming exterior in an up-and-coming section of La Paz. It’s gained attention for being the first plant-based restaurant in this meat-heavy city. It's also on the international radar since chef Sebastian Quiroga is a Gustu alum — the famed restaurant opened by Claus Meyer. Ali Pacha means universe of plants in Aymara, the native Bolivian tongue, and the refined vegan menu infuses this universe with Bolivian flavors. Choose from three-, five- or seven-course tasting menus, all at prices far less than you would pay in other parts of the world.
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, Washington, D.C.
Elizabeth Petty opened her namesake restaurant in 2009 after battling breast cancer, and Elizabeth's Gone Raw has been attracting vegans and non-vegans alike since. It's only open for Friday dinner and attracts a special occasion crowd to the Federal-style townhome for multi-course tasting menus. Proving that raw vegan fare can be elevated to the realm of tasty fine dining, a recent seven-course menu served a cauliflower cappuccino with white truffle and parsley dust, acorn squash soup with coconut bacon and a dairy-free coffee and banana dulce de leche ice cream.
Vedge is among the gold standards for vegan fine dining from married chefs and owners Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby. Opened in 2011 and housed in an attractive brownstone, Vedge continues to produce an innovative menu with small plates such as ssamjang glazed tofu with edamame puree, burnt miso, cucumber, sea beans and toasted nori. Also look for cauliflower tagine with farro and green olives, plus portobello carpaccio with deviled kohlrabi, caper puree and nigella grissini. There’s always room for dessert when the options include chocolate uber chunk with malt custard, pretzels and peanut butter accompanied by stout ice cream and sticky toffee pudding with smoked cedar ice cream and hazelnut tuile. And while the dishes sound aspirational, a Vedge cookbook helps to make them accessible to home chefs.
Farm Spirit, Portland, Ore.
The upscale foodie destination Farm Spirit isn’t your typical plant-based eatery, since it only offers tasting menus at a chef’s table. While sampling seasonal small plates, sourced from Oregon and Washington, diners are regaled not just with the ingredients and origins of those ingredients, but also with the inspiration behind each course. Past highlights of the eight-course tasting menu included Swiss chard ravioli, walnut porridge and carrot jerky. Reservations are a must.
Terroir by Chef Ljubomir Stanisic, Portugal
More hotels are joining the plant-based restaurant movement, with five-star Six Senses Douro Valley welcoming Terroir by Chef Ljubomir Stanisic this past summer, following its pop-up success. Chef Ljubomir Stanisic and his team source the menu from the hotel’s organic garden, serving up the likes of cauliflower in Madras curry, tomatoes four ways and homemade kimchi. An unusual menu item is the hay foam semifreddo with a burned linseed biscuit.
Cookies Cream, Berlin
Hard-to-find Cookies Cream in Berlin is still trendy, even though it’s been around for a decade. That’s thanks in no small part to joining the Michelin-star club in November 2017. Ignore your instincts to turn around while heading down a back alley to reach the converted warehouse. In reverse speakeasy fashion, you’ll be buzzed into a bar and will head upstairs for a creatively-presented tasting menu. Favorites include vegetarian caviar with avocado, quail egg brioche, parmesan dumplings with truffle stock and corn porridge with coriander. Keep your eyes open for celebrities, since George Clooney is said to have dined here.
Fig + Farro, Minneapolis
Fig + Farro is the newest addition to Minneapolis’ food scene, with an eclectic vegetarian menu that zigs and zags from latkes to shakshuka to Swedish kladdkaka, a thick chocolate cake topped with coconut whipped cream. Mashed potatoes with a gravy flight and a walnut loaf with roasted broccoli are among its current signature dishes, while blueberry cinnamon rolls are gaining a following. There’s also kombucha on tap and bottomless soup nights. In addition to following eco-friendly standards, the restaurant operates the non-profit Fig Foundation, whose purpose is to spread awareness about how plant-based diets help to combat climate change.
Joia made restaurant history when it earned a Michelin star in 1996, the first for a vegetarian restaurant in Europe. Today, it still holds the title of the only plant-based restaurant in Italy with a Michelin star and delivers playfully-plated dishes in a sparse, neutral dining room. Current tasting menus range from five to 11 courses. Instead of listing the actual dishes, abstract titles sub in for menu descriptions, such as "Once upon a time lived a king", "Oh my dear planet" and "Serendipity in the garden of my dreams". (Don’t worry, your waiter will explain.) That said, recent dishes included a watermelon gazpacho, eggplant wontons in a pepper sauce and chocolate mousse.