The 14 Absolute Best Vegetarian Restaurants In The US

Vegetarians used to face an uphill battle when dining out, with many restaurants offering little more than salads on their menus for those who avoided meat. But in 2022, it seems like many people are trying to eat less meat — if not cut it out of their diet entirely.

There are a plethora of reasons for going vegetarian or vegan. Some people want to eat healthier, and others want to support animal rights or be more environmentally friendly. And the rise of flexitarians — people who eat vegetarian sometimes — means that it's not only those following a strict meat-free diet who seek out veggie-focused restaurants (via IFT).

Luckily, there's now an abundance of restaurants across the United States that celebrate the vegetable. Whether you're looking for a tasty curry, wanting to splurge on a Michelin-starred meal, or even if you're craving a sausage — there is probably a vegetarian version to meet your needs. Our choices for the absolute best vegetarian restaurants in the U.S. have something for everyone — even the meat-lovers in your life.

Eleven Madison Park - New York City

Eleven Madison Park had already gained quite a reputation for maintaining the rare honor of three Michelin stars, not to mention appearing as third on the Top 50 Restaurants in the World in 2016 and topping the list the following year. But the New York City restaurant made shockwaves across the restaurant industry in 2021 when it announced it was transitioning its $335 tasting menu to one that was entirely plant-based.

According to CNN, the decision came as the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered restaurants and forced owner, chef Daniel Humm, to reflect on the sustainability of his industry.

Some — including, infamously, New York Times renowned restaurant critic Pete Wells — argued that the new vegan dishes didn't live up to the restaurant's standards. Others, like Lilah Raptopoulos from Financial Times, praised the menu's approach to vegetables, noting that it features the "tomatoey-ist tomato" and the "cucumbery-ist cucumber." And despite some mixed reviews, Humm was praised by many for his steps to change the industry.

One thing is certain: with the prestigious restaurant's influence, eating at the reformed Eleven Madison Park could be a glimpse into the future of fine dining — if you're lucky enough to get off the thousands-long waitlist.

Mirisata - Portland, Oregon

The most interesting thing about Mirisata is certainly not that it serves vegan cuisine. The restaurant is not only the only Sri Lankan restaurant in Portland, Oregon but also one of the only restaurants in the country that functions as a worker-owned cooperative (via Eater). According to Mirisata's website, the co-op is currently comprised of seven members — four of whom are Sri Lankan.

With that model in mind, instead of having an executive chef, Mirisata says the menu is a product of collaboration. One of the restaurant's most beloved plates is a Sri Lankan rice and curry dish only available Friday through Sunday. It features an assortment of rotating curries accompanied by rice, papadum (a fried cracker), and a choice of sambol (a relish). According to Eater, the plate is designed to be mixed together so spicy flavors are balanced by more mild ones. Beyond curries, other highlights include fried "fish" empanadas; coconut roti (a flatbread) with chilis, onions, and curry leaves; and deviled "chick'n" — which is stir-fried with soy sauce, chili paste, onions, banana peppers, curry leaves, rampe and spices (via Mirisata).

You can try Mirisata at its Belmont Street outpost or, in true Portland-style, at its food cart located just outside the city in Hillsboro.

Chili Mustard Onion - Detroit

One of Detroit's most famous offerings — the coney dog — is about as un-vegetarian as it comes. The dish, which was invented in 1914, consists of a beef frankfurter slathered in meal-filled chili and further topped with onions and mustard.

But Detroit's Chili Mustard Onion (C.M.O.) proves that there is a way to do justice to the century-old dish without using meat at all. The restaurant's namesake C.M.O. Coney is comprised of a plant-based Smart Dog along with "cheeze" sauce and house-made veggie chili. And mustard and onions, of course. Don't visit C.M.O. if you're looking for something healthy, Metro Times points out, as other dishes also are reminiscent of fast-food favorites. There's the "Big Mock," for example, which is made from Beyond Meat. Chili cheese fries feature the same vegan chili as the dogs, and the restaurant offers gyros crafted from seitan.

Despite the calorie-loaded options at C.M.O., Metro Times notes that the restaurant offers something that non-vegan versions of it do not. You'll leave feeling full of top-quality ingredients — and none of the post-Detroit-coney need for a nap.

Vedge - Philadelphia

If you pay attention to James Beard nominations, Philadelphia's Vedge might already be on your radar. Executive Chef ​​Rich Landau racked up nominations for Best Chef — Mid-Atlantic six years in a row and his wife Kate Jacoby has been a semifinalist three times in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category.

The restaurant's menu, which changes seasonally, features dishes so indulgent that you might forget you are eating in a vegan restaurant altogether. Current offerings include a take on carpaccio featuring smoked portobello mushrooms and roasted radishes paired with tofu, pearled pasta, and Korean condiment gochujang. Another highlight is rutabaga fondue, which, as Bon Appetit tells it, is "so complex and creamy that you might try to drink it with a straw."

Vedge is known for converting non-believers. As Bon Appetit explains, the restaurant might be "vegan," but it simply feels like a top-tier restaurant — in any category. Vedge's influence now expands beyond the City of Brotherly Love. Landau and Jacoby opened a new joint, Fancy Radish, in Washington, D.C. in 2018 and brought with them some of Vedge's signature dishes, which have been well-received in the nation's capital.

No wonder it was the only vegan restaurant recognized as one of the "40 Most Important Restaurants of the Past 40 Years" by Food & Wine magazine.

Somebody People - Denver

The first hint to Somebody People's popularity with Denver's artsy crowd comes from its name — a nod to David Bowie's "Five Years." The buzzy restaurant refers to itself as a "vegetable-forward" experience, which is evident in the restaurant's relatively short menu that clearly embraces the whole vegetable.

Dishes are named after their primary ingredient or component, as in beets (with tahini, parsnip, and basil), mushrooms (with polenta, rosemary, and black pepper), and cabbage (with horseradish aioli, pickled mustard seeds, and dill). Homemade egg-free pasta, including rigatoni, manicotti, and creste de gallo, round out the menu.

The plant-based restaurant shines not only in its stellar dishes but also through its hip decor that features "Miami Beach-esque pastels," as Conde Nast Traveler tells it. A mural of Grace Jones' "Nightclubbing" album cover adds to the retro vibe.

If reading this makes you want to try as much of Somebody People's food as possible (we wouldn't blame you), try visiting for Sunday Supper. The pre-fixe menu features five courses served family-style that change weekly. Ringing in at only $30, it is said to be "the best deal in town" (via 5280).

Shojin - Los Angeles

Los Angeles certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of vegan/vegetarian joints, but Shojin sticks out from the bunch for its thoughtful approach to vegan Japanese cuisine. The restaurant is named after the Shojin style of cooking, which is a concept in Zen Buddhism of practicing nonviolence through eating a plant-based diet (via GoJourny).

According to the restaurant's website, Shojin goes beyond vegan cooking. Executive Chef Jun Matoshiro — who is from Hiroshima — crafts dishes that also are gluten-free and feature no artificial ingredients. All of the plates are prepared from scratch; the restaurant doesn't even use microwaves. "Before we imagine the taste, we think about the health of the potential customers," Shojin says on its website. "We carefully take time and consideration when creating our homemade dishes."

Eating at Shojin's Downtown LA or Culver City outposts is surprisingly affordable. The chef's special tasting menu clocks in at a mere 82 dollars — not a lot when you consider it features seven courses and is designed to be split between two people. Highlights include pumpkin croquettes, a vegan orange "chicken," and a plant-based spin on a crab cake hand roll.

Shojin's a la carte options are a bit pricier, but not extravagantly so. They comprise what you'd imagine from a typical Japanese restaurant — everything from gyoza to sushi rolls to ramen. All vegan, of course.

Plum Bistro - Seattle

Seattle's Plum Bistro has turned into a mini-empire since it opened in 2009. The original location was so popular that Chef Makini Howell also launched Plum Chopped (a fast-casual salad joint), Sugar Plum (an ice cream shop), a for-hire food truck, and more.

But Plum Bistro remains the cornerstone of Howell's vegan kingdom. Located in Seattle's vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood, the restaurant features spins on comfort food classics like a Black Pepper Fried Chick'n Burger made with fried seitan, "Mac & Yease" that gets its creaminess from a milk alternative, and "Macho Burrito" with soy chorizo (via Eater).

Plum Bistro is also recognized for its romantic vibe, which is one of many reasons why Food Network listed the spot as one of the best vegan restaurants in the country in 2020. Howell, a lifelong vegan, says she was inspired to open Plum Restaurants "to answer the need for complete, plant-based meals focused on organically-grown seasonal vegetables, non-GMO soy, and organic and local fruits and herbs from family-owned farms" (via Plum Bistro's website). This tenacity earned Howell a spot on The New York Times list of the most influential Black chefs in America.

If you're too far from Seattle to try Howell's vegan delights in person, the chef also has a monthly cooking show on Seattle local TV — with recipes featured on Plum Bistro's website as well as on YouTube.

Mama Đút - Portland, Oregon

Portland's Mama Đút appropriately means "mama will feed you" in Vietnamese. The restaurant is run by Vietnamese-American chef and mother Thuy Pham, who was inspired to become a vegetarian to be a positive role model for her daughter, Kinsey (via Mama Đút).

Pham says on the restaurant's website that the goal of her cooking is "to bring people together over food, save the piggies and maybe one day, the world." And you can taste the love in the homemade Vietnamese dishes that comprise the former pop-up's menu. Popular items include bao buns made with jackfruit and a vegan spin on pork belly (via Eater). The restaurant is also known for its baked goods with Southeast Asian flavors, like Ube Whoopie pies and Kumquat Matcha cupcakes.

Pham's path to opening a restaurant was atypical, to say the least. According to Oregon Humanities, the former hairstylist was forced to step away from her trade due to financial difficulties when the pandemic hit. To make ends meet, she began to sell her vegan pork belly. This venture later turned into a successful pop-up restaurant that found a brick-and-mortar home in November 2020. And there are no signs of slowing down for Pham, considering a second Mama Đút outpost is planned for the future.

Handlebar - Chicago

Okay, technically Chicago's Handlebar isn't totally vegetarian. But though the restaurant offers a small amount of fish-based dishes, it is known and loved for its veggie spins on comfort food. Located in hip Wicker Park, Handlebar's name reflects its bike-themed interior. The restaurant also features an expansive beer garden — to help you soak up those all-important summer days in the Windy City.

Handlebar's menu features both vegan and vegetarian options — as well as the aforementioned pescetarian-friendly ones — so it's sure to have something for everyone. Highlights include nachos with seitan chorizo (which can be made vegan if you opt for cashew queso), a selection of fresh and filling salads, a vegan spin on fried chicken, and a fried avocado grilled cheese. The restaurant also has an extensive brunch list.

According to The Infatuation, Handlebar has a real "locals-only feel to it." It's affordable, too, with most dishes costing under $15 and many clocking in at under $10.

Bunna Cafe - Brooklyn

With many dishes based around lentils and stewed vegetables, Ethiopian cuisine is already known for being very vegetarian/vegan friendly. But Brooklyn-based Bunna Cafe takes it a step further with its entirely plant-based menu. The restaurant's Bushwick location grew from its acclaim as a vendor at Smorgasburg — an open-air food market popular among New York foodies.

And you definitely won't miss the meat at Bunna Cafe, which The New Yorker describes as "well, and rightly, loved" by diners across the city. The restaurant is also known for its low-lit vibe, where you'll sometimes bear witness to a ceremonial coffee ceremony or catch a set of a band featuring steel drums.

You'll find traditional Ethiopian dishes here such as gomen (steamed collard greens with ginger and coriander) and misir wot (lentils stewed in a Berbere sauce), all served with the cuisine's signature injera bread — an Ethiopian sourdough made from teff and barley flour.

If you want to try a number of dishes, coming for lunch is a good choice. The restaurant offers a "meal" portion for $11 that includes a sampling of four items or a "feast" portion for $15 that includes five dishes. If you'd like to sample even more of Bunna Cafe's delicious menu, bring friends or a date to try the restaurant's "feast for two" (or three) options.

Cadence - New York City

When you think of soul food, classic meat-filled dishes like fried chicken, ham hocks and vegetables slow-cooked in bacon fat probably come to mind. But New York's Cadence proves Southern cooking isn't only for carnivores. The restaurant is the latest in vegan restaurant group Overthrow Hospitality's rapidly expanding collection of plant-based ventures in the Big Apple (via Grub Street).

Executive Chef Shenarri Freeman's Virginian roots shine through on Cadence's menu, where you'll recognize familiar favorites like fried okra with jerk sauce, smoked grits with oyster (mushrooms), and cornbread featuring bee-free honey. Another highlight is palm cakes — Freeman's take on a crab cake — which uses hearts of palm in place of seafood. However, you won't miss the crab when you bite into the cakes' "gloriously crunchy golden breading," as famous restaurant reviewer Pete Wells tells it (via New York Times).

It was this creativity that earned the East Village outpost a spot on The New York Times list of 50 restaurants that the newspaper was most excited about in 2021.

If you want to see what the hype is all about, it's best to reserve well in advance. According to Grub Street, the tiny restaurant's only seating is in the form of velvet bar stools around a counter — where you can see chefs prepare your meal.

BAIA - San Francisco

San Francisco's BAIA had quite some shoes to fill when it opened its doors in the summer of 2020. According to Eater, the Italian restaurant is located within the Hayes Building, which was home to groundbreaking French restaurant Jardiniere from 1997 to 2019. But the restaurant already understands the assignment. After all, it's the first San Francisco outpost in acclaimed vegan chef Matthew Kenney's growing plant-based empire. Kenney already runs hot spots across the globe, including a number in Los Angeles.

The Infatuation referred to BAIA's vegan takes on Italian cuisine as "superb," applauding its garlic knots and its meatballs made from Impossible "meat." Other highlights include a selection of egg-free pasta and pizzas made with rice or cashew milk "mozzarella." The lasagna uses a reimagined bechamel and house-made vegan ricotta.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the restaurant did face an uphill battle opening during a pandemic. For the first months of its existence, BAIA was take-out and delivery only. However, people's desire to indulge in a healthy way at home also drove business. Now that the restaurant's doors are officially open, stop in for vegan Panna Cotta or plant-based mozzarella sticks — washed down something off of BAIA's extensive Italian wine list.

Cheeze Factory - Baraboo, Wisconsin

Given Wisconsin's reputation as America's dairyland, you might be surprised to learn that there is a popular vegan restaurant in the midst of all that cheese. Baraboo's Cheeze Factory is located 20 minutes outside Wisconsin Dells — a town known for its theme parks and water rides. And you can see that family-friendly influence in its children's menu — along with kid-friendly dishes like spaghetti and "meat" sauce and "chicken" fingers.

The restaurant also serves up inventive global cuisine, however. Recently featured dishes include bocadillo de huevos fritos — a vegan take on a traditional Spanish sandwich — and nasi goreng, which is an Indonesian fried rice dish.

Cheeze Factory, which has been around since the early '90s, was originally a vegetarian restaurant but recently changed its menu to solely plant-based dishes. While some were skeptical at first, especially because the restaurant was beloved for its grilled cheese sandwich, chef-owner Sage-Louise told On Milwaukee that even meat-eaters are digging the new concept. So if you're needing a break from all the cheese Wisconsin has to offer, Cheeze Factory is just the ticket.

Sam & Gerties - Chicago

Vegan isn't exactly the first word that comes to mind when you think of a Jewish deli, but Sam & Gerties is trying to change that. According to The Jerusalem Post, the Chicago restaurant was the first vegan Jewish deli in the world when it opened in 2020.

The restaurant was named after chef Andy Kalish's grandparents, Sam and Gertie Stuart, who immigrated to the United States from Europe. While it's not certified kosher, it does retain that classic deli feel — just sans meat (via The Forward).

Kalish has found a way to make most traditional Jewish dishes vegan at Sam & Gerties. Highlights include an egg-less "egg" salad, cured "laks" bagel sandwiches, and vegan spins on pastrami and chopped "liv'ah." Sam & Gertie's also offers a number of classic baked goods like challah and black and white cookies — not to mention an extensive selection of bagels and vegan cream cheeses.

Anyone who thinks that a meatless deli is facing an uphill battle should note that the restaurant sold out in its opening weekend — and continues to draw crowds from Chicago's Uptown neighborhood and beyond. "Young people are telling us, 'I'm vegan, and I've never been able to have this kind of food,'" Kalish told The Forward. "People are lining up for half an hour, even 45 minutes, to get to our counter. It's really validating."