With Bravolebs like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Lisa Rinna describing herself as a “dirty vegan,” Padma Lakshmi announcing recently that she’s “mostly vegetarian” off Top Chef, and Ladies of London's Julie Montagu bringing attention to Superfoods, it’s clear that adopting a plant-based diet is hotter than ever. (And it’s not just en vogue, of course — it has plenty of health and environmental benefits, too.)
Looking to get on board with the trend? Visit one of these popular vegan (or mostly vegan) restaurants around the country — we promise you won’t leave hungry OR miss the meat.
Crossroads Kitchen, Los Angeles
Chef Tal Ronnen — an Oprah favorite, and the caterer responsible for the Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi wedding — is behind the buzzy Crossroads on L.A.’s chic Melrose Avenue. Try the artichoke “oysters” for a signature dish that is as delicious as it is Instagram friendly
Gracias Madre, West Hollywood
With an original location in San Francisco, Gracias Madre’s newer West Hollywood location developed a fast reputation as a see-and-be-seen spectacle — populated with celebs and other beautiful people, plus expense account-ers spending with abandon. The food is Mexican inspired, and the expansive, gorgeous patio is the place to sit most times throughout the year.
Kajitsu, New York
Offering Japanese Shojin-style cuisine — the kind of vegetarian cooking that comes from Zen Buddhism — Kajitsu offers impeccable plated presentation for its plant-based fare. Try the four-course “Kaze” or eight-course “Hana” menus. Skeptical? Kajitsu gets a coveted Michelin star.
Chicago Diner, Chicago
“Meat free since ’83” goes the slogan for Chicago Diner, which offers vegan fare in a far-from-fancy setting. Two locations in town offer the likes of country-fried steak, quinoa chili, and a signature dish — the “Radical Rheuban” sandwich — all rendered vegan, or with vegan options.
Plant, Asheville, North Carolina
Chef Jason Sellers helms the kitchen at Asheville’s Plant, where foraged mixed mushrooms and live herbed cashew “cheese” enliven the menu. Try the lemon-saffron creme brûlée for dessert, and wash it all down with house-made soda, biodynamic tea and wine, and local draught beers.
Shizen, San Francisco
The Japanese restaurant Shizen — a sushi bar and izakaya — is new on the San Francisco vegan dining scene, having opened in the Mission District earlier this year. Interior is refined and chic, but not overly fancy, with polished woods and pitched ceilings. Come for rolls, gyoza, ramen, and other artfully prepared dishes.
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, Washington, DC
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw comes from founder-owner, Elizabeth Petty, who was introduced to a vegan and raw foods diet when she was battling breast cancer. Now, she serves the health-boosting cuisine at a one-night-per-week fine-dining experience with a six-course tasting menu.
Chefs Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby helm this restaurant in a historic building, where vegetables take center stage in the dishes. Think stuffed avocado, wood-grilled carrots, and rutabaga fondue. Cocktails are also notable, with house-made syrups and bitters.
Hangawi, New York
The long-established Korean restaurant Hangawi is all about providing a balanced meal meant to promote good health, stemming from the principles of yin and yang — or or um and yang, as it is known in Korean. Standout mains include hot stone bowl rice dishes and various tofu options. There’s a huge gluten-free menu as well.
Natural Selection, Portland
Come for Chef Aaron Woo’s menu built on vegetables, fruits, and grains served in a convivial European-evocative setting; the menu draws inspiration from France, Italy, and Spain, offering both rustic and modern takes. A four-course tasting menu offers variety, and creative cocktails help wash it all down.
This longtime San Francisco staple recently moved across the bay to the Rockridge area, and now offers a revamped menu of locally sourced and artfully plated plant-based fare. Think date-appropriate, but not overwrought, with rustic wood, metal floor tiles, and an expansive patio.
Cafe Flora, Seattle
This well-established Seattle staple is all about local, organic, and sustainable produce and herbs, commanding strong relationships with Washington farms. The vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free food draws from international influence. The atrium off the main dining room is an airy space that allows alfresco dining all year amid a fountain and natural stone.
Mana Food Bar, Chicago
This small Chicago eatery dishes out creative, globally inspired vegetarian fare — like bulgogi, curry, and gyoza — perfect for sharing. Also try just-squeezed juices and fresh smoothies — or an inventive sake cocktail.
Cafe Gratitude, Los Angeles
With multiple locations around California plus Kansas City, this organic and plant-based collection of restaurants has a menu that emphasizes — well — gratitude, with dishes named like “I Am Awake,” and “I Am Powerful.” The Southern California locations draw a major celeb contingent, including a visit from the Real Housewives of Orange County.
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