London's first vegan fried chicken restaurant debuted in Hackney this month, and lines of hungry residents stretched in front of its neighboring butcher and clear around the block.
Plant-based cooking is having a moment stateside as well. At stylish spots coast to coast, chefs are serving award-winning haute cuisine, elevated comfort food and seasonal café fare that just so happens to forgo meat and dairy. Cocktails, craft beer and biodynamic wines are on offer, as are considerable bragging rights for vegans and omnivores alike. ("You haven't tried coconut bacon yet? Dude.") It's easy being green at these eight restaurants
Los Angeles, CA
Vegan celebrity chef Tal Ronnen created recipes for Oprah and catered Ellen Degeneres's 2008 wedding to Portia de Rossi. His glittering Melrose Avenue locale serves Mediterranean-accented dishes including risotto with harissa and fennel, alongside heady cocktails named after Ronnen's favorite punk records. Prints by rock photographer Jim Marshall dot the sprawling dining room, as do famous fans like Mick Jagger, Beyoncé and Jay Z.
Nothing is cooked above 118 degrees at this chic boîte situated in a Federalist townhouse. Inventive weekly menus (it's open for Friday dinners only) earn rave reviews and include crispy parsnips atop tomato tartare and cauliflower "al pastor" with kelp caviar and coconut bacon. All are paired with natural wines and craft cocktails featuring house-made tonics and juices.
Ticketed reservations sell quickly at this intimate chef's counter in Southeast, where chef Aaron Adams sources ingredients for his ambitious 10-to-15-course tasting menu from farms in the region. Cerebral, seasonal dishes include asparagus velouté with radish and lemon gel and maitake torchons with fried hazelnuts. Wine pairings and gluten-free options are also available.
Lasagna cruda and bibimbap with grilled broccoli highlight the globe-trotting dishes at this low-key stop that has a slew of famous fans. While vegan desserts can often be lackluster (another berry granita?), Plant's list includes blondies with cranberry compote and vegan cannoli with handmade anise-scented shells. Meals are paired with local craft beers, biodynamic wines and house-made colas, including a knockout pineapple-ginger concoction.
The OG of Pacific Northwestern vegan dining opened in 2009 and has since launched a vegan diner, retail shop, bakery and food truck. At the original Capitol Hill location, owner Makini Howell specializes in polished versions of American comfort fare, such as pan-seared, Creole-spiced tempeh, plus cult-favorite Mac 'n' Yease, in a bright, industrial-chic space.
New York, NY
Shojin cuisine, a type of plant-based cooking rooted in Japanese Zen Buddhism, inspires kaiseki-style vegan tasting menus at this intimate Manhattan destination with a Michelin nod. Complex, understated dishes, such as chilled house-made soba with pickled plum, are served on hand-carved wooden trays and vintage ceramics.
For more than 20 years, chef-owner Eric Tucker has brought Michelin-approved vegan fare to the Bay Area. The San Francisco institution relocated to its spacious Rockridge digs in 2015 and offers affordable snacks (chaat-fried chickpeas, roast fingerlings with pear ketchup) alongside showstopping mains like black garlic- and miso-glazed tempeh atop forbidden black rice.
Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby's chic Midtown Village outpost frequently tops national and citywide best-of lists. Dishes span light starters like a startlingly addictive avocado stuffed with romesco and pickled cauliflower, as well as hearty eggplant "braciole." The duo is currently plotting a fast-casual concept, Wiz Kid, set to open in Rittenhouse Square this year.
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