If you think about the U.S. food scene, it will likely conjure images of fast food, steakhouses, and 24-hour diners filled with patrons munching on bacon and eggs. And while burger lovers across the land have spent years laughing at the idea of plant-based menus, America’s modern vegan dining scene is no joke. All across the nation, inventive and delicious spots are popping up in famous food hubs like NYC and San Francisco, as well as smaller culinary cities like Philadelphia and Denver. We tracked down the most delicious dishes from the most acclaimed plant-based restaurant in numerous cities, bringing you a guide to some of the best of the U.S. Whether you’re on a cross-country road trip or looking for great new spots in your home state, you’ll want to add these incredible plant-based dishes to your vegan food bucket list.
1. Artichoke Oysters from Crossroads
Los Angeles, CA
Crossroads is an LA favorite of celebs, like Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres, and is owned by chef Tal Ronnen, who is widely considered one of the best plant-based chefs in the nation. At Crossroads, small plates dominate the dinner experience, and the shining star of the evening is sure to be the artichoke oysters, made with artichoke puree, crispy oyster mushroom, yellow tomato béarnaise, and kelp caviar. This small but mighty plate impresses on every level, with a presentation, texture, and taste that will have your senses singing.
2. [Plant] Cheese Plate at Plant
Vegan and North Carolina aren’t often used in the same sentence, but the team at Plant is trying to change that. The owner, Jason Sellers, created the restaurant with a vision of serving bold, flavorful dishes in a casual atmosphere offering Southern charm. While the main courses at Plant are exquisite, the crown jewel of the establishment is their cheese plate. This show-stealing plate is comprised of aged cashew, farmer’s involtini, rosemary amber and fruit, pickled vegetables, black garlic oil, and perfectly toasted focaccia. The variety of flavors and textures of their house-made cheese have patrons saying it surpasses all cheese plate competitors, vegan or not.
3. Spicy Cajun Mac ‘N’ Yease from Plum Bistro
Settled in Seattle, Plum Bistro is a mainstay in the city’s culinary scene. It’s a hit for tourists and locals, both plant-based and omnivorous. Chef Makini Howell has been a vegan all his life and his inventive and flavorful dishes have been so popular, Plum Bistro now sells cookbooks and has opened food trucks and other pop-up restaurants throughout the country. While everything on the menu is delicious, there’s no doubt that the guest favorite is their mac and cheese, causing even those who eat dairy to proclaim it’s the best version they’ve ever tried. Not planning on a trip to Seattle anytime soon? We found the recipe for you.
4. Eggplant Braciole from Vedge
Based in the land of cheesesteaks, Vedge is a James Beard-nominated restaurant that’s considered one of the best in Philadelphia. While many vegan establishments try to imitate meaty dishes through substitutions, Vedge focuses on letting vegetables shine and builds flavorful plates around this concept. This philosophy is evident in their famous eggplant braciole, a near-unanimous favorite among food critics and patrons alike. The eggplant is cooked to perfection and complemented by a magnificent Italian salsa verde. Just like Vedge, this dish is simple and exquisite. But don’t take our word for it; try it for yourself at home!
5. Wild Mushroom Crepe at Candle 79
New York City, NY
Considered one of the best plant-based restaurants in the food capital of America, Candle 79 delivers an unforgettable, fine dining culinary experience on the Upper East Side to delight your taste buds. The restaurant is the sophisticated sister to Candle Café and is meant to create a more elevated experience. The overwhelming diner favorite is the mushroom crepe that’s stuffed with fresh veggies, sautéed wild mushrooms, spinach, topped with a garlic truffle aioli and served with a fresh arugula fennel salad. It’s a meal that you won’t soon forget.
6. Vegan Shake at the Chicago Diner
The Chicago Diner is a Windy City staple for even the most die-hard meat lovers. Nestled in the vibrant neighborhood of Boystown, the tiny restaurant is nostalgic in style and gives classic diner fare a plant-based makeover. The savory items on the menu are killer, but the massive vegan milkshakes are overwhelmingly the reason guests return time and time again. With ten different flavors, from cookie dough peanut butter to carrot cake, there’s a version for everyone.
Have you tried any of these incredible vegan menu items?
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Photo: Respective restaurants