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New York’s Best Vegetable-Focused Restaurants

Dirt-Candy_Brussels-Taco-1“Vegetable-focused” has become a real buzzword in the dining world, used to describe restaurants that aren’t vegetarian, necessarily, but use produce in interesting, entrée-worthy, and entirely delicious ways.  Here are eight places that are scrumptiously spearheading the veggie revolution in New York, from Amanda Cohen’s game-changing, newly expanded Dirt Candy, to Semilla in Brooklyn, currently working culinary magic on tubers and roots…

Dirt Candy

Dirt Candy
86 Allen St
Lower East Side,New York 10002
(212) 228-7732

Opened in 2009 (and recently re-launched in a significantly larger space), Dirt Candy was one of the first, New York restaurants to only serve vegetables — without being directly marketed towards vegetarians.  That’s because chef-owner Amanda Cohen has always been more concerned with fun and flavor than appealing to diet and health nuts, resulting in whimsical and totally gratifying dishes, such as Jalapeno Hush Puppies, Smoked Broccoli Hot Dogs, and Tacos made with Brussels Sprouts.

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Semilla

Semilla
160 Havemeyer St
Williamsburg,New York 11211
(718) 782-3474

The menu is comprised almost entirely of vegetables at this tiny, highly acclaimed Brooklyn tasting room (which, incidentally, is a James Beard semi-finalist for best new restaurant).  And while each dish is an intricate, two-bite work of art, creations like Burdock Root Arancini, Brioche-wrapped Daikon Radish, and Fig Leaf-infused Ice Cream are surprisingly satisfying too, meaning you won’t be compelled to go out for pizza after.

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Take Root

Take Root
187 Sackett St
Carroll Gardens,New York 11231
(347) 227-7116

Like Semilla, the 12-seat Brooklyn tasting table, Take Root, has received its fair share of applause, garnering no less than a Michelin star, plus a James Beard “Rising Star” nomination for its 28-year-old chef, Elise Kornack.  So it’s no wonder the Carroll Gardens gem has hiked its prices from $85-$120 in just a couple of years, but you won’t begrudge forking over one extra red cent, for Creamed Corn and Dandelion Leaf, accented with just a hint of spicy, smoky n’duja, or a bread-thickened soup of Macadamia Nut and Cucumber, finished with emerald ribbons of olive oil.

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Café Clover

Café Clover
10 Downing St
West Village,New York 10014
(212) 675-4350

Just opened in January, chef David Standridge (Market Table, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon) works closely with Mike Roussell, the Director of Nutrition at Peak Performance, to develop dishes that are inarguably tasty and as nutritionally balanced as possible.  Which means putting veggies firmly at the forefront, resulting in salads made with Celery Root and Rutabaga, starters such as Market Crudite with green goddess and smoked vin, and entrees like a hearty Cauliflower “Steak,” paired with romesco and vegetable chutney.

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Dovetail

Dovetail
103 W 77th Street
New York 10024
(212) 362-3800

John Fraser has only deepened his commitment to vegetables at Narcissa, which sources ingredients directly from partner André Balasz’ farm upstate.  But his love affair with produce began at his Upper West Side stunner, Dovetail, which offers both “vegetarian” and “vegetable focused” menus every Monday.  Choose from either an entirely meatless repast, of Fuji Apple Salad, Roasted Chayote with barley, and Butternut Manicotti, or a meal that pays mere lip service to protein, featuring Baby Beets with gravlax, Maitake Mushrooms with seaweed and sea urchin, or Grilled Hearts of Palm, paired with sweet potato, sassafras and pork belly.

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Le Verdure

Le Verdure
200 5th Ave
Flatiron District,New York 10010
(212) 229-2560

With a name like Le Verdure, there’s little question as to what’s on the menu — the Eataly outpost features produce sourced directly from the market.  Expect at least 13 dishes, designed around whatever is fresh and seasonal that day, such as Fritto Misto, an assortment of veggies fried in extra virgin olive oil or Insalata di Cavolini, shaved brussels sprouts tossed with fiore sardo, toasted pine nuts and sea salt.  There’s so many great dishes to choose from here, like Lenticchie e Uova; greens, beluga lentils and roasted tomatoes, topped with an egg on grilled planks of bread, and Gnocchi alla Romana; semolina dumplings with sautéed spinach, artichokes and robiolina cheese.

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Chalk Point Kitchen

Chalk Point Kitchen
527 Broome S
Soho,New York 10013
(212) 390-0327

Chalk Point Kitchen is far from being a vegetarian restaurant, but its “market to table” concept — modern dishes made with heirloom, local, heritage, seasonal, sustainable and organic products — means that meat frequently takes a back seat.  In fact, an entire section of the menu is dedicated to Vegetables to Share, from Japanese Snow Peas with teriyaki and sesame and Roasted Butternut Squash with ricotta and aged balsamic, to Grilled Watermelon with sweet chili, feta, and Thai basil and Freddy’s Succotash; a melange of Pennsylvania Dutch mushrooms, local corn, black dirt carrots, English peas and a lemon-truffle vinaigrette. 

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Colonie

Colonie
127 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn,NY 11201
(718) 855-7500

Andrew Whitcomb recently received the “Rising Star in Sustainability” award from StarChefs, acknowledging his deep dedication to supporting local farmers and eco-friendly purveyors at Colonie.  And his passion for perfect produce is duly emphasized on the hyper-seasonal menu, currently featuring Carrots with candied garlic and yogurt, Ryeberry Ragout with crispy mushrooms and duck eggs, and Cassoulet made with soldier beans, whole grain mustard, and just a touch of ham.

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