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2024-06-27 00:00:00 Avenue Magazine The Healthiest Eateries in New York (Right Now!)

The Healthiest Eateries in New York (Right Now!)

Forget raw tofu—plant-based menus have gone haute cuisine. George Hahn unearths New York’s best eateries for a meat-free feast.

When I was growing up, vegetarians got a bad rap. They were weird in the eyes of many, me included. The concept of not eating meat was a fringy notion practiced by joyless, anemic-looking hippies with questionable hygiene. The prevailing attitude was: If there isn’t any meat, how could it possibly be considered a meal? Nowadays, we know better. Evidence shows that introducing plant-based foods into our diet is good for us. Eliminating or merely cutting down on meat can lower cholesterol and fat, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Vegetarianism and veganism have emerged into the zeitgeist with increasing acceptance and popularity. Aided by documentaries like 2018’s eye-opening The Game Changers, which featured elite athletes and Arnold Schwarzenegger challenging what we have been taught about meat and protein, and the emergence of author/speaker and “blue zone” hunter Dan Buettner, whose social media channels and four-part Netflix series, Live to 100, examines pockets of the globe consistently producing centenarians, people are getting hip to the perks of plant-based diets. Vegans and their eating habits aren’t so weird anymore.

Not that long ago, vegan and vegetarian options at a restaurant implied some kind of sacrifice or compromise in terms of a truly satisfying meal. The vegetarian offering on a menu might be a combo plate of vegetable side dishes or some sad, flavorless cauliflower-based entrée—a bone the chef would throw to those strange nonmeat eaters. This is not the case anymore. Ignoring vegan customers is not only off-trend, but, in 2024, it’s just bad business. It’s nice to see chefs at meat-heavy eateries creating more thoughtful and delicious dishes for those taking a break from meat. Recent lunches at Café Luxembourg, famed for their steak frites, had me delighted with a tasty purple sticky rice dish and a fantastic Beyond Luxemburger.

“Living what I call a hotel lifestyle, I prefer to order out, thinking of it as room service. (Though it would be so chic if my dinner was wheeled into my apartment by a uniformed room attendant.)”

George Hahn

There are more vegan restaurants in New York than ever before. Chef Daniel Humm’s much lauded Eleven Madison Park is proof that one can enjoy a premium fine-dining experience without the dead animals. Recently, I’ve enjoyed terrific meals at other plant-based eateries that proved incredibly satisfying.


The dining counter at abcV

Expanding his “plant-forward” cuisine at the original East 19th Street location inside ABC Home, Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened a sibling abcV last summer in the mammoth Tin Building food hall on Pier 17 (in the second-floor space, originally Seeds & Weeds).

Described as a “seasonally driven plant-based restaurant, offering creative and forward-thinking dishes, tonics, and cocktails,” abcV is a decidedly uncompromised plant-based experience in a casual yet elegant setting.

Going Green: a dish at abcV

The menu is broken down into categories, beginning with “for the table” (shareables), “fresh and vibrant” (cold starters), and “toasted and griddled” (warm appetizers). The entrées are “wok-seared, roasted, and grilled” and “warm and nourishing,” along with a short list of sides. At a dinner for a vegan birthday boy, a group of us tried several things on the menu: green chickpea hummus, crispy olive oil artichokes, avocado lettuce cups, and almond-flour pancakes, to start. Then we shared a whole roasted cauliflower (a really good one), green spaghetti, mushroom walnut Bolognese, and grilled oakwood shiitake. We passed around bowls of coconut sticky rice and plates of crunchy lettuces. Everything was tasty—and not a single bacon cheeseburger in sight.

abcV 38 East 19th St New York, NY 10003, (212) 475-5829



I do cook, but not as often as I probably should. Living what I call a hotel lifestyle, I prefer to order out, thinking of it as room service. (Though it would be so chic if my dinner was wheeled into my apartment by a uniformed room attendant.) A regular go-to is Blossom, a pioneer in refined vegan cuisine. Started in Chelsea in 2005 by Ronen Seri and Pamela Elizabeth, Blossom is now located on Columbus Avenue, conveniently around the corner from my Upper West Side apartment.

Blossom first pinged on my radar in the pre-Impossible burger days with their own plant-based Blossom Burger which knocked my socks off. It was a game-changing, off-ramp experience for a decades-long beef-burger fanboy, and quickly became a regular weekend dinner feast.

Blossom’s butternut squash and Gnocchi

To mix things up, I ordered Blossom’s tofu BLT on focaccia, wondering how in the hell they could do it without the “B.” It turns out that a tasty, crispy tempeh tofu “bacon” makes you forget that you’re not eating Babe. My other adventure on the Blossom menu is the meatball parm, crafted with house-made, plant-based “meatballs,” mozzarella, parmesan, and marinara on ciabatta bread. Incredible.

Other delights: the Cape Cod cakes, pumpkin ravioli, and the dependably comforting baked mac and cheese.

Blossom on Columbus: 507 Columbus Avenue (between West 84th and West 85th Streets), 212-875-2600,

I was raised a carnivore. Almost every night for dinner was either beef, chicken, or pork. But I gave up it all up over 13 years ago, having my last cheeseburger on New Year’s Eve in 2010. I talk about plant-based eating often, and people invariably ask me if I’m a vegan. I describe myself as “vegan-adjacent,” still enjoying fish, cheeses, and ice cream when I’m out and about. (I draw the line at eating land animals.) And that could still evolve for me. Since I made this switch to my diet, I hardly feel like it’s a compromise. I’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy the fantastic and ever-expanding options in plant-based eating. I feel healthier. Except for being struck twice with Covid, I can’t recall being sick in the 13-plus years since I quit eating meat.

Over a decade ago, the food writer Mark Bittman published a book with the best diet title I’ve ever seen: VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health… for Good. The idea is to go vegan during the day, leaning into fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, then eat whatever you want after 6:00 PM. What a perfectly
reasonable suggestion! Bittman’s not telling people to give up meat. In the interest of our greater health and wellness, he’s merely suggesting a workable adjustment.

Fortunately for anyone interested in the health benefits of such a shift, an ever-widening variety of delicious, satisfying options are more accessible than ever.

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