For the meat-averse, Thanksgiving is a notoriously tricky time of year. Between dodging Aunt Ida’s questions about your “alternative” lifestyle and trying to cobble together enough meat-free appetizers to make a full meal, it’s enough to make the holidays more stressful than they need to be.
Luckily, if you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or merely looking for a healthy alternative to the typical tryptophan food coma, New York City has restaurants to satisfy every taste and budget.
At the sophisticated Upper East Side location, Chef Jorge Pineda is offering a delectable range of dishes like grilled artichokes with roasted garlic aioli, baby arugula salad with beets and roasted squash, and pomegranate-stuffed tempeh served with chipotle-kabocha squash sauce. Among the delectable desserts offered: pumpkin cheesecake garnished with vanilla cream and a house-made ice cream sampler.
Four courses, $55 or a la carte; (212) 472-0970
The sister location to Candle 79, Candle Café offers a more informal Thanksgiving spread with a four-course prix fixe menu and additional a la carte options that are both family- and wallet-friendly. The extensive menu includes pumpkin marsala-grilled tofu with cornbread stuffing and porcini-crusted seitan with roasted shallot-potato mash. Save space for dessert: Options include seasonal pies and pumpkin bundt cake with lavender frosting.
At this upscale East Village fixture, familiar dishes get obscure flourishes like creamy butternut-miso soup, maple-herb-roasted seitan with apple-fennel stuffing, wild mushroom gravy, candied yams, and pull-apart potato rolls. As far as sweets go, there will be pear-cranberry crumble served with a dollop of cinnamon ice cream or spiced sugar pumpkin-apple cake with pumpkin seed brittle.
Four courses, $68 per person; (212) 627-1144
Chelsea mainstay Blossom features a hearty menu this year with playful interpretations of Thanksgiving classics. Begin the night with kabocha squash soup and roasted Portobello; for the entrée choose between stuffed acorn squash, seitan kiev or phyllo-wrapped veggies. Finish with the pumpkin coconut parfait for the perfect end to a satisfying meal. Seatings until 9PM.
Five courses, $55 per person; (212) 228-2909
An East Village landmark since 1976, Angelica Kitchen is still serving outstanding vegan fare, and Thanksgiving is the one night of the year they’ll take reservations. Start off with Jerusalem artichoke black-olive pate, followed by a choice of soup; then an entrée of heirloom bean tamales filled with Swiss chard and almond cotija cheese or seitan en croute, which comes wrapped in a delicate herbed phyllo crust. For those looking to celebrate with libations, take advantage of the BYOB option with no extra corkage fee.
They are only allotting 1hr and 45 min to parties of 1-2 and 2hrs, 15min for parties of 3 or more. If you aren’t the type that likes to feel rushed, this may not be your choice, but the food is delicious.
$30 pre-fixe or a la carte; (212) 362-2266
One of the few vegan haunts on the Upper West Side, Peacefood Café is offering a budget-friendly Thanksgiving meal that includes flavorful and happily unfussy delicacies. Try the Thai pumpkin soup with cashew cream and their signature meatless cutlet served with all the fixings: porcini mushroom gravy, homemade stuffing and mashed purple sweet potatoes.
For the non-traditionalists, try raw-food hotspot Pure Food & Wine in Gramercy Park. Known for creating mouth-watering and inventive delicacies, nothing on the menu is heated above 118 degrees. The four-course tasting menu includes a bounty of options, like squash soup with bourbon maple reduction and a walnut gallet topped with lemon mascarpone and braised escarole. For the main course, try the pumpkin seed and sage tart with maple spiced baby carrots and cranberry pear relish. Be sure to leave room for dessert: the red wine poached apples with spice cake is not to be missed.
Four courses, $50 per person; (212) 337-0863
For a low-key option, neighborhood bistro Sacred Chow is offering a four-course prix fixe meal, which is inclusive of tax and gratuity. Traditional favorites like roasted pumpkin bisque soup and cornmeal-encrusted Brussels sprouts are served alongside tasty vegetarian entrées like the Hong Kong seitan roast with seitan sausage stuffing.
If you’ll be dining with carnivores, Hundred Acres in Soho is a solid crowd-pleaser with a Thanksgiving lineup featuring inspiring, market-driven options that will appeal to meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Try the creamy zuri squash grits with roasted chanterelle and trumpet royal mushrooms, cauliflower ravioli with crushed almonds and formaggio di fossa, and pecan pie with buttermilk ice cream. Carnivores will love Bev’s free-range turkey served with a hearty helping of cornbread stuffing, gravy and cranberry-kumquat marmalade.
Finally, for those who long to host a meal at home but aren’t Top Chef material, Whole Foods is offering two relatively inexpensive vegan-friendly dinner options for you to serve at your own table.
Editors note: CleanPlates earns a small commission if you reserve online (links added by editor, writer unaware). Photo by cuttlefish.