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The Best Vegetarian Restaurants for a Business Meal

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal

When you have an important interview or business meal with someone who’s vegetarian or vegan, where should you go to seal the deal? Our ace correspondent Julie Chang Murphy has curated a list of the best vegetarian fine dining restaurants that are business-ready and brand-right for a serious work-related meal.

where to go for an important business meal with a vegetarian

We know that some will differ. But personally, we have nothing against the time-honored steakhouse. And in the world of business, such an establishment holds an iconic place among the milieux where big deals get done and get celebrated.

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The handsome, atmospheric decor, impeccable wait staff, and opulent cuts of meat have traditionally made a steakhouse a can’t-lose choice as the setting for big doings in the business world. But just as the three-martini lunch has basically disappeared, the big business meal at a house of beef may have passed its prime.

We don’t know about you, but these days we’re finding that the captains of industry and finance are eating lighter and healthier. Even the male ones.

We still have our go-to steak joints for when we’re entertaining a client or business associate who loves a good New York strip (looking right at you, 4 Charles Prime Rib). But for our VIP clients who are vegetarian or vegan, we’ve got a new set of reliable destinations.

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What are the upscale restaurants to consider for that important business meeting with an herbivore or flexitarian? We’re talking next-level dining: creative and delicious vegetable dishes, elegant interiors and refined service. When a paltry veggie burger will not cut it, here are our top picks for vegetarian and vegan fine dining in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and London.

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal

the best vegetarian fine dining restaurants for a business meal

New York City

1. Plant Food + Wine

Matthew Kenney is the celebrity chef of the vegan dining world. Plant Food + Wine in the East Village is the latest addition to his empire. The restaurant is a more upscale, sit down and linger experience than the more casual Double Zero, which specializes in vegan pizza.

the best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal: Plant Food + Wine, New York. Courtesy Photos.

The menu is locally sourced but globally inspired by Asian and Italian cuisines. Feast on Kimchi Dumplings, Tomato and Zucchini Lasagna with Macadamia Ricotta, Kung Pao Cauliflower and his famous Kelp Noodle Cacio e Pepe. The restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list of organic and biodynamic varietals, as well as an impressive array of gluten-free desserts.

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2. Nix

Modern, Michelin-starred Nix in Greenwich Village, as we’ve previously reported, is one of our favorite vegetarian restaurants.  Chef John Fraser and partner James Truman serve an eclectic menu of vegetable plates in a lovely and lively “seen and be seen” atmosphere.

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal: Nix, New York. Courtesy Photo.

The menu is divided into two sections. A “lighter” side includes options like Burrata with aw and cooked apples and pecan-mint pesto, Tandoor-roasted beet salad, and Avocado with smoked turnip and ponzu sauce. For the client who needs something more filling,  the “bolder” side of the menu features dishes like Cauliflower tempura with steamed buns and house pickles. And Pan-seared potato gnocchi accompanied by butternut squash, chestnuts, truffles. Don’t miss their fresh, house-made sodas and inventive cocktail list.

3. abcV

Another New York establishment that is swanky and sophisticated and strictly vegetarian and vegan is abcV. Located inside the ethereal ABC Home and Carpet store, this is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s vegetarian hot spot.

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal: abcV, New York. Courtesy Photo.

The dining space is elevated and loft-like with white walls and furniture and a few bursts of neon pink and citrus colors. The extensive menu covers all the bases from protein shakes and salads to more hearty “rice and noodle” and “legumes and grains” options. The focus here is on the V- which doesn’t just stand for vegetables and the famed chef’s last name, but higher vibration foods. Those good vibes might just be what you need to seal the deal.

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4. Blossom

Acclaimed vegan destination Blossom has two locations: Chelsea and the Upper West Side. Diners can expect an organic, elevated and solid meal, which often doesn’t seem obviously vegan.

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal: Blossom, New York. Courtesy Photo.

Take, for example, the Trumpet Mushroom Scallops with Sautéed Spinach, Creamy Polenta in Porcini Broth or Seitan Piccata with White Wine Caper Sauce, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Kale. A thoughtful wine and specialty cocktail list complete the upscale vibe.

5. Avant Garden

Intimate and artsy, Avant Garden serves up high-end vegan fare in the East Village. The plates are colorful and legitimately beautiful. Instead of serving vegetables dishes that replicate meat, the restaurant focuses on the the complex flavors of vegetables itself.

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal: Avant Garden, New York. Courtesy Photo.

There are indulgent pasta dishes and paella dishes, as well as Mediterranean-inspired dishes like Roasted Carrot with Farro, Chimmichuri, Cucuma Tzatziki and Pita Chip and the Asian-inspired Avocado with Carrot Ginger Dressing, Crispy Rice, Miso Glaze and Blistered Shishito.

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Chicago

1. Bad Hunter

Though not entirely vegetarian, Bad Hunter on Randolph Row has a deep selection of vegetable forward appetizers and entrees sure to impress.

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal: Bad Hunter, Chicago. Courtesy Photo.

The setting is minimalist and sophisticated with bright airy windows that shine a spotlight on the inventive dishes like burrata accompanied by slices of potato and strawberry, chili crisps, bits of garlic and dill or their popular butter dumplings with fried Brussel sprouts and garlic chile kefir.

2. Clever Rabbit

Wicker Park restaurant Clever Rabbit  has some carnivorous options. But like Bad Hunter, it is “veggie focused.” The room is dark and earthy, almost evoking a smoky steakhouse. But on the table, there are veggie-filled flatbreads, bountiful and impressive salad platters and creative takes on dumplings and cauliflower for mains.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Clever Rabbit, Chicago. Courtesy Photo.

Clever Rabbit is owed by a trio who also own Sparrow in Gold Coast and The Betty on Fulton Market – two establishments known for creative cocktails. Guests can expect the same high-quality drinks and mocktails here as well.

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3. Althea

Another vegan restaurant from pioneer Matthew Kenney, Althea  is located in luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Althea, Chicago. Courtesy Photos.

The panoramic views of downtown Chicago and the iconic Magnificent Mile alone should impress any VIP’s you’ve got with you. But its the mouthwatering Barbacoa Tacos, Coconut Curry Risotto or refreshing Three Beet Carpaccio that will really win them over.

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Los Angeles

1. Crossroads

Our favorite vegetarian restaurant in LA is hands-down Crossroads. Great food, excellent people-watching, and a lovely dining room? Done, done and done. Tal Ronnen is a plant-based chef to the stars, counting A-listers like Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres as clients.

The best vegetarian restaurants for a business meal: Crossroads, Los Angeles. Courtesy Photo.

At his Melrose Avenue dining room, Ronnen’s wholesome vegan menu is full of hearty and flavorful dishes like Eggplant Filet with Parnsip Puree or Braised Lentils and Treviso with Figs and Crispy Fingerling Potatoes.  Seasonal libations are thoughtfully paired with the entrees for an uncompromising dining experience.

2. Gracias Madre

Gorgeous vegan Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre in West Hollywood has an expansive courtyard and festive tiles and high ceilings that should make any stuffy business meeting feel a little more relaxed.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Gracias Madre, Los Angeles. Courtesy Photos.

The guacamole and housemade chips have been described as addictive. And there are plenty of salads (to pick at) and bowls (to dig into). As well as traditional fare like fajitas, tamales, and tacos to satisfy any craving. And who can resist a cup of horchata latte with Mexican wedding cookies?

3. Elf Cafe

The intimate, Mediterranean style restaurant Elf Cafe in Echo Park is consistently listed as one of the top restaurants for herbivores in LA. The dips and shareable starters are exalted by reviewers, as is their risotto and tagine.

Elf Cafe, Echo Park, Los Angeles.

Accompanying the menus is a list of natural and biodynamic wines, in line with the restaurant’s eco-conscious, less-is-more ethos. While not billed as a vegan restaurant, the kitchen is able to make any of the vegetarian entrees suitable for vegans.

4. The Butcher’s Daughter

With restaurants on both coasts now, buzzy establishment The Butcher’s Daughter has attained cult status by treating “fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat.”

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Butcher’s Daughter, Los Angeles. Courtesy Photos.

That translates into chopping, filleting, and carving fresh produce into vegetarian dishes and pressing them into pretty juices. The sun-drenched and airy space is more casual and communal – so leave the top-secret negotiations for another time.

5. Cafe Gratitude

An iconic local chain with outposts in the Arts District, Larchmont Village, Venice, Newport Beach and Beverly Hills, Cafe Gratitude is a solid choice for high quality, nutrient dense, and flavor-driven cuisine.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Cafe Gratitude, Los Angeles. Courtesy Photos.

It used to be that you’d have to inadvertently declare affirmations like “I Am Enchanting” to order a Warm Broccolini and Edamame Salad. Or “I Am Evolved” for a Black Rice Bibimbap Bowl. But now you can order normally and save face with your potential new client. For those on a liquid lunch, there is a dizzying menu of superfood smoothies, pressed juices, tonics, herbal teas, organic wines and beer to quench your thirst and spirit.

San Francisco

1. Greens

At the top of the list for best fine dining vegetarian restaurants in the Bay Area is the venerable Greens Restaurant in Fort Mason. It has been at the forefront of fine vegetarian dining since 1979.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Greens, San Francisco.
Photo copyright Nader Khouri 2019.

With its premier waterfront location, fresh vegetables from a nearby farm in Marin, and chef Annie Somerville’s artistic touch, it’s still a celebrated choice. The menu is always changing to reflect what is in season and the food is globally inspired with elevated curries, pizza, pasta and stir fry.

2. Wildseed

Adriano Paganini’s plant-based restaurant and bar Wildseed is one of the buzziest players on the vegan scene. Working exclusively with Northern California’s freshest seasonal produce, Wildseed serves up healthy and satisfying meals inspired by global flavors.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Wildseed, San Francisco. Courtesy Photos.

The restaurant on Union Street is relaxed yet refined, with gorgeous exposed wood beams and comforting blue chairs and tiles. The menu is primed for sharing, and the bar uses fresh juices, herbs, homemade extracts and shrubs in its cocktails. Wildseed also serves only the best local, vegan, organic and biodynamic wines.

3. Al’s Place

Al’s Place is a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Mission District. While it’s not strictly vegetarian, seasonal vegetables are definitely the focus. The airy, Scandinavian chic restaurant sources produce from a bio-dynamically run farm, Blue Dane Garden, located two hours away in Grass Valley.

Al’s Place, San Francisco

The distinctive menu includes starters like Chickpeas a la Catalan in a Romesco Sauce and Brine Pickled French Fries with Smoked Applesauce. And warm entrees of Sunchoke Curry, Yelloweye Bean Stew and Grits with Goat’s Milk Curds, Crisp Peas and Chanterelles. 

4. Shizen

Super-sleek and stylish vegan sushi bar Shizen must be tried to be believed. Spicy tuna roll fan? Here they are made with chili-inflected minced tofu and cucumber, crowned with creamy avocado and dusted in chili “tobiko.”

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Shizen, San Francisco. Courtesy Photos.

Specialty rolls are filled with delicious pumpkin, eggplant, asparagus and sweet potato tempuras. There are also three ramen options for something more hearty on chilly days.

5. Ananda Fuara

Located one block from Civic Center station, Ananda Fuara means “fountain of delight.” The eatery strives to serve its enlightened vegetarian cuisine in an atmosphere of tranquility. One popular specialty is their “Neatloaf Dinner”- made from grains, eggs, ricotta cheese, tofu and spices blended together and baked, topped with a tangy tomato-based sauce.

Ananda Fuara in San Francisco.

Or choose from Indian curries and Mexican-style appetizers. Not to be missed are their renowned vegan desserts– including cardamom rose cake, gluten-free chocolate peanut butter crinkles, or the award-winning chocolate cake.

London

1. Vanilla Black

Modern, high-end Michelin-starred restaurant Vanilla Black in Chancery Lane prides itself on not serving any typical vegetarian entrees like pasta bakes and curries.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Vanilla Black, London. Courtesy Photos.

Instead, Chef Jason Atherton’s inventive plant-based dishes include never-before-seen combos like Nutmeg Custard accompanied by Burnt Kohlrabi and Cured Yolk or Cauliflower Croquette with Endive and Cocoa. Whatever it is, it’s artfully presented and tastes divine.

2. Farmacy

You’d expect a certain level of poshness from Camilla Al-Fayed’s (of Harrod’s fame) restaurant. Notting Hill’s Farmacy does not disappoint. The vibe of this dining room is soft and sophisticated, with blonde wood and brushed gold accents.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Farmacy, London. Courtesy Photos.

Farmacy labels its food as ‘clean indulgence’, which means that the menu has lots of naughty-sounding but actually super-healthy things to choose from. Think Loaded Mushroom Tacos, Farmacy Lasagna, and Banana Bread with Peanut Butter Pudding. The owners grow many of the vegetables, fruits and herbson Farmacy’s biodynamic farm in the Kent countryside.

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3. Gauthier SoHo

Michelin-starred Soho restaurant Gauthier Soho, from acclaimed chef Aurélie Altemaire, offers a notable five-course vegan menu alongside its already vegetable-forward menu.  As he has said, “In my kitchen, asparagus is as important as foie gras.” The sophisticated setting- a four-story Georgian town house and the rustic French inspired fare feel luxurious and elevated.

4. The Gate

The original location of  The Gate opened in 1989. But this small, upscale vegetarian chain has now expanded with four locations in John’s Wood, Marylebone, Islington, and Hammersmith. Rooms are a modern bistro style with trendy industrial lamps, dark wood floors and white walls.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: The Gate, London. Courtesy Photos.

The favorites based on the reviews we’ve read include the Wild Mushroom Risotto Cake, Aubergine Schnitzel and Tagine. Here, the wines are all vegan, and there is a selection of natural and organic wines to choose from, too.

5. Malibu Kitchen at the Ned

For a properly swanky atmosphere, look no further than this slice of California. Malibu Kitchen at The Ned is located on the ground floor of the hotel-cum-members club. Enormous arched windows, marble columns and mini-leather Chesterfield booths set the tone, while the menu features vegetables prominently alongside some meat and fish offerings.

The best fine dining vegetarian restaurants for work-related meals: Malibu Kitchen at The Ned, London. Courtesy Photos.

Enjoy Squash and Coconut soup, Beetroot Tartare layered with cucumber, pistachio, horseradish and almond aioli. Reviewers describe their Forbidden rice bowl of fermented veggies as richly textured and deliciously complex.

the best vegetarian fine dining restaurants for a business meal

There you have it! Our top picks for upscale vegetarian restaurants when you need to seal a deal with an herbivore. What’s your top pick?

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Newsletter hereAnd see luxury in a new light.

Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, and fitness. Julie lives in New York where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing. And spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.

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