Top 5: NYC’s Best Vegetarian Restaurants

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New York was slower to embrace the vegetarian diet than Los Angeles, and still trails crunchier West Coast cities when it comes to herbivore restaurant selections. But as the organic and locavore movements have swept the city, vegetarian and vegan restaurants have continued to flourish thanks to both the hardcore veggie lovers and curious meat lovers.

1 Pure Food and Wine

The raw food trend may be past its peak, but Pure continues to draw crowds for its vegetarian and vegan dishes prepared in a kitchen that lacks a single oven. No dish here is heated to more than 118 degrees, and even the water is assiduously purified. The staff is friendly despite the restaurant's militancy, and the backyard patio is a refreshing gem.

54 Irving Pl., New York, NY 10003

2 Dirt Candy

Amanda Cohen learned the veggie trade at Pure Food and Wine and Angelica Kitchen before opening her own East Village paen to what she calls "candy from the earth." The carrots receive especially high marks, as do desserts like the sesame-caramel cake.

430 E. 9th St. , New York, NY 10009

3 Candle 79

Uptowners have never warmed to the vegetarian lifestyle like their downtown counterparts, but this refined Upper East Side standby, a followup to the original Candle Cafe, draws in the health-conscious locals with its fresh dishes and unexpectedly sexy ambiance.

154 E 79th St., New York, NY 10075

4 Bliss Café

Seek relief from Williamsburg's endless roster of BBQ and fried chicken joints at this veggie and vegan outpost just off the Bedford L train stop. The bric-a-brac furniture charms, but it's the portobello zucchini sandwich that will have you jumping out of your seat.

191 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211

5 Spring Street Natural

Here's where strict vegetarians can take carnivore friends and avoid eyerolls and growling stomachs. The food isn't quite vegetarian or vegan--you can cheat with fish--but is all minimally processed and served in a handsome, convenient and always bustling space.

62 Spring St., New York, NY 10012

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