With so many smart folks going veg, the number of restaurants and other business catering (often literally) to our appetites is booming, which makes our task of compiling lists of vegetarian-friendly cities tougher each time. But we never shrink from a challenge—or from the chance to discover totally delish new veggie eateries—so we're proud to present our list of the top 10 large North American cities for vegans and vegetarians:
1) Washington, D.C.
Although Congress may be populated by purveyors of "pork," Washington is making a bid to become the nation's capital of veggie dining. Folks on both sides of the aisle could surely reach a bipartisan consensus on the
faux turkey club sandwich from Java Green, ratify the vegan pepperoni and mozzarella pizza at Busboys and Poets, and put an end to the gridlock for a trip to Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant in nearby Falls Church, Virginia, to enjoy Popeye's Favorite—a potato pie mixed with spinach, soy protein, and veggie bacon in a black-pepper sauce—followed by egg-free and milk-free organic pumpkin pie or almond-blueberry pie.
2) Portland, Oregon
Portland's volcanoes may be extinct, but the city's vegan scene has erupted—enough to propel Portland into our number two position. From the luscious lasagne at Papa G's Vegan Organic Deli to the sizzling TLP (tempeh bacon, lettuce, and peppers) at Red and Black Café, to the barbecue tempeh platter at the Blossoming Lotus, vegan Portlanders have plenty of reasons to be happy with their hometown.
3) Albuquerque, New Mexico
Going vegan in Albuquerque is easier than learning how to spell the city's name! You'll find vegan options aplenty, such as the falafel wrap at The Pita Pit and the tofu scramble at Flying Star Café. Also check out both locations of Annapurna's World Vegetarian Café, offering a selection of vegan bakery items and ayurvedic cooking classes.
4) Atlanta, Georgia
Life for Georgia's vegans is increasingly peachy, with restaurants such as Café Sunflower (offering stuffed mushroom caps in a miso mushroom sauce), Green Sprout (presenting veggie pork with tofu and Szechuan sauce), and Ria's Bluebird (serving up Southwest tofu scramble with veggies). The South will rise again—and ask for seconds.
5) Seattle, Washington
Seattle has a reputation for being rainy, but even when it's overcast, Seattle is a sunny place for vegans. For instance, Araya's Place curries favor with a Thai red curry with tofu, Thrive tops its fiery Chili con Marvelous with onion cashew cream, and Wayward Vegan Café dazzles with the Warlock, a faux-chicken sandwich spiced up with a savory chipotle-tahini sauce.
6) Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
While we had our differences with the recent Olympic Games held there, we can't hold that against this beautiful city. Especially not while they're serving up almond masala cakes at Organic Lives, spicy falafel wraps at Gorilla Food, and a golden rice bowl with marinated Gardein strips, mock shrimp, and sautéed tofu at Loving Hut.
7) San Francisco, California
The City by the Bay has opened its Golden Gate to a wide variety of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants and cafés. While celebrated spots such as Millenium and Greens are well worth a visit, don't miss out on the "Neatloaf" at Ananda Fuara, the Broccoli Beef & Black Mushroom entrée at Golden Era, or the grilled portobello mushroom over creamy polenta, sautéed spinach, and crostini at the all-vegan Herbivore.
8) Los Angeles, California
The City of Angels offers a wide range of heavenly delights for residents and visitors alike. Start with Green Leaves Vegan, where you can indulge in soy chicken nuggets with barbecue sauce, or perhaps you'd prefer the fried soy chicken coated in a spicy-sweet orange-flavored sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds, from California Vegan. Better yet, try both, and then have some crispy tacos—made with seasoned soy beef or chicken, romaine, salsa, Vegenaise, and vegan cheddar—delivered by Vegan Glory.
9) New York, New York
They may live in the city that never sleeps, but Big Apple residents are clearly using those extra waking hours to think up more great vegan stuff to eat. With choices like the pumpkin noodles with sautéed vegetables at HanGawi, a marinated and grilled Bamburger or spaghetti and "meatballs" at Red Bamboo, and spinach omelets, pesto noodles, or Unchicken Nachos at the all-vegan Caravan of Dreams, no wonder Gothamites are staying up nights!
10) Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Canada's largest city comes through for the hungry vegetarians of the Great White North. No one who's had the raw vegan Pasta Bolognese at Rawlicious, the eggplant in ginger sauce at Commensal, or the pineapple-stuffed tofu bundles in an orange glaze at Fressen would be surprised to find Toronto rounding out our list in style.
Think your favorite metropolis should have been on our list? Tell us why in the comments. And if you live in a smaller city, don't worry—we've prepared a top-10 list for you too!
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