For most, there’s little way around it: Being a vegetarian on Thanksgiving sucks. It’s not that you want to eat the turkey on the table — or not necessarily, anyway. It’s more that everyone else is eating it, and loving it, and making it sound like the best thing ever. (Word to the wise: It’s not.) If you’re lucky, your host will have made some kind of turkey-replacement for you, maybe heating up a frozen veggie burger, or in the case of an especially considerate cook, making you your own dish. (C’mon, wouldn’t everyone enjoy having an alternative to turkey?) For the most part, though, Thanksgiving is a spectator sport for vegetarians.
Except if you are lucky enough to live in the greatest city in the world, where you don’t even have to make your own Thanksgiving dinner but can choose from a wide variety of restaurant options, you can find a restaurant serving a full-fledged vegetarian menu. If your family isn’t a meat-free crowd, there are also plenty of restaurants serving both happy turkeys and vegan fare. Below are some of our favorite picks for a vegetarian Thanksgiving in New York.
Bunna Café (1084 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-295-2227)
Bushwickians are probably already familiar with this Ethopian vegan eatery, but a full week of Thanksgiving fare should bring in residents of all boroughs. The holiday menu features “a fusion of Ethiopian food and Thanksgiving flavors.” With starters priced at $5 to $7 and entrées going for $14 or less, taking your meat-eating friends to Bunna Café will also clue them in to all the money we vegetarians save on meals.
Pure Food and Wine (54 Irving Place; 212-477-1010)
This upscale, raw food restaurant in Gramercy was founded with the idea of moving beyond the typical vegan and raw, crunchy food stereotypes. A five-timer on Forbes‘ “All Star New York Eateries” list, the place has succeeded. The Thanksgiving prix fixe menu ($79 per person, add wine pairing for another $29) is no less ambitious, featuring persimmon-apple soup with smoked almonds and a pomegranate reduction, and a pumpkin turnover with rainbow chard and walnuts.
Café Blossom (466 Columbus Avenue, 201-977-1461; and 41 Carmine Street; 646-438-9939) Blossom Vegan Restaurant (187 Ninth Avenue; 212-627-1144)
The vegan and kosher-certified Blossom is going all out, with a different Thanksgiving menu at each of its restaurants. There are a few crossovers, but each has its own list of holiday-inspired dishes, and damned if we don’t want to try us some spaghetti squash with wild mushroom risotto at the Chelsea location, yam latkes in the West Village, and polenta-crusted eggplant tower with barley pilaf on the Upper West Side.
Venturo Osteria & Wine Bar (44-07 Queens Boulevard, Long Island City; 718-406-9363)
If you can’t convince the Thanksgiving crew to give up turkey and stuffing, then consider suggesting Venturo, whose Thanksgiving menu will keep everyone happy. They can have their turkey and fixings (or pork chop, trout, or steak), and you can have whole wheat fettuccine with butternut squash, brown butter, sage, and toasted breadcrumbs. Everyone can share the charred corn salad, Italian potato casserole, or cheese plates — and the cheese is made in-house!
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