Cafeteria’s Vegetarian Options Will Energize Your Tastebuds


The Veggielante is on a mission to spread the word about places to order good, meatless grub. Check out this week’s pick.

Destination: Cafeteria (119 Seventh Avenue, 212-414-1717)

Neighborhood: Chelsea

Cuisine: American comfort food

Overview: New York’s hip diner Cafeteria opened 15 years ago in the center of Chelsea, its menu a collection of comfort food with a modern spin. Besides being a Chelsea hotspot, Cafeteria is known for 1) being open 24 hours a day; 2) serving breakfast morning, noon, and night; and 3) its macaroni and cheese, which comes in three different varieties, two of which are vegetarian. So if you don’t eat meat and aren’t in the mood for pancakes at 8 p.m., the restaurant’s signature dish is sure to energize and satisfy your tastebuds.

Highlights: Cafeteria’s cheddar and fontina macaroni and cheese ($9) arrives in an individualized dish, baked to a gorgeous golden with a thick layer of cheese on top. The top is slightly crisp, the pasta underneath creamy, immersed in cheddar and fontina. The portion is generous, the dish’s richness not for the faint of heart — if that’s you, then you might want to share.

The salad of roasted baby beets ($12) is a nice, light prelude to a mac-and-cheese meal. Cafeteria adds a twist to the classic beet/ goat cheese pairing by throwing in rye crisps, honey-pepper yogurt and a sprinkling of mint. The crisps provide a savory note and crunchy texture the dish would otherwise lack and nicly counterpunch the mild sweetness of the beets and sugary yogurt. The mint is a welcome addition, its flavor faint but present all the same.