Green Cuisine: NYC's Healthiest Restaurants

Julie Besonen

In this feature, we've collected some ideas to help you reverse the buttery excesses of the holidays and forge a healthy path for 2013. Feel the life force of vegetables at Angelica Kitchen and Dirt Candy in the East Village and the stylish Gobo in the West Village. And you don't need to own a yoga mat to love Telepan on the Upper West Side, where Bill Telepan coaxes magic out of what he forages at the greenmarket. Our slideshow highlights other places all over the City that can put you on the right track—some of them meatless and others eminently careful about sourcing from responsible, local farms and fisheries.

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

Annam Brahma
84-43 164th St., 718-523-2600, Jamaica Hills, Queens
Annam Brahma is an otherworldly vegetarian café run by disciples of the late spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy. Female servers are robed in Indian saris, smiling beatifically to all who enter. Soothing music is piped in, the same sort you'd associate with massages and acupuncture sessions. The dining room is lined with Chinmoy portraits and a gift shop selling his meditation-minded books, videos and gift cards. The dal soup is the best item on the menu, delicate yet full of flavor, followed by the chapati roll-up, stuffed with curried vegetables, salad and mayo-tamari sauce. Supplementing the Indian items are burgers made of soy or vegetables, a variety of salads and homemade vegan double-rich chocolate cake. Looking for physical healing? Egyptian yellow tea is fragrant with fenugreek and said to be a liver detoxifier, fever reducer and antianemic tonic.

Photo: Joe Buglewicz

124 Meserole Ave., 718-389-8083, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Committed to living a handmade life, Jordan Colón bikes to the greenmarket, where he finds the inspiration to change Eat's menu every day. He makes many of the ceramics the food is served on and enlisted his brothers and friends to help craft the space's custom benches and butcher-block tables. Since everything's locally sourced, a salad this time of year means shredded cabbage, radish and parsley pesto. There are only four items on the blackboard to choose from, including gnocchi with shiitake mushrooms, as well as polenta with black beans, roasted kale and leeks topped with aged goat cheese. Sometimes fish makes an appearance, but most nights it's all vegetarian. Shelves of Colón's lovely vessels (cream pitchers, teacups, butter dishes) are for sale. Alcohol, on the other hand, is not—but it's fine to bring your own.

GT burger. Photo: Linda Pugliese

The Green Table
Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave., 212-741-6623, Chelsea, Manhattan
Mary Cleaver, the East Coast's answer to Alice Waters, is an environmental activist and supporter of local, sustainable farms. She also makes green cuisine taste ambrosial. Seasonal soups, vegetarian cassoulet and organic mushroom and vegetable potpie give comfort and nourishment without immoderate calories. Her deviled farm eggs and organic beef burger also have their virtues. The Green Table, found along the chic corridors of Chelsea Market, has country touches of wood floors and wainscoting. A small, pleasant bar dispenses local beer and wine on tap and seasonal cocktails as well as a wide selection of calming teas.

Blueberry french toast. Photo: Garrett Ziegler

Northeast Kingdom
18 Wyckoff Ave., 718-386-3864, Bushwick, Brooklyn
Northeast Kingdom refers to the bucolic northeast corner of Vermont where owners/foragers Paris Smeraldo and Meg Lipke hail from, a heritage they honor by listing their farmers and suppliers on a blackboard. Chef Kevin Adey (formerly of Le Bernardin) is like-minded, caring so much about the integrity of ingredients he even makes his own ketchup. This rough-hewn restaurant and bar is not vegetarian, but vegetables are revered in sweet potato–ginger soup and baby carrots with chevre, pesto and peanuts. The fish is from nearby waters; depending on the season there might be day boat scallops with sunchokes, walnuts and spinach. A cavalcade of cool dudes with beards and man buns amply illustrates how Bushwick has arrived.

Courtesy, Peacefood Café

Peacefood Cafe
460 Amsterdam Ave., 212-362-2266, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Sincerity is the code of conduct here, where the young staff is voluble about how much they love the vegan food and baked goods on offer. Peacefood Cafe is always busy and lively, so much so that it's branching out downtown (41 E. 11th St.), opening a slightly larger space late this month or in early February. Trying to change your relationship with food? This is a good place to start. Indian-spiced chickpea fries are a swell snack, as are the pan-seared mushroom and chive dumplings with ginger-balsamic dipping sauce. The fluffy quinoa salad with sprouts, corn, onions, peppers and fanned-out, perfectly ripe avocado slices could become a daily craving. The many facets of each dish breed indifference to animal protein. They do the same thing for refined sugar, expecially when it comes to raw cacao mousse pie in a walnut-coconut-date crust.

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

37-65 74th St., 718-424-1869, Jackson Heights, Queens
The authentic Tibetan food found at this simple spot is not overtly healthful, but it feels good for the soul. Located on the second floor of a no-frills building, the space's decor consists of vintage black-and-white photos of Lhasa, Tibet's capital city, and windowed vistas of low-slung Jackson Heights businesses. The quiet, contemplative team in the open kitchen stretches and slaps dough by hand to make momos, steamed dumplings filled with vegetable-flecked potatoes, beef or chicken. Dab them with fiery hot sauce, sure to clear your sinuses. For just $4.99, eight come in an order. Meatless dishes include fried string beans with black bean sauce and tofu with garlic, ginger and spring onion. Get a cup of butter tea to drink (which doesn't sound too good for you until you hear it helps prevent chapped lips).

Photo: Francine Daveta

Rouge Tomate
10 E. 60th St., 646-237-8977, Upper East Side, Manhattan
How about some Michelin-starred health food? Rouge Tomate is into total well-being, with light dishes composed of nature's local bounty and overseen by an in-house dietitian. Shoppers from the nearby Barneys will feel at home in the beautiful, expansive space built with recycled elements. Energy-efficient equipment and composting further reduce its carbon footprint. Executive chef Jeremy Bearman has a talent for making everything on the plate photogenic, from spaghetti squash and crab toast to Montauk monkfish with rutabaga and apple. To help preserve the ingredients' nutritional core and not sully the air, there is no frying or grilling. Take advantage of the three-course lunch special for $29 and savor a glass of organic or biodynamic wine.

Siggy's brunch beakfast burrito. Photo: Kate Glicksberg

Siggy's Good Food
76 Henry St., 718-237-3199, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
Woodstock meets Brooklyn Heights at this crunchy café with wheatgrass on the counter ready to be blended into a cleansing juice. European backpackers and environmentally conscious diners (no GMOs, growth hormones or pesticides here) squeeze around small tables surrounded by vibrant modern art on yellow walls. Friends grip mugs of hot herbal tea and share black bean–sweet potato cakes and no-noodle lasagna made of roasted eggplant layers, vegetables, tofu ricotta and soy cheese. Siggy's makes it easy to be vegan and gluten-free but it isn't doctrinaire; the menu also lists organic beef burgers and yellowfin tuna salad with lemon paprika olive oil. A second branch of Siggy's is in NoHo (292 Elizabeth St.).