Boston has a strong selection of vegan restaurants close to home, but there are some unique destinations elsewhere in New England worth a trip out of the city. Here are five of the most memorable meat-free restaurants in the region, plus a soon-to-open spot to keep in mind for later in 2022.
Some of these are fully vegan; others are vegetarian but with a plethora of vegan options. Either way, they offer a range of experiences, from date-night tasting menus to a more casual counter-service experience.
334 S. Water St., Providence, RI
The two-story food hall Plant City in Providence, Rhode Island, houses multiple restaurants and bars that all serve purely vegan menus from chef and restaurateur Matthew Kenney. Kenney’s international portfolio of vegan businesses includes a variety of brands, such as pizzeria and wine bar Double Zero, which has a location at this food hall, one in Boston, and a handful in other cities.
Try Mexican fare like chile relleno featuring earthy poblano peppers and velvety huitlacoche — a delicious corn fungus — at Besina; a bright and savory BLT with fried green tomato and shiitake bacon at New Burger; and almond croissants and Snickers cheesecake slices from the Bakery.
491 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT
At Fire-N-Spice, a tiny vegan gem in Connecticut’s capital, the atmosphere is casual — counter-service and a petite parking-lot patio — and the food is memorable. Jamaican and African dishes, including lots of gluten-free and nut-free options, comprise the bulk of the flavorful menu, complemented by some Indian items.
Start with flaky Jamaican patties stuffed with callaloo greens or savory lentils; pile a combination plate high with selections like aromatic chickpea chole, jerk tofu, garlicky pomegranate tempeh, and African potatoes seasoned with pineapple and spices; and complete the meal with a tropical Papaya Don’t Preach smoothie and a banana chocolate cupcake.
85 Ferris St., Bridgeport, CT
A collective founded Bloodroot in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1977; two of those members, Selma Miriam and Noel Furie, still run this beloved feminist bookstore and restaurant, which serves vegetarian and vegan food that tends to change with the seasons and highlights cuisines from around the world.
Try a tasting platter of vegan cheeses — some made at the restaurant — followed by Jamaican jerk “chicken” with seitan, a popular dish created by an employee with Jamaican roots. For dessert, don’t miss the iconic chocolate “devastation” cake, rich with a sourdough foundation, and a scoop of house-made vegan bourbon vanilla ice cream. Sit on the patio under the welcoming cherry tree or dine inside to appreciate the sunny, homey space, lined with feminist iconography and books by women.
9 Center St., Burlington, VT
In Burlington, Vermont, vegetarian restaurant Revolution Kitchen highlights local, organic ingredients with lots of vegan options. Start with the kale Caesar with shiitake croutons or bright Vietnamese salad rolls with peanut dipping sauce. Then tuck into a seasonal main dish like luscious wild vegetable ravioli in a cashew and garlic Alfredo sauce paired with a glass of low-intervention wine or Vermont craft beer.
For dessert, get the vegan version of Revolution’s famous banana cream pie, sporting plenty of sweet fruit and a gingersnap and coconut crust. Sit near the open roll-up door in good weather, or find a cozy spot at the bar of the intimate brick-walled restaurant.
608 Congress St., Portland, ME
Chef Dan Sriprasert’s culinary journey started in Thailand, where he cooked alongside his mother at her restaurant. Green Elephant’s all-vegetarian, vegan-heavy menu features Thai flavors from this childhood experience, but it’s also more widely Asian-inspired, with dishes influenced by Malaysian, Japanese, Chinese, and Indian cuisines.
Enjoy plates of king oyster mushroom tempura, Chinese broccoli with crispy soy filet, and panang coconut milk curry in a leather booth on Portland, Maine’s bustling Congress Street, or visit Green Elephant’s sleek second location on the corner of Deer and Portwalk in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
31 State St., Bristol, RI
It’s not here yet, but keep an eye out for this one later in 2022: Chef Peter Carvelli recently wrapped Twelve Plants — his high-end, meatless tasting menu pop-up — in order to expand the business into a full-service restaurant called Foglia, which he hopes to open by the end of June.
Like its predecessor, vegan Foglia will highlight seasonal vegetables and house-made pasta — check out one of Carvelli’s signatures, filled with squash puree and topped with sage butter, cranberry, and toasted pecan — while adding flatbreads, a more in-depth dessert menu, and a curated menu of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Expect Carvelli’s same attention to detail and flavor in a relaxed yet refined atmosphere in downtown Bristol, Rhode Island.