the 19 best vegan dishes I ate in 2021

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I eat out. A lot. It’s literally my job to eat. Even in the middle of the pandemic, I was getting food to-go or for delivery (if you’re in Las Vegas, make sure you’re ordering delivery via the local LoCo app). While my cooking chops – or lack thereof – have suffered because it’s my business to eat food other people make, I also get to eat some amazing vegan dishes.



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♬ STAY – The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber

If I had to pick one meal that was the most astonishing, the most delicious, the most get-thee-there-immediately, it would be Cadence in NYC’s East Village. Helmed by the talented Chef Shennari Freeman, the plant-based soul food spot has taken the city by storm. 

But, this post is about celebrating chefs and dishes from Las Vegas, New York and abroad on my travels in 2021. And, while I’ve probably had upwards of 200 meals out this year, these are the absolute best ones.

1. JUST Egg Omelette with Shredded Hashbrowns – Black and Blue Diner

Black and Blue Diner is a vegan-friendly restaurant in Las Vegas. It is by Food Network star Chef Vic Moea. For more vegan dining in Las Vegas, visit

Food Network Chef Vic Moea opened Black and Blue Diner early 2021 with the goal of bringing to life diners from his life growing up on the East Coast in New Jersey, along with diners of the south like Waffle House. What sets this spot apart from others in Las Vegas is the large vegan menu. The JUST Egg omelette is light, fluffy and comes with a side of perfectly crispy, buttery hashbrowns. Las Vegas

2. Detroit Vegan Pizza – Guerrilla Pizza

Guerrilla Pizza offers a vegan Detroit pizza in Las Vegas. For more vegan dining visit

Guerrilla Pizza hands down makes the best vegan pizza in all the land. Robbie Cunningham has mastered the crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside Detroit deep dish crust, and everything that comes with it. His sauce has the right amount of tang with a gentle kiss of spice, melty vegan cheese and toppings like vegan Hungarian sausage made with spices Cunningham’s grandma used. Las Vegas

3. Custom Cake – Frolic and Folly

The best vegan food I ate in 2021.

Launched late 2020, vegan baker Amber Lopez’s Frolic and Folly has quickly climbed into the cake spotlight thanks to her gorgeous creations and offerings. Customers can pick filings, icings and more and the result is always decadent, beautiful cakes that you’d never know were vegan. Las Vegas

4. Nashville Hot – Garden Grill

7 dishes to order at Garden Grill in Las Vegas. For more vegan dining in Las Vegas visit

Vegan restaurant darling Garden Grill nails the Nashville Hot chick’n sandwich with gusto. The homemade chick’n patties are breaded and fries, resulting in crispy, crunchy goodness like nothing else in down. Then, add in the hot sauce, pickles and slaw and you’ve got the Valley’s best vegan chicken sandwichLas Vegas

5. Mushroom Clay Pot – Chikyū Vegan Sushi & Izakaya

Opened during the pandemic for take-out, it wasn’t until March 2021 I finally made it inside to dine. While everything on the all-vegan Chikyū menu is fantastic and plated with thought and beauty, there are a few standouts. The mushroom clay pot is one of them. Served piping hot, this mushroom and rice dish comes topped with soft chunks of tofu. Every bite is cozy, with a rich umami flavor you’ll love. TBH, I don’t have a photo because it’s always dark when I go and the camera never eats this dish first. Las Vegas

6. Truffle Meatloaf – Barry’s Downtown Prime

Looking for a steakhouse with vegan options in Las Vegas? Check out the vegan options at Barry's Downtown Prime. For more vegan dining, visit

Barry’s Downtown Prime may be a steakhouse, but they’ve embraced the plant-based movement. The stunning, sultry restaurant offers one of the city’s best vegan dishes – a hearty vegan meatloaf with potatoes and leeks, topped with thin slices of truffles. Las Vegas

7. Scallion Pancakes – Black Sheep

Easy vegan scallion pancake recipe from Chef Jamie Tran of The Black Sheep. For more easy vegan recipes visit

Chef Jamie Tran’s Black Sheep combines her Vietnamese roots with French cooking techniques and the results are pretty spectacular. Tran, who made it to the final four of Bravo’s Top Chef in 2021, makes the best scallion pancakes I’ve ever had. The thin, crispy pancakes come topped with spicy braised shiitake mushrooms, jicama, pickled radish and micro cilantro. They come two to an order, and they’re so good I don’t share. Las Vegas

8. Southern Fried Lasagna – Cadence

5 dishes to order at Cadence in NYC. For more vegan dining in New York City visit

When Shennari Freeman created the soul food menu at Cadence, owner Ravi DeRossi questioned the soul food-ness of lasagna. Freeman explained it was a staple in her house growing up, so it stayed … but DeRossi wanted it to be different. The idea came to him to fry it, so he told Freeman to figure it out. And, figure it out she did. Served two to a plate on a bed of flavorful tomato sauce, the Southern Fried lasagna is filled with homemade vegan cheese and a bolognese with Beyond. From the initial crunchy crack of cutting it open, to every bite, the meal is satisfying and absolutely delicious. You’ve never had a lasagna like this and won’t anywhere else. New York City

9. FLOC – Souley Vegan

Looking for vegan soul food in Las Vegas? Check out Souley Vegan. Here is what to order at Souley Vegan. For more vegan dining in Las Vegas, visit

Speaking of vegan soul food, over in Las Vegas (and LA, San Francisco and Oakland) Souley Vegan is serving up Creole soul food. My favorite dish of Chef Tamearra Dyson’s is the FLOC. Also known as For Lover’s of Calamari, the dish uses breaded hearts of palm to recreate calamari. The texture is pretty spot-on and the flavor is excellent. It’s definitely one of the best vegan calamari dishes I’ve ever had. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland

10. Escargot – Delice and Sarrasin

The best vegan food I ate in 2021.

Tiny King oyster mushrooms sizzle in a vegan garlic butter in Delice and Sarrasin. An all vegan French restaurant in NYC’s West Village, Delice and Sarrasin’s take on escargot offers soft mushrooms bathed in garlic butter with a side of toasted bread to dip it in. Yes, please. New York City

11. Crab Benedict – Good Morning Kitchen + Cocktails

7 dishes to order for vegan brunch at Good Morning Kitchen in Las Vegas. For more vegan dining in Las Vegas visit

Aside from being absolutely Instagram-worthy, the vegan crab benedict at Good Morning Kitchen + Cocktails is delicious. The brunch spot offers a large selection of vegan eats, but the benedict stands out with its hearts of palm for the crab and added crunch of baby corn. It’s served with JUST Egg and topped with rich hollandaise sauce, arugula, chives and avocado on a toasted English muffin. Las Vegas

12. Strawberry Shortcake – Whipped Urban Dessert Lab

Whipped Urban Desert Lab is a vegan ice cream shop in the Lower East Side. For more vegan dining in New York City visit

While you can choose-your-own adventure at Whipped Urban Dessert Lab, the Strawberry Shortcake has my heart. The world’s first oat milk soft serve spot located in NYC’s Lower East Side is what sweet ice cream dreams are made of. The Strawberry Shortcake, with fresh strawberry sauce, sweet creme ice cream and crumble takes me back to the Good Humor bar’s of the same name. But, this version is even better. New York City

13. Freddie Prinze Jr. – Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop

The best vegan food I ate in 2021.

Located in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop offers some of the best slices of vegan pizza I’ve had. An upside down Sicilian crust with sesame seeds, the Freddie Prinze comes topped with sauce, Beyond crumbles, Numu and Follow Your Heart parmesan. It’s a tiny bit sweet, savory and all-around delicious.

14. Bread and Sunflower Butter – Eleven Madison Park

The best vegan food I ate in 2021.

When the Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park re-opened June 2021 plant-based, it got a lot of hype, as well as a lot of criticism. Who was going to pay hundreds of dollars for plant-based tasting menu? The answer was a lot of people. Booked out for months, Chef Daniel Humm and his team have created a whimsical menu showcasing plants, from tiny seeds used as vegan caviar to tender eggplant topped with flowers. I’m probably going to get heat for this, but what stole the show was the sunflower butter crafted to look like a sunflower, and the hot, flakey bread. It was so good we ordered another round. New York City

15. Lasagna – NYC Vegan Foodie Weekend with Chef Mario Buccellati

Vegans Baby and Vegan World Tours presents a NYC vegan foodie weekend Aug. 20 - 22, 2021. Reserve your spot today for this vegan food event in New York City.


When I first tried the menu by Chef Mario Buccellati for the NYC Vegan Foodie Weekend I curated, I was in love. Every dish he made with like biting into one of the best dishes of my life. And, Buccellati’s lasagna was no exception. Everything — from the pasta to the cheese — was homemade and sensational. While you can’t get his lasagna, you can head to Galioto’s Delicatessen in Little Italy where Buccellati has created the all-vegan menu. Everything’s homemade, from the seitan to the cheese, and it’s all amazing. New York City

16. High Tea – 12 Apostles

The best vegan food I ate in 2021.

High teas don’t get more breathtaking or stunning than the one served at 12 Apostles alongside the magnificent coast in Cape Town, South Africa. From the chocolate dipped strawberries to the scones and jam, to the tiny finger sandwiches, this vegan high tea is one of the best in the world. Cape Town, South Africa

17. Mushroom Risotto – Shamwari Private Game Reserve

The best vegan food I ate in 2021.

Set aside the fact that outside the colonial restaurant at Long Lee Manor lions and elephants and giraffes are roaming in the bush and the mushroom risotto is still the best I’ve ever had. Creamy, rich umami flavors and perfectly cooked rice, I’ve made sure anyone coming with me to South Africa on the Alluring Africa trip I curated gets to experience this dish. Shamwari Private Game Reserve, South Africa

18. Supr Betr – Jerrell’s Betr Brgr

5 vegan dishes in NYC every person should try immediately. For more vegan food in New York City visit

Are Jerrell’s Betr Brgr’s the best vegan burgers I’ve ever had? Yes. Is this perhaps the best vegan burger spot in all of Manhattan? Also, yes. I don’t know what magic Jerrell Obee is doing back on the griddle, but damn. He’s making some amazing burgers. The Super Betr is the burger of my dreams. It’s got two Impossible patties, melted vegan cheese, vegan bacon, chili, jalapeños, plus the usual lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and pickles. Divine. New York City

19. NYC Style Pizza with Pleese Cheese – Vito’s Slices and Ices

The best vegan food I ate in 2021.

In case it’s not apparent yet, pizza is my love language. Over at Vito’s Slices and Ice’s, they’re making New York-style pizzas topped with Pleese Cheese. It’s an allergen-free vegan cheese that melts so beautifully. Pair it with crusty NY pizza and a spread of sauce and mmmm. New York City

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