Plant-based eating was once a fringe movement in most of the world, but it is increasingly viewed as sustainable—both as a way of eating and as a business model. Fine dining used to be epitomized by expensive animal protein, but a growing wave of vegetarian and vegan restaurants are redefining luxury. In this list, you’ll find fine dining spots as well as family-run businesses, and they all play an important part in the evolution of the idea that plant-based eating is worth planning a trip around. Read on for the absolute best spots worldwide to eat your vegetables.
1. Tian: Vienna, Austria
The Tian philosophy is root to leaf, and chef Paul Ivic is one of the best vegetarian chefs in the world. This elegant, Michelin-starred restaurant puts an incredible amount of thought and care into sourcing, working hand in hand with local farmers to grow heritage produce. The tasting menu’s preparations are fascinating, complex, and most importantly, delicious; take the lettuce for example—confit and aged for a week before being filled with sautéed lettuce and spinach and sour pickled lettuce leaf, then dotted with rapeseed oil cream. A revelatory selection of natural wines by André Drechsel makes for perfect pairings. The non-alcoholic drink pairing gives the wine list a run for its money, however—from oxymel to shrubs, amazake and more, it pushes the envelope of flavor pairings with completely house-made ingredients.
2. Eleven Madison Park: New York, USA
Eleven Madison Park has always been about transformation. Started in 1998 by Danny Meyer, it was a quintessential NYC bistro in which to see and be seen. Chef Daniel Humm and front-of-house Will Guidara took it over in 2006, transforming it into one of the world’s top restaurants—one that commands nearly $400 a head for dinner. After their COVID closing, Eleven Madison Park re-opened as not just a vegetarian but a vegan restaurant in one of the dining world’s biggest shocks ever. The attention they once paid to luxurious proteins is now lavished on beets, which spend three days being prepared and are then wrapped in an elaborate mustard leaf kimchi and served with a jus made from red wine.
3. Haus Hiltl: Zurich, Switzerland
The world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant had to make this list. The honors go to Haus Hiltl, opened in 1898 in Zurich. Run by the same family for the last 100 years, Hiltl is remarkable for its avant-garde dedication to vegetarian food. Their world-famous buffet has over 100 vegetarian options, and an a la carte menu offers a more upscale range of dishes, like beet carpaccio and oven-roasted pumpkin gnocchi. They even have a “sober bar,” featuring alcohol-free spirits mixed into both classic and modern cocktails.
4. L’Arpe?ge: Paris, France
L’Arpe?ge is one of the first restaurants to grace the lips of anyone in a conversation about the world’s vegetable meccas. And with reason—chef Alain Passard is a virtual vegetable whisperer, opening L’Arpe?ge in 1986. Although meat has since returned to the menu, Passard retains his intense focus on vegetables, taking them through many different phases of cooking to coax out different textures, tastes and colors. With a farm that produces 50 tons each year, it’s no wonder that Passard dissects vegetables as if they were fine wines.
5. Fu He Hui: Shanghai, China
Fu He Hui is one of Asia’s most talked-about vegetarian spots, even garnering a spot on the World’s 50 Best Asia list. The Fu group had many successful restaurants across Shanghai, but the owner Fang Yuan wanted to open a place inspired by his Buddhist practice. With chef Tony Lu at the helm, Fu He Hui takes Chinese vegetarianism to wonderful places, exploring the incredible range of produce that China has to offer and even recreating ancient recipes. The sleek three-floor villa, decorated with art from the Ming and Qing dynasties, is the perfect backdrop for dishes like the ethereal green soybean tofu with truffle and burdock.
6. Mildreds SOHO: London, UK
Mildreds doesn’t vie for a spot on any world’s best list, but don’t be mistaken—this cute little spot in London’s SOHO marked a sea change in vegetarian cuisine in the United Kingdom. Opened in 1988, its cosmopolitan approach to vegetarian and vegan food (think everything from spinach gyoza with daikon pickle and orange lime ponzu to chipotle cheesy nachos) obliterated Brits’ notion of what meatless meals could be. Now a staple spot, Mildreds has locations across London, including Kings Cross, Camden and Dalston. Visit the original SOHO space in an 18th-century townhouse for a unique experience.
7. Joia: Milan, Italy
Joia is a fine-dining spot that led the charge of vegetarian restaurants in Europe. Head chef Pietro Leemann is now plant-based royalty after opening Joia in 1989 with the then-revolutionary idea of putting vegetables on the haute cuisine playing field. After gaining their first Michelin star in 1996, Joia never looked back, innovating dishes like “The Privileged Relationship,” a tempeh in demi-glace with radicchio and roasted sweet potato, served with chickpea and kimchi hummus and tempura-fried lotus root.