These Two Cities are the Most Vegan-Friendly Cities Across the U.S.

In 2003, when I became a vegan, I lived in Wisconsin, which is known for its fatty, cheese- and gravy-covered foods. At least a decent veggie burger was hard to come by until a few hip places started serving tofu to mostly college students. I didn’t take it for granted. Because I was hungry for plant-based food, I started traveling all over the country, making vegan friends everywhere I went, and making a list of the best vegan food in the US that kept growing. Back then, everything was spread by word of mouth.

Now it’s 2023, and the meatless food choices have grown even more delicious and varied, but they’re still mostly limited to a few cities. In many places in the US, you still won’t find much more than a salad. It’s fine to visit cute towns with beautiful views but no filling lentils and tahini farro bowls, but a vegan-friendly paradise might be closer than you think. It’s always good to know what your closest escape options are.

There are times when fully vegan restaurants serve the best food and times when “omnivore” restaurants serve the tastiest vegan choices. You can find comfort and food in these towns across the country in 2023, from the East Coast to the West Coast to no coast. Some of them are expected, others come as a surprise.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Southwest food isn’t particularly known for being vegan, just like food from the mountain states. Albuquerque is different; there are more and more places that are vegetarian-friendly or vegan. There is a lot of great vegan food in this city. Thai, Chinese, and Indian restaurants (Annapurna’s has the most options) all have easy-to-veganize options. But the city that invented hot air balloons is also the best place to find fully vegan versions of traditional Southwest food.

With both red and green chile sauce, dishes made in the “Christmas style” of New Mexico are sure to impress. Check out Vegos ABQ for your first chile-infused meal. They have the red chile jackfruit burrito, the potato, pinto bean, and green chile-stuffed bosque burrito, or the large enchilada plate with your choice of chile sauce on top.

Washington, DC

Vegan food in the nation’s capital is as varied as the people who live there. You could get vegan Taiwanese fried mozzarella at Pow Pow or vegan soul food at NuVegan Café. Really, really please order two sides of the mac and cheese and an extra lasagna to go. Shouk is a diner with a Middle Eastern theme that serves street food. The hardest part is choosing between the mushroom shawarma, the eggplant burger, and the award-winning Shouk Burger. Donut Run is a new vegan donut shop that doesn’t want anyone to know it’s vegan, and Sticky Fingers has been a vegan bakery for a long time. Save room for dessert at both of them.

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