The new year ahead is filled with possibilities and to welcome it properly, a number of chefs have prepared meals that you will be hard-pressed to forget even after the clock strikes midnight.
And just one look at their menus will prove that we’re officially done with sides as mains for holiday meals because these days, vegan restaurants are focusing their New Year’s Eve menus on some of the most indulgent foods out there.
It’s out with the old and in with the new at these five vegan restaurants, where you can ring in the new year with plant-based steak, short ribs, sushi, and caviar.
1Steak at DC Vegan
New Year’s Eve at DC Vegan—a full-service caterer, cheese shop, and Botanical Bar in Washington, DC—is all about plant-based steak courtesy of new partner Chunk Foods.
The company’s plant-based steak, which is a favorite of celebs such as Robert Downey Jr., will be featured in a 4-ounce serving, braised with vegetables, white wine, and a housemade broth.
DC Vegan recently welcomed Chef David Aaron Gravenmier to its kitchen, who brings a decade of experience in vegan cuisine from previous roles at Philadelphia’s Vedge and as Executive Chef at Fancy Radish.
“I have been working in the restaurant business for close to 20 years, and started dabbling in vegan food back in 2009,” Gravenmier said in a statement. “I love creating vegetable-centric dishes for even the most skeptical omnivores.”
“My goal is to bring some of the Fancy Radish fine-dining experience to DC Vegan’s Botanical Bar and am excited to see what the future brings,” Gravenmier said.
Alongside Chunk’s vegan steak, Gravenmier and team have prepared a four-course prix fixe menu ($85 per person) featuring dishes such as Garlic Knots, Fennel & Orange Salad, and Homemade Gnocchi. For dessert, guests will be offered a choice of pizzelle with peppercorn vanilla ice cream or candied orange peel with chocolate drizzle.
2Filet mignon at Spirit Elephant
Filet mignon, made by Colorado company Meati Foods, is the main NYE attraction at Chicago’s Spirit Elephant. Raspberry Champagne Salad will open the meal followed by a Sesame Crusted Tofu starter before showcasing the main: a succulent centerpiece made from mycelium (or mushroom root).
The restaurant’s executive chef, Jorge Esparza, wanted to showcase Meati’s innovation in a traditional dish. The filet is seasoned and seared with a sauce Diane (made with cognac, shallots, vegan cream, and mushrooms) and served with twice-baked potatoes loaded with all of the fixin’s (think cheese, bacon, sour cream, and horseradish). The dish is finished off with asparagus served with Hollandaise sauce.
“We could not be more excited to ring in the New Year by showcasing something so unexpected in a plant-based version, and because it’s so delicious, we are confident it will attract even more folks to try eating plant-based food more often in 2024,” Spirit Elephant owner CD Young tells VegNews.
To end this memorable meal, Spirit Elephant will serve a Chocolate Mousse in a crispy pastry shell for dessert.
“Eating is about pleasure, culture, and connection, and with menu items like this, it’s easier than ever before to eat like we are used to, while at the same time doing something good for our health, the planet, and all its inhabitants,” Young says.
3Sushi at Planta restaurants
The Planta restaurant group—which encompasses Planta, Planta Cocina, and Planta Queen—is celebrating NYE with plenty of plants prepared in different styles.
Planta’s NYE menu blends global flavors with a vegan twist. Highlights include Chick’n Fried Mushrooms, a House Burger served with fries or Caesar salad, and a selection of pizzas such as the Vodka Pizza and Leek Bianca Pizza. Pasta lovers can enjoy the Spicy Lumaconi Pasta and Udon Noodles with truffle mushroom cream.
At Planta Cocina, the menu is infused with Latin-inspired dishes where signature items include Sweet Corn Cavatelli, Mafaldine Pasta Verde, and Spicy Tuna Tacos. Unique dessert offerings such as Horchata Cheesecake and Coconut Cake set this menu apart.
Planta Queen offers an Asian-inspired menu featuring dishes such as Dan Dan Noodles, Singapore Noodles, and Chili Garlic Tofu. Desserts such as the Matcha Cheesecake and Chocolate Brownie perfectly end the meal.
Despite their distinct themes, all three Planta concepts share similarities in their menus. Sushi selections, including Unagi Eggplant Nigiri and Ahi Watermelon Nigiri, are common across the board.
All Planta locations in North America are offering NYE menus at $60 per person that include a choice of four dishes.
4Caviar at Baia
San Francisco, CA
Thoughtfully prepared for a two-hour dining experience, the prix fixe menu ($125 per person) at Baia in San Francisco focuses on the bounty of produce available throughout Northern California and the hard-working farmers who grow it.
In addition, vegan caviar will be on the NYE menu, where the culinary team uses a natural sea-sourced alternative called umibudo (also known as “sea grapes). The salty and briny ingredient is part of the opening course of Semolina Cake with Herbed Cheese and Seaweed Caviar.
This is followed by an endive salad, which is plated in the shape of a flower, sending a poetic farewell to the last flowers of the season.
A warm mushroom soup features a clear, slow-cooked shiitake broth poured over unique fungi varieties the team sources from local growers, including a cauliflower mushroom that delivers a tripe-like texture to the umami-packed soup.
The main course here is Cacio e Pepe with a hint of Truffle, a familiar and comforting bucatini pasta dish that speaks to Baia’s upscale Italian point of view.
Lastly, Champagne Ice Cream and Meringue give guests a way to toast to the new year in dessert form. The culinary team tells VegNews that this send-off is also an homage to all of the different ice cream flavors—from pluot to pineapple guava to sourdough—that Baia has explored throughout 2023.
5Short ribs at Crossroads Kitchen
Los Angeles, CA
Crossroads Kitchen is also opening its NYE dinner with vegan caviar—this one is made with kelp and served with almond-based creme fraiche, atop potato rosti sprinkled with chives.
Here, chef Tal Ronnen designed six courses ($95 per person) to delight guests.
“Our menu is driven by seasonality, as well as some more indulgent ingredients to help ring in the New Year like our caviar course and our Porcini Mushroom and Chestnut Tortelli—both are seasonal and decadent,” Ronnen tells VegNews.
Other celebratory offerings include Fennel & Citrus Salad; Spinach & Ricotta Tart with yellow tomato egg yolk, parmesan, and lemon; Eggplant Short Rib with potato gratin and bordelaise; and Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with housemade Nutella cremeux.
These dishes—and the team’s dedication to uplighting vegan food for a decade—are why Crossroads consistently tops our list of the best restaurants in the country. And Ronnen says there is so much more in store.
“2024 will be a fun year for us at Crossroads Kitchen as we have a couple of very special dinners planned with some unexpected guest chefs that we will be announcing soon,” Ronnen says.
The special NYE menu will be available at Crossroads Kitchen’s Melrose and Calabasas locations.