Dec. 13, 2013 -- While the food at Los Angeles' vegan mecca Cafe Gratitude is often praised, the restaurant menu's style of naming dishes after personal affirmations such as "I Am Pure" or "I Am Transformed" can be hard to swallow.
So as Beyonce and Jay-Z prepare for another week of following a strict vegan diet -- eschewing meat, dairy and other animal byproducts -- they may want to expand their dining options beyond the locale where the pair celebrated the launch of their 22-day plant-based challenge.
To plump up the pair's personal dining out guide, vegan chef Grace Crossman and business partner Mark Hinchliffe suggest five superlative meat-free destinations around the country fit for Bey and Jay.
1. Goldie's - This Asbury Park, N.J., gem is re-defining vegan cuisine to such a degree that guests just call it purely great food. Plus, it is the very first vegan restaurant with a liquor license in New Jersey. A few favorites include the Chickpea Socca, including salt-roasted beets, shiitake mushrooms, fennel seed, lemon-cashew cream, and mache; or try the Caramelized Tempeh, with whipped red bliss potato, grilled leek, porcini and blackberry reductions.
2. Candle 79 - A great cozy environment and located on both the Upper East and West sides of New York City, this is an old faithful for dishes like the Angel's Nachos, loaded with chili-grilled seitan, tofu sour cream and lots of chopped veggies, and Live Young Coconut Pad Thai with wasabi leaves, spicy cashews and enoki mushrooms.
3. Vedge - This Philadelphia restaurant is award-winning for its masterful layering of flavors in dishes like Carrots Cooked Shawarma Style and Eggplant Braciole, combining smoked eggplant, cured olive puree and Sicilian salsa verde.
4. Ravens - With an incredible atmosphere, this Mendocino, Calif., restaurant is very elegant, and worthy of a date night for Mr. and Mrs. Carter. The Sea Palm and Root Vegetable Strudel is rumored to blow minds.
5. Millenium - A vegetarian all-star with ample vegan dishes, this is a good spot to celebrate in San Francisco, especially with their five-course tasting meu and items like Shaved Fuyu Persimmon Salad and Crusted King Trumpet Mushrooms.