6 at Spring St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Canal St. to 4th St., Bowery to Sixth Ave.
This popular downtown eatery confounds the stereotype that health food—or the accompanying décor—tends to be tasteless. The spot began serving minimally processed food to Soho's starving artists in 1973, before most New Yorkers had heard of veganism or macrobiotics. The restaurant doesn't adhere to any one dietary philosophy, but chef Craig Meltzer uses organic produce and hormone-free poultry whenever possible, and makes many items (ketchup, bread, whole-wheat pie crusts) in-house. The result is a menu equally appealing to health-nuts as it is to the meat-and-potatoes-loving contingent. For vegans, the organic brown rice and vegetable dinner with hijiki seaweed is a standby; For omnivores, there’s Spanish almond-topped organic salmon sprinkled with arugula pesto and paired with peppers and squash. Meltzer selects wines from Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and microbrews like Blue Point and Brooklyn Lager are dispensed from a shiny bronze tap atop the century-old mahogany bar. Avocado trees in oversized clay pots may nod to the natural theme, but the sleek, exposed-brick space, floor-to-ceiling windows, and prime people-watching location also appeal to celeb-seeking tourists and health-food purists alike.