The Upper East Side may seem like an unlikely place for gourmet vegan fare, but the people behind Candle 79 have found a formula that would work in any neighborhood. The elegant, bi-level space, done in warm, autumnal tones, is far from the health-food stereotype. Appetizers like rice balls with tempeh bacon may sound like hippie throwbacks, but they taste more like well-executed trattoria fare. Signature dishes include the seitan piccata, which replaces the usual protein
with a vegetarian substitute and is so well made that you would never miss the meat. Salads, soups, desserts, and entrées are all fresh and made with local, organic, seasonal produce. There's also an impressive list of organic wines and sakes.