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The Whole Earth Gourmet

Ever tried to find alfalfa sprouts in Paris? A tofu burger in Philadelphia? Yes, eating healthy while traveling isn’t always a cinch. Even in California, where every third person is a vegetarian, you can’t be guaranteed you’ll find the healthy food that you’re used to at home. Still, you might be surprised to learn that most big cities across the globe have veggie and organic-only options. Here are a few of our favorite places.

Greens Restaurant, San Francisco
The Green Gulch Zen Buddhist Center of Marin County owns and operates this beautiful restaurant with expansive bay views. Creative meatless dishes, such as Thai-style vegetable curries, thin-crust pizzas, and house-made pastas, are served. The changing dessert menu includes temptations such as raspberry-rhubarb tart with strawberry-swirl-buttermilk ice cream. Sunday brunch is a good time to watch sailboat skippers take out their crafts. A small counter just inside the front door stocks sandwiches, soups, and sweets for easy takeout. Bldg. A, Fort Mason, enter across Marina Blvd. from Safeway. $$$-$$$$

Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café, Berkeley
The craze for healthy eating largely started here, in 1971, when Alice Waters concluded that the best-tasting food is organically grown and harvested. Today she’s still standing by that principle. All vegetables come from the garden attached to the restaurant, and meats and fish come from organic farms. Expect such delicacies as penne with new potatoes, arugula, and sheep’s-milk cheese; fresh figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and arugula; and grilled tuna with savoy cabbage, for example. Reservations essential. AE, D, DC, MC. 1517 Shattuck Ave., north of University Ave. $$$-$$$$

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Candle Café, New York City
Grilled tofu skewers? Barbados black-bean cake and fried plantains? Ginseng and chile-lacquered seitan? Vegetarian fare has never sounded quite so posh, no? The powers that be here aim to please with sophisticated menus that appeal to discerning and healthful palates. Still, for all the luxe trimmings, the chefs use only organic food products grown without the use of pesticides and other chemicals. Expect a full array of appetizers, salads, pastas, sandwiches, burgers and side dishes. 1307 Third Avenue at 75th Street (another location is at 79th and Lexington Ave). $$-$$$

Real Food Daily, Los Angeles
Organic eats have never been funner than at this cheerful and inspired, vegan-only establishment, where menu items include lentil-walnut pate, cold sesame noodles, black-bean tostadas, a range of soups and salads, and the signature TV Dinner—baked loaf of tempeh, vegetables, herbs and spices served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegatables. RFD’s website states that their food products are “cooked in fine European stainless steel cookware with water that has been filtered, softened, and purified through reverse osmosis.” 514 Santa Monica Boulevard (also at 414 La Cienaga). $-$$$

Café Flora, Seattle
This sophisticated Madison Park café attracts vegetarians and meat eaters for full-flavored, artistically presented vegetarian meals. The adventurous menu brims with such unlikely crowd-pleasers as smoked mushroom and spinach salad, portobello mushrooms Wellington, fajitas, artichoke croquettes, and polenta topped with onion, rosemary, and mushrooms. Lavender creme brulee, triple chocolate cake and coconut mango trifle are just a few of the taste-bud-tingling items on the dessert menu. 2901 East Madison Street. $$$-$$$$

La Victoire Suprême du Coeur, Paris
Although Paris is not Mecca for vegans, there are a fair number of great vegetarian restaurants here, including La Victoire Suprême du Coeur. Vegetarian kebabs, salads, sauteed potatoes, vegetarian chicken, vegetarian lasagna, and more mushroom dishes than you can possibly count (do try the mushroom roast with blackberry sauce). 41 rue des Bourdonnais. $-$$

Arancia Blu, Rome
Owner and chef Fabio Passan has a mission—to prove that “vegetarian cuisine” isn’t an oxymoron. He succeeds, with flavorful, creative dishes that have won him a devoted clientele of vegetarians and omnivores alike. Start with a leek-and-almod quiche or lemon-ricotta ravioli with squash and sage, and move on to polpettine vegetali (meatless meatballs) with a tomato-coriander seed sauce. Vegan and wheat-free dishes are available on request. No credit cards. No lunch. Via dei Latini 55/65 (San Lorenzo). $$-$$$

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