917 W. Grace St.
Second Place: The Daily Kitchen & Bar
Third Place: Phoenix Garden Vegetarian Restaurant
While obscured by more than a year of construction as VCU remakes West Grace Street into something unrecognizable, Ipanema is still in its early-20th-century brownstone. But it’s done a little sprucing up as well. Its pioneering vegetarian menu changes with the seasons, but stalwarts like marinara with house-made focaccia, the barbecue jackfruit sandwich or grilled tofu made this slightly oblivious diner not even notice that the restaurant was vegetarian until my third visit. You can people-watch on the patio while sipping reasonably priced wine and beer, or enjoy live music with a piece of WPA Bakery’s ever-changing pies and cakes. The Daily caters to everyone: paleo dieters and gluten-intolerance sufferers, in addition to vegetarian and vegan believers. With a comfortable patio, it makes healthy eating effortless. Phoenix Garden brought vegetarian cuisine to starving North Siders with Vietnamese-influenced dishes and tofu magic.