Good date night spots shouldn’t just be cute. You’re there to make great memories, while also eating some excellent food. Ras Plant Based, a vegan Ethiopian spot in Crown Heights, comes through on both fronts. This dimly lit hideaway full of colorful murals makes a plant-based meal feel like a multisensory art exhibit. Every dish is thoughtfully plated, you can feel each ingredient with your bare hands, and you can hear other diners having a great time right along with you.
A laid-back space isn’t the only thing that makes Ras Plant Based a perfect spot for lovers. It’s also the restaurant love child of a married couple that met while working at Awash in Cobble Hill.
The interior space here is dark, with one long bar usually lined with well-dressed couples sharing huge platters of Ethiopian classics like kitfo made with pea protein. The walls are covered in art inspired by Emperor Haile Selassie. And the patio, a more upbeat setting for casual meetups, usually features an R&B playlist blasting from the speakers while diners groove from their seats under string lights. It’s like a curbside DJ set on the corner of Sterling Place and Franklin Avenue that also happens to have some incredibly good food.
Even if you’ve enjoyed more Ethiopian meals than you can count, the menu at Ras will likely include at least one classic stew or stir-fry you’ve never had before. That’s because this is one of the only spots in the city specializing in plant-based Ethiopian food like tender mushroom tibs and meat-free dulet.
On your first visit, order the Mercato platter. It’s got a huge bed of spongy injera topped with our favorite dishes like lentil stew, ground chickpeas, and a colorful medley of cabbage, peppers, and carrots. That way, you and your date can share a range of things and also leave some room to try a couple great entrees. Make sure that one of those entrees is the mushroom tibs, a berbere-spiced Ethiopian stir-fry dish made with white button mushrooms, onions, jalapeño, and tomato. The mushrooms are packed with flavor, charred along the edges, and will likely give you a valid reason to text your date tomorrow.
If you didn’t grow up eating with your hands, going on a dinner date at Ras Plant Based is a great opportunity to try it. All you’ve got to do is roll up your sleeves and scoop up one of the best vegan meals in NYC. Trust us, it’ll be much less messy than trying to find true love in this city.
If you want to try five of the greatest hits at Ras Plant Based, get the Mercato platter. You’ll eat sweet combinations of things like green beans, caramelized onions, and carrots, along with some spicier options like a slow-simmered red lentil stew with a fiery berbere sauce. As you begin to tear away at the injera, you’ll probably lose track of which dish is which, but just embrace it.
Just like the Mercato, the second platter option at Ras comes with five different excellent entrees piled on top of an injera roll. With the Piassa, you’ll eat things like chunky beets, yellow split peas, crunchy zucchini, and soft chickpeas with holy basil. If you’re a fan of thicker, crisper cuts of solid vegetables, the Piassa is for you.
Outside of the platters, this is one of the best dishes at Ras Plant Based. So if you’re looking for just one other entree to add to your meal, make it this spicy combination of mushroom, onions, jalapeño, and tomato. There’s a kick of spice from the berbere that’ll make you wonder why all meatless dishes don’t use this Ethiopian spice.
These flaky, savory baked goods are a great option if you need something delicious to snack on while you wait for your entrees. You can order them filled with mixed vegetables or lentils, but either way, this buttery pastry is just the thing you need to calm your hunger.