Pure Food and WineA luxurious, celebrity-packed restaurant in the Gramercy/Union Square neighborhood, Pure Food and Wine could only thrive in a place like New York or L.A.

That’s because Pure Food and Wine is to vegans, as Per Se is to seafood lovers. Everything on the menu is raw and vegan, most of it is gluten-free, and all of it is pricey. The sweet corn and cashew tamales with chili spiced portabella, for $26, has become somewhat of a lightening rod for those charging the restaurant with elitism. But if you’re a vegan who wants to feel pampered, instead of foraging at the co-op café next to the yoga studio, Pure Food and Wine is a godsend.

In general, people who dine at the restaurant tend to fall in two camps: The “OMG, I adore this place” camp, and the “I mean, I get the vegan thing, but this is so expensive and not even that good!” camp.

I’m not a vegan, but I’ve fallen into both camps at one time or another. The first time I went, it was with an ex who was raised on hearty Italian fair. We were seated in the admittedly grubby and crowded dining room, and went away hungry. Another time, I had lunch on a pleasant summer day on the back patio, with a female work acquaintance visiting from California. We came away full but not weighed down, pleased that we had eaten a healthy, delicious meal.

Pure Food and Wine Patio

It really depends on your attitude going in. If you’re usually a meat eater and looking for large plates that will satisfy your hunger for a fair price, you’re bound to be disappointed. But if you’re the breed of New Yorker who takes their health food seriously and has a little money to spend (or a celebrity–Alec Baldwin met his yoga teacher wife there), Pure Food and Wine is your mecca.

The menu is varied and inventive, a relief to people who spend a lot of time scrutinizing menus for something–anything–that will work. Indulge in a Philly Roll, lasagna, and a dark chocolate brownie for dessert. Seriously, there’s a Master Cleanse-tini made with sake. While there isn’t a full bar, you can choose from a list of organic and biodynamic wines and sake.

My suggestion: Go with a friend who also likes to eat healthy or is vegan, and grab a table on the lush and peaceful back patio, which will transport you away from the grimy city for just an hour or two.