Tal Ronnen

You may recognize Tal Ronnen's name, but not know where from. Maybe 'cause he's the guy who created the menu for Oprah during her 21-day vegan cleanse. And the guy who catered the wedding of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. Or the one that helped Chrissie Hynde open her VegiTerranean restaurant in Akron, Ohio.

What's he up to these days? Well, his current restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif., Crossroads, is one the most celeb-trafficked vegetarian restaurant stops in LA -- a "gateway" of sorts for people pondering the vegetarian lifestyle.

It's safe to say the guy is qualified to speak on the plant-based lifestyle. So, here are Ronnen's five top vegan spots across the U.S.:
Candle 79 - New York, NY - "I worked there in 2004 and have a lot of fond memories of the amazing food and staff. Candle 79 was one of the first restaurants to elevate plant-based eating and serve it up in a fine dining format. They also have a strong commitment to using organic and local produce."
Millennium - San Francisco, CA - "Eric Tucker is a pioneer and laid the groundwork for so many vegan chefs. Eric's menu is innovative and bold in his approach when creating dishes with unexpected ingredients and flavors. His commitment to local farmers was way ahead of its time including his famous tomato dinner after inviting guests to pick their own tomatoes at a local farm."
M.A.K.E. - Santa Monica, CA - "Matthew Kenney is one of the best chefs working today -- and his restaurant in Santa Monica is not to be missed. His strong background as a New York chef before becoming a plant-based chef is evident in the food that he creates today."
Sublime - Fort Lauderdale, FL - "I have a lot of great memories from re-opening Sublime in 2006. Nanci Alexander and her staff have taken vegan food to a whole new level. Sublime has one of the most beautiful dining rooms I've seen out of any restaurant in the U.S."
Vedge - Philadelphia, PA - "Rich and Kate, the owners of this progressive vegan restaurant, have shown diners from vegans to carnivores that vegetables should always be at the center of the plate. Their focus is to simply make vegetables taste great. They've achieved this through their presentation and amazing flavor combinations that they create daily by bringing in the best local and organic produce."

Crab Cakes at Crossroads
For more tasty chef recommendations, check out "My Five Favorite Restaurants in the U.S", where James Beard winners, Top Chefs, Iron Chefs all sound off on their top eateries.