Living Vegan

NYC — The Vegan City That Never Sleeps

Manhattan skyline

Ah, the humble vegetable. If you’re laboring under the misapprehension that they’re only good for boiling, mashing or accessorizing your dish du jour, it’s time to wake up and smell the caramelized chicory. It’s amazing what is being created in NYC with a pinch of seasoning, a twist of lemon and a liberal sprinkling of culinary imagination. Like a flame under a burner, veganism has ignited the city with menus flaming new colors, flavors and textures that demand talent to perfect, and are by no means just for herbivores. Most people visit the city for the sights and the sounds, the glitz and the glamour, but why not check out the city’s vast vegan offering too while you’re there?

For the vegan with a sweet tooth and a tight belt, Manhattan’s Peacefood Café offers softly iced treats just waiting to be devoured. Patrons should find $5 enough to buy a couple of cookies, one eggless cupcake or a handful of mini-brownies, while palates of a more savory persuasion won’t have to part with too much more to procure a healthy ladleful of fresh soup, some quinoa salad or zesty sushi rolls. Of course, if you’re feeling more flush, you can enjoy any of the numerous main courses, which are still reasonable by New York City standards.

A more elaborate offering awaits your reservation in the East Village, where, in a well-lit and slick little enclave, Dirt Candy turns vegetables into elaborate fantasies. Their famous tomato cake ushers blushing little red balls onto on a podium of smoked feta, while the often stodgy potato salad is transformed from a blockish starch-nemesis to an elegant, sculptured stack of texture and space. An especially cute touch is the desert menu, which, with dishes like celeriac ice cream and rosemary cotton candy, strives to incorporate its earthy muse into every aspect of the experience. Note, Dirt Candy is mostly vegan, but they use some dairy and egg. However, you can request a vegan version of anything on the menut

New York’s classic delicacy, the pizza, is usually off limits to vegans due to its disastrous cheese content. Enter Paulie Gee’s, proudly holding aloft an entire menu of vegan options. Down a Vegan Schmoogula (Italian Tomatoes, Baby Arugula, Olive Oil, Post Oven Nutritional Yeast and Mild Aleppo Chili Oil) or any of their other special vegan specialties for the most fun you can have eating pizza without mozzarella.

With its vegan-friendly sushi bars, delis, curry houses and raw food restaurants to explore, New York is a smorgasbord of options for a vegan foodie getaway and you certainly won’t go hungry. Picking a restaurant, on the other hand? Now that’s going to be the tricky part…

To satisfy your sweet tooth, consider Babycakes bakery on the lower east side. Enjoy their vegan cupcakes, loaves, muffins, and brownies before doing the gallery crawl in this increasingly trendy neighborhood.

Here are some of the top vegetarian/vegan restaurants in NYC (and Brooklyn) as well as a few that offer a special vegan menu. There are many, many others; this is just a sampling of some of the most popular.

Angelica Kitchen300 East 12th Street by Second Avenue – Hearty, mostly vegan fare is served at one of the city’s longest-running restaurants of its kind.

Babycakes248 Broome Street between Orchard & Ludlow (Lower East Side) – Vegan baked goods and sweets.

Candle Café 1307 Third Avenue between 74th and 75th Streets and Candle 79 -154 East 79th Street at Lexington (upper east side) plus Candle Cafe West – 2427 Broadway between 89th and 90th streets – all of the Candle restaurants offer 100% vegan specialties ranging from comfort fare to gourmet specialties.

Dirt Candy430 East 9th Street between First Ave and Ave A (East Village) – upscale vegetable-focused specialties.

Franchia – 12 Park Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets and Hangawi – 12 East 32nd Street (both Midtown) – sister restaurants serving vegan Korean cuisine.

John’s of 12th Street – 302 East 12th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues – Traditional Italian restaurant with a dedicated vegan menu. Note, credit cards not accepted.

Gobo – 401 Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue) between Waverly Place and 8th Street ) West Village – Pan-Asian vegan cuisine.

Paulie Gee’s – 60 Greenpoint Avenue (Greenpoint, Brooklyn) – Pizzeria with a dedicated section of vegan offerings.

Peacefood – 460 Amsterdam Avenue at 82nd Street (upper west side) and 41 East 11th Street at Unversity Place (mid-Greenwich Village) – hearty vegan fare and baked goods.

Pure Food and Wine –  54 Irving Place between 17th and 18th streets (Gramercy Park) –  Raw and organic, on the pricey side but worth the splurge.

Red Bamboo – 140 W. 4th Street, off of 6th Avenue (West Village) – casual, soul, and veg-centric fare at this mostly vegan eatery.

Seasoned Vegan  – 55 St. Nicholas Avenue (Harlem) – 100% vegan soul food is served at this relatively new eatery.

Wild Ginger – 380 Broome Street between Mulberry and Mott Streets (NoLiTa) and 226 East 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues – Pan-Asian vegan specialties are served at both locations.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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  • Reply
    July 5, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Thank you Nava, for your special website. from across an ocean you are helping to make mylife healthier, tastier, and helping me get a better hold of this vegan diet challenge.
    And also, I have just printed off your page about NYC. I now am very excited and will one day visit these tasty places. Maybe even bring a little NYC vegan creativity and passion back to the uk. All the best to you.

  • Reply
    August 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Hello! VLife is a new vegan restaurant in Chelsea NY market that strives to provide good vegan food, juices, bubbleteas smoothies, etc. Come check us out! We have meatlessmonday promotions 15%off vegan wraps burgers sandwiches and salad!

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