Photo: Crispy tofu at Dirt Candy (credit: Krista)
Here’s the dilemma: you’re a vegan and you’re going out to dinner with a decidedly non-vegan group. You don’t want to be “that guy” who goes out to Mexican and orders a taco salad that amounts to nothing more than iceberg lettuce in a tortilla bowl, or the one who gets oatmeal at brunch (but only if it’s made with almond milk). In order to avoid being pegged as a boring dinner date and to keep the invitations coming, you need to not only recommend the restaurant, but choose one that caters to you and your less dietary restricted friends. And hey, even if you aren’t vegan, plant-based eating is having a moment in the culinary world right now and you’d be missing out on some fine New York dining were you to turn your nose up at meatless menus. With that in mind, here are the best restaurants in New York for vegans.
For more places to eat and drink in New York right now, check out the BlackBook City Guides.
185 Bleecker St. at MacDougal, New York, NY
By Chloe, a new vegan concept from celebrity chef Chloe Coscarelli just touched down in the West Village. It’s a strictly plant-based restaurant but not in a stereotypical crunchy way. The menu features vegan takes on American comfort foods, like a burger and fries, mac n’ cheese, and ice cream sandwiches. Chef Chloe also does her own take on the very Instagrammable avocado toast.
Good for: Casual lunch
What to get: The classic burger (made with a tempeh, lentil, chia, and walnut patty) on a potato bun with air-baked sweet potato fries
El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette
100 Stanton St. at Ludlow, New York, NY
Lower East Siders have been crowding the veggie-friendly El Rey since it first opened in 2013, but thanks to New York Times critic Pete Wells’ recent visit to the California-Mexican and his pleasant surprise at the vegan chicharrones, the hole-in-the-wall joint is about to get a lot busier. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the space is bustling all day long, and though it isn’t branded as vegan, there are plenty of dairy and meat-free dishes, though there’s also a marinated chorizo plate.
Good for: Brunch or dinner with a small group
What to get: Avocado flatbread, kale salad with almond vinaigrette, vegan chicharrones locos with cashew cream
Photo: Grains and crudité at El Rey (credit: El Rey)
86 Allen St. at Broome, New York, NY
Amanda Cohen, the mastermind behind trendy Dirt Candy, couldn’t handle the never-ending hype that surrounded her original East Village location that she had to move to a bigger space in early 2015. She does crazily inventive things to vegetables, crafting dishes like vegetable monkey bread, sizzling Brussels sprouts tacos, and jalapeno hush puppies. Don’t shy away from the veggie-based desserts, you’ll be back for the celery cheesecake.
Good for: Trendy dinner
What to get: Brussels sprouts taco, carrot waffles with peanut mole sauce
49 Canal St. at Orchard, New York, NY
Eating at Dimes is a win-win, it’ll make you feel healthy and cool. The minimalist California chill space specializes in one-plate wonders that cater to any dieter. Vegans will take to the chia seed pudding breakfast bowls and eclectic salads with accouterments like pickled red onions and candy cane beets, pescatarians will appreciate the pickled salmon bowl and seared tuna, and carnivores have more than plenty to choose from, like the pulled-pork bowl or the crunchy BLT.
Good for: Eclectic breakfast, light dinner
What to get: Quinoa bowl with carrot slaw, ginger tumeric hummus and mint basil vinaigrette; ciao bowl with poached eggs, bulgur, olives, currants and cumin yogurt herbs
430 E. 9th St. at Avenue A, New York, NY
This newcomer to the East Village restaurant landscape is home to the boutique veggie burger (from a Del Posto alum). The website sums up everything you need to know about the burger joint: “everything is vegetarian, a lot is accidentally vegan.” Similar to by Chloe, the meatless menu is hearty and even if an all-beef burger were offered, you’d probably opt for the veggie version anyway, it’s just that good.
Good for: A quick and cheap dinner
What to get: The vegan sloppy joe and burnt broccoli salad