If you’re a vegan, you already know that the days of limiting yourself to things like leafy greens, tofu, and countless fries are long gone. There are so many restaurants in the city that offer creative ways to prepare tasty dishes without using animal products, and these are the best. Most of the places in this guide are completely vegan, and if they aren’t, you’ll have no trouble finding plenty of options that will work.
Photo credit: Carina Finn Koeppicus
HAGS’ Vegan Tasting Menu isn’t just one of the best vegan options on the NYC food scene, it’s one of the best options, period. If you’re looking for a place for a special occasion to spend your money on plant-based food, come here. The menu will change seasonally, but hopefully they will definitely keep a version of tempe, which we choose from most meat dishes any day of the week. If the price of $145 per person seems a little high, they also offer an a la carte menu on Sundays.
Seconds after biting into Fat Choy’s Toasted Sesame Pancake Sandwich filled with a hearty mushroom stew and crispy coleslaw, you’ll forget about all the heartbreaking sloppy joes of your past. With its vegan menu and casual setup, this LES spot is a perfect place for a quick and memorable meal for around $15, especially if you like the idea of eating perfectly fried salt and pepper cauliflower bites and delicate rice rolls that taste like a jug of olive oil.
Ras Plant Based is one of the only places in town to specialize in plant-based Ethiopian cuisine, such as tender mushrooms and meatless dulet. From flaky sambusas and crispy cauliflower wings to huge platters of Ethiopian classics like pea protein-based kitfo, every dish at this Crown Heights eatery is memorable. Bring a date or stop in for a casual weeknight meal. The colorful murals will make you feel like you’re in a multi-sensory art exhibit.
Most restaurants with a tasting menu don’t readily accept vegan diners — and that’s part of what makes this vegetable-focused restaurant on the LES incredibly unique. Almost all of their dishes can be vegan, and the seasonal menu might feature Zucchini Soup Balls with Squash Blossoms or Eggplant with Black Sesame Tahini. The $90 tasting menu includes five courses and the price includes tip.
That place in Clinton Hill people behind Mekelburg’s serves up some of the best meatless sandwiches in town, like a Cuban torta that’s piled high with avocado, tomato, and a crispy slice of eggplant Milanese. You’ll also find plant-based lox bagels, picadillo empanadas, and ceviche tostadas, and most things are under $15. You can buy everything from chocolate babka to eco-friendly laundry detergent inside the plant-covered restaurant and market, and you can eat your food on the pastel-pink outdoor terrace.
This place is like a lot of East Village restaurants in that it’s small, dark, crowded, and quite noisy. But Ladybird stands out for its all-plant-based menu, which makes this spot a popular destination for vegans looking for a fun night out. The kitchen does cheese and creamy dishes very well. They serve the best vegan mac and cheese we’ve had, and it’s a real feat if you can stop eating the coconut creme brulee topped with fresh raspberries before it’s all gone.
If you’re looking for a vegan place with sumac fattoush plates or seven different types of micro veggies, this place probably isn’t for you. At this Williamsburg restaurant, you’ll find plant-based versions of comfort foods. You can get things like BBQ Cauliflower Wings, Mushroom Fried Chicken, and an amazing Pesto Chickpea Hero. Bring a group of friends when you want to share hearty and delicious dishes that happen to be vegan.
We love vegan junk food, and that’s what you’ll get at Next Level Burger. Pair one of their signature burgers with an order of fries and a shake, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to be in a better mood. Some of their burgers use Beyond Meat with a homemade seasoning blend, while others are made from scratch with a variety of non-meat ingredients. They also make a solid approximation of a chicken patty that tastes especially good when served on a bun and covered in crunchy sauces and veggies.
This cafeteria beneath New York’s first and oldest Hindu temple is a South Indian institution, and the entire menu is vegetarian. You’ll see temple devotees and tourists flocking to the fluorescent-lit basement for idlis, sambar and the best dosas in town. On your way out, be sure to browse the gift shop.
When we eat a vegan croissant, we usually say, “That’s pretty good, but we always miss the butter.” But we don’t say that at Clémentine. This bakery and cafe in Clinton Hill offers a full line of sweets like cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and donuts, but the best items are the puff pastries (pain au chocolat and banana-chocolate kouign-amann , for example). For something savory, get the BEC breakfast taco on a burrito-sized flour tortilla—a bargain at $6—or the crispy buffalo cauliflower with a savory lemon ranch dressing. ‘dill.
Spicy Moon in the East Village serves vegan Sichuan dishes like dan dan noodles, vegetable wontons in chili oil, and mapo tofu that’s so good you’ll wonder if the dish is better without meat. This spot is great for casual dining any night of the week, and there’s a location in the West Village too.
There is vegan food that tastes good for vegan food and then there’s good food that happens to be vegan. Jajaja falls into the second category. Some of the menu items here are dead ringers for your Tex-Mex favorites, like their nachos, which are piled high with faux rice, refried beans, cream, salsa and queso. Others, like crispy pescado tacos, offer a new twist that’s both familiar and innovative. You might read the phrase “chipotle almond butter” and wonder if it belongs in a fake fish taco. Trust us, it is.
Champs serves dishes ideal for three types of vegans: drunken vegans, hungover vegans and vegans who are tired of salads. They make up for not using animal products by sprinkling the pancakes and making tater tot nachos. You’ll wonder how meat- and dairy-free everything is (including the mozzarella sticks), and you’d probably better not ask. Even if you eat meat, you’ll always find something to eat at this East Williamsburg restaurant.
Plant-based sushi may seem like a gimmick, but we really enjoy the food at Omakaseed, where you’ll eat all sorts of fancy vegetable-based things – from a salty mushroom latte that’s incredibly delicious to a nigiri a la tomato that’s a dead ringer for akami. For $65, you’ll be served 15 super-fast dishes in an hour. The food is inventive and the menu changes every week or two, making it a great place for those who like a good surprise.
Amituofo is a restaurant in Bushwick that serves Chinese-inspired dishes where you can get some particularly good meat alternatives. We particularly appreciate the sesame beef made with soy protein and the BBQ pork roast with seitan. The most expensive entrees are $19 and most smaller entrees are well under $10. Be sure to try the fried king oyster mushrooms with a batter that tastes like onion rings and the wonton soup which is the tastiest vegetable version of this dish we’ve ever had.
Délice & Sarrasin is a vegan French restaurant in the West Village where the dishes look exactly like the plates that come out of a kitchen in Paris. Foie gras made with tahini, buckwheat pancakes with smoked “salmon” and crème brûlée with orange are all reminiscent of the dishes from which they come. If you are a vegan who loves French cuisine, this should be your go-to place.
Buddha Bodai is a kosher and vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown. The menu is not 100% vegan but the few egg or dairy dishes are clearly indicated. There’s a lengthy menu that includes things like dumplings, spring rolls, and various noodle dishes, as well as solid vegetarian versions of chicken, duck, and lamb. And if you’re looking for dim sum, this is also a great place for that. It’s not crowded, most dishes are under $15, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money on booze because this place is BYOB.