Ok y'all. You asked for it. So I did it. My detailed guide to eating the most delicious vegan food in New York City. An in depth list of favorite places for shopping, snacking, dining and stuffing your face. Now get ready to take some notes, do some research, and brace yourself for learning the ins and outs of how to be the ultimate vegan foodie in New York City. [Please note that I am well aware of the many other vegan destinations in NYC. There are probably dozens more. And that's fantastic! These are just my personal recommendations for the places I frequent the most or that I find most impressive. And just to give you an idea, there are still loads of places for me to try as well, even after living there for 5 years!] Ok, let's go.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Lorimer L / JMZ)
This swanky vegan spot is hoppin'! With a menu decked out with scrumptious vegan comfort food, a specially curated selection of vegan wines and beers and decadent house made ice cream and desserts, this place will knock your socks off. The menu is seasonal and changes often, so always hop on over to their website to see what's up. It also happens to be run by my most favorite person and best friend in the world, Isa Chandra. Tip: This is a great date spot and also perfect for the vegan skeptics out there. Do make a reservation just to be safe. If you do go by and you see my girl Isa - give her a big hug for me. She'll just love that. Haha! Look for the one with the bangs, glasses and a beat up Joy Division t-shirt.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Graham Ave L) and more
This is my favorite coffee shop ever! When I lived in Brooklyn, it was my neighborhood spot. I literally went there everyday. After 5 years, I became very close with most of the staff and it almost felt like a family to me. Aside from the sentimental value, they also have delicious coffee which they make fresh, constantly throughout the day in small batches using a large french press. If you are looking for iced, they make their own cold brew as well. They always have soy milk out as an option and they use good almond milk for vegan lattes and such. Tip: They usually have a vegan cookie but it sells out early.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Graham Ave L)
This spot doesn't actually have food or beverage but because it is right next door to Variety Coffee, I had to at least point it out. Brave Gentleman is a vegan apparel brand which is apart of the 'slow-fashion' production model. Investing in superior vegan materials, ethical labor & classic styles, Brave Gentleman has gorgeous clothing, shoes, bags, wallets and more. The owner, Joshua Catcher, is also a friend of mine. He happens to be devastatingly handsome and very sweet, so if you pop in and see him, tell him, "Hi" for me.
Bushwick, Brooklyn (Montrose L) and East Village
Another shop that is just around the corner from Brave Gentleman and Variety Coffee (about a 15 minutes walk) is one of the best places ever- Dunwell Doughnuts! This shop is dedicated to VEGAN DOUGHNUTS. I'm a classic 'Glazed' kind of guy, but don't you worry- they have loads of different flavors and toppings, almost to the point of being overwhelming. They also have vegan ice cream and coffee. Tip: If you are like me and fancy the 'Glazed' variety as well, try to make it in earlier than later as those are the first to run out. Update: There is now a second storefront in the East Village of Manhattan.
Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Bedford L or Nassau G)
If you are looking for that classic NYC slice of pizza, this is your spot. You know, the kind of places that have 2 slices + a coke for only a few bucks. Now just like any regular pizza slice spot, don't expect a nice sit down meal. This is an in and out kinda place. But it's no problem because the pizza is so good you will gobble it up before you walk a block away. Tip: Their 'White' cheese pizza is my absolute favorite, so do yourself a favor and get that one first. I could eat the whole thing to myself. Actually, I *have* eaten the whole thing to myself. Because I'm on a diet.
Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Greenpoint Ave G)
Adelina's is a cozy little nook in the heart of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Just steps from the G train, Adelina's rustic interior, home cooked menu, and wide selection of delicious vegan wine makes this place a true gem. Their menu is loaded with classic Italian inspired cuisine, in particular their house made pizzas with their very own vegan mozzarella. Adelina's has a special place in my heart because I have done many pop-events there including brunch, pizza special night and two separate truffle dining experiences. If you pop by, ask for Toby (the owner) and tell him I sent you. He's lovely.
Nolita, Manhattan (Spring Street 4/6) or West Village (A, B, C, D, E, F, W trains to West 4th)
When my friend Russel asked me if I had ever had Taim falafel I shook my head no to which he responded with a huge grin, "Ok, let's go!" I didn't understand why he was so excited until we arrived and I popped one of their falafels in my mouth. Crispy and golden brown on the outside while light, fluffy and oh so flavorful in the middle- it literally collapsed in my mouth in the most delicate and delicious way. If you love falafel or even if you're not a huge fan- you simply must try this place. It is a game changer. Tip: They also have loads of fun vegetable sides, sauces, and hummuses that are vegan.
All Vegetarian. Mostly Vegan.
Nolita, Manhattan (Spring Street 4/6)
I had not had a proper bowl of good ramen until I visited this busy little shop in Nolita (North of Little Italy). What I encountered was a broth that was bursting with flavor and garnished with a selection of interesting vegetables and delicious homemade buckwheat noodles. There's nothing quite as satisfying as slurping a huge spoonful of brothy noodles now is there? As for vegan options, they have a designated vegan menu that has many different choices which makes things oh so easy for us. Tip: They do not take reservations and they are very busy so be prepared to wait (or just go during off hours like I do and you shouldn't have a problem). I will say the tables turn pretty quickly so you shouldn't have to wait that long.
Designated Vegan Menu
West Village, Manhattan (A, B, C, D, E, F, W trains to West 4th) and more
Scattered throughout the city is Jack's Coffee. I love this company because they only use the highest quality, organic, shade grown beans for their coffee. Their cold brew in particular is very smooth and has chocolatey undertones. They also have a selection of different baked goods and soups are made daily and happen to be vegan. Always double check though. They're usually very sweet.
Flatiron, Manhattan (23rd Street NQRW or 23rd Street 4/6)
Eataly is a foodies's dream come true, for vegans and non-vegans alike! This large store has an extensive produce selection, multiple restaurants, and a bakery. From incredible produce, unique pasta, fresh truffles and delicious bread, Eataly is a magical place where you could spend a good hour wandering around, if only to look. Tip: Check out their mushroom selection. They always have unique varieties. There are two locations: one in Flatiron (which I'm partial to) and one Downtown.
Flatiron, Manhattan (23rd Street NQRW or 23rd Street 4/6) and many more
The Maison Kayser that I frequented most is right around the corner from Eataly, although there are multiple locations in NYC. Founded by Eric Kayser in Paris in 1996, Maison Kayser is an authentic artisanal French Boulangerie, meaning that the bread and other baked goods are mixed and baked on-site all day long. Most of them are not vegan friendly but the baguettes *are*. And let me tell you. They. Are. The. Best. I mean, I could eat a whole one on my own. Tip: I recommend just popping in for one baguette at least. Most likely, it will still be warm as they are baking them constantly throughout the day. If you want to take it to the next level, find yourself a toaster and get your hands on some vegan butter. Nothing better in my opinion. This bread also makes an epic sandwich and is perfect for dipping into spreads/oils. Picnic in Central Park anyone?
Chelsea, Manhattan (23rd Street C/E)
This Blossom was actually one of the first vegan restaurants I had ever been to. I was so excited to actually have a reservation, order a glass of wine, and have a delicious, well thought out entrée opposed to the usual salad with no dressing and a side of fries. My favorite menu items at this location are hands down the Seitan Scallopini (lemon caper white wine butter sauce with crispy seitan, truffled mash potatoes, and sautéed kale), the cashew cream ravioli with fried sage and the trumpet mushroom calamari with spicy marinara. Tip: You absolutely need a reservation for this location. They're also open for lunch.
Chelsea, Manhattan (23rd Street C/E)
Cocao V is directly across the street from Blossom Chelsea and it is owned by my dear friend Pamela Elizabeth. There you can find an extensive selection of outrageous, decadent and artisinal vegan chocolates and other specialty desserts. A perfect ending to a long day in NYC. You can check out their amazing selection here.
Chelsea, Manhattan (14th Street ACE or 14th Street L)
This is definitely a tourist trap. But, so what? Sometimes tourists traps can be fun- in small doses. This shopping center happens to have many different vegan goodies. Ninth Street Espresso has delicious coffee, Seed and Mill has outrageously good Halva (if you don't know that that is you should), Manhattan Fruit Exchange has loads of fun produce and snacks to try, The Green Table is a local restaurant with an ever changing menu that often times has a few vegan options (but always ask and double check- you know the drill.), Buon Italia has amazing Italian imported goods/grocery items (like, the coolest pasta, oils, and snacks). The Filling Station has all of your specialty salts and oils. Try the smoked salt, truffle salt, and apricot olive oil. Amy's Bread has a ton of delicious vegan options: try the olive twists... yum! Chelsea Market is always adding new storefronts as well, so I'm sure there is even more to explore now then when I last was there. P.S. There is also an Anthropology at the front of the market... so like, duh... Anthro.
West Village, Manhattan (A, B, C, D, E, F, W trains to West 4th)
Urban Vegan Kitchen is a funky little spot in the West Village of Manhattan. And it just so happens that I helped them create their initial menu which they are actually still serving currently! They've been creating new daily specials while also hosting events with guests chefs, so be sure to check out what is going with them when you are in town. Some of my favorite recipes that I created for them are the Breakfast Sandwich, the BLT, and the Chickun and Waffles.
Chelsea, Manhattan (14th Street ACE or 14th Street L) and many more
This Oakland based company has some mighty damn fine coffee. Whether it be drip or cold brew, you can't go wrong. They also have a house made vegan granola that is to die for. You can have it served with almond milk for a nice little snack. I used to eat it on my breaks when I worked at the Apple store just around the corner at their Chelsea location. There are quite a few locations in NYC which you can locate here, so do make sure to pop in one and give them a go.
Lower East Side (Delancey Street F or Grand Street B/D)
I guess you could call this place a hole in the wall. One that plays really hip music and has a bartender that is way cooler than you. Don't worry though, they have vegan pho that is so good, the pretentiousness won't matter. I particularly love their combo where you can order a half bowl of pho and a half of tofu bahn mi (make sure to request no butter and mayo) for only $15. Their rice paper rolls are worth investigating, too. Tip: You can ask for extra pho fixins like Thai basil, lime slices, and mung bean sprouts for no extra charge. But ask nicely. Check out there menu full here.
Lower East Side (Delancey Street F or Grand Street B/D)
This is actually now called Erin McKenna's Bakery, but it was called Babycakes when I lived in Brooklyn. It was actually the very first place I arrived to when I moved there (my friend was working there at the time), so it's kind of nostalgic for me. That being said, I honestly am not a big fan of gluten free baked goods (this place is entirely gluten free) but I will point out that their chocolate chip cookies are really flippin' good. Crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle. I would go in just for that. Now, if they have savory biscuits, snag one or two of them as well (I'm talking the broccoli, onion and cheddar type combos here people.) I would skip the doughnuts as there are just pieces of cakes with holes cut in them. You're not fooling me babycakes, er, Erin...
Koreatown, Manhattan (33rd Street 4/6)
This buddhist Korean restaurant is totally awesome. Upon entering, you will be asked to remove you shoes. You then will be led to a table that has pillows instead of chairs. Next, you will be offered a menu full of fun and exciting dishes that you most likely have never seen before. Soups, bowls, salads and entrees loaded with odd mushrooms and unique veggies- this dining experience is an adventure for sure. Try not to be overwhelmed with the menu as it is very large. I would recommend taking a look at it here before you go, just to give you a head start. Tip: They are quite busy, so please make your life easier by making a reservation.
Midtown East, Manhattan (2, 4, 5, 6, 7 Grand Central - 42 Street)
This Buddhist Japanese restaurant is one of the most unique dining experiences I have ever had. With multiple courses, incredibly obscure ingredients and dynamic cooking techniques and methods- you are in for a treat. Kajitsu serves a type of cuisine known as Shojin: vegetarian cooking that originates in Zen Buddhism which abstains from meat or fish. The main focus is to use fresh and seasonal ingredients which are prepared in ways that enhance the flavor of each component, with the finished dishes beautifully arranged on plates. I'm not going to lie- there were quite a few dishes that I wouldn't necessarily call delicious more so than interesting... does that make sense? Let's just say there were certain sea vegetables and gelatinous components that I wasn't crazy about. But seriously, no regrets. Not to mention their menu changes frequently so your experience will be completely different than mine. Tip: Do note that Kajitsu is pretty pricey and you will need a reservation way in advance.
East Village, Manhattan (1st Avenue L or Astor Place 4/6)
Superiority Burger is sooo good! This itty bitty spot in the east village is one of those places that is too cool for school but they still let you come in and order. It is completely vegetarian and mostly vegan. Because it's tiny, don't expect to dine in- although you might be lucky enough to snag a seat. I would say plan on taking it to go for a picnic or to enjoy on the stoop of someone's building (how New York..eye roll). Tip: My favorite things to order are their daily specials and desserts, especially the ice creams and sorbets (the owner is an award winning pastry chef and has a really cool cookbook).
Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan
East Village, Manhattan (1st Avenue L or Astor Place 4/6)
This shop is on the same block as Superiority Burger. Coincidence? I think not. There are many different goodies there but my favorites of the shop are Sweet Maresa's macarons. They are the best out there. Seriously. I mean, who has time to make homemade vegan macarons? Well, Maresa does. And she does it well.
Midtown West, Manhattan (Penn Station ACE or B, D, F, M, N, Q, R,W Herald Square)
A once crazy popular food truck turned to a brick and mortar grab and go restaurant, Cinnamon Snail has a fully vegan menu loaded with sandwiches bursting with flavor, savory breakfast items, and most importantly- over the top desserts (like doughnuts with mini doughnuts on top). The Snail is located at the Pennsy Food Hall which is set up like a food court so although your food is order/pick up- there is plenty of room for you to sit and enjoy. Tip: Buy a box of their baked goods to bring to a dinner party and say that you made them. Update: There is a second location in the Financial District as well.
East Village, Manhattan (1st Avenue L or Astor Place 4/6) and many more
One thing I truly miss about NYC is having access to organic, cold pressed green juice. Seriously. I would drink one from Juice Press about 3x a week. I recommend Mother Earth which is strictly greens: celery, kale, swiss chard, dandelion, parsley, lemon, ginger & cucumber. That's my kinda juice! I also like their ginger based shots and their coconut milk beverages (the one that has just coconut milk and coconut water blended together- yum!). There are dozens of these sprinkled all throughout the city. I'm confident you will run into one if you ever visit the city.
Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Greenpoint Ave G)
One of the main reasons I love this restaurant is because the style and overall feel of the interior is remarkable. It's worth it just to go for that! But they also have a vegan menu with some killer pizza (it's all about the dough) and refreshing salads. They even make their own nut cheeses and seitan for us. Isn't that sweet? If you do plan to go, be prepared to wait as they don't take reservations (well, at least last time I checked they didn't). Tip: To avoid a line, go earlier or later in the evening. If you call, they'll usually tell you how long the wait is too. Also, this place is kind of in the middle of nowhere so unless the weather is nice and you want to walk, plan on taking an Uber. Warning: the host will act like she's doing you a favor when she seats you.
This NYC based kombucha company is awesome! 1. Because they have really cool and unique flavor combos. 2. Because the kombucha is not too sweet. I HATE really sweet kombucha. It actually really pisses me off. But Pilot is perfectly sweetened. And I just love the packaging/branding. Listen to some of the cool flavor combos: Celery Juniper, Turmeric Aloe & Lavender Peach. I mean, can you handle it? So good. Tip: My favorite is the Celery Juniper.
When I first tasted Anita's yogurt, I said, "I have to meet this person!" And I did. Funny enough, her production kitchen was just a 15 minute walk from my apartment in Brooklyn. Upon entering the space, I noticed how organized and clean it was. Then I noticed only the highest quality organic coconut milk being used as the main ingredient. It was then I realized why this product was so perfect. From them on, Anita and I have maintained a friendship (because she's fabulous) and I always eat as much yogurt as I can when visiting. I'm fairly certain it will be available in most markets...eventually. But for now, it's only available in the NYC area. Here is a list of different businesses that carry her yogurt.
Lori of Cheezehound is one cool cat. And she knows how to throw down when it comes to making artisanal and incredibly realistic vegan cheeses. She uses high quality, organic nuts and seeds as the base but the main ingredient happens to be time and patience. Her cheese is different than others on the market, too. What I have noticed with other artisanal cheese companies is that their products tastes like super lemony nuts that are blended up- do you know what I mean? They don't have that exquisite depth of flavor and luscious texture us foodie vegans are looking for. Well, not hers. The textures, aromas, and flavors are the closest thing to real cheese that I have ever tasted. And her mozzarella blows all the other competitors away. Far away. You can find her cheeses at these NYC locations: HighVibe, Orchard Grocer, The Alchemist's Kitchen & Riverdel Cheese.
Brooklyn, NY (Eastern Parkway Brooklyn Museum Station 2/3 and 4)
This quaint little vegan cheese shop, albeit small, is not playing around. They take their curation of vegan cheeses and specialty products very seriously. What you are left with is a wide selection of products that inevitably ends up being very impressive! This spot is an absolute must if you make the trip to NYC. Not only do they carry dozens of products, they also make their own cheeses in house as well. Lastly, they have really delicious (and decadent) sandwiches which they make fresh to order in the shop, so be sure to check those out before stopping by (take a look at the menu here). Tip: They even have their own version of the 'McMuffin' called the 'McDel'. I mean, c'mon!
Lower East Side (Delancey Street F or Grand Street B/D)
This is the sister business to vegan shoe store Moo Shoes. They are stocked with all kind of cool vegan products and snacks, while also serving a small menu and soft serve ice cream. One cool little fact about this store is that it is completely palm oil free. Yaaaay! After you visit here, check out Babycakes and An Choi which are both just around the corner.
Bushwick, Brooklyn (Morgan L Train)
The Vegan Shop Up is one of the most special vegan events happening in NYC. This is because it brings together all the best small and local vegan businesses together under one roof. This leaves you with a plethora of delicious vegan food and products to try. (Cute little story, I used to have a table at the events where I would sell things like gumbo and vegan cheese grits.) The main shop up happens monthly at a bar called Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn, but there sometimes are other ones happening elsewhere. Join their mailing list or follow them on Instagram to stay in the loop. Tip: Lori from Cheezehound is usually there. ;)
Union Square, Manhattan (L, N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6 to Union Square)
I frequented the UNSQ Green Market probably 3x a week when I lived in NYC. I couldn't get enough. This market was instrumental in helping me build my knowledge of local produce, mushrooms and unique edible flowers. Rain or shine, the market happens Monday, Wednesday, & Friday - all day! (8 am - 6 pm) The best part? There are different vendors each day. I can't even begin to tell you how much variety you have to choose from. Granted there are meat, cheese, and egg vendors but most of them are all veggies, shrooms, and baked goods! Some of my favorite farms and business are Windfall Farms, Tamarack Hollow Farm, Eckerton Hill Farm, Norwich Meadows Farm, Two Guys from Woodbridge and Bread Alone Bakery just to name a few... Fun Fact: I have met many other foodie Instagrammers at the market. It's a great place to meet likeminded people!
Meatpacking District, Manhattan (14th Street ACE or 14th Street L)
You might be surprised that Mario Batali's epic Italian restaurant has vegan fare, but it's true! This is by far the most fancy and expensive restaurant on this list (the second one being Kajitsu), but I wanted to provide at least two fine dining spots. Now, unless you have a black AmEx, this place is only for celebrations and special occasions. If you request vegan when you make your reservation, they will make you a full tasting menu. Although I only dined there once, what I will say is that the overall experience was incredible! I happened to go with my family to celebrate my sister's engagement. I was the only vegan dining at the table and so my menu became a spectacle for everyone to watch (in a good way- not like a salad with no dressing at Olive Garden). We were all very impressed.
A tribute to angelica kitchen (1976 - 2017)
East Village, Manhattan
Even though Angelica Kitchen closed its doors early this past spring, I felt obligated to mention the establishment as a tribute. Do understand that if Angelica were still open, it would have been my #1 recommendation. Why? Because Angelica Kitchen is still to this day, my favorite restaurant in the world. Let me show you their mission statement and maybe you can understand why:
"Since 1976 Angelica Kitchen, has been serving fresh, delicious food in an atmosphere where sustainable agriculture and responsible business practices are the main ingredients. This combination reflects our deep respect for the environment and our gratitude toward the dedicated people who produce our food.
Angelica Kitchen is pure vegan - 100% plant based - and a minimum of 95% of all food used to prepare our menu has been grown organically.
Maintaining committed, direct relationships with local farmers, food artisans, purveyors, and customers keeps our menu reasonably priced while ensuring the vitality of the ingredients. Ingredients used to prepare our menu are grown ecologically and fairly traded; we use renewable sources of energy and a high quality backwash carbon system to filter our water; our active composting assures as little waste as possible."
I was lucky enough to be a server at Angelica Kitchen while living in New York. I ended up leaving the job to pursue Mississippi Vegan full time but I immediately became an avid patron, dining there on average 3 times a week. Often times I would just pop in for a cup of soup (they had the best soups!). You see, after working there for 5 months and consuming the food frequently, I was hooked. I truly craved Angelica like nothing before. Mainly because it made me feel so good! Aside from eating healthy food and feeling my best, Angelica taught me about integrity. They claimed to be healthy and 95% organic- and they honestly were. When I first started working there, I noticed all of the produce coming in from local organic farms. Always fresh. Always organic. On top of that, their whole menu was made from scratch, nothing processed. They took extra steps in soaking and cooking their beans while using kombu so that they were digested more effectively. They made their own seitan from scratch using organic whole wheat flour. They never use processed sugar or excess amounts of oil and didn't even have a deep fryer. Their goal was to serve the most delicious food that was equally as nutritious. I had never been to a sit down restaurant like that before. It taught me that you can still go out to eat and feel fantastic after your meal. If you are interested in learning more about this historic restaurant, please check out their cookbook- it has become a standby in my kitchen, full of knowledge, tips, and recipes. If I ever were to open a restaurant (which I never will because I'm not utterly insane), it would be like Angelica Kitchen. Thank you for changing my life in the most beautiful way Leslie.
Well, that's it!
I hope you enjoy this guide as much as I did creating it. I felt as though I was being propelled right back into the streets of my old home while reminiscing. The crazy, bustling and magical streets of New York City can be an overwhelming place. Especially with the amount of choices and decisions that have to be made daily. I hope that this guide will assist you and give you some helpful direction. My goal is to make delicious vegan food accessible and fun to find. I will continue to add to this list whenever I find something new and exciting to share. Until next time!