Mac & Cheese With Bell Pepper Bowls, Because Dishes Are the Worst
This is what meatless fast food is meant to be. The tasty vegetarian burgers at this tiny takeaway joint are made from plant-based ingredients. Instead of the usual side of fries, you can add a broccoli salad with eggplant and red chile to complete your meal. For an animal-free blast from the past, indulge in a Sloppy Dave, Superiority’s take on the Sloppy Joe: tofu stewed with spices in a tomato base -- sure to slake your comfort food cravings.
Butchers at Heather Tierney’s cheekily named “vegetable slaughterhouse” slice and dice their way through extensive morning, noon, and night menus. Breakfast, of course, includes an avocado toast mashed with curry, cilantro, and mustard seeds; lunch brings the requisite takes on classic sandwiches like the Reuben; and dinner incorporates several veggie pastas. Here, you’ll want to swap your usual cocktail with shots of wheatgrass or ginger.
Tucked on an alley-sized Chinatown side street, Vegetarian Dim Sum House offers a wide breadth of veggie delights. Straightforward items like sauteed Chinese broccoli over rice and asparagus with bean curd mingle with mock meats like pseudo-pork and faux-beef. Bring an empty stomach and a full wallet -- this place is cash-only.
Celebrity chef Matthew Kenney’s latest venture serves plant-based Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in what is poised to become one of Manhattan’s hottest meat-free date spots. A fireplace warms the intimate dining room and shareable plates like the fried artichokes, smoked hummus, and cast-iron socca invite guests to get cozy.
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
The vegetarian on a budget can't do much better than a trip to the lunch buffet at Govinda's. It's a hidden gem in the basement of a Hare Krishna temple, where the friendly staff and delicious, ever-changing mix of Indian and Westernized eats will make a believer out of anyone wary of going all-veg. For $12, you can snag a lunch box with soup, salad, and the day's rotating dishes, which can include options like eggplant Parm, spinach daal, samosas, zucchini, potato and cauliflower stew, and cheesecake.
This mother and son shop operated by Brenda and Aaron Beener serves 100% vegan fare with a traditional twist. The Beeners give classic soul food staples a healthy makeover with fresh, organic ingredients. Burdock root takes a turn in “crawfish” dishes while fermented soy successfully masquerades in plates of BBQ “riblets” and black pepper “steak.” A relative novelty in the area, Seasoned Vegan fills up quick and they only take reservations for parties of four or more, so don’t be tardy.
Soy does the heavy lifting at this cozy downtown vegan spot. The legume alternately poses as crustaceans in crab Rangoon and Cajun fried shrimp starters, as poultry in roti canai and Creole soul chicken dishes, and as beef in burgers and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. A truly expansive menu is bolstered by a selection of vegan beer and wine.
Lower East Side
With a little ingenuity, almost any cuisine can pivot to veggies, but Mexican is particularly conducive to transformation. Jajaja relies heavily on egg, beans, and avocado on a menu that includes mainstream Mexican favorites sans meat. Some dishes fall back on protein alternatives, but they’ve also cleverly crafted a jackfruit enchilada, hearts of palm ceviche, and beet and pumpkin empanadas. A lengthy mezcal menu will set carnivores at ease.
Traditional Ethiopian food is vegetable-forward, and Bunna takes things a step further with an all-vegan menu. Large plates of vibrantly colorful yellow split peas, sauteed beets, and red lentils are meant to be scooped up with injera and shared in the Habesha style. Named for the Amharic word for coffee -- integral to Ethiopian culture -- Bunna hosts a traditional coffee ceremony at occasional events, where they share complimentary cups of the strong brew with guests.
This always busy Williamsburg spot is the champion of North Brooklyn vegan comfort food and truly proves that yes, veggies can be indulgent, too! The menu here is a sure hangover killer, with Tater Tot nachos, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast burritos stuffed with “chorizo,” bell peppers, kale, and tofu. Sandwiches like the Reuben, with corned beef seitan, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye are cannily close to the real thing, and the dessert menu includes 10 varieties of milkshakes.
Upper West Side & Greenwich Village
Opened by two vegans looking to spread the gospel of nonviolence via the vegan lifestyle and all its benefits, this charming UWS cafe and bakery has been so successful that it opened a second location downtown, too. This is the kind of place you to go when you want a little bit of everything. That means ordering chickpea fries, Shanghai dumplings, and either a Japanese pumpkin or fried seitan medallion sandwich. Grab a peanut butter cheesecake or the raw Key lime pie on your way out.
This popular Chelsea restaurant has expanded to a second location on the Upper West Side, making the Blossom restaurant group an animal product-free force to reckon with. Visit the intimate flagship that started it all for a low-key, healthful meal. With the goal of cooking food that can be enjoyed by all, Blossom boasts dishes like vegan lasagna, pine-nut crusted eggplant, and a soy bacon cheeseburger that could almost convince Shake Shack's most loyal customer to switch teams.
Lower East Side
Celebrated chef Amanda Cohen turns the simplest vegetables into edible art at her Michelin-starred LES veg haven. Once housed in a cramped East Village space, Dirt Candy has since moved to a more spacious locale, where it became one of the first restaurants in New York to do away with tipping, hiking prices to split the difference. Here you’ll find some of the most creative and innovative plant-based dishes in the city, like Korean fried broccoli, jalapeño hush puppies, and Brussels sprout tacos.
Upper East Side
One of three locations in the NYC Candle empire, Candle 79 has been peddling upscalish vegan fare on the Upper East Side steakhouse landscape for 15 years. Eschewing humble beginnings as a health food store, the bi-level restaurant is now a solid meat-free special occasion spot, serving pan-seared porcini seitan, portobello steaks, and herb grilled cauliflower at dinner, and a brunch prix fixe every weekend.