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Eating your way through NYC as a vegan

Ariana DiValentino

Contributor

New York City is known for having a food scene unlike any other in the world, from high-end restaurants to cheap, late-night eats. Fortunately, vegans visiting the city don’t need to feel left out – options abound for plant-based eaters, from pizza by the slice to fancy dinners. We've rounded up a great selection of vegan food options and restaurants that should make your list when visiting the capital.

Start your day like a New Yorker – with a bagel

Since long before veganism was en vogue, people have been lactose intolerant. One positive outcome of that is that every other bagel shop in the city offers tofu-based cream cheese. This is good news for any vegan visiting New York because you simply can’t go there without having one of the city’s famous bagels (it’s the water that makes them so good). Tofu cream cheese is surprisingly easy to find – if one place doesn’t offer it, try the next. 

NYC bagels

Photographer: Littleny

Want a quick sandwich or plate for lunch? You got it

If you’re having a busy workday or just a jam-packed travel day of museums and other excursions, you might need something quick but filling for lunch. If you’re near Penn Station, don’t miss The Cinnamon Snail at the Pennsy food court. What started out as a food truck is now a great grab-and-go spot for impressive and often complex, craving-satisfying sandwiches, mac and cheese, and pastries. Elsewhere in the city, you can stop by Blossom Du Jour or Terri for fast-casual lunch options that range from healthy-ish to less so. Also worth visiting is Xi’an Famous Foods, which has locations around the city. They serve meat, but their vegan options – like spicy cold noodles and soft tofu – are clearly labelled.

Cinnamon Snail bakery

Photographer: EQRoy

Grab a slice

Along with bagels among quintessentially New York foods would be, of course, pizza. For your best vegan bets, head to Brooklyn. Screamer’s Pizzeria, which has a Greenpoint and a Crown Heights location, sells all-vegan thin slices with toppings both traditional and wacky. Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint (which has a full restaurant as well as a slice shop) is an omnivorous spot with ample (and delicious) vegan options.

Vegan pizza

Photographer: Olga Nayashkova

For a fancy dinner out

Depending on what you’re craving and how much you want to spend, your dinner options abound as well. Modern Love in Williamsburg, Brooklyn serves elevated comfort food, dreamed up by popular vegan cookbook author and native Brooklynite Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The Mac and Shews are always a good choice, and the restaurant offers a strong wine and beer selection. In Manhattan, Blossom in Chelsea offers creative, high-end plates like tempeh ravioli in cashew cream and seitan cordon bleu. Other strong contenders include the Michelin-starred vegetarian-vegan spot Nix in the village or Candle 79 uptown. For something different, Bunna Cafe in Bushwick is great for groups, serving all vegan, family-style Ethiopian food served on injera to be eaten with your hands. Order a cup of Bunna (spiced coffee) – or a Bunna cocktail.

Modern Love Vegan restaurant

modernlovebrooklyn.com

It’s not a weekend in New York without brunch

All of the aforementioned fancy dinner places are also serious brunch contenders (try Blossom’s tofu benedict) and worth consideration, depending on where your weekend plans take you. In addition, if you’re looking to nurse a fragile hangover, don’t miss the highly popular Champs in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which serves all manner of diner classics in hefty portions. Just be prepared for a long wait if you’re visiting at peak weekend brunch hours, about 10am to 2pm. Another easily-overlooked spot that’s great for brunch is the tucked-away Sacred Chow in the village. Their sweet and savoury brunch options are sizeable and delicious, and you have the option to make your brunch bottomless for just $30.

New York City

Photographer: LaMiaFotografia

For the vegan with a sweet tooth

Dun-Well Doughnuts, which has a main East Williamsburg and smaller East Village location, has fine-tuned the art of the vegan doughnut and offers great coffee from Brooklyn Roasters. If you like filled doughnuts, don’t deprive yourself of the peanut butter and jelly variety. Van Leeuwen scoops both dairy and incredible non-dairy ice cream around the city, including from its trucks. And finally, get your fill of artisanal vegan chocolates and truffles from Confectionery in the East Village.

Vegan raw confectionary

Photographer: Maria Medvedeva

Other notables

Still hungry? Here are some other spots to add to your itinerary. Toad Style in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, offers comfort food sandwiches made with lots of housemade cheeses and veggie-based meats, so you can get your cravings fulfilled without the weird processed stuff (but trust – it doesn’t taste healthy). Beyond Sushi has locations around Manhattan, and their creative combinations and veggie-packed rolls put your garden variety avo-cucumber roll to shame. And for a nightcap? Pine Box Rock Shop in Bushwick is an all-vegan bar, so not only can you be sure their (mostly local) craft beer and wine are free of animal byproducts, but their talented bartenders make classic and seasonal cocktails, always without dairy or egg whites. 

Vegan sushi

Photographer: Joshua Resnick

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