When it comes to vegan restaurants in New York City these days, a foodie has an overwhelming abundance of options. Over the past few years, vegan cuisine has become a respected genre unto itself, but New York’s diversity ensures that “eating vegan” can mean going out for anything from Mexican, Japanese, Korean or Chinese to raw, soul, or even Rasta.
There are far, far too many options to list, but as a vegan who lived in New York for a decade and often goes back to visit, I have a few opinions about the best places in the city to eat vegan. Here are a few of my top picks:
If you want to dine and drink where all the cool people are without completely breaking the bank, look no further than Jajaja, the new downtown vegan Mexican restaurant that is well worth the wait for a table. The ambiance is perfect for a date or catching up with a friend, and you should probably sample at least two different cocktails and tacos.
Order: Cilantro y mezcal cocktail, crispy chayote fish taco, Mexican street corn
Urban Vegan Kitchen
Urban Vegan Kitchen earns a spot not only for its stellar soul food, but for its emphasis on intersectional veganism and community building. Monthly “parleys” give vegans and the veg-curious a chance to dine with like-minded folks and wax poetic on topics ranging from dating as a vegan to intersections between race and food justice. A DJ is usually spinning all your favorite nostalgic music, and the vegan bar is fully stocked.
Order: Chickpea hush puppies, chick-un & waffles, happy shrimp po-boy
Ladybird is one of vegan restaurateur Ravi DeRossi’s newest restaurants, and it deserves more notice. His restaurants Avant Garden and Mother of Pearl garner a lot of press for serving up some of the best vegan food in New York, but Ladybird is a true gem for its attention to ambiance and wine-based cocktails. I spent hours chatting with the bartender on my last visit, and I’m still listening to the Spotify “Ladybird Dinner” playlist. Come here for a romantic conversation you can actually hear or for the cheaper late-night bar menu.
Order: Grapefruit bitters cocktail, zucchini pesto noodles, chardonnay & artichoke fondue
Peacefood Cafe is the perfect spot for anything from a business lunch to a crowd-pleasing dinner with friends. At this casual-yet-elegant restaurant, you can eat raw and super healthy or go richer with offerings like pizza and nachos. Those in the know always save room for dessert.
Order: Chickpea fries, sweet potato quiche, key lime pie
Le Botaniste is for people like me who can’t resist a healthy and flavorful bowl. This wine bar and vegan eatery lets you order at the counter but provides a chic atmosphere at relatively reasonable prices.
Order: Tibetan Mama rice bowl, pasta al mafiosi, coconut red fruit crumble
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Quintessence is one of the oldest raw food restaurants in NYC. The ambiance is calm and casual, and the food is elegantly crafted. Those who love fresh, unadulterated vegetables and raw desserts will be especially happy.
Order: Ginger latte, scallion cream cheese roll, savory crepe
Buddah Bodai has some of the best, most unpretentious Buddhist (AKA vegetarian) Chinese food you can find in NYC – dim sum included. The low prices, dynamic flavors and generous portions can’t be beat at this restaurant that also happens to be kosher.
Order: Stir-fried watercress, BBQ duck, tofu cheesecake
Clementine Bakery is one of the hottest new vegan spots in Brooklyn. The brunch, sandwich and bowl offerings are all delicious and reasonably priced, but it was the wide selection of baked goods (many of which are also gluten-free) that had me quickly addicted.
Order: Cheesy kale biscuits, bahn mi sandwich, buffalo bowl
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How Beyond Sushi hasn’t gone national yet is beyond me, although it’s certainly expanding rapidly across NYC. If you’ve never had innovative vegan sushi, try one of the four locations for a casual lunch or dinner and prepare to be both satisfied and amazed by how delectable plant-based Japanese food can be.
Order: Spicy mango roll, green tea noodle salad, wweet potato brownie
#Repost @compassion.and.carbs ・・・ Easter Brunch at @govindashou was worth the line🇮🇳 They always have the best salad bar and new and interesting things on their buffet. 🇮🇳 Check out the pot pie, deviled “eggs”, chia pudding, pasta, tofu scramble, lentils, pancakes, waffles and carrot muffins 🤤 Two days later and I’m still full. #Vegan #VeganFood #IndianFood #VeganFoodShare #VeganFoodPorn #VeganLife #VeganLifestyle #NoAnimalsHarmed #CrueltyFree #EatLikeYouGiveAFuck #Plantbased #VeganRestaurant #Easter #PlantbasedDiet #VeganIndianFood #Tofu #AnythingYouCanEatICanEatVegan #CompassionateLiving #Govindas #HoustonVegan #Houston #HoustonFood #EatPlants – we totally agree!
Located in the basement of a Krishna temple, this vegetarian spot in Boerum Hill is open only for lunch from 12 to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, but is well worth checking out. Healthy, flavorful and cheap, the delicious curries and other vegan offerings are served quickly at the counter, but eaten in a serene, meditative setting.
Order: Whatever’s offered that day, plus dessert!
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This little treasure is also located in the basement of a (Buddhist) temple in Sunset Park. The lead server is a true New York character, but don’t be surprised if you feel you’ve traveled to another world. The food itself is some of the best and cheapest Chinese I’ve had in New York, and the veggie meats especially shine. Don’t make me choose between Buddha Bodai and Lucky Vegetarian. I can’t and I won’t!
Order: Lamb stick, twice-cooked pork, stir-fried bok choy
Sacred Chow, another long-standing NYC vegan restaurant, is the perfect casual spot for grabbing brunch or dinner in Greenwich Village. Raw foodies will have plenty of options, as will those who prefer their food hot (New York deli style). You’ll definitely want to save room for dessert.
Order: Mexican latkes, Bubby Meyer’s “chopped liver” pastrami sandwich, chocolate truffle cake
Located in Bushwick, Bunna Cafe is a vegan restaurant that offers some of the best Ethiopian food in NYC, period. Go there for the traditional coffee ceremony and live music, and enjoy some addictive spiced lentils in the hip-but-unpretentious atmosphere.
Order: Pushkin cocktail, Habesha breakfast, veggie combo feast
While Dirt Candy is actually a vegetarian spot, everything on the menu can be made vegan, including the nine to ten courses on the tasting menu ($84), which is well worth saving up for. If you want to see some truly innovative vegan cooking, you will not be disappointed. The flavors are complex and the dishes are seasonal and beautifully presented. Come here for a special night out that’s sure to impress.
Order: Jalapeño hush puppies, Brussels sprouts tacos, celery cheesecake roll
This Bedstuy joint is all about affordable vegan comfort food at its best. Whatever your brunch or sandwich craving, this creative and unassuming hole in the wall has got you covered.
Order: Fried cauliflower, BBQ pulled jackfruit Sandwich, Breakfast Burrito
While Paulie Gee’s tends to get all the vegan pizza press, I’m partial to the all-vegan Double Zero, which serves some of the best pizza I’ve had. This wine bar and pizza place makes an excellent date spot and is the perfect place to prove you don’t have to give up amazing New York-style pizza or a delectable cheese plate just because you go vegan.
Order: Flora artisanal cheeseplate, farro fennel sausage pizza, white pizza
Delice & Sarrasin
If vegan French food seems challenging, you need to check out Delice & Sarrasin, which has veganized all – and I do mean pretty much all – the traditional French dishes. “Rich” and “surprising” don’t begin to cover it. Nobody can stop raving about this restaurant.
Order: Foie gras vegan, coq au vin, la bil crepe
Located in Koreatown, Hangawi offers an elevated dining experience. You’ll need to make a reservation and take your shoes off to get a table, but each dish is so purposefully crafted that it’s well worth planning out your favorite socks in advance. (Franchia Vegan Cafe, another Koreatown option, is an excellent runner-up.)
Order: Tofu kimchi hot pot, zen noodles, crispy mushrooms
Ital Kitchen is my favorite place to eat vegan in NYC. The food is more than tasty, but it’s the community that makes this place unique. You can watch chef Michael Gordon, who cooks all the food, work his magic or chill in the backyard for as long as you like when the weather permits. Come for the chill Rasta vibes, stay for the new friends.
Order: Curry jackfruit, turmeric stew, veggie jerk chicken burrito