Relatively cheap restaurants in Manhattan that have good vegetarian options?
August 18, 2009 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Relatively cheap restaurants in Manhattan that have good vegetarian options?

I'll be in Manhattan August 22-24 and I need suggestions of places to eat for someone on a budget who is a vegetarian going with another person who isn't. I'm flexible on location, but ideally in the Midtown East or East Village areas.
posted by exolstice to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
i don't go to new york without going to red bamboo. i'm sitting here, salivating, thinking about their food right now and i'm in oklahoma, unable to do anything about it.

it's all vegetarian, but i've gone with many a meat eater who seemed to love it as well. the yelp reviews i linked seem to bear that out.
posted by nadawi at 3:42 PM on August 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Angelica Kitchen at 300 East 12th St. in the East Village is a very good, affordably-priced vegetarian restaurant.
posted by dacoit at 3:44 PM on August 18, 2009

In the East Village on 6th street (I think between First Avenue and A) are a line of Indian restaurants. They are dirt cheap, food's pretty good, and are decked out in crazy Christmas decorations. Lots of vegetarian options :-)

Also, there is

Veselka's. It's Ukrainian, plenty of veggie options, and the food is amazing. Very reasonable prices.

Cafe Mogador. It's Moroccan. Great food. Reasonable prices.

Why Curry? It's Thai. Great food. Reasonable prices.
posted by xammerboy at 3:49 PM on August 18, 2009

It's all-vegetarian (and certified kosher to boot!) but Pongal at 110 Lexington Ave is very good for South Indian-style food. I ate there a few weeks ago and was very pleased with the food, the prices are modest (for Manhattan), and the atmosphere is like eating dinner in a Seinfeld episode. (Go - you'll see what I'm talking about.)
posted by Quietgal at 3:52 PM on August 18, 2009

Just wanted to add that my wife just said she could eat every meal at Veselka's for the rest of her life and be happy...
posted by xammerboy at 3:53 PM on August 18, 2009

Counter is a great vegetarian restaurant in NYC. I'm a dedicated meat eater, and was skeptical of vegetarian dining, but this restaurant made me change my mind.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 4:05 PM on August 18, 2009

I used to love Kate's Joint at 4th St and Avenue B. All vegetarian burger joint/diner. I'd also recommend Old Devil Moon, but it looks like it's closed now. Sigh. All the good ones go too soon.
posted by The Michael The at 4:13 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mamoons (sp?) - I think is still there (I haven't lived in nyc for a few years) is on McDougal just off Washington Square Park West. Its super cheap (fucking delicious hummus/falafel sandwiches for $2!!)

Seconding Red Bamboo and Angelica Kitchen.

Atlas Cafe in the East Village is a fucking incredible vegan desert place...and you should try the Peanut Butter Bomb. It's on 2nd.

Dojo! Huge menu, tons of veg/vegan options, cheap beer and stiff drinks and super duper cheap. This was a staple for me during my poor days (not that they've ended). There's two locations. One is on St. Marks and the other is right by NYU off Broadway and 5th or 6th.
I highly recommend the cold sesame noodles.

It's not downtown, but Koronet's Pizza on Bway and 114th has ginormous slices of cheese pizza for something like $1.

Temple in the Village is a crazy place I love. It's on W 3rd. It's vegan only with a sort of Buddhist bent, but its a frickin' vegan buffet. Delicious.

And now for what is probably my favorite cheap eats place in Manhattan: Mama's. It's on East 3rd. First, there are portraits of mama's everywhere. Second, its sort of cafeteria style, only fucking amazing. Its all soul-food-ish. For $10 you get to choose three things - there's meat (fish, chicken) and there are tons of veggie options (usually mac n cheese, potatoes, bok choy - all sorts of crazy stuff). They put HUGE portions on your plate, like usually one dish takes half the plate, the second the other half, and the last they just put on top of everything. Its really enough for two meals. And its absofuckinglutely delicious.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:33 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh...yeah seconding Kate's.

Counter I would avoid - it's super spendy and really annoying in that yuppie asshole way. Its like the symbol of gentrification downtown. I'm surprised its still there, actually.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:35 PM on August 18, 2009

Seconding Red Bamboo. Incredible food, even better vegan pies.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:56 PM on August 18, 2009

Dimple on West 30th Street used to be cheap, Indian takeaway/super-casual that was remarkably good. They renovated it and made it into more of a sitdown place with table cloths, so I imagine its a bit more expensive, but probably still very affordable. Unfortunately, I haven't been since the renovation, so there's a risk that Dimple is going to fall victim to the Indian Food Cost Paradox (wherein the more expensive a meal is, the less tasty it is). When I last went to Dimple though, the food was so good you might not notice it was vegetarian, everything's just really good.

How serious is your vegetarian friend? Some of these places, like Veselka and Mama's, are the kind of places where I bet the cooks put like kielbasa in the sauerkraut.

In the fast food category, I'm recovering from an addiction to Kati Roll, and some of their best stuff is vegetarian. In the super-cheap category and in the vegan category is the Dosa Cart on Washington Square Park. Unlike the aforementioned Mamoon's, this guy would be remarkable if he _wasn't_ insanely cheap, just cause the dosas are so tasty. Mamoon's pretty standard falafel and stuff, its just really really a good deal.

Re: Counter: a symbol of gentrification? In the East Village? Pretty sure that ship sailed around the time my grandma bought the Rent original cast recording.
posted by jeb at 5:00 PM on August 18, 2009

I will rush to the defence of Mama's! No, they have many items that are strictly vegetarian! Ask and they will tell you! Its mostly served by the people who make it! And they don't even make sauerkraut or kielbasa!

I'm a vegan. I don't take using pork juice to cook vegetables in lightly.

Counter: a symbol of gentrification? In the East Village? Pretty sure that ship sailed around the time my grandma bought the Rent original cast recording.

Not an answer to the question. And Counter is one of thousands of symbols of the present-day gentrified version of the already gentrified east village of '96, which itself was a gentrified version of the east village of the 80's, which was a gentrified...wait...i see where this is going...
posted by Lutoslawski at 5:27 PM on August 18, 2009

I'm not a vegetarian myself, but I like the vegetarian food (all of it) at the Ayurveda Cafe (Amsterdam Ave at 94th Street.) The meals are a set menu (rotating) of vegetarian items and you're given a number of different dishes. It's very inexpensive.
posted by Jahaza at 5:27 PM on August 18, 2009

Err... It's also nowhere near your desired area... but other folks might want to check it out!
posted by Jahaza at 5:28 PM on August 18, 2009

Seconding Dojo, with an preference for the NYU location.
posted by kimdog at 5:40 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

For downtown, another vote for Veselka. Try their vegetarian combination plate - can't go wrong with that.

Another good call is the Hummus Place, which has a few locations downtown. In the same vein, I'll also second Mamoun's (which is not a sit-down place) and speak up for Olive Tree Cafe right next door (which is).

Of course, a great vegetarian option is always pizza. There are endless awesome places. Downtown, I like Lombardi's and John's (on Bleecker) best. Both are coal-oven, which I personally favor.

Midtown east is going to have fewer good, cheap options, though there are Indian places in Curry Hill (including some vegetarian ones). Franchia is a vegetarian Korean place on 35th & Park - it's decent, but I'm not sure it's ideal for someone on a budget.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 5:46 PM on August 18, 2009

For the record, I'm the vegetarian, and I'm certainly not vegan, but I'd be pretty unhappy about kielbasa in my "vegetarian" sauerkraut.
My friend however is definitely a meat eater, hence the reason I asked about places with good vegetarian options.

I'll probably print this out & take it with me; great suggestions so far, keep 'em coming. Thanks.
posted by exolstice at 5:57 PM on August 18, 2009

Also, I'd be pretty surprised if Veselka was a "kielbasa in the sauerkraut" kind of place. They specifically highlight vegetarian options on their menu, so they seem to try to be deliberately vegetarian-friendly. You could always ask if you're concerned (though I admit I never have - I prefer to follow a don't ask, don't tell policy).

Oh, and you can look up menus for most places at Menu Pages.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 6:07 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's not particularly inexpensive but Blossom is very good.
posted by cazoo at 6:13 PM on August 18, 2009

i'm not a vegetarian and i'm thirding dojo.
posted by violetk at 6:27 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Want sit-down? Westville is your place. They have two branches and one is in the East Village. Make sure to check out the "market" options on the menu--basically a huge selection of delightfully prepared vegetables. Read the reviews on Yelp to hear more people rave about it.

(And, by the way, Yelp has tons of reviews for Manhattan restaurants in general).
posted by sashapearl at 6:36 PM on August 18, 2009

"East Village," my ass. It was Alphabet City in my day, back when Tompkins Square Park was full of drug dealers and not $800 baby strollers.

Sorry, just having a "you kids get off my lawn" moment.

I can tell you for certain that they do not put meat in the vegetarian offerings at Veselka; one of my most neurotically obsessive-compulsive vegetarian friends eats there almost exclusively. (Where they did do stuff like make the potato pancakes with chicken broth was at the Kiev, which has now closed.)

Red Bamboo is always a win. Mamoun's Falafel, which has a new location right on St. Mark's Place, is still flourishing. If you're over in the West Village, Taim Falafel is always good and a little more inventive (it's sort of nouveau Israeli-style falafel).
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:48 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love Rice - the one in Dumbo has a beautiful deck, but there are a couple in Manhattan as well.
posted by setanor at 6:56 PM on August 18, 2009

Almost the entire staff of Counter -- and its menu -- has changed in the last 5-6 months -- the Counter you knew is perhaps not the Counter that is. I have not been since the radical changes occurred, but since the owner hasn't changed, just the kitchen/bar staff, (and based on their email newsletter, which I still get), I'll guess that the spendy/trendy element is still entirely present.

FWIW, this vegan thought that Blossom was overrated, Angelica Kitchen is the classical vegetarian restaurant choice (and has universally yummy desserts), and if you're really on a budget you should go with the Indian/Thai/etc options other people have mentioned.
posted by obliquicity at 7:30 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dosa guy for vegetarian Indian dosas (crepes) on West 4th and Sullivan St, Saturday lunch or an early dinner. The guy won the very first "Vendy Award" (annual award for the best street food). As a bonus you can eat in the nearby Washington Sq Park!

Also, Taim on Waverly reputedly has the best falafel in the city.

Lastly, Lulu's Sweet Apothecary sells vegan desserts.
posted by chalbe at 8:07 PM on August 18, 2009

Yes, I love the Dosa Guy. In Midtown, the Kwik Meal Cart has excellent falafel for the veggie and lamb for carnivores. The Kati Roll Company is cheap and delicious and has two locations and lots of options for veggies and carnivores.
posted by melissam at 8:18 PM on August 18, 2009

ARG!!!! This post is making me pine for these delicious veg eateries of the nyc.

Fair about Counter - like I said I haven't live there for awhile, so I don't really know.

Also I'd like to second Rice...I used to live around the corner from Rice on Broom St, and it's fucking delicious and not too spendy.

Hey, can someone maybe go to rice and mama's and ship some foods to me???
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:30 PM on August 18, 2009

Galaxy Global Eatery on 15th and Irving, a block east of Union Square, has meat, vegetarian, and vegan options. Full bar, decent prices (not super cheap, but reasonable), and you can bring people from the whole dietary spectrum.

Curly's Vegetarian Lunch on 14th between 1st and 2nd has delicious food, and the portions are big. It's also reasonably priced. There's a pizza place next door called Artichoke that has vegetarian slices too, though I don't know how much they are. I just know they are huge and delicious.

Seconding Lula's Sweet Apothecary and Atlas Cafe for vegan desserts.
posted by bedhead at 8:38 PM on August 18, 2009

Yes, I was just about to mention Artichoke. Slices are $3-$4. I miss them.

Also, I'm surprised no one has mentioned Gobo. It's entirely vegetarian, and maybe a bit more expensive than you'd like ($15-$20 entrees), but I think it's worth it. (Click on "Taste" to get the menus.)
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:45 PM on August 18, 2009

Well, Gobo is a fucking delicious place - and admittedly one of my favorite restaurants in all of new york. But it is really spendy.

If you go there, get the yam and yucca fries, because they will give you orgasms.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:03 PM on August 18, 2009

Red Bamboo: good but popular, so be prepared to wait.
Kate's: seconded, although it can get a little greasy. I liked their bread basket though.
Rhong Tiam: Thai, run by a guy from the north of Thailand, and it's a level above anything else
Artichoke: only the square slice is good, the signature artichoke slice is fine but very heavy and creamy. Alsothere's always a line, it's hot inside, and there's nowhere to sit. So not really a good place for a sit down dinner.
Indian: East Village on 6th street is Curry Row and pales in comparison to Curry Hill in the 20s by Lexington. Skip 6th Street Indian, go uptown for your Indian fix. I like Chennai Garden (but only dosa), or Tiffin Wallah.
Veselka's: I think you mean Veselka, singular.
Counter: agree that it is going to be expensive in comparison to the other options listed.
Maumoun's: there's a "u" in the name
Dojo: tasteless, terrible, I'll never go there again, and the location St Marks closed a while ago, it's now a Pinkberry.
Westville: caveat, make sure you're OK with the menu. Some vegetarians are unhappy about "making a meal out of sides" which is what the market vegetable plate is.
Rice: very hit or miss. Curry and noodles, mediocre. A friend swears by the vegetarian meatballs.
Crif Dogs: deep fried hot dogs, NJ style. They have vegetarian dogs.

For dessert: if you're not vegan then go to Chikalicious Dessert Club (best soft serve in the neighborhood), Momofuku Milk Bar (best oddball cookies), Birdbath (croissants, cookies), or Butter Lane (best cupcakes).
posted by kathryn at 12:35 AM on August 19, 2009

Several good suggestions in this thread (and a few terrible ones: as kathryn points out, Dojo is absolute garbage). Pongal, mentioned upthread, is particularly strong. I'd add Pukk (all vegetarian, extremely affordable Thai) and Tsampa (Tibetan) to the list.
posted by saladin at 5:46 AM on August 19, 2009

I'm waaay late to the thread, but there's an excellent vegetarian dim sum place in Chinatown, on Pell Street near the intersection of Doyers. I was introduced to it by some vegan friends a few years ago, when we fed 6 people for $30, and went there again just a couple days ago.

We also went to Blossom, which was pretty good, even for me as a non-vegetarian. It is a bit pricey, and their menu is more about using meat substitutes than truly making things that don't depend on meat.

I also went to Mamoun's years ago, back when you could get a falafel sandwich and a can of soda for $3, and I can confirm its excellence, at least in the past.
posted by LionIndex at 12:07 PM on August 23, 2009

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