What are the best vegan restaurants in New York?
August 8, 2015 8:39 PM   Subscribe

What are the best vegan restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan? Do vegan chicken and waffles exist?

I'm visiting NYC for a week and want to find the best vegan food (at various price points?) Is there an upscale/fancy vegan restaurant for a special date with my wife?
posted by mrgrimm to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Red Bamboo! Only been there a couple times, but it was amazing.
posted by mermaidcafe at 8:56 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Dirt Candy is vegetarian but almost all of their dishes can be made vegan if you ask.
posted by Fuego at 9:30 PM on August 8, 2015

Depends on what kind of vegan food you like. Personally, I would prefer an indian restaurant, because I don't like fake meat, but unfortunately, I don't know what is good indian in NYC. If you do like fake meat, we just got taken to Blossom in Chelsea by some friends, and it was pretty good.
posted by yeolcoatl at 9:31 PM on August 8, 2015

Candle 79 is fancy.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:33 PM on August 8, 2015

Oh, also I bet Hangawi would be fine with vegan.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:37 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

2nd Candle for fancy. I would have their seitan shipped to me if I could.
posted by ovenmitt at 10:08 PM on August 8, 2015

Best answer: For a special meal, the best vegetarian restaurant in New York is probably Dirt Candy, but you may need to plan ahead to get a seat. They will "do" vegan. I can't remember if I've eaten vegan there, but they have a very skilled and attentive kitchen and I think they will do a great job.

Candle and Blossom are both fine but Dirt Candy is actually special, probably the only restaurant of its kind to get a Michelin notice and you can tell the difference.

For something like "vegan chicken and waffles," I think there are a couple places in North Brooklyn that do that kind of thing. The one I can think of is Foodswings -- wait, never mind, they are closed permanently. I have never made it to Champs, which is supposed to be a "vegan diner" -- hey look, they actually claim to have vegan chicken and waffles.

I have been to Red Bamboo and don't recommend it. Hangawi I also didn't enjoy, although I am willing to accept some of the blame for that -- it seemed extremely austere, vegan by way of sticks and branches.

For only vegetarian, there are many good Indian options, but I find it hard to tell which items are vegan. Butter tends to get places.

But: try to get to Dirt Candy.
posted by grobstein at 10:39 PM on August 8, 2015

I prefer Blossom (sorry, can't link) over all the vegan restaurants in NYC. I had quite a bad experience at the new Dirt Candy recently.

(Given the liberal use of ghee, most Indian food is not vegan)
posted by girl flaneur at 10:41 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had quite a bad experience at the new Dirt Candy recently.

Oh man I just experienced a surge of genuine anxiety. I hope you had bad luck . . . ? I have not been since the move.
posted by grobstein at 10:45 PM on August 8, 2015

Yeah, I really liked the old Dirt Candy, so I was sad. Maybe just growing pains, but a number of online reviews I read after the meal voiced some of the same concerns.
posted by girl flaneur at 10:49 PM on August 8, 2015

Best answer: Low Price Point: Vegetarian Dim Sum House is greasily fantastic. Have you ever had vegan dim sum? You should! Buddha Bodai is a good option for more standard Chinese food.

Mid Price Point: internet fraud detective squad, were you thinking of Bunna Cafe in Bushwick for Ethiopian? That place is great and 100% vegan. Blossom is a little too fake-meat for my taste, but what they do, they do well. Angelica Kitchen is a good option for what I guess you'd call Asian-inspired hippie food.

High Price Point: Pure Food and Wine is mostly raw, and very weird, and they've had strange management issues, but the food there was decent when I had it. And, as everyone says, Dirt Candy is just on another level -- I've had two of my best meals ever there. I haven't been since they moved though...

Super-High Price Point: It looks like Mario Batali's one-Michelin-star Del Posto has a vegan tasting menu, if you're interested, for $149? If you want to spend serious money, call around, you can probably get most of New York's fanciest restaurants to put something together.
posted by goingonit at 6:22 AM on August 9, 2015

Best answer: The Del Posto vegan tasting menu is great - even the dessert was fantastic (which is rare in non-vegan restaurants)! If that's in your budget, you should go here. The service is also phenomenal. They start taking reservations exactly a month before your reservation date, so you need to plan ahead to get a decent reservation time.

Kajitsu is another Michelin-starred option. You have to reserve well in advance. I had a wonderful experience there.

I haven't been to Dirt Candy since the move, but I really liked the old restaurant - I've been probably 10 times and 9 of those have been pretty excellent. I did have one badly done meal there, but I just let it go as an off night, so I can't speak to how they'd fix any problems you ran into.

Blossom is great if you stick to the seitan - veg - potato dishes, they start to get onto shaky ground when they make non-European-influenced foods. Their casual places, Blossom Du Jour, are wonderful for quick lunches. They're good at dessert.

On the less fancy end of the spectrum, Bunna Cafe and Beyond Sushi are two of my favorite casual places. I don't like brunch, so I never wind up going to Champs, but many of my friends love it. Peacefood is good too (the chickpea fries are amazing), kind of verging on too expensive for what it is, though. Terri isn't the best of the NYC's vegan places, but it's good and reliable for lunch (plus, there's one downtown, which isn't the greatest for vegan options).

I think Candle Cafe, Anglelica's Kitchen, and Franchia are wildly overrated and way too expensive, but Candle 79 and Hangawi are nice.

There's also John's of 12th Street, which is a red-sauce Italian place that developed a vegan menu because they were getting so much overflow from Angelica's Kitchen. I wasn't super impressed, but I know a lot of vegans who love it, so you may want to check it out.

For Indian, Chennai Garden/Tiffin Wallah (the weird name is because 2 places merged) labels their vegan options (as do a number of the South Indian places on Lexington in the 20s) and I always enjoy eating there. Dosa Delight in Jackson Heights is very bare-bones, but they also label vegan options and are great! One other dosa note - there's a food cart in Washington Square Park on weekdays that has fantastic dosas -- and it's all vegan.
posted by snaw at 7:14 AM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I forgot Taim, which is a vegetarian falafel place, but almost everything they serve is vegan. Best falafel I've had in NYC.
posted by snaw at 7:16 AM on August 9, 2015

If you're looking for a snack, Clementine Bakery in Brooklyn is quite good. Also second Buddha Bodai and Bunna Cafe.
posted by ferret branca at 7:56 AM on August 9, 2015

Not a specific recommendation, but I found having both the Happy Cow app and the Zagat app helpful for when you're just walking around and want to find the best vegan closest to your location.

I did have vegan chicken n waffles somewhere in Park Slope, but can't for the life of me recall where. Definitely not a special date place, though, regardless. There is a fair amount of vegan food in and around there or varying quality.

Seconding both Blossom & Candle. Both dependably very good.

For the special date I'd suggest either Candle 79 since I haven't been to the new Dirt Candy and the atmosphere is quite nice at Candle.

Pure Food & Wine is probably only best if your or your wife really dig raw. It is very good, but service & menu can vary.

For a fun aside, there are also a few places to get vegan ice cream. Van Leeuwen?

And just for one more fun aside: pick up some Kite Hill cheese from Whole Foods and a bottle of wine for a picnic in the park (you can only get Kite Hill at Whole Foods in the states. Worth it!)
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 8:35 AM on August 9, 2015

Caravan of Dreams.

Angelica's Kitchen is great. I know some people don't like it, but I don't know why.

Someone suggested Terri. No, Terri is not what you're looking for at all. It is not a date place. It is not "upscale" or even midscale — it's a place you might stop by for lunch if you worked near there. And even for that, it's mediocre.
posted by John Cohen at 8:41 AM on August 9, 2015

Several vegan fast casual places have opened up in the past month or so. One is By Chloe, but I haven't been there yet.

Of all the Blossom locations, Blossom on Carmine in the West Village is the best.

And you may want to check out the Vegan Shop-Up pop-up market.
posted by lunalaguna at 10:39 AM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, friendly vegans and vegan-friendly friends! Some great recs I had not heard of before. All of these answers were great!

I've been to Red Bamboo (I really liked it, but it was literally like 2003) and Dirt Candy (the old place, soon after it opened, I think, so wasn't packed yet). I'm pretty pan-vegan (I love salads, bakes, fake meats, raw food ...), so I'm easy. I care mostly about the really vegan part (i.e. I'd rather go to a place that's all vegan rather than will "do vegan.")

I've also done the vegan tasting menu (a gift) at French Laundry, so I've probably had enough super fancy restaurants for my life, lol.

I'm staying (I think) in Brooklyn Heights this week, so most of the fancy (or popular) places are out because of reservations timing, but lots of good selections here. I WILL be making the ~3 mile run over to Bushwick for Champs' vegan chicken and waffles (hopefully with gravy instead of syrup!), so I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Is Buddha Bodai the one down near Chinatown/Nolita? Right by the Hall of Justice or some old government building? I think I've been there and it was great. Little hole, I think.

I'll post back with any of my favorites. I am staying at a house with 8 other non-vegans and my wife (semi-vegan), so I'm not sure how much chance I will get but I always try...
posted by mrgrimm at 11:48 AM on August 9, 2015

Yep, Buddha Bodai is in Chinatown, and there's now a nicer newer one on Mulberry Street.

Forgot to mention By Chloe, too--ate there recently and thought it was excellent (definitely a casual atmosphere).
posted by ferret branca at 2:26 PM on August 9, 2015

Check out MOB in Brooklyn! They're not far from you, if you're in Brooklyn Heights. If you go for brunch they have "carrot bacon" which is completely delicious. Desserts were good too :)
posted by shaka_lulu at 10:48 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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