A food lover’s guide to the best NYC restaurants offering vegan options

Oct 8, 2018

I frequently get asked for restaurant and entertainment suggestions from people who are visiting New York, and it all of a sudden struck me: Why on earth have I not written a blog post about this before? I love going out to eat and discover new gems, so this blog post will be updated frequently as new places pop up.

There are over 24,000 restaurants in Manhattan alone, and that’s not counting Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island.  Last time I checked there were nearly 32,000 listed on opentable.com, and that number has probably increased even as I’m writing this.  Most restaurants are willing to create vegan options or dishes if you ask, but the courteous thing to do is to call ahead and give the kitchen at least 24 hours notice.  Great chefs will welcome the opportunity to get creative, as long as it’s not in the middle of a Saturday night when they are slammed with the rest of their orders.

For the purpose of this article, I’m including places that either specialize in vegan food or that have particularly impressed me with their plant-based creations. It is impossible to include a comprehensive list, as things change, including my taste buds – but hopefully this list will be helpful in some ways.

Who am I to list these particular places? I’m a trained professional chef, a food blogger and have worked with food and wine for the past 15 years.  I was not always a vegan, in fact I was a chef and foodie way before I went plant based . This is why I feel I can express with some authority when restaurants get it right – because after all, food is food and should be able to please any discerning palate.  So food is kind of my obsession, if you will.  If you have favorites that I haven’t included – please post them in the comments!

Fine Dining Restaurants:

  1. AbcV.  This is celebrity chef Jean Georges Vongerichten’s vegetarian restaurant, located inside the ABC Carpet Home & Furnishing store in the Flatiron District of Manhattan . It has a gorgeous, bright dining room that gets particularly lively and filled with beautiful people at night.   This is a vegetarian restaurant, but has plenty of vegan options, and the vegetarian dishes can be veganized.  Whole roasted cauliflowers, dosas, delicately prepared vegetable side dishes and heartier noodles and grain bowls are on the menu. The wine list is also decent, although I’d double check on the vegan alternatives. This is a place you can take anyone – vegan or not, and everyone will be happy!
    Address:   38 E 19th Street, New York, NY 10003
    Phone:     (212) 475-5829
    Website:   https://www.jean-georges.com/restaurants/united-states/new-york/abcv

2. Nix.  Another vegetarian options with several vegan alternatives by Michelin-star chef John Fraser and              James Truman.  This is where I had the best hummus I’ve ever tasted, and their other dips are to die for                 as well.  I recommend the English pea dumplings, Tandoor roasted baby carrots and spicy tofu with                     hedgehog mushrooms, and you must have one (or three)  of their fabulous cocktails as well.
Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
Address:   72 University Place, New York, NY 10003
Phone:      (212) 498-9393
Website:   http://www.nixny.com/

3.  Double Zero NYC.  One of Matthew Kenney’s many restaurants, this one specializes in… pizza! I also love       the atmosphere here, casual, yet feels a bit upscale but not pretentious at all.  I would recommend just
about any pizza; their eggplant bacon and white pizza is to die for.  If you feel sad that you had to “give up”        pizza when going vegan, just go here, and you will see you are not missing a thing. They also have a a              wonderful artisinal cheese plate that’s great to enjoy with one of their many good wines (I recommend
the Nerello Mascalese). Open for dinner only on weekdays, brunch on weekends.
Address: 65 2nd avenue, New York, NY 10003
Phone:  (212) 777-1608
Website:  http://www.matthewkenneycuisine.com/double-zero-menus

3.  Bar Verde.  Right next door, is another Matthew Kenney’s place, this one has a unique take on Mexican-            inspired food. It’s not for everyone, and not a place if you’re expecting heavy, casual food. Instead, it is               more refined versions like cauliflower enchiladas, nachos with guacamole and butternut queso, ceviche
of hearts of palm and adobo carrot tacos.  If you like spicy cocktails, definitely have the Smoked Pineapple         Mezcalito, otherwise they have a good selection of Mexican and South American beers as well.
Open for dinner only during weekdays, brunch on weekends.
Address: 65 2nd avenue, New York, NY 10003
Phone:   (212) 777-6965
Website:  http://www.matthewkenneycuisine.com/bar-verde

4.  Avant Garden.  Also in the East Village and within walking distance from both Double Zero and Bar Verde,         is this gem; one of Ravi de Rossi’s many restaurants in the city.   A former artist turned restaurateur with a         mini-empire in the nightlife arena, he converted all his restaurants to plant-based just a few years ago.
Avant Garden is a tapas-inspired, vegetable focused, all vegan restaurant with tempting dishes like avocado
with carrot-ginger dressing, crispy rice and blistered shishito, sunchoke toast with olive, pistachio and pear          and paella with merguez royal trumpet, almonds and red pepper cream, it’s impossible to leave this place          not feeling inspired and happy to eat plant-based. Although small, the wine list is all natural and vegan, and        interesting even for a wine geek like myself. Open for dinner only, all days of the week.
Address: 130 E 7th Street, New York, NY 10009
Phone:   (646) 922-7948
Website:  https://www.avantgardennyc.com/

5. Ladybird.  Across the street from Avant Garden, by the same owner is Ladybird; a sleek, trendy place which     is also tapas based, focused on creative use of vegetables. The buffalo maitake buns and romesco toast are     my favorite, and the fondue is a fun dish to share as well. They also have a late night menu available after        11pm, which is for those that are out drinking late and get the munchies.  Dig into fried mozzarella sticks,
fried mac & cheese and poutine, to mention just a few amazing dishes. Select bottles of wine are also half
price at this time.
Address:  111 E 7th Street, New York, NY 10009
Phone:    (917) 261-5524
Website:  http://www.ladybirdny.com/

6.  XYSTNYC.  My 3rd Matthew Kenney restaurant recommendation, located in Chelsea. There is a reason I          love his food; it is colorful and pleasing to the eye, creative and also light to consume. This is a                           Mediterranean inspired restaurant and offers everything from halloumi cheese made from cashews serve
with za’atar crackers and cast iron socca with green herb puree to green pea and fava falafels and
smoky baba ganoush, I love this meze inspired menu paired with friendly and professional service. A perfect      place to have a 5 star meal in a pretty, yet casual setting.
Address:  44 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011
Phone:  (212) 727-2979
Website:  http://www.matthewkenneycuisine.com/xyst

7. Dirt Candy. This is an all vegetarian restaurant by James Bear nominated and Iron Chef Amanda Cohen,          located on the lower East Side, but can make almost all their  dishes vegan.  A pretty cool aspect of this             place is that unlike everywhere else in NYC, it’s a no tip restaurant.
Come here if you’re ready for a serious meal, as they don’t offer a la carte options, but two different tasting         menus; the Vegetable Patch, about 5 courses ($61, tip included) and The Vegetable Garden which consists
of about 9-10 courses ($93, tip included). Add a wine pairing to this and factor in an additional $65.  If you           think vegetables are boring, come here and have your mind blown!  Open daily for dinner.
Address:  86 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002
Phone: (212) 228-7732
Website: http://www.dirtcandynyc.com

Casual/ Comfort Food:

  1. Modern Love Brooklyn.  Owned and operated by my favorite vegan comfort food chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, this is a place you want to go when you’re not counting calories but just want great, tasty food.  Everything from her signature “mac & shews” to chorizo nachos, chickpea cutlet parmesan and modern burrito bowls, makes you so happy to be vegan!  Don’t miss out on dessert here if you know what’s good for you. Her brownies with vanilla ice cream is a must, but get a couple dishes to share and seriously consider the tiramisu and caramel apple sundae too. Worth the trek to Brooklyn x 10!  Brooklyn is also vegan heaven, so you can make a day out of it and visit several places.
    Address: 317 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
    Phone:  (929) 298-0626
    Website:  http://www.modernlovebrooklyn.com/
  2.  Blossom. This restaurant has been open for more than a decade, and have locations in Chelsea and the Upper West Side. Think sandwiches, burgers, salads, french toast, tofu benedicts, lasagne and burritos, it has all the basics covered, and also serves an organic wine and drinks menu. To me, this has a real NYC feel and a great experience for anyone visiting the city. Open daily for lunch and dinner and brunch on the weekends.
    Address #1: 187 9th Avenue, New York, NY  (Chelsea)
    Phone:  (212) 627-1144
    Address #2: 507 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY (Upper West Side)
    Phone:  (212) 875-2600
    Website: http://www.blossomnyc.com/
  3. Beyond Sushi.  If you’re a sushi lover,  don’t skip this place. Quite the institution in NYC by now, it is known for making creative sushi rolls combining fruits and vegetables paired with flavorful, tofu-based sauces.  Think mango, pickled jalapeno, sweet potato, jicama and of course..avocado.  In addition to sushi, they serve noodles, dumplings and soups. Fitting for both eating in and taking out, it’s one of those places you should experience.  Locations in Nolita, Financial District, 56th street, 37th street, Union Square and Chelsea that are open daily from either 11am or 12pm to 9:30pm.
    Address:  Varies, see website
    Phone:    Varies, see website
    Website: https://beyondsushi.com/
  4. The Cinnamon Snail.  This started as a food truck and has expanded to two brick-and mortar locations; once inside Penn Station, near Madison Square Gardens and the other in the Financial District. This is a place for sandwiches and salads for a quick lunch, such as their  Korean fried chicken sandwich. Try their basil grilled banh mi or gochujang-glazed crispy seitan with kimchi, pickled red onions, arugula, and sriracha mayo. Of course you must try their donuts, many of the pastry options are also gluten free.  I particularly like their “If you don’t like puppies, rainbows and unicorns, you will hate our food” on the front of their website 🙂
    Address #1: 2 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10121
    Phone:  (212) 695-7454
    Address #2:  70 Pine Street, New York, NY 10270
    Phone:  (917) 261-4530
    Website:  https://www.cinnamonsnail.com/
  5. The Butchers’ Daughter.   While not 100% vegan, they have many delicious plant-based options, and is one of my favorite places to go for brunch in the city.  With three different locations in New York (Nolita, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the West Village) and one in LA, the Butcher’s Daughter call themselves a ‘vegetable slaughterhouse’, treating fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat; chopping, filleting and carving fresh produce into healthy vegetarian dishes and press them into pretty juices. From muesli and coconut yogurt parfait, to waffles, spicy kale caesar salad and smashed avocado toast, it’s easy to eat a delicious, healthy plant based meal.  They make their own almond milk and their lattes and matchas are awesome! Many gluten free options too, and their produce is often from local and organic farms.
    Address: depends on location (refer to website)
    Phone:    depends on locatin (refer to website)
    Website:  https://www.thebutchersdaughter.com


Honorable mention and categories:

Healthy Option:

Le Botaniste. This is Le Pain Quotidien’s organic and vegan spin-off with a cool apothecary look: the servers are in lab coats, and the menu items are called “prescriptions” with the main phrase “Let food be thy medicine”.  Their food is a mix of macrobiotic and Mediterranean cuisine and they have a nice selection of natural wines.  I love their potato bacalao, red beet caviar and pea mint hummus, and they also have a nice mezze plate, seaweed tartare and several nice soups. Open daily from 11am-9pm.
Address:   several (refer to website)
Phone:      several (refer to website)
Website: http://www.lebotaniste.us/

Cool Spot: 

Urban Vegan Kitchen.  This is a cool, speak-easy looking spot in the West Village with live music at night, it’s open daily from 11am-11pm.  Think bar food with a southern twist like fried okra, “shrimp” po’boys, seitan and gravy as well as chickpea hush puppies. Fresh juices, cocktails, wines and kombucha are available. A great place to go to show people that vegan food can do comfort food well and is more than bland tofu, kale and quinoa. I love this place because the owners call themselves animal activists, but do it in the kitchen – just like me!
Address:  41 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014
Phone:  (646) 438-9939
Website:  https://urbanvegankitchen.com

Look out for my next guide coming soon:  Best places to drink wine in NYC!


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