After adapting to a vegan lifestyle over the past year and a half, I now feel as though I am a bit of an expert in the vegan food critic category. I made it my mission to discover New York’s tastiest and most social media worthy vegan spots and trust me, even if you’re meat and dairy’s biggest fan, you will not have to be held against your will at any of these restaurants. So, the next time you’re looking for a break from the selfies on your Instagram profile, and need to appear less self-absorbed, use that next photo wisely at one of these plant-based hot spots.
The best way to test a vegan restaurant’s excellence is to bring someone who isn’t plant based. And that’s exactly what I did. I brought our Founder and Editor in Chief, Mackenzie, to this East Village hot spot for the greatest experience we had that left Mackenzie saying she could be vegan because of this food. We told Manager Drew to surprise us and oh, did he choose the best options on the menu. To start, Cremini Mushroom Toast with onion marmalade, walnut puree, herbs de Provence and the unexpected topping, grapes, which absolutely made the toast and made us say, “BYEEE!” to avocado toast! Next, the entrees, Broccoli, and as you can tell from the picture this isn’t just your average broccoli dish, and Roasted Carrot. Both, being unexpectedly unique experiences. And for dessert, Almond Cake with apple butter. Yes, apple butter. Dreams do come true and you’ll find them (and us) under the hanging tree branches at the bar of Avant Garden.
Must haves: Cremini Mushroom Toast, Broccoli, Roasted Carrot, and Almond Cake.
BLOSSOM DU JOUR
Time after time I’ve heard the excuse that it’s too difficult to be vegan due to the lack of fast food options and that vegan food prep takes too long for those constantly on the go. Well, Blossom Du Jour has just proven this theory incorrect by having a nutrient filled menu that you grab n go or only wait a few minutes. I intend to eat healthy most of the time, although the photos of donuts and waffles may be contradictory to this statement, so with reasonable prices, multiple locations, and food like their Midtown Melt, you can’t miss this spot. Not only are their sandwiches perfect to make your Instagram followers jealous, your stomach will be a big fan as well. While I’ve had my fair share of buffalo cauliflower bites, these absolutely take the cake and again, could convince any meat eater to go cruelty-free.
Must haves: The Midtown Melt, Seitan Philly Cheese Steak, Protein Bowl, Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
When I first laid my eyes on Brooklyn’s vegan diner, I started singing the Hallelujah chorus, and there’s proof of that from a saved Snapchat video. By far, Champs Diner wins for the #1 Most Instagram-Worthy Vegan Restaurant as their menu is full of colorful shakes, pancakes, and other all day breakfast creations. While, yes, it is notorious for their greasier and more carb-filled options, they do have very promising healthy options, such as the Habibi Bowl and the Awesome Bowl. This is the restaurant to eat as much breakfast food as you desire at any time, claim one of the comfy yet trendy booths with a group of friends and stay a little too long. Being vegan doesn’t mean giving up bacon, sausage, or eggs as Champs can fill those needs with their tofu scramble, seitan and tempeh bacon, and soysage. BRB, calling a group and going there for their Pancake Slam now!
Must haves: Strawberry Shake, Tatertachos, Birthday Pancakes, Habibi Bowl, Mac and Cheese
While Penn Station isn’t anyone’s favorite place, one spot knows how to make me go there when I don’t have a train to take. After recently remodeling, The Cinnamon Snail is still at The Pennsy and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the number one restaurant to spend your money at. It’s currently taking so much strength for me to write about their Lentil Burger without drooling all over my keyboard and please do not think I am just being nice when I say that was by far the greatest vegan burger I have ever tasted in my entire life. Actually, scratch that, the greater burger, vegan and pre-veganism, period. Paired with any of their donuts and I quickly found myself in my actual vegan heaven. With a cinnamon roll bigger than my head, I was entirely infatuated with Cinnamon Snail, and I proudly announced that to everyone sitting around me, as I had the best time documenting and devouring their food. I highly recommend you follow my advice and find an excuse to get on a train or just head to Penn Station as soon as possible!
Must haves: Lentil Burger, Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich, EVERY donut
After visiting Jajaja, I suggested the restaurant to a friend who responded with, “Are you laughing in Spanish or is that the name of the restaurant?” Yes, not only did this spot come up with a name I’m jealous I didn’t think of, but their entire menu is pure brilliance. This is somewhere to bring vegans and non-vegans together for a few drinks, a feast and a lot of laughter. Occasionally, I miss tacos, but that craving was satisfied with the Chayote “fish tacos” and jackfruit tacos, which only confirmed that everything can be veganized and jackfruit is proving to be one of meat’s newest and strongest competitors. For dessert, I found myself crying tears of joy as churros appeared in front of me. I absolutely cannot stress enough the importance of making sure you don’t leave Jajaja churrito-less. I wanted to shrink myself and swim in the dulce de leche dipping sauce, it was that heavenly. For the rest of my life, the food at Jajaja will be on my most wanted list, and hopefully, yours too.
Must haves: Nachos, Beet-pumpkin Empanada, Chayote “Fish Taco”, Churritos!!
Who knew that the best medicine can be found on the Upper East Side in a space with checkerboard floors and bright colored walls. Le Botaniste makes you want to put self-care at the top of your to do list with “prescriptions” to revive your spirits and nutrients that tell your body, “thank you for working to keep me alive.” With the Tibetan Mama Rice Bowl as my potion of choice, I left this restaurant free of that post meal slump and instead, motivated to take a walk through Central Park to continue this day of treating my body right. I was lucky enough to have my sweet tooth craving satisfied with the Chia Seed Pudding, only leaving me with the desire that the jar should be larger. I must warn you, the secret is already out about Le Botaniste, as you may find if you arrive by lunchtime and must wait in a bit of a line. However, good things take time and I promise you, this medicine will leave you wanting to refill your prescription.
Must haves: Tibetan Mama Rice Bowl, Young Coconut Ceviche, Pasta al Mafiosi, Chia Seed Pudding
LITTLE CHOC APOTHECARY
I couldn’t be more thrilled to spill the tea on New York’s only vegan and gluten free creperie. You don’t have to trek to Manhattan for afternoon tea when Brooklyn’s Little Choc Apothecary offers a competitive menu right in trendy Williamsburg. I could find myself coming here every weekend (and post mating it on the weekends I’m too lazy to move.) I had the pleasure of speaking with the lovely pastry chef and mastermind, Julia Kravets, over milk and cookies, crepes, tea and wine to get the low down on what makes Little Choc so unique. Julia didn’t have to tell me anything as one glance at the menu, and one bite into the mint-basil pesto filled Garden of Eatin’ crepe, made me want to plaster ads all over the city for this restaurant. With homemade choc butter (Newtella) and chia jam oozing out, the sweet crepe also left my taste buds realizing this was something I had been missing my entire life. Finally, the afternoon tea menu would even make Eloise at The Plaza jealous. And that isn’t an exaggeration. Must haves: Garden of Eatin crepe paired with the white Terraces Wine, Sweet Crepe with Newtella and Chia Jam, Milk and Cookies
URBAN VEGAN KITCHEN
I beg of you to please run to Urban Vegan Kitchen the moment you stop reading this article. It’s worth the run, even in the unbearable heat and humidity. The moment you step inside, you will thank me, and if not then, then after you order the Mac N’ Cheese. Hands down, UVK wins my award of “Best Vegan Mac N Cheese” and that’s hard to earn. Make sure to check out the downstairs where you’ll be surrounded by pictures of legends and feel as though you’ve found yourself in a speakeasy. Once you’re done going back in time, order the most anticipated item, Chick-un and Waffles, and prepare to say, “Hail Seitan” as you bite into this cruelty-free delicacy. I am entirely confident that I could fool any chicken and waffles lover with this meal and make their jaws drop out of shock when they hear it is vegan! I hope my work here is done and you’ve already put Urban Vegan Kitchen in your maps and you’re now on your way! Must haves: Mac N Cheese, Chick-un and Waffles, Classic BLT
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