In one of the most vegan friendly cities in the world, it can still be a challenge to decide which of the dozens of vegan and vegetarian restaurants to try out during a visit to the Big Apple. Even if you are a New York City resident, the choice on where to eat out can be overwhelming. Having lived here for over a year, I still haven’t been able to try all of the amazing vegan friendly spots in this massive metropolis, but I’ve made a good dent and am thrilled to share my experiences with you!
Each of the eleven restaurants listed below are 100% vegan; meaning they do not use any animal products; including dairy and meat. If you happen to eat meat, don’t let “vegan” derail you. The food at each restaurant is thoughtfully created, flavorful and memorable. We are sure this list of the best vegan restaurants in New York City will satiate any food lover.
11 of the best vegan restaurants in New York City
1. Peacefood Cafe: Peacefood Cafe is a trendy restaurant with two locations – one just south of Union Square on 11th and University Place and the other on the Upper West Side on Amsterdam and 82nd. The Downtown location is spacious and has an energetic vibe. Peacefood Uptown is a much smaller space and the clientele there is slightly older and is a favorite of families. Peacefood Cafe has the best dumplings my taste buds have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. The mushroom dumplings are authentically made with a recipe straight from China. My other favorite item on the Peacefood menu are their paninis. Their French horn mushroom panini is savory and satisfying (can you tell I like mushrooms?) and their seitan medallion panini is the best panini I’ve ever had- be sure to add avocado. Don’t forget about Peacefood’s extensive bakery filled with everything from house-made cheesecakes to raspberry crumb bars to savory veggie biscuits. I’ve never left Peacefood without getting dessert, even when I was so full I thought I’d never eat again. Their bakery items are impossible to miss. Great for groups, a quick lunch or a late afternoon coffee and dessert- each location has free WiFi. Visit their site for more information.
2. Blossom: There is not one, not two, but FOUR unique Blossom restaurants in NYC, including V-Note. Blossom on Carmine is a little on the dressier side, but you can get away with wearing casual or dressy attire to all four locations. V-Note is perfect for a late night dinner or a semi-casual date. The food presentation is impressive at all locations. I can always count on the Blossom restaurants to offer a variety of delicious vegan dishes from sandwiches, to pastas, to creative appetizers like mushroom calamari . They recently closed their Upper West Side location and opened a renovated version just a few blocks away at 507 Columbus Ave, between 84th and 85th. The service is spectacular at each location. Some of my favorite dishes include the mushroom ravioli, gnocchi and seitan scallopini. Don’t miss out on their extensive vegan and organic wine list and house-made desserts (they have an all vegan bakery in Chelsea on 9th street that you definitely need to visit!). For more information, visit Blossom’s website.
3. Candle Cafe: Candle Café is similar to Blossom in that it has multiple locations around the city and offers a gourmet twist on American vegan food. Candle Cafe, the casual version of the Candle brands, is located on the Upper East Side and their two fine dining spots are located on the Upper East Side (Candle 79) and on the Upper West Side (Candle Cafe West). Each location serves a great weekend brunch along with lunch and dinner service. Candle’s dishes are a bit pricier compared to some of the other vegan restaurants in the area, but thanks to Executive Chef Jorge Pineda, their quality and commitment to serving crave-worthy food is worth the spend. Be sure to go to Candle Cafe or Candle 79 hungry and order a bunch of plates to share; the Cesar salad, tomato-avocado tartar, seitan picatta and a few glasses of organic wine are a must at Candle 79. If you are in the mood for a cocktail, check out their list of Eco-cocktails- my favorite is the “Fair Play”. If you are in the mood for a more casual dining experience, try the crispy Cajun salad, BBQ jackfruit tacos, manicotti and the mac and cheese at Candle Cafe. For any of you who enjoy celeb sightings- I should note that the Candle locations are common celebrity hang outs, especially Candle 79. Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Clinton and Christie Brinkley have repeatedly been spotted there. For more information, visit their site.
4. Sacred Chow: Sacred Chow is a little hole in the wall restaurant in Greenwich Village, located just a few blocks south of my favorite park in NYC- Washington Square Park. With so much character, you’re bound to have a comforting and delicious experience. My favorite dishes there are the grilled nama gori panini- nama gori tofu steaks and mustard-garlic sauce served with steamed collard greens. The banana french toast is also incredible. They start with a thick slice of banana pound cake and drench it in a wild blueberry sauce. Be sure to try a variety of the vegan tapas dishes. It’s fun to mix and match, to create a meal filled with variety and a flavor spectrum. Great for groups. Check out the menu here.
5. Champs Diner: Who doesn’t love a good diner? I have memories of going to Denny’s in the middle of the night with my friends in high school and devouring lots of unhealthy food over laughs and gossip. Thanks to Champs, today I get to enjoy a cruelty-free version of my favorite diner foods! Champs has the best vibe, decor and of course, FOOD! Located in Brooklyn on Meserole Street, this authentic diner upgraded to being 100% vegan since relocating from it’s former location on Lorimer Street. My favorite items on the menu are their red-velvet pancakes, their chik’n pesto sandwich and their delicious Benedict bowl. As fate would have it, an award-winning, vegan doughnut shop, Dunwell Doughnuts is right down the street. So after your diner meal you can head over and stuff your already-full tummy with some incredible vegan doughnuts (or just take them to go for later). For more information visit Champs website.
6. Beyond Sushi: I guarantee you will LOVE Beyond Sushi. Even if you aren’t a sushi fan, you have to trust me on this one. A tiny “hole in the wall” restaurant located in Union square, housing only three small tables for dine-in guests (mainly takeout). Beyond sushi offers a mix of all vegan sushi rolls, wraps (spring rolls), hand rolls, sushi bites and an array of non-alcoholic drinks, salads, soups and desserts. Beyond Sushi creates the most beautiful, artistic and flavorful food I’ve ever eaten. With a unique mix of veggies, exotic rice, fruit, tofu, and a other specialty ingredients, the presentation and taste of their food is far beyond any other sushi I’ve ever eaten. Check out the rotating roll of the month, rainbow roll, nutty buddy wrap, spicy mang roll and strawberry-kiwi-yuzu juice. Prepare to have your mind blown. Visit their site for more information.
7.Hangawi: Boasting an all vegan gourmet twist on authentic Korean cuisine, Hangawi restaurant in Midtown is a must. Think bibimbap, hot pots, dumplings, salads, kimchi, loads of veggies and exotic rice. Diners are asked to remove their shoes upon entry, which just adds to the experience. The cocktail list is exotic- be sure to try one of the nongju cocktails. Hangawi is great for groups. Visit their site for more information.
8. Franchia: Also located in Midtown, Franchia is the sister restaurant to the popular, Hangawi, and offers an eclectic spin on American-Asian cuisine. Be sure to try a variety of their tapas and small plates and order a few entrees, noodle dishes and bibimbap to share. The spicy vegan crab cakes, samosa rolls, sweet corn cilantro pancakes and their steamed dumplings are a must. Franchia has an Asian inspired wine and cocktail list as well as hot and cold teas. The menu is huge and you really can’t go wrong with anything. Great for groups. For more information, visit their site.
9. Red Bamboo: With only about 10 tables, this charming American (with some Asian influence) vegan restaurant will satisfy any meat or plant-eater alike. Located in the heart of the West Village, just a few blocks from Washington Square Park makes Red Bamboo easily accessible by train. Because of its size and popularity, there’s always a line out the door. But don’t let the wait detour you, it’s worth it! Red Bamboo’s extensive food menu pairs perfectly with the array of vegan wines. I highly recommend the BBQ Buffalo wings, dumplings, Philly cheese steak sandwich and crab Rangoon. For more information visit their site.
10. Caravan of Dreams: Set in the lower level of an all brick building, Caravan of Dreams offers a unique and cozy elevated vegan dining experience that will delight even the pickiest of eaters. With a full section of raw vegan cuisine, cooked options, and an extensive dessert menu; guests enjoy a wide range of crave-worthy vegan dishes. My first visit to Caravan of Dreams was one of the first times I ever ordered a raw plant-based dish and I was pleasantly surprised. Today, I always get a mix of raw and cooked dishes when I go because they do both so well. Their raw pizza and raw spaghetti with “meatballs” are my favorite raw dishes on their menu. Be sure to try their cooked tri-colored pasta or ravioli as well and an order of their warm banana Nutella royale for dessert. For more inforomation click here.
11. Terri: With two quick serve locations in New York City (Chelsea & Financial District), Terri is perfect for grabbing a quick and healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, smoothie, fresh pressed juice, dessert or shake on the fly. My favorite sandwiches they offer are their Portobello pesto sandwich and Thanksgiving sandwich. As for their wraps- try their Thai chicken wrap with peanut sauce, Chicken Caesar wrap and their breakfast scramble wrap. If you grab a meal at either location, be sure to save room for one of their luscious desserts- the peanut butter and chocolate swirled brownie is a must and their cookies and cupcakes are tasty, moist and fresh. For more information visit their site here.
Aimee Batuski lives in New York City and has her own blog, Plant Empowered. Learn more about Aimee here.