When I booked my trip to New York City last Autumn, I felt a touch of guilt that a large part of my excitement lay not in strolling through Central Park or walking amongst the dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural History, but rather in finally getting the chance to try some of the innovative vegan cuisine that the city boasts. The much-lamented symptom of our modern age – Instagram-induced food envy – is as painful as it is addictive, and my map of the city was dotted with as many diners and coffee shops as it was with tourist spots. If you can bare to tear your eyes away from the dizzying sight of the Manhattan skyline and look around at all the eateries that have taken over the streets, you’ll have no problem finding a vegan meal to suit your appetite (but perhaps not your budget). I was lucky enough to explore the city with a local who shared my penchant for plant-based food, so here is my guide to the best places in New York that are worth the dollar*.
*Unfortunately, NOT a single smoothie bowl I bought. $12 for a juice??
West 33rd Street, Manhattan, NY + Other Locations. | www.cinnamonsnail.com
Photos by: Cinnamon Snail
Yellow taxi cabs. Trump Tower. Vegan donuts. These are all things that immediately spring to mind when I think of NYC. So my unquestionable hunt for the perfect circle-shaped treat led me to Cinnamon Snail bakery. They have locations across the city, and if you leave having only tried their savoury lunch options, you’ll have made a tasty but terrible mistake. Their counter is bursting with pastries infused with interesting flavours such as Thai Sweet Basil, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake, and even one with Yoda’s face on it. Their soft texture is melt-in-the-mouth delicious, and there is no limitation to what you can try as every single donut on their menu is vegan. I’ll take ten, please.
75, 9th Ave, New York, NY + Other Locations. | beyondsushinyc.com
Photo by: Beyond Sushi
I am a sushi fiend. I live in an almost perpetual state of craving these delicate seaweed rolls, and as a result my standards are high. Enter Beyond Sushi, an entirely vegan sushi chain that offers creative variations that had me returning again and again. Their rice paper rolls are stuffed with punchy flavours, the dumplings are tender, and everything comes with a sauce to compliment the fillings. My sushi recommendations would be Pickle Me (six-grain rice, avo, daikon pickles) and Spicy Mang (black rice, mango, spicy veg). Expanding rapidly, there are many places to try their offerings; my favourite was Chelsea Market, simply for the atmosphere. No, it’s not the most authentically Japanese cuisine. But if you try these flavour-packed mouthfuls, you won’t care either.
185 Bleecker Street, NYC + Other locations. | eatbychloe.com
Photo by: Alice Florence Orr
You’ll almost certainly have come across this ‘healthy’ fast food place on social media, and if you can bare to endure the queues, the entirely vegan menu is worth the hype. Go with a group of friends and try all their specialties: their burgers and sweet potato ‘air-fries’; the pesto meatball sub; the moreish mac and cheese. Accompany everything with their beet ketchup. Trust me. Unfortunately, since my visit this inspirational eatery has been surrounded by controversy, as the parent company is pushing the founder, Chloe Coscarelli, and her ethics out of the business. Something to consider when deciding where to eat on your trip.
1084 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. | bunnaethiopia.net
Photo by: Simone Lueck
At risk of sounding like a cliché from a Lana Del Rey track, I am an unashamed Brooklyn Baby wannabe. It was one of my favourite districts of New York, and that is in large part thanks to Bunna Café. This authentic Ethiopian restaurant is entirely plant-based, giving you the freedom to try any dish from their extensive menu. Their lunch and dinner deals are great value, and it is so satisfying using your kita to pick up morsels of perfectly spiced dishes like ful (sautéed fava beans), duba firfir (injera and kabocha squash with cashew ergo), and butecha (tofu scramble). We accompanied our East African brunch with a side of their famous coffee called bunna, infused with cardamom and cloves, which you can witness being made in their special ceremony. Well worth making the trip out to Brooklyn just for this delicacy.
187 9th Ave, New York, NY + Other Locations. | blossomnyc.com
Photo by: Blossom
For a more upscale lunch or evening meal, Blossom is a plant-based paradise. The highlights of their brunch/lunch menu include their Cashew Cream Ravioli, the Southern Seitan Ciabatta, and their French Toast with tempeh bacon. One of the founders, Pamela Elizabeth, also owns the grab-and-go lunch spot Blossom du Jour and completely vegan chocolate shop Cocoa V. It is worth checking out all three if your appetite is big enough (we can always make room for tempeh bacon).
204 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, NY + Other Locations. | vanleeuwenicecream.com
Photo by: Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
If you find yourself wandering around Brooklyn and in need of an ice-cold treat, head down to Van Leeuwen for a pricy but unique ice cream experience. The flavours are what makes this spot worth the trip (it’s certainly not the atmosphere – the one we visited in Williamsburg was mobbed with yoga mums and their kids), so grab a cone to take with you as you stroll down the waterway. Choose from their permanent flavour selection, including Sicilian Pistachio, Caramalised Banana Nut, and Matcha Tea, or try one of their specials, like Blackberry with Salted Palm Sugar Cake. Only in America. But be careful as not everything on the menu is vegan.
25 N Front Street, New Paltz, NY. | lagustasluscious.com
Photo by: Lagusta’s Luscious
This chocolate emporium is in New Paltz, NY, rather than the city itself. However, I would recommend taking a trip to this ‘crunchy’ (American slang for ‘hippy’, apparently) town and nearby Woodstock for cool vegan vibes. Lagusta’s Luscious offers some great alternative treats, such as absinthe flavoured macarons and vulva-shapes chocolates. Far out. Everything is dairy and egg free and utterly delicious – well worth the road trip. Just remember to pack your hemp sandals and acoustic guitar, man.
Other hip joints:
Double Zero Pizza – a plant-based pizza place with vegan ice cream and organic wines.
Brooklyn Ball Factory – some vegan options available in this Japanese Style restaurant.
Orchard Grocer – an all-vegan deli and food market inspired by the delicatessens of New York’s past.
Trader Joe’s – organic food shop with some good vegan finds.
Candle Cafe – some tasty vegan options in their Upper East Side location.
Travelling to New York?
Tag @veganconnections on Instagram with all your vegan finds. We hope this guide helps you navigate the Big Apple. Finding the vegan options just got a whole lot easier.
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