If you are a vegan, or you just like eating vegan food, you may feel like you’ve hit the jackpot in NYC. With so many vegan restaurants and vegan options available, you start to feel like maybe you’ve died and gone to paradise. But even the best circumstances have pitfalls. With so many options and so little time (especially for those of you visiting for a short period), how can you be sure to pick the right places? There’s nothing worse than spending one of your precious dining experiences and your hard-earned vacation cash on a subpar meal. I am pretty sure Shakespeare wrote a tragedy about that. Fear not, my friends, I am here to help! On my last trip to my hometown, I did the legwork for you to bring you 5 great, not-to-be-missed, culinary adventures in the Big Apple. So the next time you are in NYC, start your adventure off with these top picks and you will be on track to enjoying a delicious, disappointment-free stay in one of the great vegan meccas of the world!
1. BEST FAST FOOD JOINT
People tend to associate the word “healthy” with vegan. While it is true that a lot of vegan food is healthy, it is also true that a lot of it is NOT. And that’s totally ok! Sometimes you just want to pig out on some french fries, pancakes, milkshakes and grinders. Enter Champs Diner. Located in Brooklyn, NY, Champs is where you go when you have a craving for all that bad good stuff. Unapologetically delicious, Champs fulfills all your deepest darkest cravings. I have always been a huge fan of the good ol’ American diner experience: retro vinyl and chrome booth seating, checkered flooring, and a huge selection of tasty eats – available at any time of the day. Pancakes for dinner? Yes, please! Champs offers up the classic diner experience, lovingly infused with a modern, punk rock spirit. Bonus: It is open until 12AM all week long!
Champs Diner, 197 Meserole Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206
2. BEST VEGGIE BURGER
Ah, the infamous veggie burger, with its long history as the only non-carnivorous option on many a restaurant menu. Occasionally delicious, but more often than not reminiscent of a piece of cardboard dredged in a gallon of sauce for flavor. It is so hard to get right, but when it is right, it is SOOO right. Take a walk to one of my favorite areas of the city, previously home to many an artist and punk rocker, the East Village. A few blocks over from the famous St. Marks Place, you will find a hole-in-the-wall joint called Superiority Burger. They were not exaggerating when they came up with that name, the burgers are indeed superior. These delicious little packages of plant powered purity are topped with a tangy, slightly spicy sauce that will leave you smacking your lips long after your burger has disappeared. Making no attempt to masquerade as meat, this burger stays refreshingly true to its veggie origins. My only piece of advice: go for at least 2 if you’re hungry, because they do run a little small.
Superiority Burger, 430 East 9th Street, NY, NY 10009
3. BEST PIZZA PIZZA SLICE
Pizza. A NY institution. Vegan pizza? Ha ha ha. Don’t make me laugh. With the advent of so many varieties of vegan cheese, vegan pizza is on its way up, but it is not quite there yet, at least not at most places. So where can you get a great slice of vegan ‘za? My travels led me to the definitively non-NY, Portland import known as Sizzle Pie. While Sizzle Pie is not an entirely vegan pizzeria, they do offer a few delectable vegan slice options. There were three on the menu when I visited. Even with clever names like Spiral Tap and Vegan Angel of Doom, this pizza joint is not a gimmick. For this continually disappointed pizza lover, Sizzle Pie made pizza great again. The pizza options likely change daily, but if you have the opportunity to try the Spiral Tap (marinara slice), do it. That slice was eye-opening proof to me that you do not need ANY cheese to make a delicious pizza pie.
Sizzle Pie, 457 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222
4. BEST DONUT
Let’s face it. Sometimes you just get a craving for that big, sugar-filled, fluffy taste of heaven known as a donut. While NY is no match for other cities in terms of donut offerings – LA, for example, seems to have a donut shop on every corner – more and more artisanal donut shops are popping up, much to the delight of legions of NYC cops. But, alas, most of those shops are not vegan. So where does a vegan cop go to fulfill her donut fix? The Cinnamon Snail. No longer just a food truck hotspot with a line around the block, The Cinnamon Snail has a permanent residence at Penn Station’s upscale food hall, The Pennsy. You may have a panic attack while deciding which one (or three) of the glittering offerings in the shiny glass case to order, but rest assured that you will not be disappointed. No matter what kind of donut you like, whether traditional, cake-style, overloaded, cookie-topped or just plain crazy, you will find it here. The Cinnamon Snail also offers some tasty sandwiches, for those of you who want a bigger bite on either end of your donut.
The Cinnamon Snail at The Pennsy, 2 Pennsylvania Place, NY, NY 10121
5. BURGER WARS: IMPOSSIBLE BURGER VS. BEYOND BURGER
The Impossible Burger and The Beyond Burger have been making waves in the food stratosphere. Vegans and non-vegans alike are curious – do these burgers taste exactly like meat? And is one better than the other? While the Beyond Burger is now available in Whole Foods Markets around the US, the Impossible Burger is currently only sold in 3 states, among them, NY. Of the few establishments in NYC that offer the Impossible Burger, I heard through the grapevine that Momofuki Nishi was the place to try it. The verdict? It was…pretty good. It has a meat-like taste, greasiness and consistency, though the patty was a little thin for my taste. It kind of reminded me of the type of burger you would get at a fast food joint (sorry). This would be a great option for those of you who really really miss the taste of meat. The Beyond Burger, on the other hand, you cook at home. The burgers look a lot like raw meat in the package, due to the beetroot dye they use to color the patties. While the uncooked burgers had an unappetizing scent of cat pee, the cooked patties were thick, chewy, and surprisingly yummy. These burgers were less greasy than the Impossible Burger, which was a plus for me, and the thickness of the patty sealed the deal for me. If you have the opportunity to make use of a kitchen stove or barbecue during your NY stay, be sure to pick up a pack of Beyond Burgers to brighten up your belly. If not, the Impossible Burger is still worth trying. Even meat eaters like it, so it can’t be too bad.
Get the Impossible Burger at Momofuku Nishi, 232 8th Avenue, NY, NY 10011
Get the Beyond Burger at any Whole Foods Supermarkets in NYC
Have you visited any of these joints? Have any other ones to add? Leave a comment below!
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