Gourmand Guide

The Best Vegan Restaurants in New York City

Not to be outdone by sunny LA, the Big Apple eateries also make a mean, animal-free meal.
Reading time 5 minutes

Maybe you’re living your best life, and that involves a diet completely devoid of meat, dairy, or any animal products whatsoever, whether the reasoning is ethical or health-related. Or, you’re an enthusiastic omnivore who’s always game for something new or different dining-wise, including creative and surprisingly delicious meat-free meals.

While vegan offerings might not be quite as expansive and prevalent as in L.A., where wellness has long trended in every respect, Gotham has some really impressive options for fully plant-based feasts. These standout eateries will impress even devoted carnivores with innovative and, most importantly, completely delectable dishes that are entirely plant-based. Ahead, five truly great spots to find vegan cuisine in NYC. 

JAJAJA

Head to this vegan Mexican restaurant housed in a gorgeous, Instagram-friendly space, with pretty tiled floors and lots of natural light, on the crux of East Broadway and Canal St., surrounded by hip neighbors like Dimes, Mission Chinese Food, and Kiki’s.  The cocktails are great, too, thanks to a range of fresh juices. Start off with shareable starters like ceviche comprised of hearts of palm and hijiki instead of fish, or beet and pumpkin empanadas. A slew of tacos are offered, too, with inventive vegan dupes for carnitas, chorizo, and fried fish, plus a range of colorful, flavorful bowls. 

162 East Broadway, Lower East Side, Manhattan 

Avant Garden 

Excellent and inventive vegan small plates populate the menu at this East Village restaurant. Avant Garden eschews meat substitutes in favor of creative dishes that really celebrate and showcase vegetables, often transformed and rendered more flavorful in the cooking process, like charred gem lettuce in a Caesar-inspired salad, and scorched cauliflower accompanied by creamy cauliflower puree. Don’t miss the toasts section, featuring combinations like sunchokes with olives, pistachios, and pickled pear. A Williamsburg location of Avant Garden is slated to open sometime this summer; in the meantime, check out plant-based sister restaurants, Cienfuegos and Mother of Pearl.

130 E. 7th St., East Village, Manhattan 

Modern Love

At this Williamsburg restaurant, chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz whips up creative, occasionally decadent, completely vegan takes on comfort food. Highlights include hen-of-the-woods piccata, which subs breaded maitake mushrooms for chicken in the Italian classic, served here with whipped potatoes, gigante beans, capers, shallots, and escarole in a white wine lemon sauce, and BBQ yuba, a meat-free take on Southern fare that’s served with rhubarb salsa, corn pudding, and sauteed collard greens. Other options include “mac and shews” with a creamy red pepper cashew cheese sauce, chorizo nachos with a smoked walnut “chorizo,” and truffled poutine. The stylish space includes wood-paneled walls and mismatched chandeliers that hang above the tables. 

317 Union Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn  

Blossom

A long-running vegan favorite in NYC, Blossom has been dishing up sophisticated fare since 2005, thanks to co-founders Ronen Seri and Pamela Elizabeth. Choose from appetizers like quinoa flour-battered crispy artichokes and Buffalo-sauced risotto croquettes, and mains such as a tofu BLT or a Moroccan tagine. The original location is housed in a charming townhouse in Chelsea. There’s also an UWS outpost on Columbus Avenue, and a former location in the West Village has since morphed into Urban Vegan Kitchen, also serving upscale and fully plant-based takes on familiar fare, like “Chick-un & Waffles” and a po' boy with popcorn-fried seitan in lieu of shrimp. 

187 Ninth Ave., Chelsea, Manhattan 

Toad Style

For a more casual option when the objective is entirely meat (and dairy and egg) free takes on classic meat-centric dishes, check out Toad Style in Bed-Stuy. It’s primarily a takeout setup here, and in addition to being completely vegan, Toad Style’s menu is also fully soy-free, palm oil-free, and non-GMO. Selections include BBQ pulled jackfruit sandwich, which replicates pulled pork or chicken with hickory-smoked jackfruit, the Philly, with sauteed portobello mushrooms, onions, and peppers smothered in cashew and almond cheese on garlic bread.

There are also vegan takes on gyros and Banh Mi to consider. Add on sides like fried cauliflower, which is brined in rosemary and lemon before being battered, served with sweet chili mustard to dunk in.

All of the sandwiches can also be made as gluten-free tacos, or served in salad form, too, and the entire menu is quite affordable, with nothing over $11. Toad Style also runs a food truck from Wednesday to Sunday at Bushwick bar Marco’s

93 Ralph Ave., Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn 

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