New York City is an incredible hub for vegan food. Being one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the US, the number of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants has skyrocketed. Manhattan has many vegan restaurants that have been around for years, and are beloved by every plant-based eater, including upscale, well-known restaurants such as Candle 79, Blossom, and Caravan of Dreams. While well known for being groundbreaking in original vegan restaurants, there are many more hidden, upcoming restaurants in Manhattan and the outer boroughs of the city that are well worth getting to know as well.
Beyond the walls of Manhattan is the hoppin’ borough Brooklyn, which is creeping its way onto the map for amazing vegan eats. What’s
incredible about Brooklyn is that there is a wide variety of vegan restaurants that each reflect the essence of the neighborhood they are located in. Whether trendy, health-orientated, high-end or economical. With so many amazing places to choose from, here is a list of just some of the most up-and-coming vegan-friendly restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn today. All locally owned, sourced from fresh ingredients, and crafted for all walks of life, these restaurants are the perfect place to visit when you want really good, fresh vegan food.
1. Sun In Bloom- Park Slope, Brooklyn
Sun In Bloom is a true hidden gem of New York City. Located in Park Slope Brooklyn, this cozy restaurant is a dream for those who are vegan, gluten-free, kosher or raw. It truly feels sunny when you arrive. The menus consist of all organic ingredients and the highest quality of non-dairy milk options (Brazil Nut Milk anyone?!), sprouted and gluten-free breads, house-made dressings, superfood cereals (pictured above) and plant-based meals crafted with love and happiness. Popular for weekend brunches, Sun In Bloom also offers weekday breakfast and lunch, and intimate dinners that have rotating, unusual specials. The restaurant also has fresh squeezed juice, smoothies, gluten and nut free baked goods, and to-go foods. To top it all off, the service staff is impeccable with paying attention to dietary restrictions, creating a warm atmosphere and truly caring about the positive experience of the customer. Head to this Park Slope spot and you’re guaranteed to be blooming with joy afterwards.
2. Riverpark- Kips Bay
Tucked away along the East River, Riverpark is truly a “hidden” gem in Manhattan. Neither vegetarian nor vegan, Riverpark earns its points from being the closest to farm-to-table dining as you can get. Home to the largest urban farm in New York City, Riverpark uses all of their vegetables, herbs and spices from the farm that is actually on their property. The menu consists of many different meat and fish options, however there are also fresh pasta dishes available and almost any dish can be made to fit a vegan diet. The front of house and kitchen staff are both tremendously accommodating to dietary restrictions. The menu is ever-changing due to seasonal produce on the farm, but some vegan-friendly dishes that stand out are Zucca Squash Pasta and theRoasted Cauliflower Steak. With a full bar that uses fresh herbs to influence their drinks (mint mojito anyone?!), they also offer brunch with the most killer avocado toast in the city. With an upscale style and popular outdoor seating during the warm months, reservations are recommended.
3. Champs Family Diner- Bushwick, Brooklyn
Champs Family Diner exists because even vegans need comfort food. With a retro interior, Champs brings you back to the classic diner days. Lucky for you, every single thing is vegan. The Philly Cheesesteak, the mozzarella sticks, the bacon cheeseburger, the fish burrito- it’s all completely animal-free and mouthwateringly delicious. Don’t even get me started about chikn’ n’ waffles, the milkshakes or the country fried seitan sandwich with bacon, cheese AND ranch dressing. Champs is in the trendy Bushwick neighborhood so come prepared with an empty stomach and a willingness to wait for a table. Although not the healthiest option for plant-based eating, Champs is nourishing for the soul and spirit- and we can all agree that that, too, is crucial.
4. Narcissa- East Village
Nestled in The Standard East Village, Narcissa is bringing reinvented California cuisine to New York City. Using many organic ingredients from Locusts on Hudson Farm in the Hudson Valley, this restaurant offers farm-to-table food in an elegant and sophisticated manner. Narcissa is not vegan, however it is extremely vegan-friendly. The menu offers a carrot wellington that will blow you away with mushrooms, sunchokes and gremolata. Narcissa also offers many side dishes such as gingered cauliflower and spicy kale. The restaurant is intimate and warm, reflecting its beautiful presentation of food. There are two dining rooms, one of which overlooks a private garden and offers outdoor seating in the summer- perfect for enjoying that dairy-free sorbet. Snag a reservation quick and Narcissa will be sure to please any plant-based eater.
5. Beyond Sushi- Union Square
The days of plain avocado rolls for vegan sushi are over. Whether vegan or not, sushi lovers can all agree that Beyond Sushi has transformed typical, fishy rolls to vegetable masterpieces. Using nutrient- dense vegetables such as sweet potatoes and offering black or six grain rice as an alternative to white, Beyond Sushi is health-orientated and truly offers the greenest of rolls. Also offering soups, salads and wraps, there is something here for anyone who stops by. While the restaurant is small with just a few tables, the beauty of the food makes up for this. Bursting with bright colors and extreme delicacy, the sushi rolls are almost too pretty to eat. Almost is the key word- try the spicy mango roll or the changing piece of the month and your taste buds will forget all about how nice they look.
6. Rockin’ Raw- Greenwich Village
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, Rockin’ Raw is full of heart-felt, vegan dishes. Rockin’ Raw’s cuisine is a mix of Peruivian and Creole-style, with dishes such as Tallarines a la Huancaina and “crab cakes.” Everything on the menu is completely raw and completely flavorful. Playing off of classic dishes such as loaded nachos and burritos, Rockin’ Raw has mastered the art of making raw food fulfilling and practical for raw newbies. The best part about eating here is knowing that everything is completely plant-based, yet does not taste bland. Rockin’ Raw will leave your body feeling wholesome, and surprisingly enough, incredibly warm.
7. Pickle Shack- Park Slope, Brooklyn
Trying to get more pickled foods into your plant-based diet? Come to Pickle Shack in Park Slope. This vegetarian all-star sources all of its condiments and pickles in house or from the locally owned Brooklyn Brine. There is a brunch, lunch and dinner menu, and also an extensive beer menu as the restaurant works with many craft breweries. The feeling of Pickle Shack is rustic, yet sleek. The food centers around (you guessed it!) pickles, with the pickle plate and fried pickles being the best ways to start your meal. There are vegan options for all dairy cheese that comes on burgers, sandwiches and salads. Try the Banh Mi for a pickled classic and finish the night off with some non-dairy ice cream desserts. Pickle Shack draws a younger crowd, but you just gotta dill with that here! Come to this fun pub to unwind and eat some handcrafted, plant-based goodness.
8. Dun-Well Doughnuts- East Williamsburg, Brooklyn
This doughnut shop has been on the map for years, but it’s just too tasty to stop talking about it. Named the Best Doughnut in NYC by the Daily News in 2012, Dun-Well Doughnuts continues to create doughnuts that are 100 percent vegan, cruelty-free and oh-so-yummy. Dun-Well is genuinely done well with over 100 innovative flavors and owned by an ethical, passionate and fun loving team. Dun-Well is perfect for a quick doughnut on the go, or for dining in where you can enjoy hot coffee and your doughnut on a rustic wooden plate. This trip out to East Williamsburg is well worth it for these sweet treats.
9. Spring Natural Kitchen- Upper West Side
Spring Natural Kitchen uses fresh ingredients to surely please carnivores and vegans alike. With a casual setting, it’s an awesome place to meet with friends for a late night bite or fun, relaxed dinner. The menu has an extensive vegan section with options such as veggie burgers, stir fries and hearty salads. The restaurant is based on the philosophy of building hand crafted, healthy meals that are timelessly delicious. Best of all, the food feels classic with modern twists, perfectly matched with its interior style. Situated right near Central Park, Spring Natural Kitchen makes a lovely lunch or post-stroll spot.
10. Jivamuktea Cafe- Union Square
Nestled in the Jivamuktea Yoga Center, this cafe is a plant-based eaters treasure. In line with yoga practice, this cafe believes in making food that reduces animal suffering, uses ethical and sustainable practices, and ultimately helps contribute to happier lifestyles. Jivamuktea Cafe nurtures a plant-based, Ayurvedic diet, or what some might call a yoga diet. Whether you have a bite after a yoga class or just stop in for lunch, the food feels spiritually charged with tremendous thought and care put into it. The cafe is inviting with artwork on the walls and post-yogis gleaming with ohm. Jivamuktea Cafe has burritos, salads, sandwiches and soups all made GMO-free and with the freshest ingredients. The cafe is also perfect for sipping as there are plentiful options for juices, smoothies, teas and coffee. Come to Jivamuktea and you’ll not only experience incomparable vegan food, but also a little more inner peace and quiet.
11. Vatan Indian Vegetarian- Kips Bay
Leave the chaos of New York City behind and come to Vatan Indian Vegetarian for an authentic experience. Offering a prix fixe all-you-can-eat menu, Vatan has many options to please many different guests. Vegan Indian food can be hard to come by as many sauces have butter or cream in them. Vatan has vegan options to choose from including toor dal, chana masala and samosas, and the waitstaff is extremely helpful with dietary restrictions. The food at Vatan is prepared meticulously, with warming spices taking the front lead. Besides the food, the most amazing part of Vatan Indian Vegetarian is the inviting atmosphere of the interior. Completely transforming the hub of New York City, Vatan offers a vacation to those plant-blased eaters who need one most.
12. DF Mavens- East Village
DF Mavens, a popular dairy-free ice cream brand, now has its very own parlor located in the East Village. Made with soy, coconut or almond milk, the sorbet-only days for vegan cold treats are gone. DF Mavens offers flavors such as hazelnut truffle and cookies n’ cream, stretching way beyond any store-bought brand of dairy-free ice cream. The different milks make each flavor have a unique texture which offers something for everyone. Even though it’s still chilly outside, this parlor is well worth a visit at any month of the year. Although DF Mavens isn’t the first vegan-friendly ice cream store in New York City, it is still without a doubt continually upgrading the delicious taste of vegan, frozen delights.
13. Paulie Gee’s- Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Paul Gee’s serves some serious vegan pizza with serious tastiness. Although the restaurant is not strictly vegan, there are over seven different vegan pizzas to choose from on top of create-your-own pizza. Some stand out vegan toppings include fennel sausage, cashew ricotta, jackfruit and vegan tomato sauce. Located in the up and coming Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn, there is at least a half hour wait almost every night. Luckily, this wait is well worth it once you bite into a sizzling slice. The pizza at Paulie Gee’s is extremely creative which is highly reflective of the neighborhood and cliental. They nail the crust and have perfected the dough to sauce to topping ratio. Plus, there is a vegan dessert pizza. That’s right- a pizza with cashew ricotta and orange marmalade to finish a meal of ooey-gooey flavors.
Now that I am starving for raw kale salads, pizza, sushi, pasta, doughnuts and ice cream, it’s time to make another trip out to all of these vegan hot spots! While there are far more mouthwatering restaurants out there in the big city, these are just some of the places that are not only creating bangin’ vegan food, but are also making positive and healthy impacts on the planet through their food. Crafted with compassion and authenticity, these hidden gems are not to be missed. For more vegan treasures check out these must-try sandwiches, burgers and dishes. We’d love to hear from you, what’s your favorite vegan restaurant in the city?
Lead Image Source: Josefine Stenudd/ Dun-Well Donuts/Flickr