It makes total sense that New York City is called “The Big Apple.” New York City has more vegan restaurants than anywhere else in the country, over 140! New York was even named the “Most Vegan-Friendly City in America.” Sadly, I moved out of the city a few years ago and missed the explosion of vegan restaurants that happened soon after. While I have many, many delicious vegan memories, I turned to the people – on social media – to help me write this list. Many people offered suggestions and opinions about who makes the best vegan sandwiches in New York City. The pictures and descriptions of the sandwiches were making me want to pack my bags and head back to the city. In the meantime, I may have to head into the kitchen and recreate these amazing sandwiches. Here are the 10 Must-Try Vegan Sandwiches in New York City.
1. The Cajun Seitan Sandwich at Candle Café West
I had to start with this sandwich because even though I have not yet been to Candle Café West, this was my favorite sandwich at the original Candle Café on the Upper East Side. This sandwich is made up of Cajun crusted seitan that is tender, crispy and succulent. It is topped with steamed kale, red onion, avocado and ancho-chili aioli. It comes with a field green salad. This sandwich alone is enough to make me homesick. The Cajun Seitan Sandwich is available at both the East and West Candle locations.
2. The BBQ Tempeh and Sweet Potato Sandwich at Candle Café
Let’s head over to the Upper East Side to Candle Café. Did you know that this café was a dream turned to reality when the owners won a lottery? That just shows that Candle Café was meant to happen! The BBQ Tempeh and Sweet Potato Sandwich has a delicious balance of sweet and spicy. It is topped with wilted kale, grilled red onion and a shallot sage aioli and served on toasted multi-grain bread. It comes with a mesclun salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.
3. The Korean Barbeque Seitan at Cinnamon Snail Food Truck
The Cinnamon Snail Food Truck was voted Best Food Truck in NYC and has lines that go around the block. The Cinnamon Snail truck has so many awesome sandwiches, it seems like it would be agony to choose. The Korean Barbeque Seitan sandwich is a top pick and a great choice for flavor and to keep you full. This sandwich is served open faced on a grilled tortilla slathered with chili butter, kimchi and greens.
4. The Grilled Nama Gori Panini at Sacred Chow
Oh, Scarecrow…I mean, Sacred Chow, I think I miss you most of all. Some of my absolutely favorite New York City food memories occurred in this small, cozy, peace-inducing Greenwich Village restaurant: celebrating holidays with delicious food and live entertainment, sitting for hours over brunch while it rained outside, tasting the most amazing artichoke bisque and trying to decide which of all the incredible tapas to order. Back to the sandwich – Nama Gori tofu steaks are first steeped in a rich mustard garlic sauce, then sliced and seared until tender and succulent. The steaks are served with steamed collard greens and a dill-mayo spread on your choice of a toasted ciabatta or brown rice tortilla and come with a side of grilled home fries. Yum!
5. The Soul Chicken Sandwich at Red Bamboo
Red Bamboo in Greenwich Village is another place I frequented. This is where I could get all my old favorite foods in vegan versions. It’s no surprise they were recently named Reader’s Choice for Best Vegetarian Restaurant by the Village Voice. The sandwich I remember most is the Soul Chicken Sandwich. Chicken was my “I can’t live without it” food and Red Bamboo gave me back vegan versions of so many chicken dishes. The Soul Chicken Sandwich has panko-breaded soy chicken nuggets with romaine lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo and Vidalia onion dressing. It is served on a roll with your choice of fries or salad. You can also add vegan cheese if you want to. You probably want to.
6. The Roasted Japanese Pumpkin Sandwich at Peacefood Café
Another favorite restaurant of mine is Peacefood Café. I went to the one on the Upper West Side and there is also one down in Greenwich Village. I enjoyed my visits here so much I wrote a glowing review of them on my blog. If you visit, you must try their chickpea fries and their veggie-filled biscuits. Peacefood Café was voted as having the best sandwiches in the 2010 NYC vegan guide. The Roasted Japanese Pumpkin Sandwich has mashed and seasoned roasted Japanese pumpkin topped with caramelized onions, ground walnuts, cashew cheese and greens. It is served on toasted whole spelt rye bread. Tastes as amazing as it sounds.
7. The Smoked Tofu Banh Mi at Pickle Shack
The Pickle Shack in Brooklyn is a vegetarian sandwich shop that has gotten rave reviews for their veggie-friendly menu. One of the items on that menu is the Smoked Tofu Banh Mi. It is topped with house-fermented kimchee made with local greens, avocado, quick-pickled carrots, fresh cilantro and an aioli served on a baguette. Yes, please!
8. The Smoky Avocado Wrap at Blossom Du Jour
Visiting Blossom Du Jour in Chelsea is in the top ten of my bucket list. Every day I see the jaw-dropping, drool-inducing food they post online and I want to be there so badly. When I do, the first sandwich I may order is their Smoky Avocado Wrap. It’s an amazing combination of smoked tempeh, avocado, mesclun green mix, juicy tomatoes and a spicy chipotle aioli all tucked inside a spinach wrap. Unless they want to ship me one…(hint, hint).
9. The Bacon Cheddar Chicken Ranch Sandwich at Terri
I remember with Terri first opened in Chelsea; it was located right near the express bus and it was a veggie oasis in a desert of non-vegan restaurants. They have since grown and have another location in the Financial District and a much larger menu than I remember. I do remember their Bacon Cheddar Chicken Ranch Sandwich very well. It has vegan chicken, soy bacon, vegan cheddar cheese, lettuce and ranch sauce. I also remember that it was really amazing.
10. The Falafel Sandwich at Taim Falafel and Smoothie Bar
Taim Falafel and Smoothie Bar is an award-winning eatery that makes what has been called “the best falafel in New York.” Their Falafel Sandwich starts with their gluten-free falafel which comes in 3 flavors: Green – the traditional parsley, mint and cilantro; Harissa – mixed with Tunisian spices; and Red – mixed with roasted red peppers. Choose a flavor and then the falafel gets topped with hummus, Israeli salad, pickled cabbage and tahini sauce. You can get it in a whole-wheat or white pita. Taim has two locations in the West Village and Nolita.
After writing about all these sandwiches, I am so hungry and homesick. If you ever needed a reason to visit New York City, I just gave you ten reasons. Until I get to NYC again, I will dream about these superb sandwiches magically appearing at my door.
Which NYC vegan sandwich is your favorite? Tell us in the comments.
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