In the words of one of the greatest men ever to have lived: “I want to be a part of it, New York, New York”, and Franky was right! New York is a magical, vibrant city. More importantly though, it’s vegan scene is alive and kicking!
My wonderful boyfriend Chris bought this trip for me as a birthday present for my big 3-0 this year. We’ve been talking about going for a while and the vegan food scene there is known for being one of the best in the world, so off we went, with high hopes and empty stomachs.
So many lovely people sent me recommendations for this trip but unfortunately, as we were only there for four days, we could only choose a few! We managed to narrow it down and fit nine restaurants into our time there.
I just want to start this blog post by being totally transparent. The photos are not as high quality and the reviews not as in depth as usual because I was not working on this trip, this was a holiday, but I’ve done my best to remember everything we ate and share it with you all so that it can hopefully help you all out if you decide to visit!
Also, please note that we tried to visit Beyond Sushi but they were closed when we arrived and we didn’t get a chance. Next time!
Here’s the list of restaurants / cafes we visited (read on for more detailed reviews)
The Butcher’s Daughter
Marty’s V Burger
Pick A Bagel
Terri is a little takeaway shop serving 100% vegan food for people on the go. We chose to stop there for breakfast to fuel us for a day of sightseeing! You can choose from Mcdonalds style baps and hearty wraps.
I’d been eying up the sausage, egg & cheese muffin since I spotted it. Packed with scrambled tofu, ‘sausage’, ‘cheddar’ and ‘hollondaise sauce’, this was an absolute dream. Chris chose the Breakfast Scramble wrap with scrambled tofu, Italian ‘sausage’, spinach, ‘cheddar’ and hot sauce. Out of the two, we definitely preferred the muffin bap.
The sausage was really well seasoned and had a bit of a spicy flavour to it, just like I remember McDonalds muffins having. I would have loved it more if it was in the shape of a burger patty rather than butterfly sausages because the flavour would have been distributed more evenly but it still tasted fab. The cheese was superb and melted like real cheese. There was also a generous portion of it. The scrambled tofu was beautifully seasoned and had substantial texture. All in all, this was a bloody brilliant brekkie option. If I hadn’t been trying to cram in so many different venues, I would’ve come back for another.
The wrap was alright but everything just worked better on the muffin. The hot sauce had a nice flavour but it needed more cheese.
The Butcher’s Daughter
I’d probably had more recommendations to visit this place than any other in New York so I was really excited to try it out! It’s not totally vegan but they’ve got a few vegan options to choose from. We visited at lunchtime and ate from the Afternoon Menu. It’s an cute little place, decorated well and with friendly servers. It’s quite a small space so there’s not much room but it made it more cosy, I thought. Chris and I ordered the Deli Style Reuben (with vegan cheese) and the Smashed Avocado Toast.
I have to say, I was quite disappointed with the Reuben. The flavour of the meat and cheese were nice enough but the texture was nothing like pastrami and it was quite a thin, small sandwich which wasn’t what I imagined. The avocado toast had a nice flavour to it and was a bit unusual but it would’ve been better if the avocado had been a bit fresher. Perhaps I just chose the wrong menu items but I wouldn’t hurry back here.
Chris and I had been joking about bumping into a celebrity whilst in New York, and then a few hours later, we only went and sat in front of Elle Macpherson at ABCv (look behind me in the photo)! I mean, if we were going to bump into anyone famous, it was absolutely going to be here. This is a trendy, hip restaurant. It’s not cheap but the food is unique and interesting. It has a very “cool” vibe and was just how I imagined a New York restaurant!
Apologies that the photos aren’t of a higher quality, it was very dark in the restaurant!
The sweet corn wontons with red oil, wok fried sweet peppers and coriander made for such an unique dish. The combination of textures was unusual but worked really well!
Smoky eggplant, tomato chutney, coconut yoghurt, mint & fresh pita. You can’t go too far wrong with an aubergine dip and this was delicious!
I know that this is a super simple dish but oh my goodness, I could eat it every day! Coconut sticky rice, coconut sugar, combava and sea salt. Absolute perfection.
Grilled danko shiitake with shishito, spring onion, yuzukosho green goddess. Sadly I didn’t love this dish, it felt like it was missing something.
Champs Diner in Brooklyn stole my little London heart. Goodness me. Proper American diner style, all vegan, great service and chilled vibes. Chris and I did over order and spent the whole day trying to feel less full! No regrets.
We ordered the Mama Mia ciabatta sandwich stuffed with vegan meatballs, marinara sauce and mozzarella, the Mac & Cheese, and we thought we’d try out luck at another Reuben sandwich, this time with corned beef seitan, sauerkraut, cheese and Russian dressing on rye bread.
The portions here are huuuuuge and you definitely get value for your money. The meatball sub had a sharp tomato sauce, but the texture reminded me more of stuffing than meat. I quite enjoyed the dish but the tomato sauce did dominate.
The Mac & cheese was super creamy and reminded me of a carbonara sauce. It was everything I wanted in a Mac dish!
The Pastrami dish had a very realistic texture and I definitely enjoyed it more than the other one I tried!
The blackberry cobbler milkshake gave me life. It was so creamy and bursting with flavour.
If you’re in New York, it’s absolutely worth making a trip over to Brooklyn just for Champs!
I had heard great things about Dirt Candy, which prides itself on being based entirely around vegetables without any gimmicks. Chris and I opted for the Vegetable Garden nine course tasting menu for $88 including tip. However, I’m really sorry to report that we were really disappointed by this meal. Some of the dishes were tasty but overall it didn’t do it for us and we actually ended up leaving after six courses which is unheard of for us.
Korean Fried Broccoli
This was actually quite an interesting dish. The textures worked well. I normally love Korean flavours but this sauce was a little bitter for me! It was suuuuper hot, not one for the faint hearted!
Portobello mushroom mousse with sautéed Asian pears, cherries & truffle toast
This dish was absolutely delicious. I loved every single bite! I’m a sucker for anything with mushroom and truffle flavours though! I would’ve loved the pears to come through a tiny bit more.
Shanghai Shoots with fermented black beans and crème fraîche
This was alright, it definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but I wasn’t blown away.
Grilled and smoked broccoli dogs with broccoli kraut and mustard barbecue sauce
The flavours in this dish surprised me, I actually really liked them, but I don’t know that it worked with bread. I found it all a little odd.
Carrot sliders on carrot buns
I wasn’t expecting to like this but I actually loved it. The sweet flavour from the carrots was beautiful and the textures actually worked quite well, I thought.
Brussels sprouts on a sizzling stone with lettuce wrappers and accompaniments
As a Brit, I’m as partial to a sprout as much as anyone else but this dish and I really did not see eye to eye. It felt like the kind of dish that people imagine vegans live on. It is, quite literally brussel sprouts in a lettuce leaf. It needed more flavour, more substance and just a little more love.
I’m not sure that the menu was worth the amount we paid for it, and whilst I appreciate that they’re doing something quite unusual, some of the menu items need a little work, I thought.
Marty’s V Burger
Marty’s V Burger could not be more unassuming. It’s a tiny little takeaway shop in the centre of the city, and it’s not much to look at but their food is vegan “junk food” at its finest! They give you an option of either the Impossible or Beyond Meat patties, and I chose the BM one. The ‘World Famous’ burger was unreal. It really reminded me of a Big Mac.
The Shroom burger also had a really nice, smoky BBQ steakhouse type flavour.
Their cheesy fries were super creamy, the cheese was melted to perfection and we added some sriracha to heat things up a little bit.
Sometimes vegan chicken can be a bit dry but the wings had a good level of moisture. It was more moist than other seitan I’ve tried and it reminded me of the thigh rather than the breast of real chicken. You can grab a few different flavours including spicy, Buffalo blue cheese and Thai chilli jam but I think the spicy was my fave.
Sadly, the mac and cheese wasn’t for me. It wasn’t creamy at all and didn’t have a strong cheesy flavour at all.
Candle 79 is a quirky, sit down restaurant. The decor is quite old fashioned and the menu is made up of a number of different cuisines. So, in the name of research, we tried a little bit of everything!
We tucked into:
Empanadas with chili-grilled seitan, zucchini, kale, black beans, tomatillo sauce, guacamole, almond cheese
These had a lovely flavour but needed a touch more heat. The black beans gave the dish a really nice texture and the batter was well cooked and not greasy at all.
Vegetable-Tofu Steamed Dumplings with broccoli, toasted cashews and a sesame-ginger soy sauce
The ginger in this was a little too strong for me, and I LOVE ginger. The nuts added a nice crunch and the consistency was perfect but I actually thought that there was a little too much filling.
BBQ Seitan Skewers
I absolutely LOVED these. The texture was just like beef and the BBQ flavour, which had a tiny bit of heat was perfect. This is the first time where I’ve felt like seitan actually melted in my mouth. So clever.
Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli
The ravioli was al dente which was nice although it was a little too undercooked around the edges. The ricotta is made with cashews and that flavour comes through nicely. The sauce was a tad bitter, as was the veg, I would’ve preferred it to be a little sweeter.
Even from someone who adores overly creamy dishes, this was a bit too sickly for me. The breadcrumbs were packed on a bit too heavy and after one bite, I felt like I had had enough. The cheese by itself was amazing and the sauce was nice and sweet but together I don’t think it worked.
Spaghetti & Wheat Balls with truffled tomato sauce, roasted garlic, spinach & cashew parmesan
I didn’t love the outer coating on these, it was a little too thick and the texture inside wasn’t great either. The sauce was alright but not as flavoursome as the sauce at Champs. I did like that it had a bit of sweetness!
Pick A Bagel
Someone recommended that we pick up a bagel from Pick A Bagel and so we went for the tofu and chive option and ohhhh my goodness, I am so glad we did. This was absolutely deeeeelicious.
Bodhi Kosher is a vegetarian Chinese restaurant which offers vegan options. They aren’t clearly labelled so I recommend asking them for clarification. Luckily, my friend who we were dining with is Chinese and was able to help us with this! They have so many delicious options we didn’t know where to start, and all of the food was well priced and fantastic! I honestly recommend every single dish we had, but the turnip cake (last photo) was especially epic.
Last but not least, I’m so glad that we managed to squeeze Blossom into the end of our trip. We were extremely close to not going here but we realised that we had a couple of hours to kill and so decided to visit and it ended up being one of my faves!
This used to be a vegetarian restaurant which is now 100% vegan establishment offering vegan Italian food. The decor is beautiful, it’s got a cute, relaxed vibe whilst still feeling quite buzzy and the service was excellent.
Chris and I ordered:
Cashew Cream Ravioli with smoked tempeh, spinach, pine nuts and cremini mushrooms
This was so beautiful. That creamy sauce was just heavenly!
Rigatoni with porcini-cashew cream, leeks, broccoli rabe, pistachio gremolata, truffle oil, caramelised onions & fennel jam crostini
Again, so delicious. The starter probably just had the edge but I did enjoy this too!
Chris ordered the Curried Stuffed Sweet Potato with a walnut-lentil-eggplant stuffing, a coconut peanut curry, grilled collard greens, parsnips chips and a horseradish creme. He absolutely loved this dish too.
All in all, we feel like we really made the most of New York and explored its vegan spots. I might be a little bias but I think London is ahead of New York in terms of the quality of the food and the amount of vegan friendly restaurants but I would need to see more of the city and spend longer there to determine if that’s entirely true. Here are some snaps of Chris and I enjoying the city in all its glory.
We had a great holiday and it was a great way to enter my thirties. Apart from eating, we also saw friends, visited hidden bars, visited rooftop bars, wandered across the entire city, meandered through the park and created some amazing memories.
New York truly is an amazing city with a certain buzz about it which feels different to London somehow. However, I will add that, although we had some fantastic meals, I left feeling that New York’s vegan scene wasn’t quite as strong as London’s in terms of quality and availability in non-vegan restaurants. Would love to know what you think, if you’ve been!