“What are the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in NYC?”
I’ve been asked that question again and again, and after years of exploring NYC’s meatless food scene, it’s time to put together a list. It wasn’t easy to narrow it down to just ten spots, but moving away from NYC gave me clarity on which places are the true standouts and which ones I miss the most.
Here are ten restaurants that I would happily return to in a heartbeat. There are even places on this list that were my favorites before I went vegetarian. I’ve recommended and visited these places with veggie and non-veggie friends, and everyone left with smiles on their faces. From fast casual to upscale dining, here are my top picks:
Avant Garden is by far one of the most refined vegan restaurants in NYC. Beautiful plates of vegetables in a cozy setting with a view of the kitchen. It’s no surprise that I and many others have fallen in love with this place.
East Village, avantgardennyc.com
Whenever I tell people about Beyond Sushi, they ask “But what’s the sushi made of?” Vegetables, of course! Colorful, refreshing, delicious. No one does vegan sushi like Beyond Sushi. Don’t worry, there are no boring cucumber rolls in sight.
Union Square, Chelsea Market, Midtown West, beyondsushinyc.com
For over 10 years, Blossom has been a leader in NYC’s vegan restaurant scene. From tofu benedicts and hefty burgers, to canapé sampler plates and pasta dishes, there’s something for everyone. Blossom has, without a doubt, played a role in me saying farewell to meat.
Chelsea, Upper West Side, blossomnyc.com
(Not to be confused with their casual chain Blossom du Jour.)
By now, anyone who has paid any attention to food news in the past year has heard of breakout brand By Chloe. While this casual eatery is not the first of its kind, Chloe’s photogenic and tasty comfort foods have been taking NYC by storm.
West Village, Flatiron, eatbychloe.com
Champ’s is an all vegan diner that will satisfy any craving. Whether you’re in the mood for poutine, seitan asada fries, pancake stacks, milkshakes, or burgers with names like The Gutbuster and Behemoth, they’ve got your back.
The Cinnamon Snail
Famous vegan food truck, The Cinnamon Snail, has finally found a permanent home at The Pennsy. Their donuts are the best I’ve ever had (even counting non-vegan versions), and their burgers will forever have a special place in my heart and belly.
The Pennsy, Food Truck, cinnamonsnail.com
There are restaurants that cook vegetables, and then there’s Dirt Candy where everything you know about vegetables is turned inside out and upside down. This is the most creative veggie restaurant in NYC. Book your dinner reservation at least 2 months in advance.
Lower East Side, dirtcandynyc.com
Hangawi / Franchia
Sister restaurants, Hangawi and Franchia, serve up vegan versions of Korean favorites like sizzling bibimbap and kimchi pancakes. If you’re in need of a zen-like escape from the hustle and bustle of Midtown Manhattan, you’ve come to the right place.
Midtown East, hangawirestaurant.com
Midtown East, franchia.com
When I heard that John Fraser of Dovetail and Narcissa fame was opening a vegetarian restaurant, I had a feeling that I would soon have a new favorite restaurant. Turns out I was right. Nix is home to some of the most flavorful and prettiest veggie dishes in NYC.
Greenwich Village, nixny.com
My vegan pizza dreams have come true with this no fuss pizzeria that’s a spinoff from Champ’s Diner. I only visited Screamer’s once before leaving NYC, but this place is a winner. Be sure to get a slice of the Screamer.
One thing I’d like to point out is that a few restaurants opened after I left NYC (*sob!*). Modern Love Brooklyn and Urban Vegan Kitchen, I’m looking at you! There’s also no ramen on this list because veggie ramen deserves an entire list of its own. Last, but not least, here are a few special mentions:
I remember Candle Cafe as a cozy, elegant space with a fabulous seitan piccata. However, my last visit was over two years ago, so I can’t tell you much about Candle Cafe these days.
Upper East Side, Upper West Side, candlecafe.com
The small plates at Little Park are beautifully executed, and the space resembles an upscale farm house. While they do vegetarian very well, I don’t think they are able to accommodate vegans given how egg and dairy-focused the menu was.
The tasting menu at Semilla was one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in NYC, but I left it off the list for two reasons: 1) they can do a separate vegetarian tasting menu, but not a vegan version, and 2) that Michelin star will make your wallet cry.
Long before the By Chloe craze hit NYC, Terri was already slinging tasty vegan fast food. I’ll forever love Terri as I discovered their sandwiches right as I was getting serious about going vegetarian, but it didn’t make the final ten. Sorry, Terri!
Flatiron, Financial District, Midtown East, terrinyc.com
I wanted to share my thoughts on Kajitsu since someone recently asked about it. Their shojin tasting menu started on a strong note, but didn’t build up any further than that. Everything was traditional and very expected, which to be honest, I struggle to get enthused about.
Midtown West, kajitsunyc.com