NYCGuide

The Best Vegan Restaurants In NYC

Where to get completely plant-based dumplings, mac and cheese, croissants, and more.
The Best Vegan Restaurants In NYC image

photo credit: Greedi Vegan

If you're a vegan, you already know that the days of being limited to things like leafy greens, tofu, and an unknowable amount of french fries are long gone. There are so many restaurants in the city coming up with creative ways to make great-tasting food without using any animal products, and these are the best. Most of the places in this guide are fully vegan, and if they're not, you won't have any trouble finding plenty of options that'll work.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Bryan Kim

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At The Bowery Market, there’s a roughly eight-by-five-foot outdoor stall serving some of the city’s most stylish vegan food. Miami transplant Sunday C&C does a shiitake-stuffed papa relleno dressed up in kataifi, a fried chicken sandwich accessorized with huacatay gribiche, and rotating daily specials like mushroom gumbo and baby potatoes blanketed in Alabama white sauce. Swing by for a quick lunch, grab a stool by the register, and chat with the chef/owner while he dunks some lion’s mane mushrooms in the deep fryer.

When someone who has worked at McDonald’s decides to make a vegan Nigerian answer to the Big Mac, you pay attention. That’s what happened at Akara House, a counter-service spot in Crown Heights that puts akara on a squishy bun with vegan cheese, mayo, and pickles. The thick bean fritter is not like all those other dry, crumby, easy-to-choke-on veggie burgers—instead, it’s got an ultra-soft center and a crispy, crackly exterior that doesn’t get soggy, no matter how far you bring your sandwich to eat it. (We’d recommend Brower Park.)

Ras Plant Based is one of the only spots in the city specializing in plant-based Ethiopian food like tender mushroom tibs and meat-free dulet. From the flaky sambusas and spicy lentil salad to the huge platters of Ethiopian classics like kitfo made with pea protein, all of the dishes at this Crown Heights restaurant are memorable. Bring a date, or stop by for a casual weeknight meal. The colorful murals will make you feel like you're in a multisensory art exhibit.

Spicy Moon in the East Village serves vegan Szechuan food like dan dan noodles, vegetable wontons in chili oil, and mapo tofu that's so good you’ll wonder if the dish is better without meat. This spot is great for a casual dinner any night of the week, and there’s also a location in the West Village.

Aunts et Uncles is always surprising us with the inventiveness of their kitchen. Hearts of palm are transformed into fresh, herbaceous lobster rolls or subbed for saltfish in a fresh bake, and the dairy-free dough used for their patties is always flaky. The Brooklyn business is also a concept shop, where you can leisurely peruse through the clothes and books for sale while someone behind the counter makes you a chagaccino.

Most tasting-menu restaurants don’t easily accommodate vegan diners—and that’s partly what makes this vegetable-focused restaurant on the LES incredibly unique. Almost all of their dishes can be made vegan, and the seasonal menu might have zucchini soup dumplings with squash blossoms or eggplant with black sesame tahini. The $105 tasting menu comes with five courses, and the price includes gratuity.

The vegan Mediterranean food at this Chelsea restaurant is unabashedly over-the-top. Anixi embraces a “meat”-heavy menu, comprised mostly of incredible fake-meat dishes like family-sized platters of comically long kebab skewers, lamb cigars, and arak-cured salmon. You eat all of this in an opulent dining room lit by a succession of crystal chandeliers. Come here on a Saturday night with a plant-based crowd that wears fabulous faux furs and loves to party. 

Black Rican Vegan makes plant-based Puerto Rican classics that we crave just as much as the original versions. Jackfruit is the menu’s MVP, taking the place of pork in their tangy citrus pernil and crispy chicharrón. They also do great things with other meat substitutes, like mofonguitos made with walnut and mushroom meat. Black Rican sets up shop at La Fonda in East Harlem on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—and delivers throughout the city every other day of the week. Follow them here.

HAAM is short for “Healthy As A Motha,” but health is the last thing on our minds when we dine here. We like this Williamsburg restaurant first and foremost because they serve delicious Dominican and Trinidadian-inspired vegan food, and they know how to have a good time. You can get the classics, things like crispy oyster mushroom “chicharrón” and mofongo, or go wild with something new like their jerk chicken onigiri. Everything arrives with a date-night presentation, and they have a full bar with strong guava cocktails.

Buddha Bodai is a kosher and vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown. The menu isn’t 100% vegan but the few items made with eggs or dairy are clearly marked. There’s a long menu that includes things like dumplings, spring rolls, and various noodle dishes, as well as solid vegetarian versions of chicken, duck, and lamb. And if you’re looking for some dim sum, this is a great spot for that too. It doesn’t get insanely busy, most dishes cost less than $15, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money on alcohol because this place is BYOB.

Vegan Hood’s fried chicken has expertly seasoned skin, but the pea protein faux chick’n underneath doesn’t taste like an afterthought either. It only gets better from there: The super cheesy mac and cheese is nice and gooey, and the greens are brimming with flavor. Come by on the weekend to enjoy a lively brunch scene on the patio with what feels like all of Frederick Douglass Blvd.

At Greedi Vegan, you can eat life-changing soy fish and grits with country gravy in a chic dining room or on a cute back patio. Crispy oyster mushroom soul bowls and thick banana pudding are all they need to keep people coming through the door, but they also stock products from Black-owned businesses and host fun events. Check their IG for future happenings.

This place is like a lot of East Village restaurants in that it’s small, dark, crowded, and pretty loud. But Ladybird stands out because of their completely plant-based menu, which makes this spot a popular destination for vegans who want to have a fun night out. The kitchen does cheesy and creamy dishes really well. They serve the best vegan mac and cheese we’ve had, and it’s a genuine accomplishment if you can stop eating the coconutty crème brûlée topped with fresh raspberries before it’s all gone.

When we eat a vegan croissant, we usually say, “That’s pretty good, but we still miss the butter.” But we don’t say that at Clementine. This bakery and cafe in Clinton Hill has a full range of sweets like cupcakes and donuts, but the best items are the flaky pastries (the pain au chocolat and the chocolate banana kouign-amann, for example). For something savory, get the breakfast burrito with maple tempeh bacon or the crispy buffalo cauliflower with a tasty dill ranch sauce.

photo credit: Delice & Sarrasin

$$$$Perfect For:VegansDate NightBrunch
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Delice & Sarrasin is a vegan French restaurant in the West Village where the dishes look exactly like plates coming out of a kitchen in Paris. The tahini-based foie gras, buckwheat crêpes with smoked “salmon,” and orange crème brûlée are all quite reminiscent of the dishes they’re based on. If you’re a vegan who loves French food, this should be your go-to spot.

We love vegan junk food, and that’s what you’ll get at Next Level Burger. Pair any one of their signature burgers with an order of fries and a shake, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to be in a better mood. Some of their burgers use Beyond meat with a house seasoning blend, while others are made from scratch with a variety of non-meat ingredients. They also make a solid approximation of a chicken patty that tastes particularly good when served on a bun and covered in sauces and crunchy vegetables.

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