12 Black-Owned Vegan Restaurants In NYC
photo credit: Stephanie Kimberly
Forget avocado toast—some of the best vegan restaurants in the city serve food with Caribbean, African, and Southern influences. The Black-owned vegan restaurants on this list range from takeout counters stacked with Jamaican “beef” patties to excellent Ethiopian restaurants, and an upscale soul food spot in the East Village. (And yes, some of these restaurants also make very good avocado toast.)
Where would the vegan world be without jackfruit? The gigantic meaty fruit is the main reason we chase Black Rican Vegan all around the city—specifically, for their crispy jackfruit chicharrón and tangy citrus jackfruit pernil. This plant-based Puerto Rican pop-up also does incredible things with other meat substitutes, like “vistec” encebollado and mofonguitos made with walnut and mushroom meat. Black Rican sets up shop at La Fonda in East Harlem on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—and they’re available for delivery throughout the city every other day of the week. Follow them here.
Ras Plant Based specializes in plant-based Ethiopian food like tender mushroom tibs and meat-free dulet, and it’s also an excellent date night spot. Come here to eat injera with your person in a dimly lit hideaway full of colorful murals, or have one too many drinks on the upbeat patio outside. Romance has been part of Ras since its conception—it’s the restaurant love child of a married couple that met while working at Awash in Cobble Hill.
Cadence is a vegan restaurant in the East Village that specializes in Southern soul food. It’s from the team behind a bunch of other upscale vegan spots like Ladybird, Avant Garden, and Proletariat, and it’s the only place in the city where you’ll find dishes like smoked grits with fried oyster mushrooms, collard greens stuffed with succotash, and Southern fried lasagna with pine nut ricotta. If you’re planning a special occasion date night or birthday dinner with friends who don’t eat meat, give this spot a try.
HAAM is short for “Healthy As A Motha,” but health isn’t the first or even second reason we go to this restaurant in Williamsburg. We go here because they serve delicious Dominican and Trinidadian-inspired vegan food, and they know how to have a good time. You can order tall stacks of crispy oyster mushroom “chicharrón” and mofongo, presented like a king’s feast, or creamy queso plantain boats wearing a crown of microgreens. There’s also a full bar, and whether you’re sneaking in a drink during lunch or here for dinner, it’ll only take you one strong guava cocktail to start table dancing and ordering extra jerk chicken onigiris.
The best time to come to this Ethiopian restaurant in Greenpoint is weekend brunch. That’s when you’ll be treated to a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, where your host roasts, brews, and cups beans imported from Ethiopia, as incense burns around her. The coffee is served with free bread and popcorn while you wait for your platter of stewed vegetables and lentils. You can order dishes like kitfo, spiced with mitmita, or tangy portobello mushroom tibs a la carte, but we recommend coming with a group and ordering a combo. That way you can try six to eight dishes, which come with a full basket of injera.
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. They’ve nailed these soul food classics, but we’re most impressed with the oxtail. The faux meat has a velvety and chewy texture in all the right places, and it comes covered in gravy that we’d happily eat alone with their rice and peas. Come by on the weekend to enjoy a lively brunch scene on the patio with what feels like all of Frederick Douglass Blvd.
Soulkofa’s big blue awning reads “Vegan Health Food,” but they’re selling themselves short. They sell vegan African, Caribbean, and other miscellaneous foods that have a super homemade quality. The chickpea crab cakes and jerk chicken are our go-to orders, but the surprisingly smooth mac and cheese deserves a nod as well. It’s less grainy than the vegan mac you find at most other spots and more like Velveeta. There’s no seating here, so plan to get stuff to go.
Southern fried “shrimp” and shiitake bacon mac are the move at Urban Vegan Kitchen, a West Village spot from the team behind Blossom, an upscale vegan restaurant that opened back in 2005. The shrimp works best in po’boy form with their tangy remoulade, and you should get the creamy cashew mac topped with shiitake bacon for some added smokey flavor. They also make strong cocktails, so plan to stay for a couple rounds in the colorful space decked out with neon graffiti and goofy grayscale portraits of farm animals. You can also find the same casual fare at their sister restaurant Urban Vegan Roots in Queens.
At Greedi Vegan—the new, revamped location of longtime vegan mainstay Greedi Kitchen—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 founder Latisha Daring also supports other Black-owned businesses by stocking their products and hosting cultural events that help keep Black dollars circulating within the community. Check their IG for future happenings.
Uptown Veg has been feeding upper Manhattan’s vegan population since the '90s. Since then, the father-daughter duo behind the place has opened a second Harlem location and a third in Bed-Stuy, both of which focus on salads and juice. The original spot sells everything from plant-based chicken curry to Philly cheesesteaks that we find ourselves wanting to order even on our meat-eating days. The longtime Harlem business also serves the local unhoused community every night, seven days a week.
Many of the best vegan restaurants are inherently innovative, and Flatbush Caribbean restaurant Aunts et Uncles is always surprising us with what they can churn out of their plant-based 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 surprisingly 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.
There are several ways to approach a meal at Bunna, but your easiest and best route is The Feast: a giant plate of dishes like garlic collard greens, spicy red lentils, and kale salad with avocado (because we’re still in Brooklyn). The space also has a bar with Ethiopian-spiced margaritas and a decorated area at the center of the room where they do Ethiopian coffee ceremonies (“Bunna” translates to “coffee”) and sometimes host live music. Bring some friends to share your feast with.