It turns out, there are a variety of things you can deep fry, reduce to a gravy, or transform into a creamy bowl of carbs that have nothing to do with meat or dairy. Harlem’s Vegan Hood cooks soul food while making one big compromise—no animal products—and no others when it comes to flavor. Their food will make you sing its praises up and down Frederick Douglass Blvd.
We’re not ashamed to admit that we mostly eat fried chicken to get as much crunchy, salty chicken skin into our mouths as we can. The fried chicken at Vegan Hood has marvelous, expertly seasoned skin, but the pea protein faux chick’n underneath doesn’t taste like an afterthought. It only gets better from there. The super-cheesy mac and cheese is nice and gooey with some smoky spice to it, 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 gungo peas.
Our favorite time to come by is weekend brunch, when you can drink some poptails (cocktails with popsicles sticking out of them) in a cheerful space covered in foliage and flowers. “Vegan” doesn’t need to mean you’re the sort of person who wakes up at 6am and eats a raw food diet. Sometimes, you just want some pea protein dunked in a deep fryer.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.
Chix’n & Waffles
A thin, crispy waffle and "chix'n" that's expertly seasoned inside and out with a slightly spicy, peppery blend. This is some of the best fried chix'n or chicken in a neighborhood with plenty of good fried chicken to go around.
Mac & Cheese
In terms of creaminess and cheesiness, this mac is on point. But what makes it particularly memorable is the special spice mix in the sauce. We're not totally sure if it's the same cajun house blend they use in some of their other dishes, but we need some mixed into any and all cheesy dishes we eat going forward.
Vegan Hood should get some kind of award for finally bringing plant-based oxtails into the NYC food landscape. These ones are made of a faux beef product and have a soft, velvetty texture—but the rich, salty gravy is the star of the show.
Stuffed with beyond beef, onions, and peppers, these are solid empanadas with a decently flaky crust. They're good but pretty standard, so you should order something more interesting unless you happen to really want empanadas.
Golden Oreo & Chocolate Oreo Pudding
We love both of these rich, super sweet puddings. The golden option has creamy vanilla pudding layered with Oreos and bananas, and the other uses chocolate pudding. Both are served super cold.