Anna is a New Yorker writing about her globe-trotting, culinary, and healthy living adventures.
I'm a self-proclaimed wannabe vegetarian who, after a couple of months of being away from New York, realized how good New Yorkers have it in terms of vegetarian restaurants options. There are literally hundreds of both vegetarian and vegan restaurants in New York!
My boyfriend is seriously lacto-ovo-vegetarian, so we try to just dine in vegetarian restaurants—which I'm all for, but that's been really hard lately since we temporarily moved to Africa about four months ago. Now we literally have just three restaurants to go out to for dinner that offer decent vegetarian options. Needless to say, we miss New York's many awesome vegetarian restaurants.
This list is what we consider to be the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in New York City. Eight are in the city, and two are in Brooklyn (a Brooklynite can't resist keeping her home borough's restaurants off this list!).
Manhattan Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants
- Dirt Candy
- Candle Cafe
- Red Bamboo
- Quantum Leap
Brooklyn Veg Restaurants
- Vegetarian Ginger
- Foodswings (Closed)
Vegetarian Restaurants in Manhattan
1. Dirt Candy
Dirt Candy is one of those vegetarian restaurants where vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters can sit side-by-side enjoying every dish on the menu pondering its greatness. Of all the vegetarian restaurants I've tried, this one is somewhere on top. All the dishes at this establishment are named after the vegetable that's featured in that particular dish and they are gorgeously presented. For appetizer, I strongly recommend going with the Mushroom which comes with a portobello mousse that's to die for and really delicious toasts. As an entrée, try the Cauliflower. I'm not normally a fan of cauliflower but the way it's prepared at Dirt Candy - smoked on a bed of greens over delicious mashed potatoes - it's unbelievably delicious. For dessert, try the popcorn pudding.
After reading up a bit about the restaurant, I was amazed to find out that it's one of the only Michelin-recommended vegetarian restaurants in the states and it's received admirable accolades such as “Best Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC” by amNew York, L Magazine and The Village Voice. It was also voted as “Best Vegan Restaurant in NYC” in a Citysearch survey.
- Address: 86 Allen St.
- Neighborhoods: Lower East Side
- Tel. number: (212) 228-7732
- Hours: Tues - Sat, 5:30pm - 11pm (Closed on Sundays and Mondays)
Blossom has has three locations in the city, all serving amazingly delicious vegan cuisine. There's Blossom Restaurant and two Cafe Blossoms (at 466 Columbus Ave & the other at 41 Carmine St.). Blossom Restaurant is another one of those vegan spots in New York that both vegans and omnivores equally totally love. They have an amazing menu which features dishes such as "Porcini Cigars" which are just unbelievable as an appetizer and my personal favorite entrée - the "Port Wine Seitan" which is seitan cutlets seared in a wine and mushroom sauce, served over garlic mashed potatoes. I'm salivating just writing about it!
Blossom serves brunch on weekends.
Blossom was voted "Best Vegetarian Restaurant 2008 & 2009" by Time Out NY. I have absolutely no objections to that!
- Address: 187 9th Ave (between 21st St & 22nd St)
- Neighborhood: Chelsea
- Tel. number: (212) 627-1144
- Hours: Fri - Sun noon, - 2:45pm; Sun - Thur 5 - 9:30pm; Fri - Sat 5 - 10pm
3. Candle Cafe
Candle Cafe opened its doors to New Yorkers all the way back in 1984. It's a restaurant / juice bar that now has three locations - two Candle Cafes with one one the Upper West Side and another on the Upper East side, as well as Candle 79 (located at 154 E 79th St) - the more upscale version. The establishment sticks to its core cause of sustainability by providing customers local organic food in an eco-friendly environment.
- Address: 2427 Broadway (between 89th and 90th St.) & 1307 3rd Ave (between 74th and 75th St.)
- Neighborhood: Upper West Side & Upper East Side locations
- Phone number: (212) 769- 8900 & (212) 472- 0970
- Hours: Monday - Saturday 11:30am - 10:30pm; Sunday 10:30 - 9:30pm
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4. Red Bamboo
I love Red Bamboo, a tiny vegan restaurant specializing in soul food. The restaurant cooks up memorably delicious specialties in mock versions of meat-eaters' favorites such as "Creole Soul Chicken" that has the looks and consistency of real fried chicken and they even have BBQ ribs! You need to leave room for dessert when you're there because they're simply heavenly.
- Address: 140 W 4th St (between 6th Ave & MacDougal St)
- Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
- Tel. number: (212) 260-1212
- Hours: Noon - Midnight
If you're looking for vegetarian food on the go, stop by one of Maoz's many locations. They're at Union Square, Gramercy, and Flatiron and specialize in Middle Eastern goodies like falafels and have a toppings bar concept going where you can add what you want and as often as you want.
- Address: 38 Union Sq E
- Neighborhoods: Union Square
- Tel. number: (212) 260-1988
- Hours: Mon - Thurs, 11 am - 11 pm; Fri - Sat 11 am - 12 am; Sun 11 am - 10 pm
6. Quantum Leap
Quantum Leap is a cute restaurant with amazing veggie burgers. With your burger, you'll get a side salad that has a carrot-ginger dressing that's to die for! It's a great place also to get delivery and everything arrives just right.
- Address: 226 Thompson St. (between West 3rd St & Bleecker St)
- Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
- Tel. number: (212) 677-8050
- Hours: Mon - Sat, 11:30am - 10:00pm; Sun 11:30am - 9:30pm
Quintessence is a nice restaurant with a spa-like vibe, serving up 100% organic, vegan and raw ingredients. If you're going vegan/raw, this restaurant will make the whole idea seem very promising because the food is so good!
- Address: 263 E 10th St. (between 1st Ave & Avenue A)
- Neighborhood: East Village
- Tel. number: (646) 654-1823
HanGawi prides itself in being a "vegetarian shrine" and really delivers in proving guests with an awesome experience! Upon entering, you get asked to take off your shoes after which you're taken to a really low-laying table where you'll be enjoying vegan Korean cuisine that's prepared in a way that dates back to ancient times. Specialties like vegetarian dumplings, tofu in clay pots, bean curd with kimchi are beautifully presented and is very tasty. Enjoy it as you drink traditional teas, marvel in the Korean artifacts around you, and listen to zen music softly playing in the background.
HanGawi was rated Zagat's "Best Korean Restaurant in New York City" in 2012.
- Address: 12 E 32nd St (between 5th Ave & Madison Ave)
- Neighborhood: Midtown East
- Tel. number: (212) 213-0077
- Hours: Mon - Fri, noon - 3pm, 5pm - 10:30pm; Sat 1pm - 10:30pm; Sun 1pm - 10pm
Vegetarian Restaurants in Brooklyn
1. Vegetarian Ginger
I used to live down the block from Vegetarian Ginger and can say that this place awesome. They do a nice vegan twist to Chinese dishes like Szechuan Seitan and I love the Hot & Sour soup. The lunch special is just $5.95 so it's a super great deal!
- Address: 128 Montague St, 2nd Fl (between Henry St & Clinton St)
- Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
- Tel. number: (718) 246-1288
2. Foodswings (Closed)
Foodswings is a great vegan fast food restaurant in Williamsburg with goodies such as mock "buffalo wings" and delicious veggie burgers at inexpensive prices.
- Address: 295 Grand St (between Roebling St & Havemeyer St)
- Neighborhoods: Williamsburg
- Tel. number: (718) 388-1919