Best Of Vegan NYC: The Ultimate Eats Survey!

Below, enjoy a jam-packed guest blog by Steve that is delicious enough to make you want to eat your computer (if your computer was vegan) ...

Well, we are officially at the time of year where we do a lot of celebrating.  While celebrations have different purposes, they always have one thing in common: food.  And usually lots of food.  And hopefully lots of good food.  Our stomachs just said hello and goodbye to Halloween and Thanksgiving; Hanukkah (starts today!), Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve (and New Year's Day) are coming up, so our palates and stomachs have a lot to look forward to.  

Photo courtesy of Lula's Sweet Apothecary.
Soooo, while we're on the topic of celebrations and food, Lindsay and I would love to share with you an ongoing list of our favorite eats.  As many of you know (and for those who don't, you learn something new every day!), we lived in NYC for 8 years (on and off for the first couple, bouncing from our dormrooms to our homes during the summer).  However, we were not vegan back in those days, so our restaurant choices were vastly different than some of the amazing places we're about to mention.  Our good friend, Emerie Snyder, introduced me to my very first vegan eats experience: Atlas Cafe, and their amazing Vegan Treats cakes.  Eating as an omnivore at the time, I raved to everyone about this amazing cake that didn't have any dairy or eggs in it.  "WHAT?!" was the response I'd get back, "How do you make a cake without dairy or eggs?" But, ah-ha!, a little digging into the subject and I discovered you can make delicious cakes, entrees, and other foods without animal products of any sort.  And thus began the journey, stagnant for still a few years, but fully initiating last year into a full-fledged vegan dining extravaganza.

Photo courtesy of Candle 79.
Below, Lindsay and I will share our favorite eats from our beloved NYC.  But that's not all.  I've also surveyed 16 vegan eats experts from NYC who have shared their: Top 5 Restaurants, Top 5 Dishes, Top 3 Dessert Places, Favorite Grocery/Market, and Favorite Non-Food Shopping Locale (can't eat this one, but it's still vegan!).   With our picks plus theirs, we will have determined the ULTIMATE NYC VEGAN EATS list!  Which restaurant is #1?  Is it responsible for the best dish in the city?  And where can we get the most scrumptious dessert??!?!  Get your taste buds ready for action, and enjoy the list below!

Lindsay's Favorites:
Dish: Seitan Piccata (Candle 79), General Tso's Soy Protein (Dao Palate), Drumstix Combo Plate w/Mac 'N Cheese (Foodswings), Funghi E Salsiccia Pizza (Pala), Fettucini Alfredo (Cafe Blossom), Tempeh Reuben (Sacred Chow)
Grocery/Market: Whole Foods (Union Square, most frequented), Back to the Land (Park Slope, BK)
Non-Food: Payless Shoes (inexpensive, stylish vegan-friendly shoes!)

Steve's Favorites:
Restaurant: Foodswings, Blossom, The V-Spot, Dao Palate, Caravan of Dreams, Pala
Dish: Chicken Parm Hero (V-Spot), Seitan Piccata (Candle 79), Pad See Ew (Dao Palate), Drumstix Combo Plate w/Mozzarella Stix (Foodswings), Feijoadinha w/Smokey Tempeh (Blossom),  Chickpea "Tuna" Melt (Terri)
Dessert: Lula's Sweet Apothecary, Atlas Cafe, Peacefood Cafe
Grocery/Market: Whole Foods, Back to the Land
Non-Food: Evolve Accessories (not much of a shopper, so a big shout-out to Kate Wolff and her beautiful jewelry! North Jersey... New York City... what's the difference! We still love her. Lindsay sports one of her necklaces now....)

And now the expert group's ultimate consensus.......

Photo courtesy of Sacred Chow.
Best Restaurant
3rd Place: Caravan of Dreams, 'SNice (West Village, SoHo, Park Slope), & Foodswings
2nd Place: Blossom, Cafe Blossom, & Peacefood Cafe
1st Place: Sacred Chow & Candle 79

Best Dish
3rd Place: Drumstix Combo Plate w/Mac 'N Cheese, Mozzarella Stix, and a Shake (Foodswings)
2nd Place: Vegan Panini, and other sandwiches ('SNice); Dijon Marinated Raw Kale, and other sandwiches/yummy items (Sacred Chow)
1st Place: Seitan Piccata (Candle 79)

Best Dessert
3rd Place: Cocoa V
2nd Place: Atlas Cafe
1st Place: Lula's Sweet Apothecary

Best Grocery/Market
3rd Place: Fairway & Trader Joe's (multiple locations)
1st Place: Whole Foods (multiple locations)

Best Non-Food Shopping Locale
2nd Place: Sustainable NYC
1st Place: MooShoes

Now while this is a comprehensive list of the most amazing restaurants, delicious food, and fun vegan-friendly places to shop, there are many, many, many, many (many?), many more places in NYC.  You can ask Lindsay, myself, and our other experts - choosing our top lists was not an easy task.  So I want to give credit to all of the (many?) many places that didn't quite make the cut, but found a place in our hearts....and stomachs:

Lan Cafe, Vegetarian Dim Sum House, Pure Food & Wine, Candle Cafe, Organic Grill, Wild Ginger, Angelica Kitchen, Counter, Red Bamboo, Soy and Sake, Quantum Leap, Raw Soul, Four Course Vegan (BK), Sun-In-Bloom (BK), Land, Health Nut, Uptown Juice Bar, Curly's Vegetarian Lunch, Pukk, Viva Herbal Pizzeria, JivaMuktea, Babycakes, Stogo, Champs Family Bakery (BK), Kyotofu, One Lucky Duck, Sweet Cheeks Vegan Bakery, Lifethyme Market, Commodities Natural Market, Westerly Natural Market, Perelandra Natural Food Center (BK), Queens Health Emporium (Queens), Park Natural Foods (BK), Fresh Start Organic Market (Queens), Angels and Kings Bar, Vaute Couture, Kaight, Pine Box Rocks Shop Bar (BK), Bluestocking Bookstore

(Due to the multitude of vegan locales, I've only included the links for our top faves - please check out the others on this massive list of goodness though!

A Note: while most restaurants are vegan, a few are not entirely vegan, but vegan-friendly nonetheless.)

A incredibly big thank you to my NYC vegan eats experts: Jasmin Singer (of Our Hen House),  Liubov Grechen (of Sweet Cheeks Vegan Bakery), Matt Rice (of Mercy for Animals), Marisa Miller Wolfson (of Vegan At Heart), Kate Wolff (of Evolve Accessories), Calla Wright (of Farm Sanctuary), Molly Glenn (of The Vegan Everything), Michael Parrish DuDell (of VegDaily), and fellow activists Susan Vancil, Emerie Snyder, Robyn Lazara, Ariela Rubin, David Benzaquen, Rachel Kay-Platoni, Trista Norton, and Dan Truax.

If you live in NYC, are visiting NYC, or just passing through NYC, stop by one (or more) of these amazing eateries for some delectable vegan yums!

(Coming later in 2011: Lindsay and Steve's Top LA Vegan Eats!  Leave some room for more food!)


CurlyLocks said…
Thanks for all the tips...wish you were here to dine with me! I've been looking for a good vegan restaurant in the NYC Theater District and haven't found one. Any suggestions...anyone?
Lindsay said…
Zen Palate Ruth! You gotta try it - it's amazing. :)
dirtyduck said…
ugh im so mad at myself for wasting all my time in san diego not going to vegan restaurants!!!
Abby Bean said…
CurlyLocks, it's not in the theater district, but walkable: definitely check out Hangawi; it's amazing.

Other than that, I completely agree with your list: Lula's, Sacred Chow, and C 79 all the way!!
CurlyLocks said…
Thanks Lindsay and Abby. After the Princeton Zen Palate closed, I just didn't think about the Zen Palate restaurants in New York. There is one on 9th at 46th. I also checked out Hangawi on-line. Sounds good, too! If I knew we would be able to grab a cab quickly, we'd go to Candle 79!
Abby Bean said…
Oh my goodness, CurlyLocks, were you in love with the Princeton veggie burger w/ hummus & sprouts? Delish!
Hope said…
We at Foodswings just wanted to thank you for including us as one of your fav vegan places! Hope you are both doing well in LA and come see us if/when you're back in town.
Lindsay said…
Hope - it is our sincere pleasure. We are lovers and fans of your joint and always will be!
Rhea Parsons said…
Don't forget the Bronx: Vegan's Delight (take-out and market) and H.I.M. are two Ital places that not serve vegan food but the food is organic, mostly salt-free and they don't use any refined or processed ingredients.
Oh, and they are both delicious :)