It wasn’t long ago that we had no Impossible beef to put in our veggie burgers, or globs of chicken or ham TVP (textured vegetable protein) to toss into curries, salads, and banh mi sandwiches. Back then, the most common meat substitute was mushrooms, and in many ways it’s still the best. Mushrooms are simple and natural; they come in innumerable edible varieties, some cultivated, others foraged; they have distinctive woodsy flavors that can easily match meat for maximum umami. And they can be prepared dozens of ways: sauteed, baked, fricasseed, poached, even used raw in salads and carpaccios, or popped in the mouth as snacks.
Most of the mushroom dishes listed here are vegetarian and even vegan. Some are simply prepared while others are drenched in butter. Here then are some of our favorite mushroom items to hunt down in New York City.