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The Mercato Platter at Ras Plant Based
Ras Plant Based [Official]

19 Standout Vegan Dishes to Try in NYC Right Now

Dosas from Washington Square Park, the tofu fried tofu sandwich at Superiority Burger, and more

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The Mercato Platter at Ras Plant Based
| Ras Plant Based [Official]

The vegan boom in NYC is undeniable right now. New openings include a Cuban-influenced cafe and market in Clinton Hill, and a vegetable-focused, Chinese-leaning eatery on the LES. There are many reasons for this latest shift, including environmental, moral, and health concerns, but many cultures have practiced veganism for centuries and plenty of people have maintained a plant-based diet well before it was considered trendy. This means the city is also home to longstanding institutions like Richmond Hill’s Veggie Castle II, which has been cooking Jamaican Ital cuisine since 1998, and NY Dosas, the veteran Washington Square Park food cart that specializes in South Indian fermented crepes.

Beyond what’s offered at strictly vegan and vegan-friendly establishments, there is a wealth of dishes served across slice shops and tapas joints and noodle shops that qualify as plant-based fare. The fact is it’s never been as exponentially easy to eat vegan in New York as it is right now. Whether you’re committed, curious, or simply appreciate good food and don’t care what rules it abides by, here are 19 of the city’s most exceptional vegan dishes. — Additional reporting by Ryan Sutton

Emily Wilson is a freelance food writer based in Brooklyn.

A number of NYC restaurants have resumed indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeout and delivery service. The type of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the NYC Health Department’s website. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

For more New York dining recommendations, check out the new hotspots in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Hamptons and our guides to brunch, food halls and Michelin-starred restaurants right now.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Ancient Vegan Bowl at Teranga

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For a proper meat-free option at Pierre Thiam’s Teranga, consider the so-called “Ancient Vegan Bowl.” The dish includes tomato-spiced jolloff rice, kelewele (spicy roast plantains), ndambe (black eyed pea, sweet potato, and okra stew), and efo riro (a savory, umami-rich blend of dawadawa fermented locust bean, kale, okra, and red palm fruit oil). 

Teranga diners sit at tables decorated with pink and yellow tablecloths, eating and working on their computers, as artist Ezra Wube’s “Project Junction” installation decorates the wall Alex Staniloff/Eater

Special Pondicherry dosa at NY Dosas

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Sri Lankan native Thiru Kumar has been operating his 100 percent vegan street cart inside Washington Square Park since 2001. His dosas, the naturally fermented South Indian crepes made of rice and lentils, are notably fluffy and served with chewy coconut chutney and fragrant sambar. Call for the Special Pondicherry, which gets filled with spiced potatoes, chopped fresh vegetables, crispy coconut flakes, and an amount of chili paste equivalent to your answer for “how spicy?”

Browned crepe like dishes that hold potatoes and a yellow sauce on the side Emily Wilson

TFT at Superiority Burger

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On Thursdays, Superiority Burger slings their version of a fried chicken sandwich, called the TFT, which stands for “tofu fried tofu.” A giant puck of squishy marinated tofu is encased in a tangy and craggy breading, complemented with a peppery carrot-cabbage slaw, and finished with vegan mayo on a soft sesame bun. It’s a phenomenal creation, with each juicy bite imparting a tingling sensation.

A hand holding a burger with a sesame-studded bun and some vegetables poking out from it Emily Wilson

Macro plate at Souen

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Although Souen’s SoHo outpost closed in 2019, you can still order their iconic macro plate from the East Village location. Long favored by the fashion crowd, the wholesome dish comes with steamed kale, broccoli, kabocha squash, carrot, wakame, beans, and rice, plus your choice of dressing (get the miso-tahini). Request the restaurant’s craveable maze rice — brown rice mixed with marinated burdock, carrot, shiitake, and kombu — for an extra $2.

A white plate composed of green vegetables, and red lentils Emily Wilson

Mapo tofu at Spicy Moon Vegetarian Szechuan

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Intricately spicy and pungent, the mapo tofu at Spicy Moon is top-notch. Silky cubes of tofu are suspended in a bright-red, oily liquid made from fermented broad beans, garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, and chili peppers, then topped with a sprinkling of scallions. You won’t miss the minced meat, although Beyond Beef is available as an add-on.

Vegan mera mera soba at Cocoron

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Cocoron’s most satisfying bowl of soba is the signature mera mera, composed of their buckwheat noodles and a rich, spicy broth made of sesame sauce and dashi. The vegan version subs minced chicken with gingery stir-fried tofu, and the dish also comes with bok choy, scallions, and bean sprouts. Order it as a warm bowl or in dip form, where the noodles and broth are served separately.

Salt and pepper cauliflower at Fat Choy

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When it comes to fried snacks, Fat Choy’s salt and pepper cauliflower hits all the right notes, and then some. Each floret is coated in a garlic and jalapeño batter before being fried, resulting in a crunchy exterior that’s almost caramelized in nature, velvety insides, and a punchy flavor heightened by the creamy shallot dip they’re served with.

A brown paper tray with pieces of cauliflower in it and a white sauce on the side Fat Choy [Official]

Korean fried broccoli at Dirt Candy

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Cross Korean gochujang wings with popcorn chicken, then swap out the poultry for broccoli, and you get this marvelous creation courtesy of chef Amanda Cohen. Equal parts smoky, spicy, and sweet, each fried orb reveals a verdant-green inside—the reminder that you’re eating your vegetables.

Browned bits of cauliflower covered in sesame seeds and sliced spring onions Emily Wilson

Vegan Caesar at Scarr's Pizza

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You could go to Scarr’s for the Caesar alone and leave completely satisfied. Developed for the pizzeria by chef Gerardo Gonzalez (formerly of El Rey and Lalito), the romaine-based salad is tossed with a healthy amount of creamy cashew dressing, umami-heavy nutritional yeast in place of Parmesan, plus spirulina and seaweed for an anchovy-like flavor. The peppery breadcrumbs on top give the dish a feathery crunch, in contrast to a classic Caesar loaded with stiff croutons.

BBQ’d meat at Buddha Bodai

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Billing itself as “the original Kosher Vegetarian” restaurant in Chinatown, Buddha Bodai’s answer to char siu is an impressive feat. Although it’s technically an appetizer portion, the BBQ’d meat consists of a giant pile of honeyed, crystallized strips of seitan that produce a similar character to brisket burnt ends. Once you start eating them, you might find it hard to stop.

A black plastic container with brownish-red looking fried food in it Emily Wilson

Chicken caesar wrap at Seitan Rising Vegan Cafe

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The chicken Caesar wrap is not exactly a cheffy invention, but at Seitan Rising, it’s recreated to deliver a delicious dose of nostalgia. The deli makes all of its own mock meats, including chicken, which is cut into cubes and tossed with romaine, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, croutons, shreds of vegan parm, and house-made Caesar dressing, then tucked into a spinach flour wrap.

A wrap sliced in half with some browned pieces of food and green lettuce poking out Emily Wilson

Vegan bánh mì at High Low Beverage Company

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High Low Beverage Company brought on Matthew Tilden of the now-closed Scratchbread and forthcoming Seven Grain Army to develop a menu of bar snacks and Vietnamese-inspired treats. The highlight is his completely vegan bánh mì, a mastery in texture and flavor, composed of smoked mushroom pate, ginger-braised beets, pickled papaya slaw, cucumbers, jalapeño, cilantro, fried shallots, and smoked pepper cashew cream.

BBQ drumsticks at Veggie Castle II

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Veggie Castle II opened in Flatbush in 1998. That storefront is now closed, but at its second location in Richmond Hill, Queens  there’s a steam table loaded with Ital delicacies catering to the local Rastafarian community and the restaurant’s devoted followers alike. Finish off the mix-and-match plate with a few BBQ drumsticks, which are made of soy chicken and married with sticky-sweet sauce. Or just order a dozen and call it a day.

Breakfast torta at Guevara’s

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Although Guevara’s B.E.C. might be the go-to sandwich here, the breakfast torta is the real star. It’s a tall thing of beauty, with colorful layers including a vegan egg patty, smoked provolone “cheese” made with coconut oil and potato starch, purple cabbage, refried beans, slices of tomato and avocado, crispy king trumpet mushrooms in lieu of bacon, and mole mayo. The sandwich is just large enough to be alluring without requiring intimidated bites.

A sandwich sliced in half with different vegetables poking out from under the bun Emily Wilson

Vegan paella at Olea

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Olea’s vegan paella is a well-constructed argument against the dish’s necessity for meat. Since the Spanish rice-based showstopper is usually loaded with a mix of shellfish, chicken, and chorizo, Olea packs its plant-based alternative with seasonal vegetables ranging from zucchini to broccoli rabe, mushrooms, chickpeas, and leeks—all tied together with a saffron red-pepper sofrito, vegan garlic aioli, and an appropriately crispy bottom.

A small steel vessel with some green herbs, a white sauce, and a hand reaching out to grab a red handle Emily Wilson

Vegan congee at Maya Congee Cafe

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A blend of jasmine and brown rice, quinoa, and dates are used to make Maya’s silky congee. The porridge bowls come with all sorts of toppings, including an all-vegan combination of shaved broccoli and cabbage for crunch, savory fried shallots, salted peanuts, and a spicy turmeric salsa.

Pumpkin patty at Natural Blend Vegan Cafe & Juice Bar

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Head to one of Natural Blend’s four Brooklyn locations for their excellent vegan patties. The savory Jamaican turnovers come in flavors ranging from chicken to callaloo, but the best is the pumpkin. Flakey, buttery, and golden-orange pastry is the perfect foil to a soft and warming filling that tastes like a pumpkin pie, just less sweet.

A hand holding up a thinly sliced yellowish pastry above a white plate Emily Wilson

Tomato slice at F&F Pizzeria

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The tomato pie at F&F showcases why the pizzeria makes the ultimate New York slice: it’s all in the sauce and the dough. The former is a touch fruity and amply acidic, thanks to canned tomatoes, while the latter produces a flavorful crust with a delicately crisp bottom and a touch of gooeyness in the outer rim.

Two slices of pizza, one with a reddish exterior the other a yellower one placed on a white paper plate Emily Wilson

Mercato platter at Ras Plant Based

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Ras Plant Based makes injera that’s unrivaled in sourness and sponginess. Luckily, they give you more than enough roll-ups of the teff flour flatbread to sop up the array of complex, savory stews and slow-cooked vegetables that come in the Mercato platter. Rip off pieces to pinch up braised collards (gomen), fiery red lentils (missir), and more.

A yellow plate with multi-colored vegetables and lentils placed on it in a row. Ras Plant Based [Official]

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Ancient Vegan Bowl at Teranga

Teranga diners sit at tables decorated with pink and yellow tablecloths, eating and working on their computers, as artist Ezra Wube’s “Project Junction” installation decorates the wall Alex Staniloff/Eater

For a proper meat-free option at Pierre Thiam’s Teranga, consider the so-called “Ancient Vegan Bowl.” The dish includes tomato-spiced jolloff rice, kelewele (spicy roast plantains), ndambe (black eyed pea, sweet potato, and okra stew), and efo riro (a savory, umami-rich blend of dawadawa fermented locust bean, kale, okra, and red palm fruit oil). 

Teranga diners sit at tables decorated with pink and yellow tablecloths, eating and working on their computers, as artist Ezra Wube’s “Project Junction” installation decorates the wall Alex Staniloff/Eater

Special Pondicherry dosa at NY Dosas

Browned crepe like dishes that hold potatoes and a yellow sauce on the side Emily Wilson

Sri Lankan native Thiru Kumar has been operating his 100 percent vegan street cart inside Washington Square Park since 2001. His dosas, the naturally fermented South Indian crepes made of rice and lentils, are notably fluffy and served with chewy coconut chutney and fragrant sambar. Call for the Special Pondicherry, which gets filled with spiced potatoes, chopped fresh vegetables, crispy coconut flakes, and an amount of chili paste equivalent to your answer for “how spicy?”

Browned crepe like dishes that hold potatoes and a yellow sauce on the side Emily Wilson

TFT at Superiority Burger

A hand holding a burger with a sesame-studded bun and some vegetables poking out from it Emily Wilson

On Thursdays, Superiority Burger slings their version of a fried chicken sandwich, called the TFT, which stands for “tofu fried tofu.” A giant puck of squishy marinated tofu is encased in a tangy and craggy breading, complemented with a peppery carrot-cabbage slaw, and finished with vegan mayo on a soft sesame bun. It’s a phenomenal creation, with each juicy bite imparting a tingling sensation.

A hand holding a burger with a sesame-studded bun and some vegetables poking out from it Emily Wilson

Macro plate at Souen

A white plate composed of green vegetables, and red lentils Emily Wilson

Although Souen’s SoHo outpost closed in 2019, you can still order their iconic macro plate from the East Village location. Long favored by the fashion crowd, the wholesome dish comes with steamed kale, broccoli, kabocha squash, carrot, wakame, beans, and rice, plus your choice of dressing (get the miso-tahini). Request the restaurant’s craveable maze rice — brown rice mixed with marinated burdock, carrot, shiitake, and kombu — for an extra $2.

A white plate composed of green vegetables, and red lentils Emily Wilson

Mapo tofu at Spicy Moon Vegetarian Szechuan

Intricately spicy and pungent, the mapo tofu at Spicy Moon is top-notch. Silky cubes of tofu are suspended in a bright-red, oily liquid made from fermented broad beans, garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, and chili peppers, then topped with a sprinkling of scallions. You won’t miss the minced meat, although Beyond Beef is available as an add-on.

Vegan mera mera soba at Cocoron

Cocoron’s most satisfying bowl of soba is the signature mera mera, composed of their buckwheat noodles and a rich, spicy broth made of sesame sauce and dashi. The vegan version subs minced chicken with gingery stir-fried tofu, and the dish also comes with bok choy, scallions, and bean sprouts. Order it as a warm bowl or in dip form, where the noodles and broth are served separately.

Salt and pepper cauliflower at Fat Choy

A brown paper tray with pieces of cauliflower in it and a white sauce on the side Fat Choy [Official]

When it comes to fried snacks, Fat Choy’s salt and pepper cauliflower hits all the right notes, and then some. Each floret is coated in a garlic and jalapeño batter before being fried, resulting in a crunchy exterior that’s almost caramelized in nature, velvety insides, and a punchy flavor heightened by the creamy shallot dip they’re served with.

A brown paper tray with pieces of cauliflower in it and a white sauce on the side Fat Choy [Official]

Korean fried broccoli at Dirt Candy

Browned bits of cauliflower covered in sesame seeds and sliced spring onions Emily Wilson

Cross Korean gochujang wings with popcorn chicken, then swap out the poultry for broccoli, and you get this marvelous creation courtesy of chef Amanda Cohen. Equal parts smoky, spicy, and sweet, each fried orb reveals a verdant-green inside—the reminder that you’re eating your vegetables.

Browned bits of cauliflower covered in sesame seeds and sliced spring onions Emily Wilson

Vegan Caesar at Scarr's Pizza

You could go to Scarr’s for the Caesar alone and leave completely satisfied. Developed for the pizzeria by chef Gerardo Gonzalez (formerly of El Rey and Lalito), the romaine-based salad is tossed with a healthy amount of creamy cashew dressing, umami-heavy nutritional yeast in place of Parmesan, plus spirulina and seaweed for an anchovy-like flavor. The peppery breadcrumbs on top give the dish a feathery crunch, in contrast to a classic Caesar loaded with stiff croutons.

BBQ’d meat at Buddha Bodai

A black plastic container with brownish-red looking fried food in it Emily Wilson

Billing itself as “the original Kosher Vegetarian” restaurant in Chinatown, Buddha Bodai’s answer to char siu is an impressive feat. Although it’s technically an appetizer portion, the BBQ’d meat consists of a giant pile of honeyed, crystallized strips of seitan that produce a similar character to brisket burnt ends. Once you start eating them, you might find it hard to stop.

A black plastic container with brownish-red looking fried food in it Emily Wilson

Chicken caesar wrap at Seitan Rising Vegan Cafe

A wrap sliced in half with some browned pieces of food and green lettuce poking out Emily Wilson

The chicken Caesar wrap is not exactly a cheffy invention, but at Seitan Rising, it’s recreated to deliver a delicious dose of nostalgia. The deli makes all of its own mock meats, including chicken, which is cut into cubes and tossed with romaine, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, croutons, shreds of vegan parm, and house-made Caesar dressing, then tucked into a spinach flour wrap.

A wrap sliced in half with some browned pieces of food and green lettuce poking out Emily Wilson

Vegan bánh mì at High Low Beverage Company

High Low Beverage Company brought on Matthew Tilden of the now-closed Scratchbread and forthcoming Seven Grain Army to develop a menu of bar snacks and Vietnamese-inspired treats. The highlight is his completely vegan bánh mì, a mastery in texture and flavor, composed of smoked mushroom pate, ginger-braised beets, pickled papaya slaw, cucumbers, jalapeño, cilantro, fried shallots, and smoked pepper cashew cream.

BBQ drumsticks at Veggie Castle II

Veggie Castle II opened in Flatbush in 1998. That storefront is now closed, but at its second location in Richmond Hill, Queens  there’s a steam table loaded with Ital delicacies catering to the local Rastafarian community and the restaurant’s devoted followers alike. Finish off the mix-and-match plate with a few BBQ drumsticks, which are made of soy chicken and married with sticky-sweet sauce. Or just order a dozen and call it a day.

Breakfast torta at Guevara’s

A sandwich sliced in half with different vegetables poking out from under the bun Emily Wilson

Although Guevara’s B.E.C. might be the go-to sandwich here, the breakfast torta is the real star. It’s a tall thing of beauty, with colorful layers including a vegan egg patty, smoked provolone “cheese” made with coconut oil and potato starch, purple cabbage, refried beans, slices of tomato and avocado, crispy king trumpet mushrooms in lieu of bacon, and mole mayo. The sandwich is just large enough to be alluring without requiring intimidated bites.

A sandwich sliced in half with different vegetables poking out from under the bun Emily Wilson

Vegan paella at Olea

A small steel vessel with some green herbs, a white sauce, and a hand reaching out to grab a red handle Emily Wilson

Olea’s vegan paella is a well-constructed argument against the dish’s necessity for meat. Since the Spanish rice-based showstopper is usually loaded with a mix of shellfish, chicken, and chorizo, Olea packs its plant-based alternative with seasonal vegetables ranging from zucchini to broccoli rabe, mushrooms, chickpeas, and leeks—all tied together with a saffron red-pepper sofrito, vegan garlic aioli, and an appropriately crispy bottom.

A small steel vessel with some green herbs, a white sauce, and a hand reaching out to grab a red handle Emily Wilson

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Vegan congee at Maya Congee Cafe

A blend of jasmine and brown rice, quinoa, and dates are used to make Maya’s silky congee. The porridge bowls come with all sorts of toppings, including an all-vegan combination of shaved broccoli and cabbage for crunch, savory fried shallots, salted peanuts, and a spicy turmeric salsa.

Pumpkin patty at Natural Blend Vegan Cafe & Juice Bar