One of my favorite places in the world is New York City. I have been fortunate enough to travel here and there and NYC is just incomparable to anything else. Everything is fucking cool from the skyline to the energy, people’s attitude and vibrant diversity, activities and of course the food! I have been going to this awesome city since I was a kid but hadn’t been back since I’d become vegan. So, this year for my birthday I wanted to explore the vegan corners and alleys of New York City, and I am happy to say I was not disappointed!
To preface my NYC vegan chronicles, I have to give a disclaimer that I was traveling on a budget and did not get to eat at a vegan restaurant/café for every meal. There were definitely some Chipotle/Taco Bell runs, and PB&J’s being made from time to time but, the places I did get to try were phenomenal!
You cannot start off a weekend in New York City without a warm bagel. I didn’t have to search far and wide to find that most bagel shops there are vegan friendly offering a variety of tofu spreads to smother all over the toasted goodness! So, to begin we decided to head over to Ess-A-Bagel in Midtown Manhattan. We waited in line for about 45 minutes but if you are not in a rush, I think it is well worth the wait! Otherwise, if you get there early morning I am sure there is not much of a queue.
As I looked through their menu I was shocked to see so many tofu spread (vegan cream cheese) options such as sundried tomato, scallion, herb, vegetable, olive, and raison/walnut flavored tofu spreads! I am kind of a simple girl and sometimes skeptical of crazy flavors, so I went with the plain tofu spread on a toasted everything bagel.
The place was so packed that we walked back to our hotel and ate it in their little breakfast area and even got some OJ to go with our breakfast LOL! It was still nice and warm and that first bite was glorious! I’ve been vegan for a year now but I honestly believe it tasted exactly like a normal bagel with cream cheese. The tofu spread had the perfect, thick consistency and combined so well with the strong flavor of the everything bagel. I did try a dollop of the spread by itself and it didn’t taste like much (it had a subtle flavor but I can’t put my finger on how to describe it) but with the bagel it just absorbs the flavor and tastes delicious! If you have doubts, I would probably go with one of the other flavored tofu spreads.
I personally give Ess-A-Bagel a 10 out of 10 for this simple but heavenly vegan bagel sandwich!
Between all the fun and games, we ran into Beyond Sushi at Chelsea Market! I had read about this place before arriving to NYC and got really excited when we randomly came across it, so naturally we had to have lunch there.
Beyond Sushi is 100% vegan and a pioneer of the plant-based sushi movement in NYC with multiple locations throughout the city. Their menu is full of creative Asian-inspired food items and of course their famous green rolls!
We got the “Spicy Mang” roll which consists of black rice, avocado, mango and English cucumber topped with spicy veggies! We also ordered the “Spicy Shroom” rice paper wrap which consisted of baby greens, soba noodles, spicy bean sauce, enoki mushrooms, shiitake, portabella, pickled ginger, cashews, and a shiitake truffle sauce.
Both of these menu items were dope AF! Very refreshing and healthy but still had massive, bold flavors bursting in your mouth with every bite! Again, my personal taste preferred the “Spicy Mang” roll (10 out of 10) because I just love classic sushi rolls but the rice wrap (9 out of 10) was delicious as well.
Our second day began with a delightful brunch at byCHLOE. This place also has multiple locations around the city (and country!) and apparently is an NYC vegan favorite so we had to try it!
We kind of went a little crazy and ordered quite a few items off their menu:
- The Early Bird – scrambled tofu, spinach, maple sausage, market greens on 7-grain toast (8 out of 10)
- The Sunrise – scrambled tofu, spicy seitan chorizo, black bean salsa, avocado, and crema in a whole wheat tortilla (10 out of 10)
- Mornin’ Glory – scrambled tofu, maple sausage, avocado, and siracha on potato buns (10 out of 10)
- Quinoa Hashbrowns – with sour cream, smoked paprika, and scallions (10 out of 10)
- Daily Pancakes (Apple Cinnamon) – with whipped maple butter and coconut whipped cream (8 out of 10)
I know that seems like a lot but can you blame us! How amazing do those all sound?! I’m glad we went all out because everything tasted even better than it sounds!
After out fantastic brekkie/brunch session we decided to walk it off at The Highline which is an elevated park on what used to be New York’s Central Railroad. Great place to take a stroll or just hang out at one of their bleacher/viewing areas.
Since this was the day of my birthday we decided to get a bit fancy and go to Candle 79 for dinner. This is a beautiful, fine-dining, full vegan kitchen. Probably the best vegan restaurant I have ever been too! I love ANY full vegan kitchen but they are usually breakfast/café style restaurants with similar menu items. Don’t get me wrong, I live for this stuff but it’s nice to know us vegans can be high-class broads (or dudes) sometimes and eat a classy evening meal with our pinkies up and everything!
Candle 79’s menu is a beautiful array of typical fancy restaurant meals and desserts made vegan! We ordered a few listed below:
- That day’s special which was the Lobster-Mushroom Ravioli – with sautéed spinach, cashew parm, and truffled tomato sauce (10 out of 10!!!)
- The Wild Mushroom Crepe – with summer veggies, spinach, tempeh, garlic truffle aioli, and corn-tomato-jalapeño salad (10 out of 10!!!)
- The Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms – sautéed string beans, onions & almonds, spicy tomato sauce, cherry salad, and added tempeh (9 out of 10!)
- Berry Crumble – fresh berries, almond crumble, almond-cocnut cream, strawberry sauce and huckleberry icecream (OMG 10 out of 10!!!!)
Notice my ratings are super exaggerated LOL, but really they are NOT because these dishes were THAT incredible! Along with the food, the place was beautiful and the staff was super sweet and attentive. Our overall experience was a 1,000 out of 1,000! My only complaint (which is not really a bad thing) is the dim lighting because it made picture taking a bit difficult. So, I apologize for the low-quality photos of our amazing meals. They definitely do NOT do them justice but they are for you to get an idea of what everything looked like!
The Bagel Store:
Our last day in NYC also began with a bagel (duh!). This time we branched out and crossed the bridge over to Brooklyn. I had seen and heard of the famous rainbow bagels in NYC but had never tried them, so we headed over to The Bagel Store for a colorful breakfast.
The line was out the door here as well (for good reason) but we were determined to get our hands on an NYC bagel for the last time before our departure! This bagel place has normal bagels, rainbow bagels, cragels (half bagel, half croissant), and of course another variety of tofu spreads! Usually we each get something different off the menu in order to try multiple items, but this time we both had our hearts set on the rainbow bagel! And what better to go with this colorful beauty than a bright pink strawberry tofu spread!
This combination made for a sweet (almost donut-like) flavor. It was not what I expected but it was a pleasant surprise! I liked that it was totally different than our first bagel of the trip and that tofu spread definitely had a lot more flavor than the plain one. If you have a sweet tooth this is the bagel for you! (9 out of 10)
One of my favorite things to do when in NYC is walk the Brooklyn Bridge. It was Labor Day so we were sometimes shoulder to shoulder but the views and the nice breeze make it worthwhile!
Blossom Du Jour:
Our last vegan stop of the trip was Blossom Du Jour for lunch. This plant-based café has multiple locations around NYC like many of the others. It has a quick-service feel and size but the food is exceptional and great for the fatty inside all of us!
The whole trip we were trying to stay away from the typical sandwiches we get from most vegan cafés, but once we saw another customer’s order we decided otherwise! Our lunch that day became a Philly cheese seitan sandwich and the “Midtown Melt” which was like a panini with Cajun-spiced seitan, v-cheese, agave, guacamole, lettuce, and chipotle aioli.
The Philly sandwich was perfection (10 out of 10)! And the Melt was a close second (8 out of 10). The reason for this is because I am still getting used to seitan in a thick cutlet form. I personally prefer when it’s cut in smaller pieces the way it was in the first sandwich. Otherwise, it was still delicious and I know that style of seitan is not a problem for most, so go for it if you are intrigued!
Of course, we couldn’t leave without dessert so we each got a Butterfinger “milk” shake. Let me repeat that……BUTTERFINGER MILK SHAKE!!! If that does not make you start salivating instantly just take a gander at the photo of it below! This peanut buttery, chocolatey concoction was probably the best part of our trip. Hands down best milkshake I’ve ever had vegan or non-vegan!
Once we came down from the high of this unbelievable meal we spent the rest of our day strolling through Central Park and Times Square before departing on our flight back home.
All in all, I truly enjoyed getting to know New York City in a different light. I say it’s a vegan food mecca and all of us plant-based foodies should experience it along with the rest of this city’s charm. These were only a few of the MANY vegan options there are in NYC so I can’t wait to go back and try some more!
Let me know if you’ve been to any these places or if you have any other NYC vegan eatery suggestions 🙂