Great NYC Restaurants for Vegans and Vegetarians
Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto

Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto

Great NYC Restaurants for Vegans and Vegetarians

newyork , Ethiopia , Israel
Spencer Jones
Spencer Jones Jun 24, 2021

New York City is like The United Nations of eating— there’s nothing unusual about seeing Jamaican, Chinese, French and Ethiopian spots on the same block. Formal NYC restaurants can be found alongside grab and go holes in the wall. And with a big city comes more choices for folks with diets differing from the mainstream.

Here are five NYC restaurants that are either completely vegan/vegetarian, or offer an extensive menu of dishes free from animal products.

1. Café Tsion

 

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Café Tsion is located on St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, and owned by Beejhy Barhany, a Black woman born in Ethiopia and raised in Israel.

In her interview with Today, she explained why she chose Harlem to open her business. “It is, at large, the mecca of Black culture, and for me, it’s an honor to continue that and be part of it.”

The restaurant has a central dining area and bar, with a terrace out back.  There are plenty of winners on the menu, but the Veggie Combo is to die for, consisting of ground chickpeas, cabbage, red lentils, split peas, and collard greens. This is all served on Injera, a sourdough flatbread made from Teff flour. There’s no need for utensils with this dish. Simply tear off a piece of Injera, use it to pick up the vegetables, and be delighted.  Pair your meal with one of the many wines and cocktails, and enjoy the live music featuring local and visiting talent.

Compassion and community are two of Café Tsion’s staples. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it provided meals to workers on the front lines and the hungry, and some of its employees are refugees and asylees.

 

2. Peacefood

 

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Peacefood, owned by Peter and Eric Lu, is purely vegan, but it has enough to attract non-vegans as well. According to the website, it seeks “to advocate love, harmony, and peace one bite at a time.”

The meat imitation dishes (made with soy or seitan) are pretty close taste wise to the real thing. Some meals are Asian inspired, like the delicious Pan-seared Shanghai Dumplings and Raw Sushi Rolls. The “Chicken” and Waffles add a soul food twist. The desserts are fantastic, such as the Raspberry Crumb Bar and the Raw Key Lime Pie.

At present, there are two Peacefood locations, one just off Union Square and one on the Upper West Side.

3. Beyond Sushi

 

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Don’t be fooled by the name— Beyond Sushi offers a lot more than sushi.

The food and the presentation are equally great, evident in the Spicy Jackfruit “Crab” cakes, which taste so much like real crab, even dedicated seafood lovers will be impressed.

For sharing, check out the Glazed Impossible Meatballs, Cauliflower “Wings” (okay, these look nothing like actual wings, but taste great just the same) and the Fried Chick’n Bao. These dishes are also quite affordable at less than $20 without taxes.

 

 

4. Ras

 

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Ras, another Ethiopian eatery, is on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn. Entirely vegan, it’s the brainchild of Romeo and Milka Regalli, who wished to honor their Ethiopian roots by making food that is “simple yet insanely complex, made with love and bursting with flavor.”

Ras offers just about everything Café Tsion does, with seitan as a substitute for meat. Check out the exotic cocktails like the Mango Mitmita and Ginger Guava Lemonade (with a white rum base).

 

 

5. Red Bamboo

 

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Red Bamboo on West 4th, markets itself as  a “vegan comfort food” spot, and that’s not an exaggeration. If you’re on a diet,  this is just the place for a cheat meal.

The menu goes on forever, with vegan twists on popular meat dishes such as Creole Soul  “Chicken”, Curry Wings, and the “Chicken” Parmesan Hero.  The taste will really make you appreciate just how far vegan cooking has come over the years.

Red Bamboo even offers vegan wine and beer  (yes, there is such a thing, and it has to do with how they are processed). If you have any room left in your stomach, grab a milkshake, made with soy, coconut, or almond milk.