Meat-and-dairy free in NYC: best vegan in the city
New York City is famous for its diverse restaurants, and that includes the number of vegan (and vegetarian) eateries. The following vegan spots feature soy and seitan-based dishes that are created using influences from various cuisines, including Korean, Indian and Mediterranean. Ordinary dishes like burgers, dumplings and pizza, at the hands of masterful chefs, are transformed and elevated into creative concoctions that taste delicious.
Blossom Du Jour
The idea of a Philly cheese steak made without cheese and without beef almost seems like a cruel joke. But the Philly Cheese Melt at Blossom Du Jour (multiple locations, blossomdujour.com) is not scary or cruel. In fact, it's delicious. The bread it's served on is springy and chewy, the seitan is well-seasoned by peppers and onions and the cheese is only a slightly strange consistency. Blossom also has great juices and nut milks (and a cleanse program). (Of course it does.) Also sold: salads, including a yummy kale salad, wraps, desserts and the flavorful Midtown Melt (pictured).
DON'T MISS: Seitan Philly cheese melt, $9.25
The philosophy of eating with a conscience - eating without the killing of animals -- is adamantly supported at Franchia (12 Park Ave., franchia.com), a venue reminiscent of a traditional Korean palace with a menu of tapas, noodles, bibimbap, vegetarian dumplings and sushi. The kitchen creates vegan versions of popular Asian dishes by substituting meat, seafood and dairy products with soy, mushrooms, fresh vegetables and seaweed, said owner Terri Choi.
DON'T MISS: Tofu with roasted kabocha squash in sesame soy sauce, $17.95
"Tiffin," today a term typically found in Indian English that means "second breakfast," usually refers to between-meal snacks, such as dosas or vada pavs. Curry Hill restaurant Tiffin Wallah (127 E 28th St., 212-685-7301) serves up an authentic South Indian menu peppered with paneer and masala and spiced by sambar idli bowls. Both vegan and kosher friendly, this restaurant definitely serves a wide variety of other flavors than the typical tikka masala.
DON'T MISS: Kadhai paneer masala with tomato and bell pepper, $10
A visit to vegan snack bar Foodswings (295 Grand St., Williamsburg, foodswings.net) will prove that a a vegan diet in no way expels a hearty meal of burgers, wings and fries. In the spirit of good old comfort food, drumsticks, burger patties and hot dogs are recreated with soy and seitan. Says manager Owen Burley, "Foodswings definitely makes the case that you can indulge yourself while enjoying a cruelty-free meal or 'milk' shake." Also sold at the restaurant are copies of Rynn Berry's "The Vegan Guide to New York City."
DON'T MISS: Sweet Southern fried "chicken" drumsticks, $2.50 each
Health expands beyond mere organic food today, and Candle 79 (154 E 79th St., candle79.com), with its eclectic international menu (including seitan piccata (pictured at right), tempeh and Moroccan spiced chickpea cakes) undoubtedly reaches far with its "green" philosophy. "We marry compassion and amazing flavor in every bite," says head of development Mark Doskow, referring to the restaurant's role in food sustainability, which led to its being recognized as the first Certified Green Restaurant by the city's Green Restaurant Association.
DON'T MISS: Ramp and morel spinach ravioli, $17
Viva Herbal Pizzeria
Italian pizza transcends the bounds of familiarity at Viva Herbal Pizzeria (179 Second Ave., 212-420-8801). Here, vegan whole-wheat crust pizzas are offered, as is an all-vegan spelt crust pizza menu, with concoctions like the "zen" (with ingredients including green tea herbed miso tofu, basil pesto and shitake mushrooms).
DON'T MISS: Zen spelt crust pizza, $6 a slice