As one of the biggest cultural melting pot of the world, New York City also happens to be refreshingly vegan-friendly. NYC has a history of blended ethnicities and cultures, of immigrants hailing from all parts of the world. This, combined with a shift in values towards a more earth and animal-friendly society, means that plant-based eaters can try just about any kind of cuisine imaginable in The Big Apple.
For Italian: Double Zero
Website |Address: 65 2nd Ave.
People come to NYC for the pizza, and they want the good stuff. Matthew Kenney, aka the God of Plant-Based Restauranteurs, opened up the first Double Zero restaurant (they will soon be expanding to Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Boston, and Philadelphia) in East Village as an homage to arguably America’s favorite food. Because, come on, who doesn’t love pizza?
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this place is life-changing. After delving into a dairy-free lifestyle, I thought I was forever doomed to tasteless pizza topped with an un-melted, rubbery, sad excuse for cheese. This was until I made it to Double Zero. Featuring local, seasonal ingredients, house-made tree-nut cheeses, and a selection of organic, bio-dynamic wines, this plant-based pizzera cannot be missed.
For Korean: Hangawi
Website | Address: 12 East 32nd Street
Bibimbap and kimchi lovers will love this plant-based restaurant, which is owned and operated by Korean natives. The Ancient Eastern wisdom of its owners translates into a menu that focuses on healthy, balanced, vegetarian meals. They always have seasonal highlights on the menu, which exist to support the body through the changes in seasons. Their zen-like atmosphere turns a meal at Hangawi into an almost spiritual experience. You are asked to leave your shoes at the entrance, just as you would at a traditional Korean house.
For Ethiopian: Bunna Cafe
Website | Address: 1084 Flushing Ave. Brooklyn
Wrapping your food up in spongey injera bread and eating with your hands is all part of the experience when it comes to Ethiopian cuisine. Bunna Cafe in Brooklyn is an entirely plant-based restaurant serving Ethiopian food, which is made up primarily of slow-cooked vegetables and lentils. The food is colorful, flavor packed, and delicious. If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing the glory that is Ethiopian cuisine, let Bunna Cafe sweep you off your feet.
For Mexican: Jajaja Mexicana
Website | Address: 162 E Broadway
Jajaja Mexicana is “a patchwork of culture, community, and comida threading plant-based eaters to the Mexican palate.” This isn’t your typical vegan rendition of Tex-Mex. Instead, Jajaja offers a diverse assortment of traditional Mexican dishes, like enchiladas mole, pupusas, and Mexican street corn, with a modern twist.
For (More) Mexican: Bar Verde
Website | Address: 65 2nd Ave
‘Cause there’s not such thing as too much Mexican food. Just a stone’s throw away (literally) from Double Zero is Matthew Kenney’s take on Mexican cuisine, Bar Verde. In a dimly lit, intimate space, you can nosh on guacamole, nachos, tacos, and ceviches, over a cocktail made with sustainable tequila.
For French: Delice & Sarrasin
Website | Address: 20 Christopher St
French cuisine is not exactly known for its veg-friendliness, but at this 100% plant-based restaurant, vegans can get a little taste of la cuisine Francaise. Dishes here like beef bourguignon, cassoulet, and French onion soup are totally cruelty-free, so don’t feel guilty for indulging. Its pint-sized space adds to its quaintness, but be sure you book reservations in advance.
For Japanese: Kajitsu
Website | Address: 125 E 39th St.
This isn’t hibachi, my friends, this is traditional Japanese Shoijn cuisine, a type of vegetarian cooking that originates in Zen Buddhism. Executive Chef Hiroki Abe comes from the Miyagi Prefecture of Japan. He apprenticed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo, so yeah, he knows his stuff. Their multi-course Omakase menu changes by the month, based on what’s in season.
Their fixed-price menu isn’t exactly for the budget traveler, but a meal at Kajitsu is an experience that will tantalize all your senses.
For Sushi: Beyond Sushi
Website | Several Locations
This vegan sushi restaurant chain, with several locations through the city, makes delicious and innovative sushi rolls, wraps, and salads. You won’t miss the raw salmon or tuna when you’re biting into one of these perfectly flavored, plant-based rolls. For something heartier, you can also order a warm bowl of noodle soup, or one of their sushi wraps.
For Chinese: Go Zen
Website | Address:
Go Zen serves up healthy, organic Chinese food that is 100% plant-based. Here you can enjoy all the Chinese take-out dishes that grew up with, like crispy spring rolls, sweet & sour “chicken,” and veggie fried rice. And not feel so bad about it immediately afterwards (don’t act like you’ve never had a Chinese food baby before).
For Indian: Ahimsa
Website | Address: 265 E 10th St.
Ahimsa is the Indian term for “non-violence” and at this restaurant, you can enjoy authentic Indian food that is both cruelty-free and true to authentic Indian cuisine. Their Thali platters are a great way to try a little bit of everything (they have a North Indian Thali and a South Indian Thali- two subsets of Indian cuisine that are vastly different).
They also have a lunch time all-you-can-eat buffet. If that’s your thing.
For Polynesian: Mother of Pearl
Website | Address: 95 Avenue A
Tiki vibes, beautiful cocktails, and exotic dishes are what you’ll find at this plant-based Polynesian restaurant in East Village (is it just me, or is East Village actually Vegan Utopia?). Mother of Pearl is the sister restaurant to three other vegan restaurants in NYC- Avant Garden, Ladybird, and Cienfuegos. It’s the perfect place to go for a fun-spirited night out with your girlfriends.
For Mediterranean: XYST
Website | Address: 44 W 17th St.
XYST is another one of Matthew Kenney’s brain-children (can you just stop making us all look so bad, Matt?), this time with a Mediterranean inspired menu. Traditional herb blends like dukkah and za’atar are incorporated with vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, and eggplant to create simple, yet flavorful and beautifully-presented dishes. Tried-and-true favorites like falafel, hummus, and muhammara are sprinkled throughout the menu, each with an updated twist. Finish off your meal with sunflower seed baklava, so your sweet tooth doesn’t go neglected.