Vegan Restaurants in NYC: 15 Essential Spots

Remember when the very utterance of the word “vegan” would induce eyerolls and sighs among everyone at the table? Or when explicitly vegan and vegetarian restaurants were limited to words “Earth,” “Peace,” or “Buddha” in the name?   

Being a vegan is no longer marginalizing. After all, New York City mayor Eric Adams is a proud vegan. So is Bill Clinton, Beyonce, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Madonna, RZA, and Stevie Wonder. Even Prince was a vegan.  

Bagels with carrot lox and vegan cream cheese garnished with fresh herbs
New York’s vegan restaurants offer something everyone will love. Photo credit: Pille R. Priske

Dirt Candy, the first sophisticated vegetarian restaurant in New York City, opened in 2008. It tempted carnivores. It still does today. And since then, a slew of other plant-based eateries have opened up, giving the New York City dining scene a legion of sophisticated vegan and vegetarian restaurant options.

In the 2020s, vegan dining is no longer limited to “hippie” or college towns like Asheville, Boulder, and Santa Cruz, CA. Here are the 15 best vegan restaurants in NYC.  

abcV 

Located at ABC Carpet & Home, Alsatian super chef Jean-Georges Vongrichten’s plant-based eatery is an excellent spot even for staunch carnivores. The menu isn’t strictly vegan, as some dairy pops up here and there. The Flatiron restaurant crosses borders serving up excellent mint-laced hummus, veg-filled dosas, and a pasta ragu made with mushrooms and walnuts.   

Overhead shot of green hummus garnished with a single leaf with a small plate of cut-up veggies in the background.
abcV’s mint hummus is the perfect appetizer. Photo credit: Miriam

Aunts et Uncles 

Located in the heart of Little Caribbean in Brooklyn’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens, this vegan spot made it onto many New York restaurant critics’ “best new restaurants of 2021” list. And for good reason.  

The sweet potato porridge is worth the trek. So is the mashed green plantain mofongo.  The menu doesn’t just stick to the Caribbean, as there are faux lobster rolls and tacos too.  

Light brown sauce being poured over three small vegan tacos
Aunts et Uncles serves the best vegan tacos in Brooklyn. Photo credit: Jarett Lopez

Avant Garden 

Vegetarian and vegan restaurants don’t have to have punny names. But sometimes they do. As is the case with this East Village spot.   

You won’t find any imitation meat on the menu here. There’s no pretending at Avant Garden. It’s straight up vegan fare and it’s done well.   

The veg fare is presented in that fancy, somewhat minimalist way—like a place you’d take your parents to show them you’re all grown up now.   

Bunna 

The Amharic word for “coffee,” Bunna is no ordinary Ethiopian coffee shop. This Bushwick vegan restaurant is one of the best Ethiopian eateries in the city.  

First timers should get the Feast: seven different items, all laid out in front of you on a platter of injera, the spongy bread that is ubiquitous in Ethiopia. And yes, there is plenty of excellent Ethiopian coffee here for an after-meal pick me up.  

Platter of vegan Ethiopian food with rolled up flatbreads, vegetables, and beans
A delicious vegan Ethiopian feast at Bunna. Photo credit: Garrett Ziegler

The Butcher’s Daughter 

Cute name for a vegetarian restaurant. With locations in the West Village, Nolita, and Williamsburg, The Butcher’s Daughter is not too far from anyone.  

The eatery serves up admirable takes on pesto pastas, pad Thai, and even carbonara using zucchini noodles and cauliflower pizza for vegans who are also gluten-avoiders too.  

Bar area of a restaurant with large windows and plants hanging overhead
The Butcher’s Daughter is a beautiful spot to enjoy a vegan lunch. Photo credit: Jonathan Grado

Cadence 

Vegan soul/Southern food? Yep.  

This über-popular East Village eatery is helmed by chef Shenarri Freeman, who serves up instant non-meat/non-dairy classics like black-eyed pea garlic pancakes, Southern fried lasagna, and smoked grits. This is just good food that happens to be vegan.  

Délice & Sarrasin 

Located on Christopher Street in the West Village, it’s somehow easy to stroll by this jewel-box-sized spot and not notice it. That would be a mistake.   

The Gallic-accented eatery makes incredible vegan-friendly crepes that are great any time of day. They have also expanded the menu to serve vegan takes on French classics like coq au vin, coquilles St. Jacques, and boeuf bourguignon.  

Overhead shot of crepes topped with sliced strawberries and bananas
Délice & Sarrasin’s delicious vegan crepes will transport your tastebuds straight to France. Photo credit: Paolo Cifuentes

Dirt Candy 

Chef Amanda Cohen’s Lower East Side eatery seems like the root that helped blossom the dynamic vegan and vegetarian dining scene in New York City.   

Cohen has a real talent for being able to coax out the flavor of anything that grows from the earth. Vegetables here are treated like A-list celebrities.  The menu changes seasonally and, at the moment, it’s prix fixe only—$90 for a five-course tasting menu (an extra $50 if you want wine).  

Thin wafer topped with portobello mushroom mousse and peach fennel compote.
Dirt Candy’s portobello mousse with peach fennel compote. Photo credit: bionicgrrrl

Eleven Madison Park 

The vegan cause was sent swooning when Swiss-born superchef Daniel Humm announced that his über-lauded fine dining restaurant Eleven Madison Park would go totally vegan. And thus, it became the most expensive and the most heralded plant-based eatery on the planet. Ten courses will set you back about $335 (before wine), but it might be the most exquisite vegan fare you’ll ever treat your taste buds to.  

Modern presentation of poached pear dessert with pear sorbet on a white plate
An excellent poached pear dessert at Eleven Madison Park. Photo credit: T.Tseng

Fat Choy 

The food offerings at 12-seat Lower East Side Fat Choy is so good that staunch carnivores wouldn’t miss meat for a second. They might not even think about the lack of animal protein in their meal.  

This vegan Chinese restaurant has a short menu, so bring a few friends and order pretty much everything. It’s all good, including the buddingly legendary fried scallion-topped rice rolls.  

Govinda’s Vegetarian Lunch 

Everywhere from Prague to Rome to, well, India, there’s a Govinda restaurant. Owned and operated by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, otherwise known as the Hare Krishnas, this Downtown Brooklyn vegan restaurant (305 Schermerhorn St.) is in the windowless basement below a Hare Krishna temple.   

The very affordable food is vaguely Indian and comes on orange plastic trays. Each day there are various offerings: pick at least three and then graze your way to culinary enlightenment.  

Two small bowls of white rice and two dishes with cauliflower in a brown sauce, all garnished with herbs
Vegan Indian-inspired food is what Govinda’s does best. Photo credit: Andy Hay

Jajaja 

It’s kind of hard to imagine eating Mexican cuisine without cheese. Then again, vegan cheese technology has come a long way since the ‘90s when it was un-melt-able and flavorless. Enter Jajaja (pronounced HaHaHa), a vegan Mex spot with locations in Two Bridges, Hudson Yards, Williamsburg and the West Village.  

The nachos here are excellent and slathered in that (very good) fake cheese, plus there are satisfying takes on chiles rellenos and variations on the theme of tacos.  

Chiles rellenos served with Mexican salsa and fresh cilantro
Incredible vegan chiles rellenos. Photo credit: jeffreyw

NY Dosas 

Head to the southwest corner of Washington Square Park around lunch time during weekdays and you’ll be met with a 50-person line. It all leads to Thuri Kumar and his legendary and lauded dosa cart 

This Sri Lankan dosa slinger whips up some of the best south Indian crepes outside of India. He’s become an iconic fixture in the park. Grab a dosa, park yourself on a bench, and commence your feast.  And it’s all meat and dairy free.  

Vegetable-filled dosas on a white styrofoam tray
NY Dosas is an excellent option for tasty vegan street food. Photo credit: Andrew Childs

Seitan’s Helper 

Join the vegan cult at this awesomely named Bushwick vegan deli. Seitan’s Helper doesn’t necessarily worship seitan, the popular meat substitute, but expect to find it in its hedonistic sandwiches and wraps.  

Veggie and faux meat-stuffed sandwiches include the huge Monstrosity, loaded with “ham,” “salami,” and “mozzarella.” It’s devilishly good.  

Superiority Burger 

Former punk rock drummer Brooks Headley was the pastry chef at erstwhile upscale Del Posto and then left his post to open this vegan burger place (119 Avenue A) in the East Village. It has caused a sensation, even among animal eaters, since day one.

It’s not just the burgers here that are great—various sides, like the burnt-broccoli salad, are fantastic. Easily one of the best vegan restaurants in NYC.  

Vegan burger with guacamole and vegetables
Burgers don’t need any meat to be delicious. Photo credit: Lefteris Kallergis