Far from days of the side salad (hold the dressing!), today’s vegan culinary scene in New York City is fresh with flavor and innovation. In a city where the predominant vegan options were once limited to organic juice bars that dolled-up tofu, New York is now home to one of the world’s most expensive vegan dining experiences, Eleven Madison Park

But don’t think we’re going to recommend a place where beets and carrots are offered at seitanic prices. When we’re talking green, we’re thinking leaves – not bills. Here’s where to go now in NYC for the best vegan food. 

Divya's avocado dip next to sunflower beet hummus with roasted carrot tahini
Divya's avocado dip next to sunflower beet hummus with roasted carrot tahini, two favorite starters from Divya's Kitchen in the East Village © Sarah Duffy

Divya's Kitchen

East Village
What to get: mung soup, seasonal khichari 

Divya’s got the cure for whatever ails you. Divya’s Kitchen is an ayurvedic vegetarian restaurant that deals in wellness without sacrificing flavor or ambiance. Relax in a warm atmosphere while her friendly staff walks you through the ways of ayurvedic wellness through food and drink. Be mindful that this place is vegetarian, not fully vegan. They cater well to vegans with all of their dishes including their deep, rich mung soup and very filling khichari, finished with an insanely delicious cilantro-mint chutney. 

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The enoki mushroom salad, your first course of 15 at Omakaseed
The enoki mushroom salad, your first course of 15 at Omakaseed © Zachary Laks / Lonely Planet

Omakaseed at Plant Bar

Flatiron District
What to get: The omakase 

Perfecting the art of an experience while dining vegan, the new Omakaseed at Plant Bar is all about the hunt for the perfect bite. Fortunately, there are many of them here. Styled as an omakase tasting menu for 8 people per hour, on the hour, saddle up to the bustling bar where a vegan chef concocts and personally presents 15, one to two-bite courses. There are many highlights on the pre-set menu including the pressed king oyster mushroom nigiri that has a great salty brine with a ginger kick, the watermelon tartare nigiri which is out of this world, and the truffle avocado oshizushi with real black truffle flakes that is so delectable you'll want to stretch the one bite into two. Don't pass up the flavorful plant-based sips by way of their cocktail list with a special hat tip to the inventive and balanced Feel The Beet and Green Goddess. 

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Fat Choy

Lower East Side
What to get: mushroom sloppy sandwich  

Eager to find a hearty and filling substitute to the sloppy joes of your carnivorous past? Fat Choy’s small outpost in the Lower East Side has just got the fix with their mushroom sloppy. Self-described as “kind of Chinese”, the fast-casual eatery foregoes processed plant meat for earthy, savory gravy-soaked mushrooms that get heaped in between a sesame bun alongside a fresh slaw, this sandwich soars. Pair the sandwich with the indulgent salt and pepper fried cauliflower (you’re going to want to ask for extra of their dreamy, creamy shallot sauce) and you’ve got the perfect vegan meal on the go. 

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Chick-un & waffles from Urban Vegan Kitchen
The famed chick-un & waffles from Urban Vegan Kitchen © Urban Vegan Kitchen

Urban Vegan Kitchen

East Village
What to get: buffalo wings, mac n' cheese, chick-un and waffles

Urban Vegan Kitchen is comfort food at its vegan best. Come hungry and get ready for a feast that won’t disappoint. Bold flavors and deep-fried bites fill out the menu with almost too many highlights to pick favorites. Though if you’ve only got one chance to visit, don’t pass up the indulgent seitan buffalo wings with their ranch dressing, the melty and gooey mac n’ cheese and their signature chick-un and waffles. All so good at recreating the originals, you’ll be certain to say “I cannot believe this is vegan!” at least a few times throughout the meal. 

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Jajaja

Lower East Side, West Village, Hudson Yards, Williamsburg
What to get: beet & pumpkin empanada, chorizo burrito, churritos

Prepare to fight the urge to order everything on the menu at one of Jajaja’s four NYC outposts. For good reason, this hip all-vegan Mexican restaurant has good taste. You’re going to be thrilled with whatever you order but don’t miss out on the bursting flavors of salsas, the hot and surprising beet & pumpkin empanada and the comforting chorizo burrito. Pace yourself and keep your eye on the real prize, the house-made churritos that come with a coconut dulce de leche sauce. 

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Vegan cheeseburgers and milkshakes at Brooklyn's Modern Love
Cheeseburgers and milkshakes, all vegan of course, at Brooklyn's Modern Love © Melanie Dualt

Modern Love Brooklyn

Williamsburg
What to get: from their brunch menu: brekky burrito, French toast & bacon

Modern Love Brooklyn serves up vegan comfort food with a wide-ranging menu of classics, elevated by plants. Reservations are encouraged, as the restaurant’s limited seating fills up fast. In a city where vegan brunch options are still limited, consider the excellent breakfast menu where the brekky burrito’s grilled wrap will delight and the thick French toast & bacon hits the spot.

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Spicy Moon Vegetarian Szechuan

East Village
What to get: mapo tofu, dan dan noodles, scallion pancake

With outposts in both the East and West Village, Spicy Moon is an all-vegan Szechuan restaurant that knows how to impress with plants. Among the main attractions are the restaurant’s perfectly fried scallion pancakes, their mapo tofu (one of the best in the city, vegan or not) and the dan dan noodles which have just the perfect balance of sesame and peanut sauce. Head there earlier in the day for lunch specials that include the choice of an appetizer like a spring roll or dumplings. 

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The hip bar at PLANTA Queen, NoMad
The hip bar at PLANTA Queen, NoMad © PLANTA Queen

PLANTA Queen

NoMad
What to get: spicy tuna roll, bang bang broccoli, pineapple fried rice

A Toronto-based restaurant chain that arrived in NYC in 2021, PLANTA Queen is the vegan scene restaurant. Dining at PLANTA Queen is all about fun. A lively atmosphere helps to ease the tricky process of picking out the bests its long list of mouth-watering Asian-inspired vegan options. Start with the spicy tuna roll and then start rattling off any of the plates that strike a chord; no matter what comes it will be photo-worthy and delicious. If you’re on a budget or operating within a calorie range, the bang bang broccoli and pineapple fried rice are the musts.  

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Dirt Candy

Lower East Side
What to get: the only thing on offer, the 5-course Chef's Tasting Menu for $90 per person (make sure to note you’re vegan)

Yes, you’re going to be trading in a lot of dough for the doughy bites (think monkey bread, carrot buns and a fennel mandarin orange doughnut) chef Amanda Cohen is innovating at Dirt Candy the Lower East Side. This is the most expensive option on this list but its spot is well-deserved with a prix-fixe experience that goes beyond expectations to wow with bold, fun flavors. This is a vegetarian restaurant so make sure to note you’re vegan preferences. 

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This article was first published August 2019 and updated September 2022

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