Your Guide To The Best Vegan Downtown

Mama always said to eat your veggies, and although those moments usually turned into a solid stand-off between you and the mound of greens on your plate – the tide has definitely turned. With so many vegetarian options in this plentiful city of ours, digging into plate of plant-based foods is now an easier, and first choice for many.

Downtown Manhattan gives us a myriad of restaurants whose delectable menus can get even the pickiest eaters to salivate. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite spots, with menus and dining experiences to please the vegan and meat eater alike.

Dirt Candy

86 Allen

The crème de la crème of vegetarian restaurants, Dirty Candy is the innovation of chef Amanda Cohen, whose forward-thinking menu (and biting sense of humor) entices customers into eating more vegetables. Cohen approaches her dishes like a cross between a mad scientist and a sculptor. Expect both daring and decorative culinary creations that change with the seasons. Cohen tends to pick one veggie and let it shine- for “Broccoli,” the florets are both grilled and smoked and made into “dogs” then topped with broccoli kraut and homemade mustard barbeque sauce, while carrots are turned into sliders and served on carrot buns. Be sure to make a reservation in advance!

Try: Korean Friend Broccoli because as the menu states “basically it’s crack in broccoli form.”

By Chloe

185 Bleecker

The hip all-vegan counter-service spot has taken Manhattan and Brooklyn by storm, for their clean and healthy menu in a fast food format. Aside from a slew of crunchy salads, house-made burgers and vegan mac n cheese, By Chloe has the snack we’ve all been waiting for- delicious and nearly guilt-free air baked fries! Chill by Chloe next door caters to your vegan sweet tooth with cupcakes, softserve and other goodies.

Although By Chloe is counter service, lines can get long- but its worth the wait.

Try:The air baked fries, duh!

Red Bamboo

140 West 4 th,

A West Village classic, Red Bamboo has been serving the best of mock meats and faux to vegetarians since before it was cool. The cozy basement café is perhaps best known for its takes on classic comfort foods and Pan-Asian cuisine- like southern fried chicken, Thai beef salad, faux shrimp stir fry and the vegan version of your food court favorite- Bourbon chicken. They also have a noteworthy list of vegan desserts.

Try:Vegans around the globe have been obsessed with Red Bamboo’s Buffalo wings since the 1990s.

Superiority Burger

430 East 9th Street

This tiny East Village joint (they have exactly 6 seats) is home to the famous veggie burger sold in pop ups before Superiority’s flagship opened. But the veggie burger isn’t the shop’s most exciting dish- instead try one of their daily specials, like sliced a yuba and cashew cheese “Philly Cheesesteak” or burnt broccoli salad, which make quick appearances and disappearances on their menu. The chefs like to let the mood strike and create veggie and often vegan specials that may not be seen again for weeks- or ever. Get yours to go and find a bench and enjoy.

Try: The Sloppy Dave, served with frizzled onion.

Caravan of Dreams

405 East 6th street

Another classic, this East Village haunt , Caravan has offered vegan, raw and live foods –along with music-since 1991. All organic and Kosher, their menu is extensive- from sandwiches and salads to macrobiotic dishes and Spanish fare inspired by the owner’s Spanish expat roots.

Try: The Raw Sampler Platter for the raw-shy

The Butcher’s Daughter

19 Kenmare Street,

Perched on a noisy corner between Noho and the Bowery, The Butcher’s Daughter’ is a self-proclaimed “vegetable slaugherhouse,” chopping, filetting and carving up local and organic fruits and veggies into healthy and delicious dishes. Fresh pressed juices are rounded out with vegan charcuterie (really!), classic and raw pastas, and yummy snacks like nachos and potato skins. The small café can get busy but moves quickly- the outdoor seating is particularly hot- especially at weekend brunch.

Try:Raw Pesto Linguini- try it hot or cold

Peace Food

41 East 11th Street,

The spacious Union Square location of Peace Food (the other is on the Upper West Side) is open and airy, channeling a cool and casual coffee shop vibe with a vegan kitchen and bakery. The café offers a few raw dishes, but is more known for their eclectic and extensive menu that includes pizzas, focaccias, sandwiches and an expansive daily specials list. The large dining room is great for groups.

Try:The Roasted Japanese Pumpkin Sandwich, soon to be your favorite.

Spring Natural

98 Kenmare,

The Soho favorite recently relocated from Spring Street to a few blocks south on Kenmare, and was one of the first to serve farm to table food when it opened in 1973. Though they do offer some meat and fish items, Spring Natural is known for their veg-friendly entrees which allow customers to choose marinated tofu, tempeh or seitan in just about anything. They also have one of the most delectable salad menus in the city.

Try:Zucchini Noodles with Quinoa Meatballs

Words by Lori Zimmer