So, your best friend just watched What the Health on Netflix and has converted to veganism. You panic. No meat, no fish, no poultry, no eggs— as the nos add up, the off-the-top-of-your-head restaurant picks are dwindling fast. Luckily for you, finding the perfect place is now a piece of cake (a very soy-filled, dairy-free piece, of course). From a stylish, veggie-centric eatery to cruelty-free delis, What Should We Do?! has your back with our favorite vegan spots in NYC.
Is your friend craving a veggie burger? Take them to By Chloe, the Shake Shack of vegan restaurants, proving that fast-casual service and plant-based cuisine make a great combo. Highlights include the smashed avocado toast, air-baked sweet potato fries, and, of course, the guac burger. In 2015, Gothamist deemed the black bean and quinoa patty with corn salsa and chipotle aioli “the best veggie burger in New York City.” When I took my friend (who loves a juicy cheeseburger) to the West Village locale for this special sandwich, she happily declared in between bites, “I’m loving this and I’m not even vegan!” 185 Bleecker Street (between MacDougal and Sullivan Streets), Greenwich Village
Jajaja Plantas Mexicana
When your vegan friend from L.A. comes to town, tell them you’ve found a meatless Mexican place that rivals West Hollywood’s Gracias Madre. This chic restaurant has a flavorful menu meant to suit anyone’s palate (yes, even meat lovers). Trust me when I say the vegan nachos taste as good as the real thing. They’re made with chorizo, fermented black beans, turmeric queso fundido, spicy vegetable relish, and sour cream. You can add guacamole for $3 (we definitely recommend it). Other favorites include Mexican street corn, beet and pumpkin empanadas, and chipotle sweet potato tacos. For brunch, the challah French toast or a stack of kale pancakes is the way to go. 162 East Broadway (between Allen and Rutgers Streets), Lower East Side
From the man behind the bakery-restaurant Le Pain Quotidien—chef Alain Coumont—comes Le Botaniste. The plant-based eatery boasts a menu that is 100 percent botanical and 99 percent organic, plus gluten-free options and a notable selection of natural wines. Clean, inventive dishes include a health-conscious summer roll, a large bowl of spicy chili sin carne, tofu and leek “Dirty Noodle Soup,” and the Tibetan mama rice bowl, a fan favorite laced with coconut curry and peanut butter. If you and your friend are not craving one of the signature bowls, go the DIY route and pick your own base, toppings, and garnishes. 833 Lexington Avenue (between East 63rd and 64th Streets), Upper East Side
One of renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s latest ventures is abcV—it’s his first all-vegetarian restaurant but might as well be his umpteenth. You and your friend can enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner at the bright, white space located inside ABC Carpet & Home. Start your morning with a yogurt and avocado dosa or coconut cream einkorn pancakes; then kick lunch up a notch with green chickpea hummus, fresh spinach spaghetti, vegetable chopped salad with sticky rice, or baby mustard greens. The dinner menu features mouthwatering options such as honeynut squash with tahini, fried wild rice accompanied with fermented veggies, sweet pepper puréed eggplant, and roasted cauliflower. This artisanal kitchen will leave you satisfied and energized. Most of the dishes at abcV are meant to be shared, which means it’s the perfect spot to (healthily) indulge with your vegetable-loving friend. 38 East 19th Street (between Broadway and Park Avenue South), Gramercy
When you’re craving a cheesy and greasy slice, but your friend is a vegan, what do you do? You go to Screamer’s Pizzeria in Greenpoint. This place has re-created the classic New York slice of pizza, vegan-style. There are plenty of options at Screamer’s, from the Bianca made with almond ricotta, red onions, pepperoncini, and Numu mozzarella to the BBQ Jack with tomato sauce, vegan cheese, barbecued jackfruit, Canadian Fake’n, and caramelized onions—and topped with ranch dressing. The golden age of vegan pizza has officially arrived, so you can devour an entire pie with your herbivorous friend. 620 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
Candle 79 is taking plant-based fine dining to the next level—starting with its organic wine and beer all the way down to the eco-friendly packaging. The whole menu features meatless and dairy-free appetizers, entrées, and sides, all made from sustainable ingredients. Its best dishes include seitan dumplings (your choice of steamed or fried), spaghetti and “wheat” balls, wild mushroom crepes, and guacamole timbale with black bean plantain chips and ranchero sauce. As for dessert: The chocolate–peanut butter mousse with a caramel crust and chocolate chip–vanilla cannoli are to die for. 154 East 79th Street (between Third and Lexington Avenues), Upper East Side
The Butcher’s Daughter
There’s nothing better than bonding with your veggie-lovin’ buddy over a late Sunday brunch at The Butcher’s Daughter. This airy vegetarian restaurant has two locations in New York City—Nolita and the West Village—and dubs itself as a “vegetable slaughterhouse.” Since it’s vegetarian, not vegan, there are eggs on the menu. But your vegan friends need not fret, as the eatery offers plenty of delicious options, from the soaked organic muesli and coconut yogurt parfait to the sautéed mushrooms and quinoa-filled tacos verdes topped with a dollop of cashew crema. 19 Kenmare Street (between Bowery and Elizabeth Street), Nolita; 581 Hudson Street (between West 11th and Bank Streets), West Village
Your vegan friend will fall head over heels for the gourmet vegan dream spread at Williamsburg’s Modern Love. Menu highlights include deviled roasted yukons, five-spice barbecued cauliflower wings, fresh tomato-basil gnocchi, and trumpet mushroom scallops over a bed of garlic-butter linguine. The drink list is equally whimsical; sangrias are infused with unique flavors like plum and cardamom, while the Brooklynite drink of choice nowadays (kombucha) is spiked with an autumnal apple cider. 317 Union Avenue, Williamsburg
The fancier offshoot of one of our office lunch faves, Blossom is the perfect place to bring a vegan friend. We’re still working our way through the menu, but some of our favorites so far are the buffalo risotto croquettes (perfectly decadent and a lot more guilt-free than the fried mac and cheese balls I usually eat), red wine–soaked beet carpaccio, fettuccine alfredo (you wouldn’t know there wasn’t any dairy in it—it’s that spot-on), and anything from the “In Bloom” menu (aka seasonal specials). 507 Columbus Avenue (between West 84th and 85th Streets), Upper West Side; 187 Ninth Avenue (between West 21st and 22nd Streets), Chelsea
The New York sushi scene boasts a restaurant dedicated entirely to plant-based rolls and it’s called Beyond Sushi. All of the sushi is made with six-grain and black rice, and the rolls are filled with veggies such as eggplant, sweet potato, and mushrooms in lieu of fish. It also has noodle salads, dumplings, and tasty appetizers (the carrot and roasted chickpea starter is a favorite!). Of course, your vegan friend can always order a cucumber or avocado roll at any sushi spot, but the inventive rolls from Beyond Sushi are, well, beyond amazing. Multiple locations
Eat your veggies the WSWD way. Our experience advisers can book the vegan spread of your—and your friends’—dreams.