4 NYC Vegan Hot Spots For Beginners And Vegan Foodies
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4 NYC Vegan Hot Spots For Beginners And Vegan Foodies

From Asian to Italian cuisine, vegan comfort food, and heavenly chocolate desserts, it's time to take down notes.

4 NYC Vegan Hot Spots For Beginners And Vegan Foodies
Stephanie Ginzburg

Although I’ve gained experience finding and trying out vegan options at numerous restaurants and cafes over the past year, the best places for me to go to are actual vegan places which specialize in vegan cuisine. They know what they’re doing and have developed a craft with inventive vegan food. These places explore various taste palettes and combine flavors you may not be used to. You may even try ingredients you’ve never had before, let alone ever heard of. But that’s a portion of the fun for me when I go to different vegan places. Since last summer, I’ve put in the extra effort in finding new vegan spots to try out. Here are my top four vegan hot spots for beginners and vegan foodies alike.

1. By Chloe ($)

At this point, I have honestly lost count of how many times I’ve eaten at By Chloe. I spent most of my lunch breaks during the spring semester at their location in the Flatiron District and one of the cashiers even remembered my name. I became a regular and I’ve tried almost everything on their menu.

Their main location is the one in the West Village, where they also have a separate sweets shop next door! They also have locations in SoHo and Williamsburg, with a few more locations labeled as coming soon.

By Chloe’s best-selling and most popular item is the Quinoa Taco salad (above) and it’s very filling (coming from a girl who rarely eats salads).

My go-to comfort food is their mac & cheese, and no it’s not going to taste like real cheese. Their vegan cheese sauce definitely has a unique taste to it you’re likely unfamiliar with, so it’s not for everyone’s taste palette. I personally did not grow up eating regular mac & cheese and I actually had a mixed response upon my first time trying By Chloe’s mac & cheese, but I’ve grown quite fond of it.

Some of my other favorites include the guac burger, the pesto meatball sandwich (above), sweet potato fries, and their vegan chocolate chip cookies! YUM.

2. Peacefood Cafe ($$)

According to their site, their objective is to “serve delicious, innovative, and healthy vegan cuisine prepared with mindfulness, gratitude, and intention to nurture spirit and body.” The first time I read that message I was definitely intrigued. Peacefood Cafe is the first vegan restaurant I’ve ever been to and I went with my cousin to their smaller and arguably lesser-known uptown location. However, since then I have been to their downtown location near Union Square numerous times, way before I even learned about By Chloe.

Although this isn’t the best place to try out vegan pizza, their sandwiches are worth trying. My personal favorite is the focaccia sandwich with pan-seared french horn mushrooms, pictured above. I’m not a big fan of mushrooms but my love for focaccia bread has no limits. One of their most popular items is the chickpea fries, which are often served as an appetizer but are also offered as a side dish.

Peacefood also offers a variety of healthy smoothies which will brighten your morning or day, and refresh your palette. I definitely recommend trying at least one.

Their desserts are by far the highlight for me, as I’ve made it a goal to try almost every dessert on their menu and I never leave without having dessert. My favorite Peacefood desserts include their carrot cake, key lime pie, cacao mousse pie, and peanut butter cheesecake (pictured above).

From 5 p.m to 10 p.m, they offer dinner specials along with their main menu. I’ve tried a few of their dinner options, most recently being their vegan pot pie (above). I never thought I’d ever try a vegan pot pie, considering I had zero interest in ever trying the American classic chicken pot pie. But I would gladly eat Peacefood’s vegan pot pie again!

3. Red Bamboo ($$)

This vegan restaurant has been recommended to me time and time again over the past year. Unfortunately, it has only one location and it’s very small so they don’t do reservations. However, I finally got the chance to check out this popular spot recently with an old friend of mine. It’s barely a block away from Washington Square Park and is honestly easy to miss.

I’m sure plenty of their customers say this but, THEY DESERVE A BIGGER LOCATION.

Red Bamboo specializes in Asian and Southern cuisine and their own version of vegan comfort food. Their menu is EXTENSIVE. They offer a large variety of starters, sandwiches, main courses, vegetable entrées, soups, salads, side dishes, and desserts. My friend and I were in awe at the countless options, struggling to choose one to try out. This is the kind of place where you need to try something different every time you visit. However, for the sake of time, my friend and I both decided to try out their teriyaki chicken bowl. Yes, you read that correctly.

Red Bamboo is the first vegan spot I’ve been to which takes on head-first mock meat and faux fish dishes. I was skeptical of trying such dishes initially and when I first began looking into vegan food, I definitely avoided such places. Mock meat and faux fish are understandably not something everyone can wrap their head around, let alone want to try. But as someone who grew up loving meat and with my friend not ever being fond of meat, we both decided to give Red Bamboo’s mock meat dish a chance. And we both surprisingly loved it. The food was very filling and both of us couldn’t finish the portion, so we both took what remained of our delicious food to go.

You might be wondering- did we stay for dessert? Hell yes, we did!

My adoration for vegan desserts, especially vegan chocolate desserts in particular, has expanded over these past several months. When I’m given the opportunity to try a new vegan chocolate dessert, I definitely take it without hesitation. Yes, we were rather full but their dessert menu was calling my name and I answered.

Their dessert menu consisted of classic dessert staples that I ate numerous times when I was younger, but my eyes widened in awe at their list because it meant vegan options of these decadent desserts were possible. That in itself is a huge win. My friend let me choose as she witnessed how excited I got, and I waited impatiently for “Death By Chocolate.” This super rich and chocolatey masterpiece of a cake is a chocolate lover’s dream come true, in vegan form nonetheless! We shared a slice of the layered cake and we struggled to finish the whole thing, so I took the remaining piece home and happily ate it as a midnight snack.

I highly recommend checking out this incredible spot, preferably when it’s not super busy, but it’s worth trying more than once!

4. Blossom ($$+)

The first time I visited Blossom with my best friend, we went to their smaller location inside of a two-story townhouse in Chelsea, and had a reservation for their limited lunchtime. We were both considerably surprised by how small the interior was, but the atmosphere is nonetheless very cozy despite being more upscale dining. They offer a drinks menu nearly immediately and their lunch menu is rather short. With very few gluten-free options offered during lunch, we chose our dishes rather quickly, although we expected more based on what we saw from their online menu. It is worth mentioning though, I’ve had my fair share of vegan burgers and Blossom’s soy bacon cheeseburger (pictured below) was one of the best vegan burgers I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, we did run out of time for dessert, but my second visit to Blossom made up for it.

Recently, I had the chance to visit their newer location, which is definitely a lot more spacious. Located on the Upper West Side, Blossom on Columbus is both elegant and classy. It sets a high standard for upscale vegan dining. Although I felt rather underdressed upon entering, I could not be more impressed by the atmosphere. This time, my friend and I arrived for dinner, and the menu was understandably much longer. We ordered a starter which consisted of potato gnocchi, brussel sprouts and a creamy vegan parmesan sauce. I never thought I’d see the day I’d enjoy a dish which contained brussel sprouts, but it was a creative blend of flavors and I am quite a fan of gnocchi. My friend tried the curried stuffed sweet potato, whereas I had the fettuccini alfredo. I haven’t had alfredo sauce in a long time, but Blossom’s vegan alfredo sauce has an acquired taste. Although I wasn’t super fond of the dish as a whole, I am looking forward to trying something else from Blossom’s menu in the future.

Last, but not least, Blossom’s desserts deserve a spotlight. My friend had their chocolate cake, and I happily indulged in their chocolate ganache, which came with a side of sliced strawberries and a scoop of soy vanilla ice cream. My non-vegan friend was pleasantly surprised by his chocolate cake and I even tried a bit, which was decadent. Those chocolate desserts were rich and sweet, and can make you feel guilty for such pleasures, but it’s definitely worth it. If I could go back just for drinks and dessert, I would!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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