The newer West Village outpost of the Sichuan restaurant is decorated with neon lights and beaded curtains and has the feel of a karaoke bar. Among the popular selections: dan dan noodles; vegetable wontons in chili oil; mapo tofu; and scallion pancakes. For many of the dishes, the spice level can be adjusted from one to nine. Save the chili oil from wontons and dip the pancakes in. The restaurant also sells jars of vegan chili oil (about $9) and spicy mayo ($15).
Boldly colored murals decorate this Crown Heights restaurant, which offers a new take on Ethiopian cuisine like sambusas and tender mushroom “tibs.” Named after the largest market in the country, the Mercato platter ($20) contains tangy Injera bread served with five individual dishes including slow-simmered red lentil stew, string beans with caramelized onions, creamy ground chickpeas, spiced cabbage, and steamed collards. The Piassa platter is milder and consists of dishes such as savory beetroot, crunchy zucchini, and yellow split pea. On a weekday night, the dining room and the outdoor patio are filled with pop music.
This classy Chelsea boîte buzzes with romance, both between cocktail-clinking couples and for the upscaled meat-free menu (and banana pudding). Willow is most novel in its exploration of seafood—not surprising from the folks behind Beyond Sushi—where jackfruit “crab” cakes and New England “clam” chowder made with oyster mushrooms deliver spot-on recreations of flavor and mouthfeel. But it’s the celebration of seitan that is most promising, whether in a strong (if not exact mimic of a) pastrami sandwich or in straightforward dishes like Porcini Chick’n Marsala and Lemon Pepper “Steak” that glorify the vegan staple rather than chop, crumble, or disguise it.
The restaurant in Flatiron serves Asian-influenced food from sushi rolls and gyoza to udon noodles and wonton soup. The two-floor dining room sports a modern interior, dotted with tropical plants, with gentle, warm lighting. One of its most popular dishes, bang bang broccoli ($13.75), is breaded, fried and dipped in sweet chili and peanut sauce. The avocado and ahi watermelon filled spicy “tuna” roll ($15.75) has an additional hit of sweetness from toasted coconut. The udon noodle bowl ($25.50), a truffle and mushroom explosion, can quickly fill you up.
New York’s largest fully vegan restaurant (200 seats spread over 11,000 square feet of whitewashed brick) feels like a plant-based answer to the Smith, the rowdy local chain of American brasseries with easy-pleasing menus geared toward groups. Share some apps, especially the grilled Caesar and charred broccolini with spicy chipotle aioli, a seasonal flatbread or two like mushroom pesto or Beyond Meat sausage fennel, and order a round of drafts from Belse’s on-site brewery and you have yourself a night—or brunch. Save room for the olive oil cake.
The vegan burger wars have been won, and the title belongs to Jerrell’s Betr Brgr. From lunch till late (4 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 1 a.m. otherwise), this sliver of a window-service kitchen in west SoHo slings a hyper-focused, 100% plant-based fast-food menu—burgers, waffle fries, oat milk soft serve and shakes—that will win over the most dedicated consumers of cow. The Supr Betr ($16), made with two Impossible patties and all the fixin’s (plant-based bacon, chili, jalapeños), is a glorious mess of a gut bomb and one of the city’s best cheeseburgers, period.
This Williamsburg bakery is a neighborhood gem where yogis and Brooklynites taking morning strolls go for a little pick-me-up. Behind the glass counter lay stacks of cookies, sheets of cinnamon rolls and rows of cupcakes. An olive oil cake sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with blackberries, lemon wedges, and halved strawberries adorn a cake stand. Its menu contains everything from egg sandwich and the lox to omelette and salad. Served on a plain croissant, the B.A.L.T. ($13.50) is a mix of greens, sliced avocado, tomatoes, crispy plant-based bacon and Thai chili aioli.