Vegan Restaurants

Sabba Manyara, Contributing Writer

Sabba Manyara
Vegan options at mainstream restaurants are mostly non-existent and, if available, lack inspiration and flavor. A growing number of vegan restaurants have entered the New York City dining scene to close this gap, however, offering imaginative menus and great-tasting food for vegans and omnivores alike.

After an initial vegetarian ‘trial period’ for three months, I committed to going vegan sometime in February of this year. Giving up meat, dairy and eggs was much easier than I expected. These restaurants made me overcome my vegan fear of eating out and all earn five stars for their innovative dishes and re-creations of traditional favorites.

Delice & Sarrasin

For fans of French cuisine (which is usually heavy on the dairy and eggs), this delightful spot in the West Village offers 100 percent vegan dishes in a traditional French style. Great for brunch or an intimate dinner, the more popular dishes offered are their savory and sweet crepes and vegan chicken leg dishes (Coq au vin, Poulet Basquaise). Expect to be blown away by their meat substitutes such as vegan squid, scallops, crab cake, shrimp, duck and even steak tartare. I’ve been back twice and will continue to return until I sample their entire menu. The only downside to this place would be the tiny portion sizes of their entrees – plan to order an appetizer and/or dessert.

Sabba Manyara

I stumbled upon this casual ‘Latin American Comfort Food’ spot at lunchtime after Friday classes on the SJU Astor place campus. The décor is effortless but tasteful, with plenty of natural light flooding into the space and a very ‘East Village’ personality. I had the kale caesar salad with tempeh ‘bacon,’ which was probably the most amazing salad I’ve ever had. The creamy sauce and avocado balanced the crunchy kale and ‘bacon’ perfectly. I was so impressed I returned a week later for dinner. This time I sampled their empanadas, which were divine, tempeh tacos, which needed a little salt, and their California burger, which was satisfyingly flavorful. I will be back to try their arepas with vegan cheese, V-Spot burrito and their famous avocado fries.

Candle 79

This popular Upper East Side eatery is a little on the fancier side, but is an absolute must-try for vegans, vegetarians or adventurous eaters looking to experience culinary creativity at its best. The service, décor and ambiance are impressive and fit the caliber of their food. All ingredients are organic and 100 percent vegan. The Seitan Piccata, a fan favorite, almost made me bowl over in tears of joy. The dish features a flavorful seitan steak (seitan is simply wheat protein/ gluten), creamed spinach, garlic mashed potatoes and oyster mushrooms. We also tried the wild mushroom crepe which was artful, fresh and mouthwatering on the tongue.