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October 11, 2010

Vegan in NYC

In my last post you might recall me mentioning a little trip I would be going on. You might also recall that, for the first time ever, I planned to try blogging while traveling. Well, if you bet against me, you were right! I was betting against me too, honestly. I am not holding it against myself though, as it turns out 9 days to visit NYC, Spain, and Amsterdam is a little bit frantic.

In anticipation of visiting these 3 amazing destinations, I must admit that the foodie in me was most excited about New York. I have been twice before, but not since becoming vegan. Oh, the food I would eat! So so many vegan options there, where to begin?

I was already hungry when I landed early Friday evening. I rang my friend and she was still at the office, so I had her point me towards the most delicious vegan option near her apartment. My luggage and I rolled up into Rice in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. This cute spot had enough vegan options for me to be conflicted about what to order. My friend told me that the tofu meatballs over Thai black rice and edamame is where it's at, so tofu meatballs it was. She was right, this dish did not disappoint!

Saturday morning we hit the Brooklyn Flea Market in Fort Greene. I spotted a papusa booth right away and confirmed that they can be made vegan, hooray! This Salvadoran specialty is best described as thick handmade corn tortillas stuffed with beans, vegetables, beans, and/or meat. My brother lived in El Salvador for 3 months and this was his favorite local food. He would have never forgiven me if I didn't jump on the opportunity to try one.

I decided on spinach only for the filling. The papusa alone isn't bursting with flavor but the pickled cabbage, onions, jalapenos, and red sauce quickly fixed that. These would be really fun to make at home, and is officially on the list to try.

I ventured out on my own for a bit Saturday night and treated myself to the Green Garden Platter at Caravan of Dreams, decidedly the fanciest vegan meal I had in NYC. They describe this dish as sautéed greens and vegetables, seitan, garlic, grilled carrot polenta, but I describe it as a mountain of yum. So gingery and garlicky, so good.

With a belly full of veggies I headed down the block to the vegan ice cream shop, Lula's Sweet Apothecary. I had heard that their ice cream is outrageously good, so I saved just enough room to try some. The flavor debate was over as soon as I saw maple walnut on the menu. This was the best vegan ice cream I have had to date!

After my ice cream I made my way down to the famous vegan bakery, Babycakes, not too far away. No - I didn't eat more desserts! I picked up two cupcakes, a biscuit, and two cake balls to bring back to my friend's apartment for us to enjoy over the rest of the weekend.

The cake balls were superb, the flavors were mint chocolate and carrot cake. The biscuit was heavy and bready, not light and buttery as I had hoped. This situation was not helped by the fact that it had been refrigerated overnight and wasn't fresh. The cupcakes held up very well in the fridge. I liked the lemon cupcake the best, and my friend favored the pumpkin. I loved that these cupcakes were agave sweetened, and the pumpkin was gluten-free.

If you visit NYC over the weekend you have to brunch. Our obligatory brunch Sunday afternoon was at Maggie Brown, another vegan-friendly spot in Fort Greene near my friend's apartment. The "Grandma Harriet" sub tofu for eggs was a perfect dish for me. Sauteed tofu loaded with fresh dill, tomatoes, and caramelized onions -- most excellent. The potatoes are not vegan, so they doubled my salad.

I ventured out again on my own Sunday night and headed to the theater district to try to score a good deal on a last minute single-seat. I entered the front row ticket lottery for Next to Normal and was one of three people who didn't get their name called. There weren't a ton of options for Sunday night shows, but I wanted to keep trying. I narrowed it down to a very affordable rush ticket for Rock of Ages or a slightly more expensive ticket to Chicago. My favorite musicals have always been older shows like Phantom, Fiddler, and West Side Story, so I opted for Chicago.

By the time I figured it out I only had 30 minutes to find some dinner and get back. I walked around for about 10 minutes without finding any good options. Grabbing at straws I dipped into one of the million nyc delis to see what they could do for me. They whipped up a roasted veggie wrap with balsamic vinegar that was actually very decent. Off to the show I went. The seat was great, the production was great, but sadly Chicago is not one I will be adding to the favorites list. I guess I'm not one for a bunch of scantily clad murderous females.

Monday morning I woke up early to do some laundry and get ready for my evening flight to Spain. My friend and I had time to fit in one more meal and she suggested vegan fast food joint, Foodswings. Sounded fun to me! We headed out on the subway, but didn't get far. The train made a stop nowhere near our destination and we were told it wouldn't be going any further. We were determined so we started walking looking for a bus to get us closer. After just shyly missing the bus we needed we headed towards another subway option. Did I mention that it was raining? We were really earning this meal! It was quite the trek, but we made it.

We did not order the vegan knockoff of the KFC double down, but I had to get a photo of the sign to prove it existed.

We started with a somewhat healthy option to offset the other not so healthy things we would be eating. This is the Chick'n Caesar Salad. Unfortunately it was lacking. The chick'n was too chewy and the dressing was very bland.

Next up was the Chick'n Cordon Bleu sandwich. This was a fried cutlet, with a slice of vegan ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo. They got this sandwich just right.

For a mere $2 a piece we decided to sample two of the drumsticks. These are available buffalo style, bbq, southern fried, and sweet southern fried bbq. We chose the buffalo style and the sweet southern friend bbq. These were fun and tasty - they even had a stick inside as a vegan-friendly bone (which I was clued in to beforehand by the menu: "Please note: ―'bones' are not edible & may present a choking hazard to small children, the elderly & the intoxicated."). Did I mention we washed all of this down with pistachio milkshakes?

This meal was pretty outrageous and unfortunately I didn't feel too great after all of that indulgence. The newbie vegan in me cannot handle having so many choices! Nonetheless it was a great way to end my visit to NYC. I feel like I have hardly begun exploring the vegan options in that amazing city, so I have no choice but to go back as soon as possible.

Signing off for now, more on the rest of my trip in my next post. I also have some great recipes coming your way soon!


  1. hey! i love in new york and i'm a vegetarian so i loved this post. i've actually never been to any of those places, although i've heard of them. my favorite nyc meatless spot is red bamboo. mmm.

  2. wow! looks like a great trip with some amazing food! thanks for sharing!

  3. You were right we WERE at the Brooklyn Flea Market on the same morning, eating pupusas! How funny! I'm so sad we didn't clue in and get to meet and chat.

  4. I don't mind that you don't blog on vacation - just as long as you blog about it when you get back. So jealous of all that food!

  5. Yum! I haven't been to a few of those places, thanks for the reviews, now I've gotta check them out! :) Glad you had a great trip!

  6. Sounds like a great time in NYC, can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. Glad you enjoyed your vacation.


  7. I would have totally ordered the vegan Double Down! All the eats look amazing. I must get to NYC someday. BTW, I've seen loads of traveling Broadway shows, and Chicago is one of my least faves. Loved the movie, but I felt the live stage version wasn't visually stimulating. The sets never changed and all the costumes and set pieces were black. I was a little bored.

  8. What a fantastic trip! So glad you had a good time and found so many amazing vegan options. The brunch looked great, and that ice cream--mmm! I've been dying to try BabyCakes ever since they opened. . . one day! :)
    PS I've been using the cinnamon you sent me on EVERYTHING and I just love it. Best cinnamon I've ever tasted. . . I may just have to make a trip to Trader Joe's myself when I run out. ;)

  9. I am so jealous that you went to Lula's sweet apothacary!!!!! I have been wanting to go there!! What an amazing vacation. You tried so many good things! And how gorgeous are you in the last photo??!!! Such a gorgeous girl! :)

  10. Looks like a great trip! I love your dress in the last pic! Very pretty.

  11. You hit some great spots, but there's still so much more to see! I'm glad, though, that you got to visit the BEST & that is Lula's! Add Sacred Chow, Candle 79, and Soy & Sake to your list for your next visit.

  12. Whoa you really ate well here in NYC! I am totally going to have to try out some of the places that you mention!


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