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Vegetarian takes Manhattan

Hi there! I and my fiance will be travelling to NYC in June. Can anyone recommend any inexpensive vegetarian, but not ethiopian places to eat? Also, has anyone heard anything about the Murray Hill Inn? Just curious. We are also looking for a yummy inexpensive pizza joint...Thanks so much everybody! :)

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  1. You should specify your level of vegetarianism. Does the whole place have to be vegan? Do you eat eggs, cheese, fish? Is chicken stock okay?

    Unless the answers to the above are Yes, No, and No, I think that you'll be better off picking good, inexpensive restaurants and ordering their vegetarian dishes instead of looking for all-veg places, which tend not to be as good.

    Answering my own question: it looks like you do eat cheese since you ask about pizza places (unless you mean soy cheese, etc., because you can forget about that being yummy).

    1 Reply
    1. re: jakew8

      Some visiting friends really enjoyed their meal this weekend at Candle Cafe on Third Avenue and 74th St - it's Vegan. Their sister restaurant - Candle 79 - is also wonderful, but pricier with smaller portions.

    2. My daughter is a vegetarian, and when we visited Manhatten her favorite place to eat was Red Bamboo http://www.redbamboo-nyc.com/ She loved it so much we ate there twice, and once at it's sister restaurant right next door (I'm sorry, I can't recall the name of the other restaurant). They both do amazing things with soy fake meats, if you like that sort of thing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: AmyH

        Oh yes i remember taking my mom for her bday, I enjoyed it but mom couldnt get over the fact that all the itmes names after meat tho they were made from soyabean. But i enjoyed it.

      2. search for vegetarian places first but i think you'll enjoy kate's joint for old school east village vege fast food. its pretty cheap. for a more upscale version (and price), the casual candles cafe in the upper east side is actually kind of good. they have a fine dining version called candles 79 nearby that i surprisingly enjoyed.

        if you eat cheese, id go to 'ino in the west village. their cheese plate is cheap and delicious. i love 'ino...very cramped but delicious. get the truffled egg toast and some paninis without meat.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sam1

          Thanks so much for all the replies!! The food does NOT have to be vegan...also, my fiance is not a big fan of chinese...(I knwo I am narrowing my options). So, no one has heard of that hotel at all?

          1. re: FOTOgrlNic

            Hey, FOTOgrlNic, Chowhound moderators frown on discussions of anything not food-related. Though I've passed by the Murray Hill Hotel many times, I can't tell you anything about the place itself other than it's a boutique hotel, meaning it's small. (They have a website: http://www.murrayhillinn.com/index.html )

            So, if you are staying there, to keep this post food-centric, there are some very good restaurants nearby that would meet your needs.

            Penelope, right down the street from the hotel, on the corner of Lex & 30th, is a small, charming, very popular spot. The food's very tasty, and the menu includes vegetarian-friendly options.


            The hotel is right on the cusp of the area known as "Curry Hill" because of its many Indian restaurants. Someone has already mentioned Saravanaas, on the northeast corner of Lex & 26th.


            Another good choice for vegetarian Indian is Pongal, on Lex, b/t 27th & 28th Sts.


            Italian restaurants can often work well for vegetarians. Campanile, on 29th St., b/t Park Av. S. & Madision, serves solidly prepared, delicious traditional Italian food. Good service and attractive comfortable surroundings.


            In nearby Madison Square Park, you will find the Shake Shack, on the corner of Madison & 23rd. The menu includes the vegetarian-friendly 'shroom burger. I've never tried it, but Hounds who have say it's excellent. First-rate fries and seriously delicious soft ice cream. Plenty of tables where you can enjoy al fresco dining in this lovely park setting.


            Hope you have a terrific visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

        2. For pizza, I recommend Arturo's on Houston St - old-school atmosphere, live music, and delicious pizza.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Katherine H

            Seconded, but stay away from the non-pizza food.

          2. Curly's Vegetarian Lunch on 14th between 1st and 2nd Aves is fantastic. Lots of sandwiches, salads, big entrees, fake meats, soy cheese, delicious desserts -- the works. (It's not just a lunch place.)

            Others: Red Bamboo, Vegetarian Paradise 2, Candle Cafe, Pure Food & Wine, Caravan of Dreams, Two Boots for pizza, Counter, Gobo, Madras, and Sacred Chow.

            Good luck choosing! Have fun!

            1. When I was a student there, I frequented Dojo's a lot. It's very inexpensive and they have decent vegetarian fare, but I'm not quite sure the level of cuisine you're looking for. Here's a link to some reviews and their menu: http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

              6 Replies
              1. re: alag77

                i. heart. dojo.

                i'm not a vegetarian, but when i was at NYU, their soyburger dinner was the best thing ever. i still get it occasionally, when i'm in the east village. a whole, filling, yummy, healthy meal (at a place with a waitress and beer) for $3.75. and the carrot dressing -swoon- i'd prefer to have that running through my veins. amazing and addictive.

                1. re: funkymonkey

                  Not anymore you don't, sadly. The east village Dojo (on St. Mark's) closed down several months ago. The space is now empty.

                  1. re: Andrew P.

                    I saw that recently on St Mark's and stopped in my tracks and nearly cried. I too loved that soy burger, and no one no one no one makes carrot dressing like Dojo's. No one. BUT there is hope, the one on W 4th that funkymonkey links to is still open.

                    1. re: ballulah

                      -gasp!- the horror! st. mark's is closed? well, at least there's the west 4th street one (which, frankly, was always a touch cleaner, anyway)

                      1. re: funkymonkey

                        West 4th has sadly lost it's luster as well. I used to love it years ago but recently have been very disappointed. I think they may be hanging on just based on the fact that they get the NYU foot traffic. The food and sanitation (flies on tables, etc.) not so great these days. Still very reasonably priced though. You can do better in the area (example: the Greek take out place off Mercer on Waverly.

                  2. re: funkymonkey

                    Second Andre P's comments on DoJo. Haven't been to VP2 in awhile, but it was always good when I went. Sadly, VP 3 on Mott has been clsoed for awhile. Buddha Bodai is good, but it's no V3, IMO.

                2. Right by Murray Hill is Saravanaas on 26th and Lex. Great vegetarian, South Indian. Love the thalis and the onion and chili utthapa.

                  1. Counter on 1st Ave. and 5th St. is amazing. Sit at the bar and order a bottle of wine and some appetizers or entrees to share. The bartenders tend to be really fun and personable. My favorite. Also, check out Westville East on Ave. A and 11th Street for their market specials-- they usually have about 15 different prepared veggie dishes (e.g. lemon garlic kale, pesto mashed potatoes, Asian-style bok choy) and you can combine four of them for an entree. Their homemade veggie burgers are also delicious. For Italian, check out Frank on 1st Ave. and 6th St.-- again, best to sit at the bar.

                    1. Angelica's Kitchen on 12th st between 1st and 2nd ave is all vegan and is very good.

                      B&H is a tiny kosher/vegetarian diner on 2nd ave and 7th street and has fabulous challah bread and soups.

                      Zen Palate on Union Square East is all vegetarian, with lots of fake meat options.

                      Hardcore vegans and vegetarians seem to like Caravan of Dreams and Kate's Joint, both in the east village. I find both pretty gross..

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: lilnugget

                        As I've said many times before on this board, in my view, Zen Palate should be avoided like the proverbial plague. We had one meal at the flagship 9th Av. location, and the food was horrible!

                        1. re: RGR

                          Emphatically ditto--Zen Palate is bland and uninspired. I'd also reject Hangawi, a place that others like, as overly greasy, over priced, with more style than substance.

                          Of all NYC's exclusively veg options, Kate's Joint will always have a fond place in my heart. Scruffy place, with great vegetarian junk food. From there, I'd recommend going with the zillions of the not exclusively veg Italian, Korean, Ethiopian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese places in NYC that have great vegetarian options.

                          1. re: rose water

                            you guys are right, zen palate is not very good overall. but once a year or so i stop in for the "sweet and sour sensation", which is like a soy protein version of general tso's chicken from your favorite mediocre, greasy, chinese takeout place. a guilty, embarassing pleasure. you know, where the first bite is delicious, the last bite is sickening. how they acheive that flourescent orange color still beats me..

                            1. re: lilnugget

                              I had not done well at Zen Palate for a while but they recently opened up on John Street and I have to say, it was quite good. A tiny bit overpriced as always (imo), but of the three main dishes I tried, one was okay (Taste of Malay) and two were great (Mango Halo and one other I can't remember--might well have been the Sweet & Sour Sensation). The space is nice, too.

                        2. re: lilnugget

                          I second the rec. for Angelica's Kitchen.

                          1. re: lilnugget

                            There is also a Zen Palate downtown on John Street now.

                            1. re: lilnugget

                              Ditto on Zen Palate. We used to order take-out from their UWS location pretty regularly. After they closed down their UWS location, we tried the Theater District location... Bad. Period. We will not eat ZP ever again. The curry was watery and the faux meat croquettes were barely cooked. Both bordered on inedible. Of course we had some foodie friends from San Francisco with us and were thoroughly embarassed that we had thought so higly of ZP in the past. We don't know what changed, but it was horrible enough to prevent us from ever returning again.

                            2. What are your thoughts on Indian food?

                              3 Replies
                                1. re: FOTOgrlNic

                                  You should give the vegetarian South Indian places a shot. That style of food is quite different from the usual Indian cuisine you get in Indian restaurants in the U.S. Places like Chennai Garden, Pongal, and Madras Mahal (all around 27th & Lexington) have the best vegetarian food around. IMO being a chowhound is all about keeping an open mind and trying new things, but then I'm an ethnic food fan.

                                  1. re: Ike

                                    OH I completely agree, Indian Food has variety of Vegetarian dishes, you will be surprised with delicious diff flavor in every dishes. Def try Palak paneer (but if you are vegan like no dairy prodcuts ) then try Channa saag or Undhiyun and all of this items are most delicious in Madras Mahal, is strickly veg kosher rest been there since more than 20 years.

                              1. Let me chime in as well, having endured (haha) two visits of my ultra-vegan friend from Bermuda. I am strictly a carnivore, so it was quite an experience.

                                Two vegetarian/vegan places she loved (and I surprisingly liked) were Gobo in the West Village (www.goborestaurant.com), and Blossom (www.blossomnyc.com) in the West 20s. She was sympathethic though so the other nights we just ate at Thai or Japanese restos (veggie sushi!) and she always found something suitable.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: mopotofu

                                  Gobo is first-rate in my opinion! My friends and I are all meat-lovers, but we left Gobo full and satisfied. Needless to say, we were surprised we would enjoy vegetarian fare so much. The price is also very, very reasonable - definitely give the place a visit, although it can get a little loud during dinnertime.

                                  1. re: asdf

                                    I agree about Gobo - good for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. there is also a location on the upper east side.

                                    1. re: asdf

                                      I'm someone who wants some sort of animal protein at most meals, so I was dreading dining at Gobo, but I loved it so much that it's now probably one of my top five restaurants in the city.

                                      I don't know how they make Vegan taste so good, but its' amazing. (we do it like tappas, just ordering lots of small plates.

                                      1. re: BW212

                                        Yup, you should absolutely not miss Gobo. Two big advantages (other than delicious food): beautiful atmosphere, and (gasp) actual wine list (i.e., you won't have to drink icky honey wine like at some veggie spots). Also, they take reservations at dinner which is a plus -- too many of us carnivores in the neighborhood like the place, so it can get kind of crowded. (Note: there's one in the west village on 6th Ave & 8th St, which is the one I'm referring to, although I seem to recall there's an upper east side location which I can't vouch for). If you go, don't miss the smoked seitan with chinese broccoli and the avocado app.

                                        1. re: NinaNYC

                                          Made the reservations online...that was cool. I look forward to it. Any other specific food items not to be missed there?

                                  2. What about Turkish food? Check out: Beyoglu and Taksim. Fill up on amazing hummus, cacik, homemade pita bread, grape leaves, vegetable stew, etc. Wonderful flavors!!

                                    1. No one's mentioned one of my favorites, so I'll chime in with a recommendation for it, and there is one very close to your hotel. RICE on Lexington and 28th is a vegetarian's paradise, I think. A co-worker of mine who was visiting from our London office and is a vegetarian ordered from here everyday for the week she was in town, she loved it so much. It's very "international eclectic" and there is lots to choose from cuisines all over the world. The pretext of this place is that they serve about 8-9 exotic rices and rice preparations, and you can choose dishes to be served with them, sort of like choosing your pasta and then your sauce as you can at a lot of casual Italian places. The menu is not all vegetarian, but it's about 75% vegetarian if I had to guess.

                                      The veggie meatballs are one of my favorite things in the world ever!

                                      I'm not a veggie, but I only eat meat once or twice a week, so this place is a godsend for my palate. It's delicious and healthy, and the location on Lexington is actually one of the nicest for dining in.


                                      1. If you splurge for one night, actually it wouldnt be much of a splurge, go to hangawi. I sense that it is a little bit under the radar on chowhound but its probably up there with the best vegetarian spots. Oh and its actually around 30-35 a person if you dont order drinks.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Sambossanova

                                          I had a wonderful dinner there last Saturday night (second visit) with a vegan and a vegetarian - it was about $120 with tea, two glasses of wine, two or three appetizers and three main courses. All excellent - I highly recommend this place. They have a website so you could check out the menu/prices. Wish I could remember what we had, but my friends chose the dishes.

                                          1. re: Sambossanova

                                            I second Hangawi. That place is great. I had the Emperor's Choice there a few weeks ago, which was actually vegan. I am not a vegetarian and I love cheese, but I'll tell you, I didn't miss it. Plus, the atmosphere is so serene that it makes the dining experience really very special. Try it out!

                                          2. There are alot of good Indian restaurants on Lexington Avenue, not too far from your hotel. Some serve vegetarian food. Angelica's kitchen in the east village has very good vegetarian food. In Chinatown, Buddha Bodai on Mott Street may be a good choice for Chinese vegetarian. I have not eaten in the Manhattan branch but their branch in Queens is good. A heavily traffiiced relatively inexpensive Chinese restaurant - Cantonese style (non-vegetarian) - is Noodletown (particularly good for a late night meal). For Shanghai food you may want to try Joes Shanghai (not vegetarian) - its a little touristy but good.

                                            1. Of course if you will be venturing uptown I have to throw the hat in for Uptown Juice Bar (a sit down restaurant with a nice selection) on 125th and Raw Soul (also sit down specializing in raw foods) on 145th Street. Of the two I have heard raves about Uptown Juice Bar.

                                              1. I second blossom, it's one of my favorite vegan restaurants in the city, it's way, way better than angelica's kitchen (more interesting food, better presentation and service and close in price), and comes out just a bit ahead of candle 79 and counter for me (though I like both of those too, counter for brunch especially). Candle Cafe is good too, but it always strikes me as just a little bit expensive for what you get. Hangawi is also beautiful and delicious, but franchia, their casual sister restaurant, is overpriced and bland.

                                                For more casual eating, I'm a fan of pukk, a vegetarian thai place in the east village. The appetizers are better than the entrees (try the spinach toast, soft green rice crepe, corn noodles, and "duck" salad), and it's so cheap, especially for lunch ($6 usually).

                                                As for non-vegetarian places that have good veggie options: col legno, Italian in the east village--delicious fried artichokes and some nice pastas; cafe himalaya on 1st street is very inexpensive and has some interesting salads (avocado, chickpea and potato, for instance) and lots of veg entrees; bread on spring street is nice for a salad or sandwich (also a little pricey for what you get, but I like it anyway. Bread Tribeca tends to be underwhelming); L'asso is good for pizza but not inexpensive unless you restrain yourselves and just order 1 pizza to share; quartino is also nice organic italian; rice is good for a quick lunch (my parents adore it and always want to eat there when they visit, I don't really think it's worth going to on vacation, but it is a reliable option); the bahn mi place on grand street between mott & elizabeth has 4 kinds of veg bahn mi (vegetabe, tofu, fake chicken, and curry fake chicken) but no seating; I like two boots for quick pizza slices; and the indian places mentioned are also nice. I'd add madras cafe to that list too. My experience has been that most low to mid range (and some of the fancy) places downtown have veggie options, uptown can be harder sometimes. Taksim, as mentioned above for turkish, is also really yummy and there's a branch walking distance from MOMA if you'll be going there.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: alexis

                                                  Wow! Thanks so much Alexis!! The red bamboo place sounds very interesting to me...what do you think of it? Is it mostly chinese food? My man hates chinses (he's crazy..). Thanks again! So helpfull!! :)

                                                  1. re: FOTOgrlNic

                                                    You can get their menu on menupages: http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

                                                    I'd say pan-asian, some soul food, and some sandwiches and the like. It's an okay, fake-meat-based place, with some tasty stuff, but nothing transformative or particularly memorable.

                                                    1. re: FOTOgrlNic

                                                      You can get Asian-style food, but I wouldn't go to Red Bamboo for that. Hit Chinatown instead.

                                                      I'm not usually a fake-meat girl, but that's really the specialty here. The "chicken" fingers are awesome, as are the "pork" dishes. Haven't tried the "beef" or "seafood," so I can't say.

                                                      1. re: FOTOgrlNic

                                                        You're welcome! I've never been to red bamboo--and I've lived walking distance from it for 4 years now. I've heard good things though. I like vegetarian dim sum house in chinatown (again, go for the dim sum, the entrees haven't been great in my experience), and i think it's similar fake-meat-wise (though more traditional chinese rather than pan-asian) to red bamboo?

                                                        1. re: alexis

                                                          They're similar, you're right. But I prefer vegetarian dim sum over red bamboo.

                                                      2. re: alexis

                                                        Wow, I have to disagree on Pukk! I went there several weeks ago with a vegetarian friend for lunch, and the food was tasteless except for being oversalted! Yuck!

                                                        I like some of your other recommendations better, though. Cafe Himalaya is worthwhile if you're in the area. The best thing I've had there so far was a non-vegetarian dish, but I love the Tangtsel (described on the menu as Cabbage, Carrots, Peas & Bean Thread Noodles Marinated in Sesame Oil & Vinegar - they don't mention that it comes in a "bowl" of outer cabbage leaves - it's delicious!).

                                                        I've enjoyed Col Legno for a long time. Yes, very pleasant Carcioffi alla Giudia, etc. Taksim does have a bunch of good vegetarian mezes.

                                                      3. You should try Vatans...All vegetarian Indian food in a very nice setting...One price, all you can eat, they bring you many, many interesting dishes...Love the atmosphere, love to take my shoes off and sit on the big pillows...Fun experience and the food was good...HAVE to get reservations though....

                                                        1. Totonno's on 2nd Ave. is inexpensive and has fantastic pizza!!

                                                          1. Home on 8th seems to be popular for the vegetarian menu of Chinese food. I tried a couple of non-veggie dishes and wasn't impressed but I would give them another shot to try their veggie options.

                                                            1. Has anyone had the portobella sandwich at the shake shack? Also, any other goodies to get while i'm there? Finally, does anyone else have any specific item reccomendations for gobo?

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: FOTOgrlNic

                                                                Sorry if this is too late for your purposes. The portobello sandwich is a gooey delicious mass of shroom topped with cheese, topped with breadcrumbs, deep fried. Not a healthy meal by any means, but certainly tasty once in a blue.

                                                                1. re: rose water

                                                                  I had it...mmmmm...its sooo yummy! I want to know how they get cheese in a mushroom and how they bread then fry it!!! Yummm...shake shack rules.

                                                              2. If you guys HAD to choose between red bamboo and gobo, which would you choose? Keep in mind...we don't usually like to venture TOO far out of the ordinary...abd we leave very soon....so we need rec.'s very soon! Thanks!!! :)

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: FOTOgrlNic

                                                                  really depends what you're in the mood for. red bamboo is soul food. i've only really enjoyed the buffalo wings and soul chicken. i've had better luck at gobo.