Best veg/vegan awards
Inspired by one of my fave food blogs, I've decided to give props to what I consider some of the best veg/vegan foods and restaurants in the city. This is my list (at least what comes to mind now). Please add your nominations, and your own categories.
1. Bright Food Shop (vegan huevos rancheros)
2. Sacred Chow
Hon. mentions: Café Mogador, Old Devil Moon, Organic Grill
1. Nicky's veggie banh mi
2. Taim's sabich
Hon. mentions: veggie burger at Stand (I included veg burgers here because I haven't found enough standouts for a separate category), sNice's "meatball" sub, Tiny's po'boy or "veggiest of them all"
Best side dish(es)
1. Westville market sides
Best healthy meal
1. Angelica's dragon bowls
2. Salads at Spring Street Natural
Best unhealthy meal
1. Soul chicken at Red Bamboo (I know, it's a given)
2. Chili dawg at Kate's Joint
Hon. mentions: 'shroom burger at Shake Shack
Best soy as soy
1. Ganmo patties at Soy
2. Fresh tofu at that cart in Chinatown
Hon. mentions: Kyotofu
Best soy as meat/dairy
1. Vegetarian Paradise/Red Bamboo
2. Vegetarian Dim Sum House
Best veg place to take your non-veg friends
Hon. mentions: Kate's Joint, Life Café, Saravanaas
Best cheap meal
1. Congee Village
2. Roll and Dough
Hon. mentions: Caracas Arepa Bar, Ukrainian National Home
Hon. mentions: Candle 79
Best splurge is Counter? Really? Wow, you're so wrong. And I don't think this is a case of just having a different opinion. I mean, you're just wrong. It's as if you're trying to pass off an old boot covered in wino vomit for foie gras. I've tried Counter on and off over the last few years (being someone who's not a huge meat eater) and it's never failed...to totally disappoint. Maybe that makes me an idiot for going back, but I prefer to think of myself as an optimist. Try the gnocchi! Little uncooked balls of raw potato covered in a sauce that's been cut with water. Or how about the pomme frites - big steak fries with several sub-par dipping sauces, each less flavorful than the last. Or ask the bartender to make you a cocktail - no matter what you order they'll screw it up. Martinis drowning in vermouth, champagne cocktails with no champagne, and have you seen how they make their sangria? It's all in a big plastic jug and they drop the fruit in from another container as if it's an olive or lime wedge. If you have any respect for yourself, you'll avoid this horrible, horrible place. Also, they're minus a chef. Apparently the kitchen is coasting right now since their chef is absent and they're too cheap to hire a new one. Rather than make me cut them slack, that makes me angry. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Also, not to be too contrary (I love Hangawi and Nicky's veggie banh mi as well) but Angelica's isn't a restaurant. It's a steam table cafeteria with table service. Even including it in this list is bizarre and insulting to the actual restaurants you've put on your list.
Hey, to each his/her own.
I haven't been to Counter in more than a year - it's too expensive for me to hit often - so maybe my memory's playing tricks or the food has declined.
Re: Angelica - I like the dragon bowls precisely because they're so simple. You'll notice I didn't laud any of the more complex dishes.
You are correct. The diipping sauce, miso soup, and a lot of the items do have bonita flakes, but there are a few items that are specified vegan, such as the soba salad. There are also other dishes like tempura / grilled vegetables, tofu, etc. They are flavorful on their owns and so I usually just ask for soy sauce instead of the dipping sauce for a hint of additional flavoring.
Not so much nominating (I agree with most of piccola's picks) as asking where to get a dish I can no longer find. Summer Palace on 3rd and 17th, an otherwise undistinguished Chinese place, used to serve vegetarian meat ball casserole, the veg version of lion's head. It had a butter-like flavor and a springy texture and was just really, really good. Anyone had something similar?
My picks (as a new vegan--as of Jan 1st--I conducted a full survey):
Best not necessarily healthy, with lots of use of soy, but very tasty:
Vegetarian's Paradise (esp. the banana split dessert)
Best burger: Kate's
Best Korean: Any of the veggie options at Mandoo (or the tteok bokki takeout at Hanh Ah Reum.) Haven't tried Hangawi yet.
Best gourmet surroundings (and best gourmet dessert, although the entrees aren't quite as noteworthy): Blossom (esp. with a glass of Muscat wine.)
Best raw: Pure Food and Wine (esp. the chocolate ganache and raw lasagne)
Best sandwich: any of the good Banh Mi joints, made with the veggie options. (Also veggie Banh Uoot. Really seriously yummy.)
Okay, so there are a lot of dessert recommendations here. So sue me...I like my sweets!
Thumbs DOWN to:
Angelicas, Gobo and Candle (all really bland). I just DON'T see other people see in them. Is it a case of the Emperor's new clothes??? Hmmmm.
I have to respectfully disagree. I LOVE candle 79 and the candle cafe. I just went to the candle cafe and had the chipotle tofu. so delicious. and the guacamole timbale at 79 is amazing. so is their seitan. And the marinated tofu sandwich at Angelica's is excellent.
I'm also a big fan of hangawi. Pure food & wine has some good things, but my favorites are the desserts.
I was disappointed by blossom, but their dessert was good. a surprising tofu cheesecake.
Counter.. decent, but not no. 1 splurge. no way. vegetarian fare in the city is way better than that.
I have to say that Buddha Bodai is my favorite Chinese vegetarian restaurant in the U.S. (and pretty close to some of the places in Toronto). The durian pastry and chai siu sou (faux roast pork pastry) are great.
As for Vegetarian Paradise in the West Village, the one I know is VP2 which is on West 4th Street. Not sure if it's still around though.
I dragged my husband (a non-vegan) to Angelica. We tried 5 different dishes. Every dish was bland and frankly.. weird. There was nothing for a non-vegan to eat according to my husband.
Compare that to Candle cafe 3rd@75th - even my husband likes it there! lol .. The best dish is the ginger stir fry.
best burgers (might be surprising), but anytime and houstons.
i second kate's and love all tiny sandwiches.
ooh, life thyme has excellent chocolate-chip peanut butter cookies too, they're huge, find someone to share with.
blossom is my favorite fancy place. I love the lumpia, the green bean and tomato sides and their desserts. hangawi and pure are also very nice though I've only been to each once. counter's ok, there was a period when I loved it, but I do think it's declined some in the last two years. the lentil-walnut pannini there is awesome though. the candles are also good, though I do think they're a bit overpriced for what they are.
for more casaul, bahn mi on grand street has excellent sandwiches, I love s'nice for all things but especially their tofu club, and teany's "turkey" club is also excellent (or maybe I just love club sandwiches, take your chances).
I also love the duck salad, spinach toast and soft green rice crepe at pukk, I don't really care for the entrees on average, but the appetizers and desserts are great. And I agree on vegetarian dim sum house as well.
I'm also a fan of madras cafe for indian. pongal's also alright, but the service there sucks so much that it's hard to justify going when there are so many other places around to try.
gobo's ok, surprisingly, my meat-eating boyfriend likes it more than I do. I'm not a fan of angelica's at all, and franchia (casual offshoot of hangawi) was really disappointing--stunningly mediocre dumplings and noodles.
for good veg-non-veg mingling (an important category if you're the only veg among your friends), I like l'asso, dok suni, col legno, kampuchea, bread and quartino (in the fancy enough to be a nice dinner out but not all that expensive category).
not a huge fan of Counter - Hangawi is much better. overall vegan - Angelica
love Roll & Dough (althoug i have to admit the spicy chicken bun is the favorite - not so vegan though)
Angelica Kitchen - i like their apps more than entrees, which i think have way too much going on. i love the cornbread with tahini, the dragon bowls, the lentil-walnut pate, the tempeh reuben and the parfait with nut cream - mmmm.....
Is Lan Cafe (Vietnamese veg, 6th between 1st & 2nd Aves) still as good as people reported last year? We still haven't gotten down there yet!
No love or mention of Atlas Cafe? It's tiny but they have some sidewalk seating and the vegan desserts are shipped in from Vegan Treats in Pennsylvania. Good sandwich options, too. A cute spot for veggies and non-veggies alike. Located at 73 Second Ave.