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Best veg/vegan awards

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piccola Jun 1, 2007 11:59 AM

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.

Best brunch
1. Bright Food Shop (vegan huevos rancheros)
2. Sacred Chow
Hon. mentions: Café Mogador, Old Devil Moon, Organic Grill

Best sandwich
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
1. Gobo
2. Pukk
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

Best splurge
1. Counter
2. Hangawi
Hon. mentions: Candle 79

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  1. a
    alc RE: piccola Jun 1, 2007 02:22 PM

    best sandwich: Cajun seiten at Candle Cafe

    2 Replies
    1. re: alc
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      LES_Crawler RE: alc Jun 2, 2007 06:12 PM

      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.

      1. re: LES_Crawler
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        piccola RE: LES_Crawler Jun 3, 2007 01:59 PM

        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.

    2. k
      kobetobiko RE: piccola Jun 2, 2007 07:03 PM

      Best Japanese Noodle: Sobaya
      Best Indian: Devi
      Best Splurge (to add): Gramercy Tavern

      3 Replies
      1. re: kobetobiko
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        xigua RE: kobetobiko Jun 4, 2007 08:32 AM

        Not to nitpick, but I once brought an Indian vegetarian friend to sobaya for noodles and found out that he couldn't eat most of the things on the menu. The dipping sauce is made with bonito flakes (fish) and dipping soba in regular soy sauce just didn't taste too great.

        1. re: xigua
          k
          kobetobiko RE: xigua Jun 4, 2007 08:45 AM

          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.

          1. re: kobetobiko
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            xigua RE: kobetobiko Jun 4, 2007 09:49 AM

            Gotcha! Thanks for the additional disclosure. Now I know what to order next time there's another vegetarian in the house =)

      2. s
        small h RE: piccola Jun 2, 2007 07:18 PM

        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?

        1. jinet12 RE: piccola Jun 2, 2007 07:28 PM

          Best overall vegetarian dinner and memorable dining experience...Vatans

          8 Replies
          1. re: jinet12
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            gaijingirl RE: jinet12 Jun 2, 2007 08:02 PM

            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.

            1. re: gaijingirl
              m
              muffintop RE: gaijingirl Jun 2, 2007 08:33 PM

              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.

              1. re: muffintop
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                piccola RE: muffintop Jun 3, 2007 02:02 PM

                Again, it's been a while for Counter. What's more, I haven't tried many of the upscale veg/vegan places because I'm a) cheap and b) the only vegetarian in my group of friends - so I can't compare to, say, Pure Food or Blossom.

              2. re: gaijingirl
                financialdistrictresident RE: gaijingirl Jun 6, 2007 07:09 PM

                I miss VP 3 on Mott so much! And they delivered. We have kosher Buddha bodai on Mott. Where is VP? In the W. Village? Assume no affiliation w/VP3??? VP 1 is long gone too.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident
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                  Nightspect RE: financialdistrictresident Jun 7, 2007 07:50 AM

                  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.

                  1. re: Nightspect
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                    piccola RE: Nightspect Jun 7, 2007 03:44 PM

                    VP2 is still around - I go almost once a week.

                2. re: gaijingirl
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                  sweetlaurieh RE: gaijingirl Apr 13, 2008 05:04 PM

                  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.

                  1. re: gaijingirl
                    asianbun RE: gaijingirl Apr 14, 2008 09:05 AM

                    Gaijingirl, i'm with you. Angelicas, Organic Grill, Gobo, Candle, even Broadway East -- many of them are bland. I prefer Asian-style vegetarian which has stronger flavors and spices.

                3. e
                  emma RE: piccola Jun 4, 2007 07:39 AM

                  best burgers (might be surprising), but anytime and houstons.

                  i second kate's and love all tiny sandwiches.

                  1. j
                    jdream RE: piccola Jun 4, 2007 09:42 AM

                    Best Dessert: Chocolate Raspberry Tollbooth Cookie from Life Thyme market. In general, their vegan baked goods are really good.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: jdream
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                      piccola RE: jdream Jun 4, 2007 04:17 PM

                      Good to know! I go there for groceries sometimes (they have some hard-to-find brands)but I've never tried the prepared food.

                      1. re: piccola
                        a
                        alexis RE: piccola Jun 6, 2007 07:00 PM

                        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).

                        1. re: alexis
                          p
                          piccola RE: alexis Jun 7, 2007 03:54 PM

                          You're right, the mingling category is important. I've had good experiences at Westville, Café Mogador, El Centro, Saigon Grill, Turkuaz, and pretty much every Indian restaurant I've been to.

                          1. re: piccola
                            c
                            clembeauchamp RE: piccola Jun 8, 2007 05:13 PM

                            I think Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop should be on here somewhere. Their veggie burger is AMAZING!

                            1. re: clembeauchamp
                              p
                              piccola RE: clembeauchamp Jun 8, 2007 05:20 PM

                              I haven't tried it, so I can't say. But thanks for the tip - it's on my to-eat list!

                    2. n
                      nuxvomica RE: piccola Jun 8, 2007 07:56 PM

                      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.....

                      1. m
                        mooms RE: piccola Jun 9, 2007 04:18 AM

                        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!

                        1. PlomeekSoup RE: piccola Jun 9, 2007 07:40 PM

                          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.

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