HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Vegetarian visiting New York for the first time! (on a budget!)

I am indescribably excited to be visiting New York City for the first time ever. I'm going to be there in early December. I want to eat out, but can't really afford the trendy veggie restaurants like Pure Food & Wine. Any suggestions for a traveling vegetarian foodie on a budget?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yes! Angelica Kitchen is good, as is Caravan of Dreams (get the Santa Maria stir fry - and they have good sangria)
    Tiengarden is pretty good, but they have zero atmosphere.
    You can also pop into any thai or chinese place and find a great range of options

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jel212

      "You can also pop into any thai or chinese place and find a great range of options"

      Really? I don't think this is true at all especially not in Chinatown where many of the authentic places will add oyster sauce or bits of meat in lots of the "veggie" options. You would really have to be careful if you are a vegetarian in Chinatown.

      1. re: KTinNYC

        You have a point - probably not specifically in Chinatown, but I dine out with veggie friends all the time at chinese, vietnamese, thai places all over the city and they seem to do just fine. Maybe the more American of those places, not the really authentic Chinese ones in Chinatown...

        1. re: KTinNYC

          What KT says is very true. So many seemingly veg dishes in Chinese, Thai, Korean, etc. cuisine have meat stock, fish stock... even a dash of fish sauce makes it non-veg.

          I have a veggie friend who likes Galaxy Diner (I think?) located next to Irving Plaza. She also does takeout from Woorijip on 32nd St. a lot -- they have a sticker for all veg dishes and there are lots of them. IMO neither are destination-worthy (but then again I'm not a veg) but they work in a pinch if you are traveling, low budget, and hungry!

          1. re: uwsister

            Oh! Speaking as a vegetarian, I think Woorijip is totally destination worthy for a veggie on a budget! Hangawi near by offers strictly vegan food in a serene setting for mucho dinero. But getting to pick a mix of treats from the Woorijip buffet surrounded by students from FIT, NYU, CUNY, Columbia and The New School is an "only in NYC" experience. The FIT students are particularly decorative. I know many people don't care for the rice sticks, but I think they are divine! The only rice sticks that were better were the ones that the cute chef at Momofuku Noodle Bar who looked a whole lot like David Chang made the time I was there.

        2. re: Jel212

          Warning: Angelica Kitchen is VERY hit or miss. Their specials can be good but are often wretched.

          Tiengarden is just plain awful by any stretch, unless oily meat-substitute-textured-proteins appeals to you. Simply horrible.

          Best bet: South Indian and Thai. Try Queens places (specifically southern spice and sripraphai). You won't be disappointed.

        3. Caravan of Dreams on east 6th street

          1. Caravan & Blossom are good - I wouldnt call them cheap.

            I'd suggest checking out Buddha Bodai in Chinatown - vegetarian chinese!

            Good Health Burger on E 53rd is good too!

            1. While not the cheapest, in my opinion Candle Cafe is the BEST vegetarian/vegan restaurant in NYC -- Its on 3rd btw 74th and 75th. Entrees are between $15-$18 and worth every bite...

              1. Try Pukk on 1st Ave between 4th and 5th streets. It's kind of a modernistic hole-in-the-wall, but it's cheap Thai vegetarian and it's good. The lunch special is a great deal. Have fun in NYC!

                1. Peacefood Cafe located on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 82nd Street. Vegan and very moderate prices in a casual atmosphere. It's new and only opened a few months ago much less expensive than places like Candle Cafe or Blossom.

                  1. If you like vegetarian South Indian, there are a number of good places around E. 15th to 19th St., including Chennai Garden, Saravannas and Pongol. These places tend to be inexpensive and good. For inexpensive, decent north Indian, there's Sirtaj, the ubiquitous Baluchis chain and many other options.

                    There are a gazillion falafel/hummus joints in the city. There are Maoz locations and Hummus Place locations all around town, the (in)famous Mamoun's Falafel on MacDougal St. in the W. Village. On MacDougal St., a hub of cheap eats, there's also an Ethiopian place called Meskerem, which serves pretty decent vegetarian and non-veg fare; La Lanterna, which has inexpensive wood fired oven-grilled pizzas... I *think* the Kati Roll Company is still around, too, for the eponymous treat of Indian flatbread rolled sandwiches. There are a few vegetarian options IIRC.

                    Generally speaking, Turkish mezze and Italian both tend to be very vegetarian friendly as I'm sure you know. If you like mock meats, there are a number of vegetarian restaurants in Chinatown that specialize in those, as well as a place called VP2 (Vegetarian Paradise?) in the West Village that might be of interest. I personally think VP2 is a bit of an abomination, but there are those who really like it, I think for the fried 'chicken', which in truth, I've never tried.

                    On the UWS (Upper West Side), Raku 2, which I don't actually like for anything that involves fish, has a good, inexpensive and filling vegetarian nigiri assortment. Not very high in protein (there's just the tamago), but you could supplement all the rice with edamame for your complete proteins.

                    What part of town are you staying in? We can give you more specific recommendations if you let us know which neighborhoods are convenient to you. And do let us know cuisine preferences if you have any. There are vegetarian offerings in almost any cuisine, if you look for them.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: cimui

                      "If you like vegetarian South Indian, there are a number of good places around E. 15th to 19th St., including Chennai Garden, Saravannas and Pongol."

                      I think this must be a typo, because you're way off on the locations. Curry Hill centers around 26th to 29th Sts. and Lexington. And the last two restaurants are Saravanaas and Pongal.

                      1. re: Pan

                        Of course. Must've had a brain blip.

                        1. re: cimui

                          I'd put Tiffin Wallah, especially for the $7 lunch buffet, in there as a worthy stop in Curry Hill.

                    2. Depending on how strict a vegetarian you are, I would say that the best vegetarian food in NYC is the best non-meat food are the best chow places in NYC. Most vegetarian restaurants are IMHO expensive, gross or both, and almost any restaurant in NYC (with the possible exception of David Chang's Momofuku restaurants) will have good vegetarian options.

                      Pukk is very good, but almost any modern Thai place (Sea, Joya etc..) can do delicious vegetarian food (including the new standard - mock duck in green curry) without fish sauce. The east village has a great many japanese snack places and yakitori stands where you can get sushi with pickles, or grilled vegetables for cheap. There are several explicitly vegetarian indian restaurants including Pongal that are worth the trek. I don't know if he is still out there, but the Dosa Man by Washington Square Park made some delicious veggie dosas with spicy potatos. Most bahn mi places will do a vegetarian option.

                      Oh, and Num Pang on 11th and University place may be my favorite cheap eats in Manhattan. They have fantastic cambodian sandwiches for around $7, crazy good sides, and they always have at least one very good veggie sandwich and side.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: flower_puppy

                        Momofuku Noodle has vegetarian options.

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          True, but they're not worth a trip, in my opinion. I went to Momofuku Noodle Bar very soon after it opened and had vegetarian ramen and sauteed pea shoots. There are better and cheaper versions of both available elsewhere. Now, this was years ago, so those dishes have been replaced by ginger scallion noodles and kale. But I still wouldn't go out of my way.

                          I don't think Num Pang is any great shakes either, and Sea is just awful. Nor do I agree with flower_puppy's assertion that "(m)ost vegetarian restaurants are IMHO expensive, gross or both." So! I'm very disagreeable this evening.

                          But I'll second Buddha Bodai, and add the vegetarian dim sum platter at Dim Sum Go Go (Red Egg has plenty of options, too). And Hangawi, I love Hangawi, but it ain't cheap.

                          1. re: small h

                            Chang has recently upped his vegetarian game. I have vegetarian friends that love his ginger scallion noodles as well as his shiitake buns. I wouldn't go out of my way either but I just wanted to point out that there are vegetarian options at Noodle Bar.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              I will take that into consideration. I saw his recipe for ginger scallion noodles somewhere, and it looked like something I could make myself. I am interested in the shiitake buns, though.

                              I just can't get out of my head some interview I read years ago, during which he said he wasn't interested in feeding vegetarians and if you don't want to eat pigpigpigpig (and more pig) then you should stay the hell out of his restaurants. So I have.

                              1. re: small h

                                I read the same interview and had a similar reaction. It seemed a bit hostile in a business that is supposed to be about hospitality as much as it is about good food.

                        2. re: flower_puppy

                          Thiru, the dosa guy on Washington Square Park, is still there almost all the time. He's a really fun dude and it's great to get dosa / roti / vada from a cart -- but honestly the food, alone, is not worth seeking out from a foodie's perspective. Also, there's a ton of construction being done on the park, which makes eating there less nice... not to mention it's getting colder. If you're going for dosa, it's probably a better idea to head to Lexington Ave. / East 20s for Chennai Garden, Saravanaas, or Pongol, in that order. (Saravanaas does better vada.)

                          Sea Thai really is pretty awful, IMO.

                        3. You MUST try Dirt Candy. It'll be a meal to remember - the chef works wonders with vegetables - enhancing their natural flavors vs. trying to remake them into meat based dishes.


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Nicolle

                            Good restaurant for sure, but my impression is that it's on the pricier side. (Of course, it's hard to know what "on a budget" means for any given person!)

                            1. re: cimui

                              It won't be the cheapest meal but for a vegetarian foodie...if you have a friend or two and share a couple appetizers and an entree or two...I would consider it money well spent. :)

                          2. I'm not a vegetarian and I love Vatan on 3rd avenue and 28th street... It's all you can eat vegetarian Indian food. http://www.vatanny.com/

                            1. Check out veganfriendly.com, which has lots of reviews/pics of veg offerings all over NYC.

                              Kate's Joint
                              Vegetarian Dim Sum House
                              Saravana Bhava

                              Dosa Place
                              De Mole
                              Veggie Castle II

                              Taco Chulo
                              Los Pollitos
                              Pizza Plus

                              Whatever you do, STAY AWAY from V-Spot. Disgusting, inconsistent "food".

                              71 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                              Kate's Joint
                              58 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                              14 W 4th St, New York, NY 10012

                              Veggie Castle
                              132-09 Liberty Ave, New York, NY 11419