NYC Dining: Vegan-Friendly Mainstream Restaurants

waiterI am a proud NYC Dining foodie. However, finding quality vegan meals at places that please my non-vegan dining companions, can be tricky. And sometimes I want to dine at mainstream restaurants. So it's taken a few years, but I eventually found a ton of mainstream joints that haven't forgotten about their vegan diners.

I love my everything-vegan, raw and healthy restaurants like Blossom, Candle 79, Caravan of Dreams and GoBo. I eat at these places often. But an adventurous girl can't live on vegan places alone.

So ahead are my very favorite tried and tested vegan-friendly mainstream restaurants in NYC. These are all restaurants that are not known for their vegan fare, but if you look closely you will find some vegan-gem dishes at these off-the-vegan-path restaurants.

For example,
did you know that Public in Nolita, serves an amazing vegan tofu curry? And Cafeteria, the 24/7 late-night mac-n-cheese/hamburger mecca serves my favorite vegan veggie burger in the city?

Click ahead for the complete list and a few of my menu recommendations at each.....

NYC Dining: Favorite Vegan-Friendly Mainstream Restaurants

1. Public
While my carnivorous meal companions chomp on exotic fare, I can enjoy a delicious vegan meal in this very cool restaurant. Public was recently awarded a Michelin star.
Vegan menu items: Red Curry Of Crispy Tofu with honey shimeji mushrooms, thai eggplant and long beans. Salad Of Herby Lentils, Green Beans, Avocado Toasted Pecans & Baby Gem with pomegranate molasses and avocado oil vinaigrette - (can be a appetizer or your main course.) Mushrooms Ceviche with miso aubergine and ginger ponzu sauce (amazing and vegan.) Veggie sides are always yummy. Six Sorbet dessert is the sorbet dessert for a sorbet-fiend like me.

2. Cafeteria
In the 'city that doesn't sleep' you need a good 24/7, go-to anytime joint for yummy, casual and hip food. Cafeteria is it.
Vegan Menu items: I get the same this every time. The vegan veggie burger. It is amazing. Soft soy bean base and incredibly moist to bite. Its not chewy or hard- it falls apart - in a good way. And you can request a salad instead of the fries. The lychee belini is pretty yummy too.

3. Craft
Most high end restaurants will be able to handle any special request, including vegans. But at Craft, a vegan can be not only accommodated for, but well satisfied. Especially if you are like me and love mushrooms. If you are unsure about the oil versus butter issue, just be sure to tell your server that you are vegan and need a dairy free preparation.
Vegan Menu items: Numerous salads, veggies, mushrooms, grains and pasta.

4. Dos Caminos
There are actually a few fabulous Mexican spots that will easily serve you vegan meals. (Cafe El Portal, Mexican Radio, Harry's Burritos and even Chipotle.) But at Dos Caminos you are assured a vegan meal that is amazing in a elegant and fun sit-down setting.
Vegan Menu items: Table side guacamole, salsa trio, sides of black beans, rice and tortillas, veggie tacos-no cheese (specify vegan), side of plantains no cheese, and the Chile tasting is pretty fun if you are looking for a spiciness-tolerance game - I'd order the sangria to wash the spiciness down though!

5. Waverly Inn
Flashing paparazzi bulbs are on the menu nearly every night. I was crafty enough to dine here once. How I got the reservation is a story in itself, since they don't list a phone number or web address! But I was thrilled to see that they had a vegan menu item. I guess if you cater to a lot of celebrities you have to be aware of vegans and special requests in general!
Vegan Menu item: Market Vegetable Plate with green curry sauce. It's better than it sounds.

6. Spice Market
Spice Market a Jean Georges restaurant. And FYI, JG likes vegans. It's a lively, loud and hot-spot restaurant located in the nightlife-heavy meatpacking district of nyc. Come here on a weekend night and the place will be packed with energized people looking for a fun time and good food. As you probably know, most Asian restaurants will have veggies, rice and tofu, but SM serves them with flavors and spices that pop. It's vegan Asian food with outstanding flavor.
Vegan Menu items: Mango Salad cherry tomato and crystallized tamarind, an entire veggies/noodles/rice section. The house-made ginger ale is a must order.

7. Morimoto
My favorite sushi place with vegan 'sushi' options.

8. Fig and Olive
Italian crowd-pleaser. Vegan pasta available. Delicious olive oil tasting.

9. Josie's
It's no shocker that this dairy-free organic restaurant pleases everyone from vegans to organic meat carnivores. Healthy, happy and one of my faves.
Vegan Menu items: Tofu stir-fry, veggie plate is huge and delicious, vegan 'meatloaf'. Vegan desserts-yum.

10. Essex
It can be very tricky to find a crowd-pleasing brunch spot that is vegan-friendly. Especially one that is a prix fixe. Essex is a lively weekend brunch spot that you can take the whole non-vegan crew to. And you still get a vegan meal option.
Vegan Menu item: Prix Fixe Brunch with Vegan Mexican Matzo Brei with tofu scramble & soy cheese opt'l. $16 gets you 3 drinks and entree plus home fries and greens (if you want them.)

11. Lovely Day
Hipster joint in Nolita. I've seen vegan music-guru/DJ Moby dining here twice. Go figure. Very locals-only joint. But a slick tourist could squeeze by. It's Asian vegan/carnivore fusion all the way.
Vegan Menu Items: Organic Vegan Miso Soup with shiitake mushrooms, string beans, onions. Pineapple cashew vegetables with tofu.

12. Lombardi's
OK, so you need a good pizza place to take the visiting niece and nephew right? Or maybe that pizza-loving friend who heard "Lombardi's is indeed the first pizza place in America." Go to Lombardi's with vegan ease.
Vegan Menu items: Simply order a pizza with no cheese. I get spinach, mushrooms, onions and olives on my pizza. The house salad minus the cheese and dairy dressing it yummy too. Sangria is a knock-out. Literally.

13. The Kitchen Club
Quite possibly my favorite restaurant in the city. Small, quaint, cozy and incredibly charming. This restaurant at the corner of Prince and Mott streets in Nolita serves the best dumplings in town. Owner Marja Samson is one of the best hostesses I have experienced. When she is in the restaurant, she often chats with the customers. Next door is Chibi's bar, same owner, where the sake and dumplings are the hot items. In the summer, the outdoor tables are packed by 6pm.
Vegan Menu Items: I always get the tofu entree. It is light, fluffy and amazing. It tastes like an umeboshi topped slice of cloud. Love it. And the salads can all be made vegan. You must also try the mushroom dumplings and if in season, the pumpkin edamame dumplings.

...There are many more that would fit this list. But these are just a few of my faves. Add your ideas to the comments!
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