Greenmarket NYC: Union Square Photos, Faves, Tips.

If you're in New York City, you must give your senses a treat by taking a stroll through the Union Square Greenmarket - the year-round flagship Farmer's Market of NYC.

True Farm-to-Table. My NYC Vegan Dining Series showcases restaurants that serve up some of the freshest, most flavorful and artistic dishes in the world. But every Chef will agree that without high quality ingredients, it is impossible to produce a high quality dish. Enter: the NYC Greenmarkets. Home of fresh produce and culinary delights of all sorts. Wanna get all trendy and ECO-chic my locavore, green foodie friends? Go green at the Greenmarket. It doesn't get more Farm-to-Table than this...

Check out my photo slide show of market faves and my Greenmarket Tips!...

***NYC Greenmarket Photo Slideshow***
***NYC Greenmarket Photo Slideshow***
***NYC Greenmarket Photo Slideshow***

NYC vs. CA Greenmarkets. I grew up in California where Farmer's Market Saturdays were a staple in our household. The good 'ol Santa Cruz Farmer's Markets were my second home. Then I moved to Los Angeles and fell in love with the vast, sprawling Santa Monica 3rd st Farmer's Market. Exquisite. So once I moved to NYC, one of the first things I had to check out was the Union Square Farmer's Market. I went on a super busy, hot Saturday and to be honest, it was a tad too crowded and small in comparison to my beloved California markets.

So I gave up on the USQ market for a while and found myself shopping at Whole Foods, Essex Market and a few smaller Greenmarkets like the tiny one at Thompson Square Park. But eventually I found my way back to the Union Square market. I went one early morning, on a Wednesday. It was delightful! Calmer crowd, more goodies to choose from and the foggy morning air was perfect for keeping fresh produce - fresh! I fell back in love.

Farmer's Market Tips:

1. Go early!! I usually get there around 10:30 am - which is early enough for me. But if you get there past 1pm, most of the best stuff will be gone.

2. True Farmer's Market connoisseurs do not go on a Saturday! Go during the week when the tourist crowds have dwindled and you can really get a chance to peruse the offerings and chat with the farmers.

3. Bring bags! Bring lots of big canvas bags to carry your goodies. I forgot mine once and ended up schlepping home about 5 big heavy plastic bags on my tired arms. Not fun. Fruit and veggies are heavy! Might I suggest one of these adorable Lunchbox Bunch canvas bags.

4. Talk to People. Don't just grab and go. Take a few minutes to ask the booth workers (sometimes the farmers) about their produce offerings. You might pick up a cooking tip, fun fact or just make a new friend.

5. If you have time, walk the entire market first before buying. I see it all the time, people buy all their apples from the first stand they see, then towards the end they see five more stands that look even better! Buy from different vendors each week and get to know your faves. And don't skip the stands on the end - walk the whole circle loop.

6. Check out the in-season sign. I love the little chalkboard at the market that alerts buyers what is "in season" - check it out and get a few Greenmarket questions answered from the friendly Greenmarket folks.

7. Have fun! Stroll. Soak in the sun. Sip some cider. Take a deep breath. Absorb the sights and smells of the market - some of the best this city has to offer.

8. Celeb-Chef Watch! Foodies, keep your eyes peeled for a few celeb Chefs at the market. I've seen more than my fair share of Chefs strolling the stands. Last week I spotted Food Network's Chef Alex as she was perusing the same stand as me (slides #15-19 in my photo tour). I wanted to say, "Hey Alex, is this what you do on your day off?" (I guess only FN watchers would get that one...) :)

Now onto my photo slideshow, featuring a few of my fave goodies I buy at the market (note: these are just a small portion of my fave farmers...)

***NYC Greenmarket Photo Slideshow***
***NYC Greenmarket Photo Slideshow***
***NYC Greenmarket Photo Slideshow***

Links to my Fave Farmers -some featured in my photo slide show:
Greenmarket NYC List of Farmers
Hawthorne Valley Farm
Katchkie Farms
Rick's Pick's
Windfall Farms
Prospect Orchards
Breezy Hill Orchard
Red Jacket Orchards
Stone Ridge Orchard
Bread Alone Bakery
Beth's Farm Kitchen Jams
Garden of Eve
I also love (no link available)
Bulich Mushroom from Greene County, New York

Farmers: ...if I'm missing you, please let me know and I'll be sure to stop by your booth next Greenmarket visit and possibly add you to my list of faves.
Patrons: What are your Greenmarket faves??? Let me know!

Tweeters! Don't forget to follow the Union Square Greenmarket on Twitter! @UnSqGreenmarket
And follow me at @lunchboxbunch

Now don't miss my awesome photo tour of the Greenmarket...


Starbucks Clover Makeover: Spring/Crosby SoHo.

My favorite Starbucks at Spring/Crosby streets in SoHo NYC has undergone a dramatic Clover pimped-out cafe/interior design makeover. The gruff wooden floors and wobbly chairs: gone! The Starbucks interior now looks like a modern hotel lobby or a cafe in Paris.

I visited last week. I sat on a plush metal-studded bench, placed my soy chai on an industrial metal cafe table and I sipped until the very last drop. Great people-watching in a now quite polished atmosphere. A drastic makeover - and I must say I kinda loved it...

Clover Machines. The band new Clover coffee machines were on display - you can't miss them. A new offering of single brewed coffee was added to the menu. Prices on the Today's Offerings list read like a wine list. Different prices for different coffee bean sources. Peru Chanchamayo, $2.15 for a Tall. While the Ethiopia Sun-Dried Yirgacheffe is $3.50 for a Tall.

But the makeover comes with some controversy. Find out why, and get my interior photo tour and makeover commentary of this Starbucks makeover...

**Starbucks Spring Crosby Makeover Photos and Commentary**
**Starbucks Spring Crosby Makeover Photos and Commentary**
**Starbucks Spring Crosby Makeover Photos and Commentary**

Starbucks Controversy. After I tweeted about the makeover last week, one @reply from one of my followers stuck out in my brain. He said,

"@lunchboxbunch it's called co-opting legitimate cafe culture. And it sucks wicked bad." -@EricLepine

Hmm, I liked his perspective, but don't really agree. I am 100% in favor of supporting local, independent coffee cafes instead of always going to giant brand Starbucks. But I think if Starbucks wants to put some big bucks into revamping their stores - I say go for it!

However, Starbucks should expect to get more laptop-dwellers, all-day-student loungers, using-Starbucks-as-my-office-ers and order-one-coffee-then-hang-out-for-five-hours type customers. With a store so nice, who would want to leave?

...I say this because my husband and I were at Starbucks SoHo on Saturday when one un-uniformed manager started floating around to tables actually telling customers to basically hurry up, drink, and leave - or buy more coffee! Some customers hadn't ordered yet or had clearly finished their bevies a while ago.. She floated around to customers seated at the cafe tables, here is the direct quote...

"Can I get a drink order started for you? We have a lot of customers who want to sit." -starbucks un-uniformed manager

Crazy right?? Very bad customer service, but I'm guessing this isn't an actual Starbucks policy. Anyways, more about the new Clover Coffee and then check out my photo slideshow of the makeover...

Clover at Starbucks. It's funny. Just a few days ago, my husband and I were in Cafe Grumpy in NYC sipping cafe bevies. My husband's eyes were glued on the Clover machine that Cafe Grumpy used. He was ogling it in the same way I ogle the fruit at a Greenmarket. He even went back after his cappuccino to try a cup of the legendary single-brewed coffee. He was a happy coffee-lover. He even remarked that he heard a rumor that a Starbucks executive discovered Clover machines at Cafe Grumpy.

Starbucks Clover Coffee Nutrition Facts

Then Saturday I stumbled into Starbucks Soho at Crosby and Spring and voila! Clover machines in full display, Clover branding everywhere. Extreme interior makeover....

Get my interior tour and check out all the Starbucks Makeover details...

**Starbucks Spring Crosby Makeover Photos and Commentary**
**Starbucks Spring Crosby Makeover Photos and Commentary**
**Starbucks Spring Crosby Makeover Photos and Commentary**
**Starbucks Spring Crosby Makeover Photos and Commentary**
**Starbucks Spring Crosby Makeover Photos and Commentary**


Paninis, Grilling, Grill Marks. Vegan. The Pics.


Green Trend Alert: Reusable Straws. Where to Buy Them.

After posting my Greenmarket Juice recipe, I received a lot of feedback on, of all things, my straw!

My stainless steel, reusable straw is awesome! It has a little spoon on the end and helps keep my bevies ice cold as I sip. Plus the best part is that reusable straws are green foodie chic. No more plastic straws needed. We all use reusable silverware, so why not add reusable straws to your kitchen drawer. And yes, this trend is booming. Check out all these straws and where to buy them....

Question: Where can I buy a cool reusable ECO-savvy reusable straw??...

One Lucky Duck sells glass straws. @Sarma even tweeted this,

"Duck newsletter was sent today. Free tote bag promo going on, brazil nuts on sale + totally RAD new glass straws... glass straws rule."-@sarma
...followed by this on facebook...
"WOW you guys REALLY like our new GLASS STRAWS (sold out!)....we just upped the stock so you can order more - just note, we don't really have them yet, but should by Monday!! So order away :)" on Facebook

So yes, the reusable straw trend is on a roll.

Buy Glass Straws at One Lucky Duck.
Glass Dharma Straws - Simple Elegance $8.00

Cool! You can even buy Glass Straw Cleaning Brushes at OneLuckyDuck too. Smarties!

Or Buy glass and stainless steel reusable straws and straw/spoons at below...

I bought my straw for $1.95 at Crate and Barrel. I'm anxious to buy a few glass straws soon from OLD.


Apple, Spinach, Nothing Wasted: Market Green Juice.

A busy Saturday morning of stair-climbing left me craving a fresh, sweet, zingy green juice - badly. So instead of travelling across town to my favorite juice bar - I decided to use up a few of my NYC Greenmarket goodies and craft one at home in a matter of minutes - ah the joys of owning a Superangel juicer.

I was anxious to use up my big beautiful bag of fresh spinach - they were starting to wilt a bit, and I knew juicing the greens would make perfect use of them. Add in an extra large farm fresh apple and a few zingy items and voila! I even got to try out my super cool metal reusable straw - which I love. Here's my simple four ingredient recipe for Greenmarket Green Juice...

Greenmarket Green Juice

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled
1 extra extra large tart apple, green or yellow
5 cups fresh full grown spinach, slightly wilted OK
1/2 lemon, peeled

Juice, drink, enjoy.

My apple even had a few spots on it - perfect for juicing.

New Fave Juicing Tip: Use your slightly wilted greens for juicing - nothing wasted and quite delicious!

*Fresh Farmer's Market greens work best for this since store-bought wilted greens - usually are too aged and travelled to be of any use. Use your best judgement...


Falafel Tour NYC! Plus, Middle-East Eats 101...

When I'm away from NYC, there's one variety of food that I always miss desperately: falafel, aka Middle Eastern, vegetarian cuisine. You know the eats: fluffy pita, creamy hummus, fresh chopped and tossed tabhouli, savory baba and spiced falafel balls - all drizzled in some delicious tahini sauce and perhaps some spicy chili or harissa sauce as well. I had never *truly* experienced falafel dining until moving to NYC - so this meal deserves a special spot in my Dining Out Vegan NYC Series.

There are three main reasons I adore falafel eats: 1) It's vegetarian (and vegan) friendly. 2) It's cheap! 3) It's delicious. Cravable. Unabashedly addictive! But you do have to do your research on where to go for NYC falafel. Mamoun's, Taim or maybe some raw falafel balls from PFW? So many options to choose from, but here are my personal faves and a Mid-East Eats 101. I name my #1 fave spot on the last slide...

Sneak peek of Taim falafel below - many more pics and tips in my photo slideshow..

**Falafel Tour NYC Photo/Review Slide show HERE**

(last slide shows my #1 falafel nyc pick)

Newbies Read First - > Mid East Eats 101. To some folks, the menu at a Middle Eastern restaurant sounds like reading a menu from Mars. What's a falafel ball? And what in the world is baba ganouj (pronounce ba-bU gan-oosh). And doesn't all that white creamy tahini stuff contain dairy?

Here's a quick Falafel/Middle Eastern Cuisine 101...

Falafel: falafel balls are spiced balls, usually fried, sometimes baked - made from a base of ground chickpeas and/or fava beans. Wikipedia has a nice quip that "In Arab countries, the word is also used to describe something with a fluffy or crunchy texture". A good falafel ball will have a complex spice flavor. It should be moist and dense on the inside, with a crisp and almost fluffy/crunchy outer layer. A good falafel is lightly fried in a vegetable oil like canola oil. Some restaurants will bake falafel balls. I am not a fan of the baked falafel - however I am a fan of raw falafel balls when done correctly.

Hummus: chickpea based spread with the consistency of a super creamy and dense applesauce. Ingredients usually include chickpeas, tahini and EVOO. Interesting quip, "In Arab countries, hummus is rarely added to falafel. Tahini thinned with water and lemon is more common." A good hummus will be complex in flavor - not flat. It should be smooth and creamy, while maintaining a hearty dense texture as well. Fresh hummus is light years better than packaged or store-bought hummus. Raw hummus is also a popular favorite of mine. Raw hummus sometimes contains an almond base.

Tahini: creamy beige sauce made from ground sesame seeds. Used as a topping sauce for a falafel pita sandwich - similar to how you may use a thin salsa on a taco or burrito. Tahini sauces are usually a mixture of tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, water and maybe some parsley as well. Tahini is tangy, slightly bitter and dense with the consistency similar to a sticky ranch or peanut dressing. Tahini may appear super creamy, but most of the time - is 100% dairy-free. Tahini paste has a bitter nutty flavor. Tahini sauce may include special ingredients, depending on the restaurant you visit. Tahini is usually drizzled over a large serving of hummus - like a hummus appetizer.

Pita: Pita is a round pocket bread - it is sealed on all sides so that when sliced into halves, you can easily stuff it full of delicious ingredients like hummus, falafel, tabhouli, veggies and more. Pita bread usually comes in white or whole wheat. Good pita is fluffy and soft with a subtly spongy texture. Fresh pita bread should have a dusty outer surface. Warm oven toasted pita brad is my personal favorite. Sometimes pita is dusted with herbs and spices for a special touch.

Tabouleh or Tabbouli or Tabhouli: Tabhouli is a salad made from finely chopped parsley, onion, lemon juice, pepper, bulgur or couscous, mint, EVOO and tomato. Sometimes extra herbs and spices are also added. Tabhouli can be eaten alone or added to a pita. Good Tabhouli should have a fresh and zesty flavor and be slightly crunchy - not mushy. Tabhouli is also incredibly healthy since it contains a high amount of the leafy green parsley.

Spicy Sauce: From my experience, most falafel restaurants do *spicy sauce* their own unique way. Some prefer to do a green cilantro or chili sauce, others stick with a thin red sauce and some have a plethora of different spicy sauces and chutney-type spreads to choose from. A good spicy sauce is fresh and thin enough so that you can pour it right on top of your pita as needed.

Baba Ganouj: Though it looks similar to hummus, baba is basically cooked and mashed eggplant with the addition of other veggies, spices and seasonings. Baba is creamy and sometimes smoky. Roasted eggplant is often used in baba. I personally hate eggplant - but I love baba, go figure. Baba is used on pita the same way hummus is. note: eggplant is also sometimes added to pitas or fried as a side dish.

Other menu items: Stuffed Grape Leaves, Cabbage Slaw, Roasted Carrots, Beet Salad, Israeli Salad, French Fries (or Belgium Fries) and Baklava (usually not dairy-free) and often times several meat items - however ther are several all-veg falafel restaurants like Taim in nyc.

Beverages are also a worthy consideration when choosing a restaurant. Some places serve fresh juices, lemonade, iced tea and smoothies. Soda and import sodas are often served as well.

But before you waltz into the next "pita" joint down the block, you should do your research on where you get the most bang/nutrition/flavor for your buck and bite. Here are my faves in a photo sideshow that includes my review and tasting notes....

**Falafel Tour NYC Photo/Review Slideshow**
**Falafel Tour NYC Photo/Review Slideshow**
**Falafel Tour NYC Photo/Review Slideshow**

...and be sure to click all the way through the slide show because I name my #1 favorite falafel spot on the last slide!


Earth Day Inspired: A Few Fave Green Links 'n More.

Every day should be Earth Day in my opinion, and with so many green companies, brands and organizations - it's no wonder the "green trend" looks like it is here to stay. Here is a random assortment of my fave green websites, celebs and links to help you live your green life - everyday...

Earth Day List of Green Things...

Green Website to keep you "in the know: Ecorazzi


Goddess of Green: Cloe Jo Berman of Girlie Girl Army

Green Website for Guys: Discerning Brute

Green TV Network: Planet Green

Green Renegade "Pirate" Ship: Sea Shepherd

Follow Green trends on Twitter: TwitGrids Green

Green Shoe Company: TOM's Shoes

Green/Animal Rights Movie: The Cove

Green Authors: Rory Freedman Marilu Henner Kathy Freston

Green Restaurateurs: Sarma Melngailis and Amanda Cohen

Vegan Celeb Queen: Alicia Silverstone

Green Musician: Moby

Animal Lover on Mainstream TV: Ellen D

Crazy Green Adventure Story: Big River Man

Friend of the Oceans: Surfrider Foundation

Green Tweeter (and Twitter co-founder): @Biz

Timeless Fave Animal Rights Fighters: Farm Sanctuary and PETA

Green Model: Summer Rayne Oakes

Green Mega-Movie Star: Leonardo DiCaprio

Chemical-free kids organization: Healthy Kids Healthy World

Green Designer/Brand: Stella McCartney

Seeds Savers: Seed Savers Exchange

Guide to cruelty-free living for consumers: Caring Consumer

Green Weddings: Great Green Wedding

Zoo supporting all things Green: Green Team at Friends of the National Zoo

Travel Green with Green Hotels and Healthy Voyager

Perusable Green Sites: Lazy Environmentalist and The Daily Green

Green Kids Books and Brand: The Lunchbox bunch, of course

I could go on and on and on and on. But these should get you started on a nice green stroll online.

What are your faves??? Leave links and tips in the comments!


Electric Blue Baking Co. from Vegan Chef Anita Sharp.

One of my favorite things about living in New York City is the fact that I am constantly stumbling upon inspiring and talented people. Yesterday, I met vegan chef Anita Sharp of Electric Blue Baking Company, for a quick hello and goodie-exchange.

I am a huge fan of networking with independent chefs, bakers and other foodie-artisans. I believe creativity, entrepreneurship and passion will get you everywhere in life. I was thrilled to taste-test and photo-shoot Anita's samples - and pass on my review to you....Electric Blue Baking Company Review...

Goodies in Box:
Inside a tiny brown box were three delicious-looking items:

*Broccoli Quiche (gluten-free)
*Cinnamon Roll (sugar-free)
*Chocolate Wafer Sandwich

My reviews...

Broccoli Quiche: Wow! This was outstanding. Moist and tender tofu-veggie mixture settled in a flaky rice/lentil flour crust. The spices were delicate, yet mingled with the zesty veggies perfectly. This quiche was filling, yet elegant - the beautiful bright yellow filling dotted with bits of red sun dried tomatoes and broccoli. I would absolutely buy this in a store - or consider it for a catered event. Delicious!

Cinnamon Roll: Light, moist, sticky-sweet in a very subtle light way. Fresh chunks of pecans on top. A warm flavor of vanilla and cinnamon throughout. A light essence of orange and apple brings a complexity to this humble cinnamon roll. Nothing sinful about this pastry treat - even though it tastes like there should be!

Chocolate Wafer Sandwich: Whoopee pie meets mini brownie. Sweet, moist, strong chocolate kick. This treat was a tad too sweet for me- but overall I'm guessing it will have a lot of fans with sweeter tastes than mine. Loved how soft and creamy the filling was. Like a soft vegan sandwich cookie - nice and fun.

Other Menu Items from Electric blue Baking co...

*Tarts - chocolate mousse, praline mousse, rum and date custard, coconut lime custard, cherry tart

*Breakfast - flaxseed brioche, cinnamon roll, muffins, spelt scones, donuts, filled crepes

*Sweet Things - banana agave brownie souffle, baba rhum, apple dumpling, guava dumpling, madeleines, almond linzer cookie, chocolate wafer sandwich

*Savory Snacks - quiche, pizette, filled buckwheat crepes, spelt empanada, rustic onion tart

I'd love to try that Guava Dumpling, and the filled Buckwheat Crepes! How unique and tasty sounding! I love a creative chef...

About Anita Sharp. Anita began EBB Co. in 2007. Since then she has worked under chefs like Pichet Ong (Village Tart, Spot Dessert Bar, P*ong) and Karen DeMasco (Craft, Locanda Verde). Anita has been busy catering events and making special occasion cakes and pastries.

Anita is currently expanding the wholesale branch of her business and is in the process of bringing her desserts and snacks to a cafe, natural food store or restaurant near you. NYC-area to start...

You can peruse Anita's website:
...and keep up with her company news via twitter: @beanstalktalk

Last Word: ...that quiche rocked, will be craving that with my Saturday morning soy chai latte I'm sure!...

More of that delicious colorful quiche...


Vegan Desserts NYC: My Favorite Treats 'n Sweets.

I woke up early this morning with visions of frosted vegan cupcakes, scoops of coconut milk ice cream and slices of vegan blueberry cheesecake dancing in my head...

Dessert Day: Vegan Dining NYC Series. I'll be introducing you to a wide variety of the sweets and treats I've discovered on my foodie adventures here in NYC. Check out this craving-inducing photo slide show of vegan NYC desserts...

---> View the NYC Vegan Dessert Slide Show! <---
---> View the NYC Vegan Dessert Slide Show! <---
---> View the NYC Vegan Dessert Slide Show! <---

*slideshow directions: click NEXT to click-thru slideshow images*

*note: The list below focuses on desserts you can takeaway, however my fave sit-down dessert spots are also mentioned at the end of the list*

Vegan Desserts NYC List:
*view the slide show to peruse dessert images*

Babycakes NYC
my doughnut review
my Babycakes bakery review
my interview with Erin McKenna

slide show image of cake from

Viva Herbal Pizzeria
Viva is my top NYC pizza pick

my review

Lula's Sweet Apothecary
review by A Soy Bean blog

Birdbath: Build a Green Bakery
my review

my Teany review

Red Mango Bakery
my review

my review

Gone Pie Bakery
brownie review
pies review
*order info online - ships to you*

One Lucky Duck Takeaway
my review: cheesecake
my review: mallomar
my review: OLD/PFW
my interview with Sarma

Le Pain Quotidien
my Green Tea Ginger muffin review
my banana fig muffin review
Le Pain Vegan items list
*several locations worldwide*

Sweet and Sara Factory (Queens)
my s'mores review
*available at many store - or visit their factory in Queens by appt only*
locations list

Think Coffee
my review of Think in Best Chai NYC
*several locations->

Sit-Down Style Vegan-Dessert-Fabulous Restaurants:

my review
*multiple locations in NYC

*multiple locations

Candle 79

Pure Food and Wine
*see above One Lucky Duck info

Dirt Candy
my review
Mr HHL review
my VGP interview with Chef Amanda

Angelika Kitchen

Caravan of Dreams


Red Bamboo

---> View the Vegan Dessert Photo Slideshow! <---
---> View the Vegan Dessert Photo Slideshow! <---
---> View the Vegan Dessert Photo Slideshow! <---
---> View the Vegan Dessert Photo Slideshow! <---
---> View the Vegan Dessert Photo Slideshow! <---

Vegan Chocolate PB Cups is just the beginning...


Mainstream Fine Dining NYC: Vegan Options, Happily.

In this segment of my Dining Out Vegan NYC Series, I'm tackling an issue that runs deep for gourmet vegan foodies everywhere: dining out at a mainstream fine dining, critic-approved, award-winning and raved-about restaurant.

Adventurous Eaters. Some vegans and vegetarians choose to stick to dining options where veg-only-eaters are vocally welcomed with open arms via little asterisks inserted for the *v.=vegan options. And then other vegans, like me, want to remind the James Beard-awarded Chefs that special-diet-diners are paying customers too.

And don't be confused - I'm not asking for miracles, just options.

But yes, it is 100% possible to experience a fine dining vegan meal at some of New York's charmingly-snootiest, white-glove-polished restaurants.

Here's my list of fine dining restaurants in NYC that are vegan-friendly-approved based on my inquiry phone calls, personal dining experiences and research of online reviews. I was pleased to find a few veg-loving unexpected gem restaurants, as well as a few who seen to think "vegan" is a four-letter word...

Before you embark on veg dining, I advise you to read my two part post on how-to-do-it-right:
Veg Dining Part 1: Kitchen Errors, Waiters and You.
Veg Dining Part 2: List of Hidden Non-Veg Ingredients

Why I'm Not Nuts. Now don't think I'm nuts. I know that it's a tad pretentious of me to go requesting a vegan meal at say "Fine Dining Meats R Us" and don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for an exquisite vegan meal with tempeh, veggies, vegan cheese, grains ect at these mainstream restaurants. All I want are a few pleasurable options.

I like to know that if someone invites me to a five star meal at say, Per Se, I can answer with "yes, I can go there!" Any invites out there??

Again, I'm not trying to ask for miracles, just options. Special diet folks are paying customers too.

Fine Dining Factor Key:
1=World-renowned/highly praised, white-glove, polished, critic-approved
2=Super trendy in a chic-setting - loud/large dining room, high energy
3=Tiny neighborhood spot, critic-adored

"GO!" Factor Key
Maybe Go = Unenthusiastic or Very Few Options
Go = Approved!

In no particular order...

Le Bernardin
155 W. 51st St.
New York, NY 10019
You may think that Eric Ripert's Michelin-starred restaurant is off-limits for veg-eaters. But not so! I went one evening with my husband and received an amazing vegan meal. Appetizer, vegan pasta marinara dish and dessert. It was pretty incredible, and I appreciated the professionalism of the staff - they assured me at every course that the dish I was presented with was indeed vegan - even the usually egg-containing pasta was subbed with a vegan version.
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Go

Per Se
10 Columbus Cir
(between Broadway & W Central Park)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9335
Though I have never been to Per Se, here's what one Yelper said: "The folks at per se are incredibly accommodating to diners with dietary restrictions (making gluten free breads for one of my guests, catering menus for vegans, vegetarians, those who do not wish to have alcohol even in sauces, etc). Without fail, the folks here simply know how to make you feel welcome."
I believe it. You usually get service that you pay for - vegan or not.
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Go

60 E 65th St
New York, NY 10065
(212) 288-0033
A rare French restaurant I will rave about for vegans. They have a "vegetarian" tasting menu, which can be made vegan upon special request. Phone call approved fro vegans. Daniel is fine dining NYC at its best. Plus, Daniel is such a lovable Chef.
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Go

Gordon Ramsay at the London
151 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019
Gordon Ramsey is pretty vocal about his hate of vegetarians. However, there is a vegetarian menu available. I am kinda scared to call this place, being that I keep envisioning Gordon himself answering the phone, laughing in my face and telling me to get out of town. Kinda kidding, but then again after two rings I hung up. :) I'm sure they would find something for a vegan, but I'm too scared to ask. Will you call for me?
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Maybe Go

50 Clinton St
(between Rivington St & Stanton St)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-2900
There is a vegetarian appetizer and entree offered each evening. And from my previous phone calls, I have been informed that vegan diners are pleasantly accommodated - although the options are extremely limited. But at a place like WD, that's OK by me. Yay for Wylie D, who is a really cool, fave Chef of mine.
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Go

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave
(at 24th St)
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-0905
They do accommodate vegans upon special request. I have never dined here, but have heard good things.
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Go

Little Owl
90 Bedford St
(between Barrow St & Grove St)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 741-4695
I was incredibly pleased when I called Little Owl and was informed that "the Chef is very good about accommodating vegan and vegetarian diners". I have not read online reviews from vegan diners, so perhaps I will have to be the first!! Definitely need to try this neighborhood foodie gem. Always gets rave reviews, even from folks like Martha Stewart.
Fine Dining Factor: 1/3
GO Factor: Go

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place
(at Avenue Of The Americas)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 539-1776
I am a tad confused by Blue Hill. They brand themselves as the pinnacle of farm-to-table fare. But in the end, if you peruse their menu - the vegans get left out in the cold, or so it appears. President Obama chose to eat here last year, and I'm sure he was impressed with his farm-to-table meal. I have called Blue Hill in the past and they assured me that a vegan diner would be accommodated effortlessly. But I still wish that they displayed some vegan options on their menu - since the average vegan and I share with them a trustworthy affinity for fresh/local/organic ingredients.
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Go

Gramercy Tavern
42 E. 20th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-0777
Vegetable tasting menu available, but from the menu and reviews of GT, I'd guess that it's not as vegan-friendly as you may like. I have avoided dining here because it seems like an obstacle course/land-mine dining spot for vegans. Have you been? Let me know..
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Maybe Go

ABC Kitchen
35 East 18th Street
New York, NY 10003
New place by Jean Georges. Awesome ingredients (local/organic) with vegan options. It's on my list to try...
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

103 West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024
Go on a Monday night for Dovetail's vegetarian Monday menu! The vegan items are easy to spot and the entire coursed meal sounds like a delight. Dovetail (on a Monday) is on my list of places to try. Dirt Candy Chef Amanda Cohen has a nice review of her Dovetail experience.
Fine Dining Factor: 3
GO Factor: Go

Otto Enoteca Pizzeria
1 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 1000
Dined here for lunch one weekend afternoon. Brilliantly vegan-friendly. Veggies galore and amazing vegan pizza. Sorbet was fantastic too. Thumbs up for this Batali hotspot near Washington Square Park.
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

110 Waverly Pl
(between Avenue Of The Americas & Mac Dougal St)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 777-0303
Another Batali hotspot on many top ten NYC dining-musts lists. A few Yelp reviewers went so far as to say that Babbo had "nothing" vegan. However, I called Babbo and asked about vegan options. The host answered with "yes" plain and simple, when I asked him about vegan options. So they could do it, how successfully, I can't confirm.
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Maybe Go

The Modern - Dining Room
9 W. 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
Have not dined here - yet. But I've heard amazing things at this MOMA-central restaurant. I called The Modern and the hostess said "yes, absolutely" to my vegan-diner question. Bravo.
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

Buddakan NY
75 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011
Large, loud and fun. It's easy to order a vegan meal at an Asian restaurant, so go for it. However, a quiet, intimate night out is not this restaurants' style!
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

Dos Caminos
several locations in NYC
I've lovingly dined at Dos Caminos more than a few times. Polished and proper fine dining, not really - but definitely a chic and trendy place for a festive night out. I adore the guacamole, salsa trio, vegetable tacos, plantains (no cheese) and side of rice. Oh and the sangria is yum too.
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

80 Spring St
(between Broadway & Crosby St)
New York, NY 10012
I've had drinks and apps at Balthazaar, and while the line is always out the door, I've never stayed for a full fledged meal. It's French, so you know the options will be limited. Fun space with lots of loud energy. When I called, they assured me a vegan guest would be accommodated - so feel free to try it if you're in SoHo and in the mood. Can't confirm success though.
(212) 965-1414
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Maybe Go

Bar Masa
10 Columbus Cir
4th Fl
(between W Central Park & Broadway)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9800
I dined at Bar Masa and the sushi (vegan options) were plentiful. Delicious eats in a moody, dark and chic space. However, if you are going to spend hundreds of dollars to dine at MASA restaurant, you should probably be into fish sushi...
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Go

Bar Americain
152 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
Yes, vegan options are available - however the entree looks like it will be a combo of all the side dishes put together according to one yelper. But still, appears to be a nice option for adventurous vegan Bobby Flay fans.
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

Mesa Grill
102 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 807-7400
Called. The hostess said "Um, we have salads. We have a limited menu for vegan. You could talk to your server..." So, overall not terribly vegan-friendly I'm guessing. Darn! Because I do love Bobby Flay and the menu sounds fabulous in theory. Can't confirm a success story as of yet. Have one? Let me know!
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Maybe Go

Blue Ribbon and Blue Ribbon Sushi
multiple locations
I've been to both BR sushi and BR restaurant. Both were very vegan friendly. And fabulous.
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

Jean Georges
1 Central Park W
New York, NY 10023
(212) 299-3900
Yes, yes, yes, Jean Georges loves to embrace vegans and I love that. Fine dining and vegan-friendly all the way. Just inform your server.
Fine Dining Factor: 1
Read: Jean Georges Likes Vegetarians, even Vegans!
GO Factor: Go

DBGB Kitchen and Bar
299 Bowery St
(between Houston St & 1st St)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 933-5300
Called, was put on hold. After about a minute of on-hold promo music, the hostess came back with, "We have a few vegetarian options, but we don't really have anything for a vegan-diet. You can see our menus on our website."
Hmm, I guess that's a "no" to vegan diners. Not a very welcoming response from a hotspot that appears to be a fun corner restaurant night out on the Bowery. I know, I know, they basically serve meat dishes, sausage, burgers etc - but I still think a few semi-vegan options would be a nice way to answer the question. What do you think?? At least they were honest...
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Maybe Go

Union Square Cafe
21 E 16th St
(between 5th Ave & W Union Sq)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 243-4020
Yes, accommodates vegans according to phone call.
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

Fig & Olive - Fifth Avenue
10 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10021
several locations
I have dined at the Meatpacking-located Fig and Olive several times - always fabulously vegan-friendly. Tell your server.
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

243 E 58th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10022
(212) 758-1479
Dined here twice and vegan pasta was awesome. Yes the lack of cheese, with the same price tag is noticeable. But I really do love Felidia. Lovely for Italian-meal seekers. Great service. Cozy, intimate space.
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Go

The Stanton Social
99 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10002
Vegan options available. Fun, loud, party-ish hotspot. Be sure to remind your waiter that you are vegan. Great place to take a blind-date, fun friends or a big group of girls. Late night dining approved. You can even go at 12am and get a great late night meal. Book ahead! (Like many on this list)
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

210 Elizabeth St
(between Prince St & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 343-7011
I love Public. They always have vegan options that are divine. Tofu, asparagus and mushrooms have been amazing in the past. Super cool place too. Nolita-chic. Energized bar scene. PS, same-company-lead Double Crown is vegan-friendly and awesome too, talk to your waiter though!
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

The Waverly Inn (no website - they are too cool for that)
16 Bank St Frnt
New York, NY 10014
Kinda had to sell my soul to get this reservation (not really) but I finally did it! Went here for my husband's bday a few years back. Had an amazing vegan meal in the company of lots of stars, celebs and other reservation-lucky foodies. Jared Leto was a table away from us, and the paparazzi outside all night were pretty entertaining. Fun spot if you can get an "in".
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

43 E 19th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 780-0880
I love Craft. Order all the veggie side dishes and have your own veg-tasting-menu. Just be sure to tell them to use EVOO instead of butter. Fiddleheads, peas and mushrooms oh my!
Fine Dining Factor: 1
GO Factor: Go

City Winery
155 Varick Street
New York, NY 10013
Kinda love the fact that they serve seared tofu, whole wheat pasta and mushrooms galore. Need to try this seemingly vegan-friendly wine bar/restaurant.
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

Mercer Kitchen
99 Prince St
(between Mercer St & Greene St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 966-5454
I love Mercer Kitchen. Can always find something on the menu. Cute spot in SoHo. Energized atmosphere.
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

88 10th Ave
New York, NY 10024
(212) 989-8883
I love Morimoto. The table-made silken tofu dish is amazing! So many vegan options..
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Go

207 2nd Ave
(between 12th St & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003
Not exactly a vegan-welcoming place - I'd guess, although I've never been. This quip in their FAQ's section of most the Momofuku restaurants says it all:
"q: are there menu items for vegetarians (or those with other special diets)?
a: all vegetarian items are listed as such on the menu, however, we have few. please alert your server as to any allergies or special dietary needs you may have."
Didn't call, was a little scared. Again, feel free to call for me! jk, haha...
GO Factor: Maybe Go

Spotted Pig
314 W 11th St
(between Greenwich St & Hudson St)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 620-0393
Sadly, don't think they are too vegan-friendly. Hot spot for non-vegan foodies, but it looks like a 'salad' and shoestring french fry night for any vegans. You been?
Fine Dining Factor: 2
GO Factor: Maybe Go

Can't leave out these guys!!!...

Fine Dining Vegan and Vegetarian Themed Hotspots:

Dirt Candy - Review
Candle 79
Blossom - Review
Pure Food and Wine - Review


Deviled Avocado. Deliciously Devious. Sweet n Sassy.

I had some leftover Vegan Cole Slaw and Sweet 'n Pepper Toasted Pistachios from yesterday's recipes. So I decided to have a little devilish fun with an avocado. A few minutes later and I had a delicious dish: a Deviled Avocado.

Deviled Avocado is a dish I have been dying to try. But I never knew exactly how to build the recipe. My leftover Cole slaw served as the perfect inspiration ingredient. You've heard of deviled eggs, well now the devil has gone vegan. And healthy!

You can really stuff an avocado with all sorts of fillings, but vegan cole slaw is one very delicious option.

Healthy Devil. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats. Incredibly heart-healthy and delicious. I probably eat 4-5 avocados a week. I love them. Avocados are rich in Vitamin K, E, folate and fiber.

Click ahead for the devilish recipe...

Deviled Avocado
vegan, makes three halves

2 large avocados
1 cup Vegan Cole Slaw*** (recipe below)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
fresh black pepper
3 tsp Spicy Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
Toasted Pistachios*** (recipe below)
rosemary (for "horns")
sea salt

1. Prep Avocados: Wash and dry well. Slice each in half. Remove pits, gently. Keep three halves as "serving halves".

2. With the fourth avocado half: Dice the avocado flesh. Splash with lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

3. Remaining 3 serving avocado halves:
Enlarge the natural hole in the avocado by scooping out about 1 Tbsp of avocado from each half. Add scooped avocado to small bowl. Add to small bowl: Cole slaw, Dijon mustard, garlic, a few grinds of fresh black pepper, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp of pistachios. Mix well. Fold in the diced avocado that you set aside.

4. Assemble:
Scoop 3 Tbsp of avocado mixture into each avocado serving half. Garnish with 2-4 pistachios. Grind a bit of fresh pepper. Sprinkle a dash of paprika. Stick two rosemary "devil horns" in the top.

For best taste, serve immediately.
If necessary, chill until ready to serve.

*Tip: Brush serving avocado with lemon juice to stop from browning.

***Vegan Cole Slaw

1 cup shredded and chopped carrots
1 cup shredded and chopped red cabbage
2 cups shredded and chopped green cabbage
3 heaping tbsp. Veganaise, vegan "mayo"
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or substitute lemon juice (your taste preference)
1 pear, chopped
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp fresh pepper
2 Tbsp. agave syrup or maple syrup
1/2 cup sweet peppered pistachios (optional)

In a large bowl:
Add cabbage and carrots.
Add vinegar.
Add Veganaise and sweetener.
Toss well.
Add garlic powder and pepper.
Fold in pears.
Fold in pistachios (optional)

Allow to chill in fridge for at least twenty minutes before serving.
Serve cold with fresh pepper on top.
(Garnish with pistachios if you use them.)

***Toasted Sweet 'n Pepper Toasted Pistachios

1 cup roasted and salted pistachios (de-shelled)
2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
1 Tbsp oil (olive or canola)
5 grinds fresh black pepper

To make:
Add oil to a skillet.
Turn stove heat on high.
When oil starts to sizzle, add nuts.
Shake pan back and forth as you 'toast' them.
(shake continuously over heat during next steps.)
Add sweetener and some black pepper.
Shake/toast over high heat for 90 more seconds.
Make sure all nuts are coated.

Remove pan from heat.
Add remaining pepper.
Toss nuts with pepper well.
Pour in a small bowl.
As nuts cool they will harden.

Serve warm or cool.