Hi, I found this at http://www.lagusta.com/Pages/vegan_how_tips.htm
a highly personal and highly negative guide to nyc restaurants
update (december 2003! OK. I made this list like 2 years ago. It's a bit outdated. I never go to restaurants anymore (my house is the best restaurant I know of, honestly), and when I do I try to force myself to go to non-veg restos so I can learn something. So this list is only partially helpful. But here it is anyway.
* Ayurveda Café: 706 Amsterdam Ave at 94th St. Great Indian food.
* Veg City Diner on 14th street -- horrible! horrible! Jacob went there last week and had a stomach ache for an entire day. But they have OK root beer floats. the cakes look pretty, but half are from myra's book and the other half i wouldn't try.
* Zen Palate: 2170 Broadway bet. 76th/77th sts; 663 9th Ave at 46th St; 34 East Union Square at 16th St. Really interesting and tasty mostly vegan food (although they are sorta liars about some things that secretly have eggs, like tempura batter and a few other things -- mostly, if it looks like it has eggs, it probably does). There is a sort of formal dining room that’s more expensive but worth it for the peace and beautiful plating of the dishes, then there is a café where you can get cheaper, to go food that’s just as good as the dining room stuff.
* Candle Café: 1307 3rd Ave bet. 74th/75th sts. Vegan, beautiful, clean food. now they have a second location...down the street or something. i can't say anything bad about the candle because the owners, bart, and joy, are truly lovely sweet people, so go and spend money there, good karma will follow!
* Hangawi: 12 E 32nd St. bet. 5th Ave and Madison Ave. Amazing – you’ve never seen anything like it. Insanely lovely Korean vegan food. They call themselves “A vegetarian shrine in another space and time” and they are. Perfect for a date or a birthday dinner. Wear clean socks because you have to take off your shoes! The best.
* Quantum Leap: 88 W 3rd St. bet. Sullivan/Thompson Sts. Not completely vegetarian (a little fish) but their Mexican plates are so delicious and huge I dream about them. You know the kind: refried beans from a can, jarred enchilada sauce, sloppy spanish rice. Cheap and huge and you might feel sick later, but at least it's vegan! Being from AZ i constantly crave that kind of sloppy tex-mex crap food. They also have good vegan cheesecake, (something i spend a great deal of time laughing at but secretly like).
* Vegetarian’s Paradise and VP-2-GO: 140/144 W 4th St bet. 6th Ave/MacDougal St. Oh, and there is one in chinatown, VP3, and Red Bamboo next door, and they are all basically the same. Really convincing “fake meat” stuff mostly made from highly processed soy and wheat protein that your non-veg friends will like (and maybe you, if you’re missing your meat-eating days). Pretty crappy, but OK once in a while. Packed with interesting NYU people. other restaurants exactly like it include the greens (montague street in bklyn), house of vegetarian in chinatown (see below) .
* Caravan of Dreams: 405 E 6th St. bet 1st Ave/Ave A. Hippie, fun atmosphere, really nice people who’ve mostly been working there since the beginning 6 years ago. Relaxed, huge portions, OK food. More expensive than you'd think, but they do get quality ingredients, unlike most veg restaurants around. The Sunday brunch is awesome, especially the tofu scrambler. Completely vegan, and have live music sometimes. personally, there is nothing i hate more than listening to some dumbass musician 2 feet away from my table while i'm eating, but maybe you like it. i mean, food and music are my 2 great loves, and i like to focus on each. i don't want them to mix.
* Quintessence: 263 E 10th St bet. 1st Ave/Ave A. Completely raw and vegan. The food is better than you would think from that description. It is also beautiful, sleek, and modern. The only thing is that the owners look kind of crazy.update! ok, so now they have like 3 locations, but i still think the owners are crazy.
* The Sanctuary: 25 First Ave at 1st St. One of my absolute most favorite places. The noodle dishes are the stuff of which dreams are made, simply and fatty and good. kway teow pad thai, yo! nothing like pad thai, but delicious none the less. A tranquil, kind place run by Hare Krishnas. Indian and East Asian fusion type stuff. the kitchen doesn't look too clean. i've heard stories. i'd still go there, though.
* Herban Kitchen: 290 Hudson at Spring Street. Not completely vegetarian, but they have a lot of gourmet-y vegetarian dishes and it’s all organic. A little expensive, but worth it for a treat-night.
* update! veggie dim sum house in chinatown is OK only if you order from the dim sum menu. order from the regular menu at your peril!
* update! house of vegetarian in chinatown is HORRIBLE.
* update! counter - on, what, first ave in the east village? and 7th street, maybe? it's right across from a mcdonalds: yea, it's better than most. jacob and i love that po' boy sandwich (they slice their seitan on a real deli slicer (let's hope they bought it new)!) and a few other things kick ass, but the decor is so trendy and impersonal, and they push that wine at you every chance they get. i had a mad good organic beer there, though. they did some sketchy things to some friends of mine who worked there in the beginning, but apparently they are better peeps now. semi-expensive, but it's the best place for vegs to eat if they want to feel like they are in any other trendy nyc resto.
* update! my rad friend nelson says spice grill is the bomb...and they have a whole vegetarian menu!
* update! also, nelson made me remember burritoville! how could i forget. they have a bunch of locations and are not veg, but have lots and lots of vegan options (nelson's favorite is the mega soy burrito, i like the BBQ tempeh, but it's not available everywhere). everything is supa-fresh and cheap-ass. i used to go there after working at the natural gourmet and sit by myself, reading the onion, chowing down on a burrito the size of my head and nursing a corona in a booth at the back. ok, i only did that twice, but it was niiiiice.
* update! cafe viva (broadway and maybe 95th street?) if you're visiting my old client, the wife of a famous vegan artist i won't mention, or my friend than, a soon-to-be famous artist himself, be sure to visit cafe viva if you want some weird-ass vegan pizza that might or might not fulfill a cheese-craving.
* update! bachue (36 west 21st street, by 6th ave) - oh GOD. if anyone tells you to go to this hell-spot pretending to be an eatery, take note never to take their advice ever again, for bachue is truly loathsome. i should know, because it is literally next door to my old school and employer, the natural gourmet. their miso soup is sour, their produce is old, the peanut noodles are oddly dry, and their desserts are terrifying combinations of hideous tofu-y cake topped with cans upon cans of vegan fake reddy whip. it's rad that it's named after some south american goddess, but jesus christ. (um, it look be 5 tries to spell christ right. that was a little weird. bachue has me all worked up!)
* update! souen (6th ave at prince and university and 13th street) - oh dear. i used to work at souen doing desserts. i quit the day a mouse took up residence at my work station and no one seemed to mind. i could say more but that about does it. if you must eat there, take my advice and ask for whatever the dishwashers are having, because at least it will have a little FLAVA. actually, do that at every restaurant you go to. you'll never go wrong (unless you don't like hot food).
* update! angelica kitchen (12th street at 2nd ave) sigh.. you know my take on moosewood? that the most boring restaurants always get the hype? that goes double for angelica. the kitchy names ("catch a tiger by the tofu"?) don't help any, honey. i like the atmosphere, though.
* update! whole earth bakery (st marks and first ave) -- yeah, you're on st. marks, buying a bong and some socks (or rad vintage at search and destroy!) and you see this place -- vegan bakery! wow! trust me. don't do it. i once almost punched a guy out at this place when he wouldn't admit that their cookie recipe had too much liquid in it. that's why the cookies are 6 inches long and horribl! i tried to tell him -- cut back on the soy milk! ok, there is some ok stuff here. and the peeps can be ok. and it's cutely teeny. there used to be this amazing falafel place next door and when my friend danny lived in a shoebox apartment on east 5th street he would come there every day for the falafel. then there was this huge fight one night and him and his then-girlfriend got caught in the crosshairs and almost got hit with a falling plate glass window. and that awesome vintage store across the street with the hottest lesbo peaches-lookalike propritor ever went out of business, what's up with that?
* update! teeny (i forgot where, it's on the same street as good vibrations on, i think, the lower east side) -- teeny is owned by moby. there is lots of tea and vegan stuff and white-on-white decor. i wouldn't know. one day jacob and i were really hungry and there we were, and we were going to go in. as we were walking up, i was so freaked out by the prospect of dumbass moby that i whispered to jacob "now, if you see moby, act naturally!" so we get there and there, sitting in a table right out front like a goddamn sign, there is mr. vegan himself. i start screaming "ahhh!!! jacob, that's moby!!" and jacob just put his head in his hands and hauled me off down the street.
* update! helianthus (macdougal bet. houston and prince) - this place is cheeseball supreme, but they have free popcorn and it's near this hideous cafe i worked at for exactly one week on varick called "in the black." if you ever see it, boycott it, because the owner is a DICK.
* For non-leather shoes, moo shoes is totally rad, sweet ladies and perfect politics, and 10 99x has Doc Martins, sneakers and more. 10 99x is at 84 E 10th St. bet. 3rd and 4th Aves. 212/460.8599. and le sho moo is 28th street and i believe 3rd ave, and also they just opened up a new one downtown! oh, and there is this place called co-pilot shoes, at 654 broadway, that has some vegan shoes, but check out moo shoes first, because they have better politics.
* i never do any non-food shopping, so i don't know about anything else. i highly recommend the flea markets on 7th ave and 24th street on saturday and sunday mornings though!
* there is a rad sake bar...oh, i think i mention this somewhere else...anyway, it's by whiskers cat health food store, on 9th street between 3rd and 4th aves.
* you can buy cheap mason jars for your sourdough starter, kim chee, cucumber pickles, preserved lemons, rye starter, and homemade jams and jellies at surprise! surprise! on 3rd ave at 12th street.
* update! CHINATOWN! i love kam man at 200 canal street (near mott) for kick ass housewares, noodles, black tapioca, hoisin sauce, more noodles, dried mushrooms, mochi, and more noodles. my friend than laughed at me because i used to call kam man "cam man" instead of "kahm mahn," but it's all cool. kam man rox my soxxx. then you've got asia market on bayard which has thai basil (you have to ask) thai coconuts (they'll tell you you have to buy a case, but if you bat your eyelashes at the dude out front he'll sell you just one or 2 (terrible, i know), great wide rice noodles (and these lovely things called rice flakes, just square rice noods that cook up innto cute little cigar shapes, 79 cents for a big bag yo!), and excellent produce. right up the street (walk toward canal, close your eyes at the scary things in the windows) is a little thai market with a big bag of really fresh bean sprouts & some trinkets out front. they are the only place i can find in chinatown to buy frozen banana leaves (essential for tamales!). They also have, um, noodles, and yuba (bean curd skin) and also thai basil, although it's not as good as asia market's. then if you walk back down the street (away from canal) you can sit in that park with all the pigeons & look at all your noodle packages, maybe with a tapioca bubble tea drink (taro = best flavor!) from a nearby cafe, and listen to everyone playing mah jong. if you can't get to chinatown (what's wrong with you? are you, like my mom, scared of the dead things in the windows, or like jacob, hateful of fishy smells? just avert yr eyes and pretend you're in the ocean!), you can go to sunrise mart, above the great indie bookstore, at 4 stuyvesant street. quite a bit more expensive than old kam man, but still pretty cheap. yes, they have noodles, but not a huge selection. all the produce is packed in styrofoam meat tray things, but they no have nice housewares in the back, and good mochi.
* update! then: little india! kalustyan's is the way to go. you MUST go to kalustyan's. 123 lexington (at, i think, 27th street). cheap, huge, the best falafel in the city, constantly praised and deservedly so, kalustyan's has everything from things i've never heard of but must try like black quinoa to things everybody needs like noodles and rose water. the rice aisle alone is worth a trip, and sometimes i want to cry in the spice section, just so happy to see all the smart-looking yellow labels and to know that i have access to what must be every spice in the whole entire damn world. holy hell! i just realized you can order from kalustyan's online! oh, you're welcome. unfortunately, if you're ordering online you won't be able to sit upstairs eating a falafel with lots of tahini and hot sauce and a root beer and a side of olives while watching out the window as the women in saris talk on cell phones while they walk their babies up and down lexington.
* update! for chocolate, we go all the fuck out to DUMBO to jacques torres chocolate (66 water street, good luck finding it, i always get lost, my only tip is to just keep trying to get to the water). No, nothing in the teeny little place is vegan, so don't even look at the hot chocolate menu, except for the bags of chocolate in bulk. the house special blend is tha bomb.
* update! chelsea market on 15th street and 9th ave -- this place is freaking cadaverous, but i still can't ever find anything that amazing. it's all these little markets. the only place i adore is manhattan fruit, which has one zillion kinds of produce at wholesale prices! i guess their secret is that the place is super freezing, which keeps everything fresh but doesn't make me want to linger. but afterward you can go to amy's bread to get a more-than-decent baguette.
* update! kitchen market is also in chelsea, on the faggiest street in the faggiest neighborhood of nyc, where i feel perfectly at home with my haggy self (lag the fag hag!), 21st street and 8th avenue, right down the street from big cup, the snottiest gayest coffeeshop ever with all the dudes with the tight pants working on their laptops and looking everyone up and down as they walk by, with the hilarious gay.com ads on the phone booths that show one guy lassoing another very oily guy in (assless, no doubt) chaps in a barn or something. anyway, kitchen market is this kick ass mexican market -- hierloom iroquois corn flour! frieda kahlo bags! mexican cinnamon (the best!)! all variety of dried chiles! fresh new mexico chiles straight from the field! oooh, kitchen market. also, they have really fresh burritos and mexican plates that are excellent enough to compare favorably with burritoville's, although they don't have as many veg options. also, i like the guy behind the counter with the curly hair. in a pinch, they also have a good selction of chinatown-y-type foods, as well as mexican sodas and frozen stuff. OH! and fresh blue corn chips, bright-tasting salsa, and just-made tortillas.
health food stores
* first off, i am not listing the store i go to most often, because i am too ashamed: it's the huge whole foods in chelsea (and the one in edgewater, nj). i have to shop there for my job, so naturally i get my own crap there, too. but it's so yuppy, so greenwashingly corporatized and touchy-feelingly capitalizing on the organic trend that it makes me want to puke. so don't go there! everyone is on a cell phone injecting gamma rays or whatever into their ears while they pick out the most pretty organic apples and it makes me want to kick them! fuck corporate food!
* Fairway Fruits and Vegetables: 2127 Broadway at W 75th St. Huge!
* Creative Health Foods: 2805 Broadway bet. 108th/109th Sts. never been there.
* Good Earth: 1334 1st Ave bet. 72nd/73rd Sts.never been there.
* Health Nuts: 1208 2ns Ave bet. 63rd/64th sts. nice and tiny.
* Organic market: 229 7th ave bet. 23rd/24th sts. Across the street from the huge Whole Foods, I like to go there sometimes just to make sure they stay in business.
* Nice N’ Natural 673 9th ave bet. 46th/47th sts. They are nice and give out free calendars.
* Healthy Pleasures: 93 University bet 11th/12th sts. my old housemate (shout out to jamel, rasta housemate i loved to tease because he would only date japanese womens and who i've lost touch with, where are you dude? let's make some tempeh with orange marmalade sauce and call up peter in australia!) worked there and said it's super dirty. Good grocery prices and selection. Students get 10% off, so use that college ID you've been scamming with for the past 3 years since you graduated.update! a lagusta.com reader and fellow chef (not that i'd use such a fancy schmancy title, but it gets tha biz, so you know) writes: "like your housemate, I too worked there, and thought it was disgustingly dirty, but with my discount, the prices were right. Once I had quit, and was working at a new job, I found out about the re-labeled meat and produce (and juice bar), and was so happy that I no longer support that chain. I could tell you a few depressing things about Healthy Pleasures, but its not really necessary.. the story broke in the media, and knowing the owner/managers, I know it's true." the story of which she speaks is that they were labeling their meat and produce as organic when it wasn't!! unbelievable, but a sad part of me thinks it goes on all ova the cit-ay.
* Integral Yoga Natural Foods: 229 W 13th St. bet. 7th/8th aves. the most healthy health food store in nyc. all vegetarian, which is nice. quite snotty peeps at times. lots of crazy raw peeps. lots of yoga mats under skinny arms. lots of money flowing from your wallet. but i it's my second fave, after lifethyme.
* Lifethyme: 401 6th Ave bet. 8th and 9th sts and 2275 Broadway at 82nd St.. Great quality produce, terrific book selection and cruelty-free health care products, excellent hot and cold salad bar, AND a great vegan bakery at which tons of my cookin' friends have worked. Prices are OK. The guy behind the juice bar with the great dreadlocks at the Greenwich Village location is nice. lifethyme is my favorite grocery store in the city, because it's not a chain and it has a good selection. the owner guy is OK too.update! at one point they had this LUSCIOUS marzipan from israel, all organic, so fucking good i was in a rugar rush for dayz.
* Angelica’s Herbs: 147 1st Ave at 9th St. Large selection of herbs. someone once told me not to shop there, but i can't remember why. there is another great, tiny herb store in the east village i like a lot, but i can't remember the name or where it is and i always get lost looking for it, so um, email me if you know what i'm talking about. update! it's called enchantments. i think it might be on east 10th street. once i got into a fight with the dude behind the counter when he called 4 h.s. girlz "guys." yea, i say guys too much too, i know, but i was there to get lady's mantle tea for cramps so forgive me, bald sketchy counter guy!
* Westerly Health Foods: 8th ave at 54th St. Good prices, good selection, excellent bulk department. Too much emphasis onprotein powders and the like, though. update! no one can ever help you find anything and the aisles are soooooo close together. but, you know, if you're going to a show at the roxy nearby and you're mad hungry, i won't kill you if you pop in to get some snax you can stash in your bag under some maxi-pads so the door guy won't find them (that trick always works).
* update! this m. ward song i'm listening to ("carolina") is so beautiful it's breaking my heart.