New York City is one of the few cities in the world where we get overwhelmed by choice. There are so many vegan restaurants in the Big Apple that it is impossible to get to them all in a 3-day weekend. So each time we visit, we explore the vegan options in a different corner of the city. This time we stayed in Chelsea and focused on vegan restaurants in or around this neighborhood. In short, it’s much easier to be vegan in New York than it is in our current home town of Tampa, Florida and we arrived ready to take full advantage of all the vegan opportunity.
Only a few hours after our plane landed on Friday morning we found ourselves exploring High Line Park, an elevated 1.5 mile long urban trail filled with art exhibitions, views of the Hudson and botanical gardens.
Our culinary adventure began by lunching at the very casual The Cinnamon Snail, featuring vegan street food, in the Pennsy Food Hall. Sandwiched between a pizza place and a taco locale, The Cinnamon Snail understandably had the longest line.
Before arriving, Mindy had already decided on ordering the Beast Burger, which is their seitan patty with mac & cheese, coconut bacon and arugula. She was not disappointed, saying, “this may just be the best burger I’ve ever had”. We also tried the Chili Cheese Tater Tots, and Kimchi Tater Tots with a side of marinated kale.
Having learned that The Cinnamon Snail got its start in baked goods, we simply could not resist the temptation to try one of their vegan desserts. We eventually settled on the chocolate ganache filled s’mores donut and the restaurant’s namesake, the Cinnamon Snail sticky bun.
After our very filling meal at The Cinnamon Snail we were happy to walk the 20 blocks up to the Ed Sullivan Theater for the taping of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Since we were there on a Friday we lined up to see a series of six comedians. We were sure to laugh out loud in the second row as we were told that we were the sound track for the show.
For dinner, we grabbed takeout from Beyond Sushi on 37th Street, which was thankfully on our way back to our hotel. Their entire menu is vegan and everything sounded amazing, which made choosing our meals rather difficult. To start, we finally decided on their house-made kimchi and The Badge dumplings, filled with charred cabbage and roasted onions and topped with chili toasted panko and ponzu sauce.
For the main, we had the Pickle Me sushi roll, with pickled burdock root and daikon, topped with avocado and a carrot-ginger sauce, as well as the Sweet Tree roll, with roasted sweet potato and avocado, topped with alfa a sprouts and a toasted cayenne mayo. It was all incredible!
On Saturday morning we paid tribute to The Stonewall Memorial before Mindy had to go off to work at Out In Tech. For lunch, I took advantage of the Chelsea hotel’s proximity to VLife NYC, an unassuming small vegan locale (348 7th Ave) with positive messages and friendly people. Choosing was not easy as the menu contained several good-sounding options from wraps to bowls.
I eventually decided on the Amazing Avocado wrap with romaine, tomatoes, carrots, spinach and onion with chipotle sauce. When I took it back to the hotel room to eat, I admit it wasn’t much to look at, but the taste was indeed amazing.
Saturday evening Mindy and I were floored with the delicious food at Blossom Vegan Restaurant, an upscale vegan restaurant at 187 Ninth Avenue in Chelsea. The menu features varied and inventive dishes and we were impressed that they make their own seitan and vegan cheeses onsite.
Having viewed the menu ahead of time online, we walked in the restaurant already knowing what we planned to order. I had the Pistachio and Pepper-Dusted Tofu, with a root vegetable crèpe, lemon truffle emulsion, frisée in red beet vinaigrette. Mindy had the Port Wine Seitan, with white mushrooms, tempura onion, garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. We were very pleased with our meals, each sure that we had made the right choice. Mindy even made it a point to mention that when we go back to Blossom again, she will order the exact same meal.
For dessert, we got the Chocolate Ganache with vanilla ice cream and peanut butter drizzle, and the Tiramisu with coconut marscapone. This is vegan dining at its finest!
The Organic Grill
After checking out of our hotel Sunday morning, we were craving a brunch spot and found The Organic Grill (123 1st Avenue), which has recently gone all vegan despite the fact that their menu online still shows “eggs”. In person, they have simply crossed out all non-vegan items on the laminated menus.
I tried their Papas Diablos, a scrambled tofu and hash brown dish with black beans, guacamole and pico de gallo. Mindy, a huge brunch fan, had a really hard time deciding on whether to go sweet or savory. So, the friendly waiter pointed out the perfect dish for her: the Indecisive Special with pancakes, sausage, tempeh bacon, tofu scramble and fresh fruit.
After our very filling meal at The Organic Grill, we took the subway up to Central Park, of which we explored the central southern section. Walking through the Ramble is always my favorite part of adventuring in Central Park and eager to a) show my recent discovery to Mindy and b) see what it looks like without snow, we headed straight for its many wooded winding passageways.
We made sure to pay tribute to John Lennon at the Imagine Mosaic on our way to Sheep Meadow, where we promptly lay on the grass and fell asleep to the sounds of the winds blowing through the trees, dogs barking, children laughing, conversations in a variety of languages, police sirens and traffic, which all blended together into the rhythm of the city.
We eventually made our way over to Candle Cafe West (2427 Broadway), featuring upscale vegan cuisine.
We had the Seitan Piccata and the Seitan Marsala for dinner, and then for dessert, we had the Chocolate Mousse Pie and the Banana Chocolate Cake. Everything was incredibly delicious!
A Word About Bagels
Jewish bagels seem to be so synonymous with New York City that it’s almost sacrilegious not to have one while visiting The Big Apple. We tried to two places offering vegan bagels over the weekend: Tompkins Square Bagels (184 2nd Ave) and Tal’s Bakery (2446 Broadway), both of which offered vegan bagels and tofu cream cheese.
From Tompkins Square Bagels we started our Saturday morning off with an everything bagel with scallion tofu cream cheese and sun-dried tomatoes for me, and a sesame bagel with plain tofu cream cheese for Mindy, who was already planning to compare this bagel to the Montreal bagels she grew up with. Mindy decided that the two can not be compared as Montreal bagels are sweeter and are thus a different breed of bagel. Besides, how can one compare anything that is wrapped up in childhood memories! We both left the casual restaurant very satisfied.
Only moments before ordering a Lyft back to the Laguardia Airport, we stopped in at Tal’s to get bagels and vegan cream cheese to go. We were the envy of all our fellow passengers when we pulled out our delicious bagels, which simply couldn’t compare to their peanuts and pretzels. We almost felt guilty…almost.
Now the big question is which neighborhood we will explore the next time we visit New York City.