It’s impossible not to be tempted by all the fantastic smells that drift from restaurants, bakeries, and food stands on to the streets of New York City.
As a vegetarian, I find it incredible easy to find food when eating out in NYC. I even went to a BBQ joint with friends last weekend, and somehow managed to have a large selection of vegetarian sides to choose from. The waitress had no problem pointing out which menu options were veggie friendly.
If you’re a foodie who is planning a visit to NYC, prepare yourself to manically consume as much of the local specialties as your stomach will allow. Here are 7 veggie foods in New York City that I guarantee will please vegetarians and anyone else who is hungry!
Bagels are the first thing that I get my hands on every time I return to NYC after a trip. A New York bagel has a crisp exterior and soft chewy inside, and is far superior to bagels elsewhere. Why? As it turns out, the traditional NYC bagel is boiled, which seals in the moisture and contributes to the doughy taste!
New York bagels usually come plain or with flavours like sesame, everything (all the seeds!), or cinnamon and raisin. Bagels must also be schmeared with a thick layer of cream cheese (some bagel vendors also offer tofu cream cheese to make it vegan).
You’ll find bagels stocked in most cafes and coffee shops. If you want to go to a store that specifically sells bagels, try Ess-a-Bagel in Midtown or Black Seed Bagels in Nolita. For something a little more wild, try the famous Rainbow Bagels in Brooklyn.
2. Dollar pizza slice
Sure, you can get pizza anywhere in the world, but in New York you can experience the thin crust and excessive diameter that is truly unique to this city. NYC Pizza is often sold by the slice and is properly consumed by folding the slice in half lengthways then eating it pointy-end first.
Make sure you grab a 99c cheese slice if you’re returning home from a bar at 2AM. These dollar slices are far from fantastic but if you’ve had a few drinks then you’ll think it’s the best thing ever. You’ll find these places all over Manhattan but especially in East Village.
For a much better quality pizza, my favourite place is La Margarita in the Lower East Side. Their 18″ Margherita Pizza with buffalo mozzarella will easily satisfy 2 people and is absolutely mind-blowing.
3. Grilled cheese
NYC prides itself on having the best grilled cheese sandwiches around. I can vouch for them being an amazing hangover cure after a night out.
You can order a classic grilled cheese on its own, or with other fillings like tomato and caramelised onion. The sandwich will often be served with tomato soup or tater tots on the side.
There are a few great places to get grilled cheese in Manhattan. Cheese Grille in the Lower East Side is my favourite (they even do a vegan grilled cheese here!) or try Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in the Flatiron District for a truly artisan grilled cheese experience.
4. Veggie burgers
If there’s one thing that NYC is damn good at, it’s burgers. Most of the time you can expect your burger to be served on some sort of fancy non-plate, and your side of sweet potato fries will probably come out in a tiny wire basket or paper cone.
There are loads of places that offer veggie burgers or vegan burgers in New York. Some of my faves are Superiority Burger in East Village for snack sized burgers, or Bareburger for fancy organic burgers.
5. Veggie dogs
If you’ve ever walked the streets of New York City, you probably would have noticed that there’s a hot dog stand on every corner. A NYC hot dog is usually served on a long bun with both ketchup and mustard, and can also be topped with sauerkraut, pickles, or other toppings.
My fellow vegetarians will be happy to know that it’s possible to grab a veggie dog in NYC! Crif Dogs in East Village or Reservoir Dogs in Brooklyn are great places to satisfy your veggie dog craving.
6. Veggie meatballs
It took me almost a year to find a veggie meatball place in New York! The Meatball Shop has some amazing vegetarian and vegan options on their menu. If you want to sit down and consume a large amount of delicious, saucy, meat-free comfort food, this is the place to go.
7. Ice cream sandwich
For dessert, try a New York ice cream sandwich. You’ve never had two perfectly soft cookies sandwiching hard frozen ice-cream like the ones you’ll find in NYC. Ice cream sandwiches come in a variety of flavors such as Red Velvet or Cinnamon, but you really can’t beat the classic Choc Chip with Vanilla ice cream.
My fave ice cream sandwich place is Melt Bakery in the Lower East Side (they also have a food cart on The High Line during summer), or you can also find some at Insomnia Cookies.
NYC food tours:
If you want to experience NYC food in detail, here are some food tours that might tickle your taste buds (note that these options may not be veggie-friendly):
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