Welcome to the long-over-due second part of my New York City vegan travel adventures in June. I had to break my post up because I wanted to dedicate the first part to The Seed Experience convention and this part to share some of my personal (unsponsored) favorite vegan food, fashion, and non-touristy fun things to do in NYC. Let's get started!
The best view of NYC is from a rooftop! Check out these rooftop bars, rooftops at hotels or private buildings (if you know someone). This is a view of Chelsea from a friend's office rooftop. I love traveling with our "Botanica" crossbody tote, illustrated by artist Jody Pham because it's so roomy, light, durable, and adds a graphic element to any outfit!
I will travel anywhere for good vegan food and there are so many great vegan/vegan friendly restaurants in NYC that I couldn't possibly visit them all. These were my favorites.
My first meal was an intimate dinner with an old friend I've known since living in Manhattan a decade ago. We went to the original Blossom, an upscale organic and vegan restaurant in Chelsea. I'd made a reservation since the restaurant is small and seating is limited.
Our first course included beet salad (not pictured) and a Chef's Sampler for Two, which included: spicy quinoa sushi roll, seitan empanada, fried pickles with ranch dip, seaweed caviar canapés, porcini mushroom phyllo purses, and raw zucchini rollantini. My favorite were the phyllo purses (of course!). I always like getting samplers because they're bite-size goodness and if I really like any of them, I'll order the full dish.
For the entree, I ordered the lasagna to compare with Crossroads' in LA; it was not up to par. The cheese tasted like Daiya, which I'm not a fan of. Overall it was decent. Dessert was a decadent, thick, and creamy tiramisu, oh so good! It was a great end to my first meal in NYC.
For lunch the next day, I navigated through the busy Chelsea Market filled with shops, cafes, and food stalls to discover Mok Bar, a Korean ramen noodle bar, sort of hidden behind a long line for a taco joint.
I ordered a cold vegan version (also gluten free) Veggie "Yache" ramen since it was so hot that day. The cold noodles, bean sprouts, spinach, pickled daikon, cucumber, and pickled shiitake mushrooms were refreshing with a little kick from the housemade gochujang dressing (traditional Korean chili paste).
As I was leaving Chelsea Market, I saw these gorgeous flowers and cute couple ;)
I walked from Chelsea to Herald Square to grab an afternoon snack at the UrbanSpace, a pop-up market around NYC with food and artisan stalls I hadn't seen before!
I got this amazing fresh-made mushroom with arugula and cilantro salsa arepas from Palenque - Homemade Colombian food.
Still hungry, I got on the 7 train from Times Square to Woodside, Queens to meet up with another old friend for dinner at one of the best Thai restaurants in the city, Sripraphai (website). FYI it's cash only and they have a full vegetarian menu that's easily veganized!!
I love it when the subway train goes above ground in Queens, it's like entering a whole new world ;) When you're visiting NYC, take some time to explore all five different boroughs, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. They are all different experiences.
I got the tofu green curry which came with a side of rice noodles. The vegetables were so fresh/crisp and the curry was flavorful. Afterwards I explored Woodside's culturally diverse neighborhood for a bit. On one block, there's an Irish pub, sushi bar, Italian restaurant, and deli; this is what I love about NYC! In one day, I had Korean, Colombian, and Thai food. I was a happy and full vegan ;)
The next morning I meet with some friends from Dallas who recently moved to NYC for brunch at Gust Organics - in my old neighborhood of Greenwich Village! They had recently changed their menu to be fully veg so I wanted to check them out. We were seated before they were opened at 11AM but waited over 45 minutes to get our food after several other tables, which didn't make us very happy so our waitress offered us mimosas. I ordered the Veggs Benedict with smokey tofu, ripe tomato and hollandaise sauce over homemade toast and sweet potato fries. It was pretty good, which made me feel better ;)
For dinner I went to Caravan of Dreams, a lively and eclectic organic/vegan/kosher restaurant in East Village with nightly live music performances. They've been around since 1991 and who doesn't love dinner and a show?! My friend and I shared the Sampler Tapas: raw hummus, Arabian hummus, pesto, guacamole, smoked eggplant spread, house-made herbed Cashew kefir, and ali-oli served with toast. We are ordered the paella, which I thought tasted more like fried rice.
For dessert, we walked over to Blythe Ann's (formerly Lula's Sweet Apothecary) for vegan ice cream! It's in a small, unmarked location so it was a bit tricky to find at night. We both enjoyed the lavender ice cream, which had a nice subtle lavender taste. (Sorry for the blurry phone photo)
After a full day of eating at the Seed Experience, we headed over to Champs Diner, 100% vegan, for dinner in Brooklyn.
I had to order their best-selling sandwich, Buffalo Chik'n, because it's amazing and has "Chik" in the name :)
On the last day, I got lunch at Sacred Chow, a cute little vegan/vegetarian/Kosher restaurant near Washington Square Park. There are about 10 tables, so get there early/late if you want a table.
I started with a delicious vegetables laksa, which was very filling.
Then a huge Ceaser Salad bowl. I couldn't finish it, I was so full!
I had to walk off lunch, so I headed down to SoHo to The Butcher's Daughter - a clean/chic vegetarian juice bar/cafe, don't be fooled by the name!
They have fresh-made juice on premise in every color of the rainbow.
I opted for their antioxidant #05 - Rubies in the Dust, which has beet, carrot, ginger, local berries, plum, flax seed oil, and rosemary.
New York City is considered the fashion capital of the world by many, including myself, for its fabulous Fashion Weeks, fashionistas, and fashion district. Unfortunately, this wasn't a shopping trip for me.
I did have time to stop into the all vegan store Mooshoes to support them and get new shoes; my walking shoes were starting to wear out.
I love the friendly staff and their friendly cats!
While I was at Chelsea Market, I stopped by Artist & Fleas for some indie goods. I also went to their retail location in Williamsburg, which also has rotating booths run by local indie designers, selling new/vintage clothing, accessories, and art. I always try to support local artists/artisans wherever I travel/live.
Another one of my favorite places to shop is the Union Square Green Market on the weekends! Rain or shine. I love getting fresh, locally grown produce and flowers from farmers in the tri-state area. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of my old favorite farmers and vendors were still selling at the market!
Things to See/Do
As a former New Yorker, I tend to avoid the "touristy" places, but The High Line is one of those iconic, free, public places that tourists and locals can enjoy, like Central Park. It is an elevated park on an old train track that used to carry all the meat from the Meat Packing district (not very vegan in its history). Now, it is a beautiful park with flowers and trees. Plan on bringing a picnic to enjoy the amazing views of the Hudson River, the Meat Packing District, Chelsea, and Midtown.
After visiting the High Line, check out all the art galleries between 10th Ave and 11th Ave in Chelsea. They're all free and open to the public!
This painting is on bubble wrap.
If you want the best view of Manhattan's skyline, you have to leave Manhattan. My favorite view is from the pier in Long Island City, Queens. Take the 7 train to the first stop in Queens, Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave, and walk West towards the East River. It's an incredibly surreal and peaceful experience at dusk.
There's never enough time to eat, shop, and see everything I want in New York City. What are your favorite vegan restaurants/shops/sights?
I'll always be a New Yorker at heart, till next time!