The first time I visited New York in 2007 was shortly after becoming a vegan. At this time I had now idea what a vegan haven New York was. However I did still manage to find cafe candle on 79th on the Upper East and eat a gorgeous Thanksgiving dinner. The cafe was so busy that we (non vegan & I) were sat at the bar to eat! I tucked in and ate the first vegan feast of my life (my friend didn’t quite have the same joyous experience!). Little did I know that I would be returning a little over 2 years later and would be sitting at the same seats having a coffee and leaving some THV leaflets!
On that first New York visit I didn’t make it to any other vegan restaurant. Although it was easy to find vegan options in cafes across soho & the village. Travelling with a non vegan does mean compromising at meal time. This time however was different, vegan haven here I come….
Since that first visit I have heard from various sources what a fantastic place New York is for vegans – vegan ice cream, many raw restaurants and vegan oreos. This time I did not wanting to miss out on anything so I went equipped for action with a long list of vegan eateries and a nyc map. I got the list of vegan eateries from supervegan – a vegan website based in nyc. There are vegan only restaurants, semi vegan & places with vegan options – the information is extensive. My list was vegan only and unfortunately half the places I tried to find has closed – this is normal in a large city and equally there are many new places opening all the time too. Alternatively for $10 you can buy a 2010 vegan restaurant guide. I saw them for sale in a couple of vegan restaurants & moo shoes.
I was away with non vegan friends, so at meal time it was important for them to be flexible with me and visa versa. We even discussed it before we left for NYC (which was a good idea!). I told them about the numerous fantastic vegan restaurants that I had heard about and really wanted to go to. I was probably drooling at the time too!
Day 1 at hotel metro and breakfast at the hotel. Unfortunately the hotel used disposable cutlery, plates & paper cups which is speedy for the hotel and requires reduced staffing but it is hugely wasteful with a massive negative environmental impact. I dread to think of every hotel in NYC and America doing this but it probably does happen. It didn’t occur to me before this visit to check the environmental rating of the hotel however this is something I will definitely research next time and please make sure you do to.
After breakfast it was time for a mooch towards and around central park. The weather was mild so it seemed a good idea to have a picnic in the park, yay! The city is littered in delis all of which offer a pick and mix salad bar – this set up keeps vegans and non vegans happy. Be aware of the cost, they either charge by weight or what you pick. We found it very easy to spend over $10 on a salad which is quite expensive even by London standards!
There are probably as many sushi restaurants as delis in nyc – another vegan/non vegan friendly idea! Sushi Samba was recommended, we went to the one on 7th. The menu does seem expensive however there portions are large and the sushi is amazing. It was honestly gorgeous – everyone agreed on this. You have to try it to believe it.
Day 2 was my first vegan eatery only day in NYC. So much to see, so much to do and most importantly so much to EAT! Equipped with a map, list of restaurants, some THV leaflets & THV shopper I set off. My bag was heavy but it was nothing my enthusiasm couldn’t carry. 45 vegan cafes & restaurants marked up and I was ready to go.
Unfortunately the first couple of places visited were either shut or didn’t take leaflets (and it was too early to start eating). A friendly lady in pure juice and take away 125 1/2 East 17th did take some leaflets from me and told me that the village venues would be more receptive to leaflet drops. Phew I thought I might be taking them all home again.
The best thing about planning the THV leaflet drop, apart from spreading the word about the website, was that it gave a plan of action dictating where to go in the city. When I travel I like to mooch through a city absorb it street by street. Having a map and a list of places to visit gave me direction and then there was also the unplanned places that were found along the way; sustainable nyc and the vegan bakery.
Phew so much walking, it must be time for lunch. Hmmm what’s on 6th Ave…. Caravan of Dreams – organic vegan/raw restaurant.
The restaurant vibe is very chilled and although it was mid week it was fairly busy. The menu choice is huge – an even mix between raw and vegan with a vast choice of juices and drinks. This was my first raw cafe and the food was amazing! We need one (or many) of these places in London.
Lunch included a super healthy green juice followed my mouth watering raw nachos – flaxseed chips with avocado, mild salsa and a drizzle of almond cream. This was light, refreshing, tasty… I want to go back for more! Next up was the Caravan burrito and a simple salad & a raw tapas which included the pate of the day, mango relish, pesto sauce on tomato, radish, cucumber all on top of salad leaves.
After this lunch I was feeling light, energised and bounced of the restaurant ready for a vegan ice cream for Lula’s which is also on 6th. Lula’s doesn’t open until 3pm so I had time for a wander down to moo shoes in Soho. On my way here I literally stumbled on babycakes nyc on Broome street in Soho. On my map it was marked up on Broom street in Chelsea! This doesn’t normally happen because Mits organises the maps on our London jaunts and I follow.
Well after a few shrieks of surprise and then delight I thought I should pop in and take a look around, in the name of research, curiosity & hunger. Inside was snug and cute, it was mid week so there was room to look at the cakes and move around. I went back at the weekend and it was soooooooooo busy. No room to swing a cat – not that I would do that as an animal loving vegan who has two lovely cats.
So what should I buy? I was going to have ice cream… I could always buy the cakes and eat them later. Yay! I opted for a brownie as recommended by the lady who worked in the shop and a carrot cupcake – I had friends to share these with, honestly.
I nibbled on the choc brownie and it was delish, so light fluffy and full of chocolate. The carrot cupcake has quite a lot of cinnamon in it and I really enjoyed the gooey icing. The bakery sells day out cupcakes and baked goods at a discounted rate so you can buy a bargain. Around the corner from babycakes nyc on Orchard Street is moo shoes – a vegan shoe, bag & accessories store.
They have an online shop too. I prefer going into a shop than shopping on line simply because it is easier to find sizes and I like to touch and feel what I am considering buying. Moo shoes did have a shortage of sizes but I did find some nice black shoes to purchase.
Now it was after 3pm. I had walked from 35th Ave to Soho and was about to walk back again…. time for an ice cream to refuel. Bea recommended Lula’s sweet apothecary to me on my pre New York planning blog & I can’t thank her enough. The first time I visited I had rocky road made from cashew – chocolate ice cream crammed with whole almonds & marshmallows. It was pretty darn good, there and then I knew I would be going back. I spontaneously gave the lady in Lula’s a THV shopper and she kindly gave me my ice cream. A fair barter indeed.
Next time I had a toffee crisp cone – wowser. This one had lumps of toffee crisp in.
There is another gourmet vegan place called Stogo on 12th in Greenwich. I never made it here to eat – a combination of not enough room or time! Let me know what you think if you have been or if you go.
So I visited pure food & wine on Irvine’s Place for dinner, this is a raw gourmet restaurant. I reserved a table for Friday at 7pm. The restaurant wasn’t busy when we arrived but there was a queue at the bar for tables by the time we had finished our meals.
My experience of posh nosh raw to date has been SAF, this place is in a whole different league. It is super gourmet and some dishes were even a little too rich – imagine that with raw food ?? The restaurant vibe is relaxed, the lights are dimmed and the walls are red. Each table is decorated with large heavy wine glasses and the staff are really informed about the food and keen to make recommendations. I opted to bring my non vegan friends here when they agreed to one pure vegan dinner – oh and they also had never eaten raw food so they had no comparative.
We shared a plate of assorted raw nut tree cheese starter with rosemary chips and cherries.
The 4 mains were; portabella mushroom, tri-color beet ravioli, sea vegetable crochets and tartare sauce and noodles with mushroom scallops.
The food, as you can see is beautifully presented. This restaurant is not just visited by vegans, it would compete with any fine dining restaurant in NYC. The fact that it is raw makes the experience that much more impressive. Dessert was a chocolate cake with berry compot, mango sourbet & nit cream. The cake could have been more chocolatey.
Dinner cost $200 for 4 including one starter one dessert 4 mains and tip. The restaurant offers a 5 course chef’s tasting menu for $69pp. I would recommend going here, it is an amazing experience, just check how rich the main dishes are. The starter was the best part, I love raw nut cheese and flaxseed crackers 🙂
Part 2 to follow soon….