Our 10 Best Vegetarian (Many Vegan) Dishes in NYC
The kanchipuram idly at Sapthagiri is served with tamarind sauce and homemade coconut chutney.
In case you haven't noticed, vegetable matter is the new meat -- easy to cook and digest, jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, environmentally friendly, and, most important, good-tasting. We've ransacked the menus of eateries in all five boroughs and even in nearby New Jersey to come up with our list of vegetarian faves. A large percentage are also vegan, and those have been so marked. Eat and enjoy -- and tell us the things we've missed.
Waiting for their eggplant parm at Torrisi.
10. Eggplant Parmesan at Torrisi Italian Specialties -- Served with a generous cup of extra tomato sauce, the eggplant parmesan at Torrisi is a multilayered wonder, bravely wearing a fresh basil leaf on its breast, made with great mozzarella, and, miraculously, not cooked into total oblivion. Call for availability, and expect to wait awhile for it. 250 Mulberry Street, 212-965-0955
9. Broccoli Rabe Hero at Casa Calamari [vegan] -- Slicked with plenty of olive oil, the bright green vegetable, crunchy and yielding all at the same time, comes dotted with whole cloves of caramelized garlic. Deposited on a well-crusted hero roll, it makes one of the tastiest and most filling sandwiches in the world. 8602 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-921-1900
8. Kanchipuram Idly at Sapthagiri [vegan] -- Idly is normally one of our favorite dishes, spongy rice-and-lentil pillows that come with at least a couple of earthy and pungent sauces. This version at the strictly vegetarian Sapthagiri (weekends only) incorporates cashews, fresh turmeric, shredded ginger, and cilantro -- a flavor combination that launches the saucer-shaped treats into orbit. 804 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, 201-533-8400
7. Pickled Mushrooms at Kabeer [vegan] -- An assortment of woodsy specimens, pickled to piquancy, then heaped with shaved onions and fresh dill -- it's a simple dish, but one that might convince you mushrooms are much better than meat. And the list of brews on tap at this indoor Russian beer garden -- steps away from a summer stroll on the boardwalk -- will be an added incentive. 1003 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-934-9005
6. Toasted Cheese Sandwich at Bark Hot Dogs -- Yes, it's totally counterintuitive that one of the best vegetarian dishes in the city would be at an unreconstructed palace of pure meat -- but there you have it. The bread comes from a firm white Pullman loaf, the cheese is sharp cheddar, and the grill is smeared with real butter. Simple, yet perfect. 474 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, 718-789-1939
The toasted cheese at Bark looks like the normal diner sandwich, only it's a million times better.
Wear a bib for God's sake to eat the sabich sandwich at Taim.
5. Mock Duck Spicy Bamboo at Am-Thai Chili Basil Kitchen [vegan] -- The mock duck is amazing at this tiny restaurant, a stone's throw from Green-Wood Cemetery. The texture is fibrous, dense, and dark, just like real duck, and it's stir-fried with green beans and bamboo shoots in a mellow coconut-milk sauce. You just can't beat it. 359 McDonald Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-871-9115
4. "Corn" at Dirt Candy [vegan on request] -- The entrée called simply "corn" is a collage of stone-ground grits, corn cream, pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche, and the cryptic, quasi-science chef "tempura poached egg." That egg is molten underneath, the grits are gloriously fatty, the huitlacoche provides earthy funk, and the mushrooms rescue the whole thing from putting you in a coma. 430 East 9th Street, 212-228-7732
3. Sabich Sandwich at Taim -- Whether you give up and eat this pita-borne sandwich with a fork, or try the more difficult and messy task of hoisting it in your hands, the combination of egg and eggplant is beyond brilliant, especially when amplified with hummus, Israeli salad, parsley, and amba -- an engagingly tart sauce of mango and fenugreek. 222 Waverly Place, 212-691-6101
2. Amazonian Mushrooms at Katmandu Spice [vegan] -- This Brazilian recipe swamps a choice collection of 'shrooms in herbs and coconut milk, then adds a dab of dende -- the fluorescent-orange palm oil beloved of Cariocans. Served with rice, toasted farofa (manioc meal), fried plantains, and a spicy vinegar sauce. 60-15A Woodside Avenue, Queens, 718-779-7475
1. Butter Masala Dosa at Dosa Hutt -- The secret of this tiny place is volume. A small army of cooks concocts dosas and idlis by the dozens -- many of which are vegan -- and they're experts. The batter is mixed and fermented in-house, the fillings -- curried potatoes studded with nuts and spices -- are cooked up daily, and the dosas are griddle-cooked to crunchiness. The butter masala dosa is the menu's apex, soaked with extra ghee at the last minute. 4563 Bowne Street, Queens, 718-961-5897
The Amazonian mushrooms at Katmandu Spice come with a collection of scrumptious sides.
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