While street food is, to many people, still synonymous with street meat, there are plenty of vegetal pearls to be found among the literal swine. You just have to search a little harder, and we have, across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. What follows are the 10 best options we’ve found for street-side vegetarian dining; naturally, your own picks may vary, so tell us in the comments. Roughage and dairy and dosas, right this way …
10. The Souvlaki Truck GR‘s Greek fries. You’ve got to hand it to Souvlaki GR: For a truck that makes absolutely no concessions to vegetarians, they certainly know how to appeal to their basest instincts. And that would be through the holy trinity of starch, fat, and salt. Strapping, skin-on spuds are buried under a thick drift of salty feta and served hot in a wax paper bag. Gloriously decadent and bearing absolutely no pretensions to health, they are both a meal and flexitarian peace accord. @souvlakitruck
9. Mexicue‘s beet and goat cheese taco. Although the taco fusion truck’s real sympathies lie in pulled-pork sliders and chorizo-crammed tortillas, it also saves a little love for the vegs with its take on the age-old beet and goat cheese salad. Here, the beets are pickled, and their sweet tanginess plays well with the creamy, slightly funky cheese. The chile de arbol barbecue sauce adds some spice, and watercress a sharp, clarifying snap. @Mexicue
8. N.Y. Dosa‘s Special Pondicherry dosa. Amiable and impressively mustachioed, Thiru Kumar has been running his all-vegan dosa cart on the southern border of Washington Square Park for about a decade. As its name suggests, the Pondicherry dosa is indeed special, thanks to the sum of its few parts: a light, crackly crepe; fluffy, mildly spicy potatoes; and crunchy peppers and onions. The accompanying sambar and coconut chutney are solid, too. Washington Square Park South, 917-710-2092
7. Sami Dosa Cart‘s mysore masala dosa. Yes, another dosa cart. But frankly, where vegetarian street food is concerned, you can never have too many dosa carts. Sami, the cart’s voluble and endlessly friendly proprietor, worked in a Queens restaurant for 14 years. Now he can usually be found on the southwest corner of Broadway and 39th, making some of the most ethereal crepes in Midtown. The mysore masala variety is shot through with chili paste and filled with fluffy, steaming-hot potatoes, and served with both sambar and coconut chutney. And as good as the dosa itself is, it’s merely a delivery vehicle for those excellent condiments. In particular, you may find yourself asking for a second order of the chutney, equal parts sweet and incendiary, so you can drink it on its own. Broadway and West 39th Street, 347-965-3353
6. Endless Summer Tacos‘s seitan tacos. Yeah, the service can be flaky and the location unreliable. What do you want, it’s run by rockers. But if there’s one thing those mothertruckers understand, it’s that seitan — at least to a sizable percentage of Williamsburg’s fauxhemian population — is king. And so they treat it as such, generously piling it with sliced radishes, cilantro, and voluptuous ribbons of crema, and swaddling it all with a double layer of tortillas. All of which has made many a drunk vegetarian deliriously happy. Bedford Avenue and North 3rd Street, Brooklyn, 347-400-8128
5. Korilla BBQ‘s “I’m Feeling Lucky.” You might feel more idiotic saying it out loud, but Korilla’s chosun bowl is indeed a fortuitous find for both vegetarians and vegans. It’s basically a variety pack of kimchi and vegetables, all deftly prepared and betraying varying levels of heat. The homemade tofu is likewise a winner, particularly when it’s luxuriating in sweet-spicy barbecue sauce; altogether, this is one of the more thoughtful and creative lunch options available to herbivores, or, really, anyone. @KorillaBBQ
4. The Country Boys/Martinez Taco Truck‘s vegetarian tacos. Although pretty much everything served by this 2009 Vendy Award winner is stuffed with animal bits, Fernando and Jolanda Martinez’s vegetarian tacos don’t feel like a token concession to the meat-free. And that’s because the relatively few ingredients gracing the soft tortillas — guacamole, cotija cheese, salsa, shredded cabbage, and grilled spinach — are so fresh and vibrant, they’d be satisfying even if consumed off of a Brillo pad. Red Hook Ballfields, Clinton and Bay streets (summer)
3. The King of Falafel and Shawarma‘s falafel sandwich. This Astoria cart won last year’s Vendy Awards, and the black magic that owner Freddy Zeideia works on humble chickpea fritters makes it easy to understand why. Greaseless and supremely crunchy, they’re flavorful as all get out. And once they’re crammed into a length of pita with pickled turnips, fresh lettuce, and diced tomatoes, and unctuous blobs of tahini sauce, it’s game-over. A sandwich fit for royalty if ever there was one. 30th Street and Broadway, Astoria, 718-838-8029
2. Soler Domincan‘s queso con loroco pupusas. Pupusas, flat cornmeal cakes stuffed with a variety of ingredients and served fresh off the griddle, occupy a special place in the street-food carbohydrate canon, not to mention our stomachs. Particularly when the folks at Soler impregnate them with lots of oozing, salty cheese and loroco, a Central American flower bud. Served two to a plate, the pupusas come hiding behind a merkin of nuclear-sunset-pink pickled cabbage and dressed with hot sauce, and more than justify the long lines that form next to the truck when it’s parked at the Red Hook Ballfields. Clinton and Bay streets (summer)
1. Taïm Mobile‘s entire menu. Everything we’ve tried from Taïm’s vehicular offshoot has been wonderful, be it the hummus sandwich or lentil soup or falafel or sabich, that mythical fried-eggplant concoction whose belated appearance on the truck’s menu was treated like rain arriving to the Sahara. The genius of Taïm is that it serves excellent food that just happens to be vegetarian, instead of the other way around. And wherever it goes, we will follow. @TaimMobile
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