Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eating the Big Apple

New York City is kind of it when it comes to vegan eating. Sure, there are lots of great cities for vegan food, but from all the blogs and magazines and other things I read and here, NYC has a vegan version of ANYTHING you could possibly want. For reference, we used Super Vegan's restaurant finder.

We could have eaten in restaurants/street carts/takeaway shops for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between and still not even come close to sampling the variety that New York offers, but we had just come from Scotland and Ireland, where we had no kitchen. So we (mainly Andy) were getting a bit restauranted out. So we did eat out, but we also took advantage of the other thing NYC offers that we are not used to -- good, vegan-friendly grocery stores.  So, how did we do?
This is the fat cat who lived in the apartment we rented. 
Her name is She-Ra and she makes Nacho look puny.

We went to Whole Foods on our very first day in NY, because we saw it and I couldn't resist. And I'm glad I didn't! It is pretty incredible - so many things, like regular grocery stores, but mainly organic, and/or local, and/or hippy-ish versions of regular groceries.  So fun! Like this Road's End Mac & Chreese which we ate with mushrooms on our first evening in NYC, and which I posted about earlier.

In Central Park, we sought out the Good to Go Organics food truck for vegan hot dogs. They serve Smart Dogs brand, with a variety of toppings. We ordered the Two Dog Deal, one with saurkraut & mustard, and one with vegan chilli, for $14 including chips & a drink.  These were okay, but not the best ever.

In the East Village area we went to Viva Herbal Pizzeria. There were so many choices to make - crust, toppings, cheese, size... we opted for the October Special, because there was a 15% (I think?) discount. The Vegan Picante, plus Daiya cheese. Large, please. (Because an Australian large pizza is usually enough to feed Andy, just.) With a whole wheat crust. We should have picked up on the fact that most people ordered one slice only, sometimes two. Not a whole pizza, not even for two people.  Because, here's the thing: a large pizza is massive! And the toppings weren't light - soy meatballs, capsicum, and red onion, all mixed up together into tomato sauce, and topped with so much cheese. Our first experience with Daiya, and our first soy cheese in a long time, this was a bit rich, and a lot of food. But that didn't stop us (mainly Andy) eating the whole pizza! Which was a little disappointing, because it meant no room for the vegan desserts they had on offer, like whoopie pies, tiramisu, and cannoli.  What was I thinking!

In Greenwich Village we queued up at Murray's Bagels - I got multigrain with tofu cream cheese, and Andy, for some reason, ordered one with jam. I had enough cream cheese on my bagel to share, lucky for him.

In the East Village (again) we caught up with a friend from high school at Curly's Vegetarian Lunch.  I forgot to snap photos, but this was what I think of as classic greasy spoon food. There were loads of choices, but I went for a nostalgic cheese burger with curly fries, and a root beer float. Andy had, I think, the Avocado & Jack burger. Both came with Daiya, at our request. Again, too much food. This time I couldn't finish mine, probably because I basically had dessert before and during dinner, in the form of my root beer float. This meal is where it started to sink in that American portion sizes are SO MUCH bigger than my belly has gotten used to in the past 6 years of living in Australia.

In the Upper West Side, we had some delicious Ethiopian food at Awash Restaurant. We went for combo 3, the veggie platter, which was everything veggie they have, served with injera. The photo is shockingly bad, but the food was shockingly good. Ethiopian food is seriously the best, especially when it's served with proper injera.

$24 for both of us, plus extra for some St George, the beer I drank way too much of when I visited Ethiopia in 2005.

Saturday morning saw us head back downtown, really near Washington Square Park, where we met up with VKO for brunch at Sacred Chow. Again, so many choices! I opted for Banana French Toast, described as "A thick slice of our banana pound cake grilled up warm and crisp, with blueberry sauce." Really, though, this was basically a piece of cake. For lunch. It was awesome.

I couldn't finish it all, but Andy came to my aid. Even after finishing all of his Peppersteak Hero (which VKO had as well): "Grilled seitan strips, peppers, onions, w/bean cheese sauce, served on toasted whole wheat baguette. Served w/a side of home fries". As good as the food was, though, it wasn't the best part of the morning - the best part was meeting VKO, whose blog I've read for years and who is such a lovely person.

In the Upper West Side, we went to Trader Joe's, which was kind of the yin to Whole Foods' yang. It was crowded, and small, and it felt like they didn't have much of anything besides junk food and organic dead animals. We were overwhelmed, and quickly grabbed some Tofurkey Italian sausages for dinner, along with some mushrooms and pitta bread. The sausages were a lot like homemade seitan sausages, even with the chewy-stringy seitan texture to them. But for some reason (possibly all the food we'd already eaten), I could only eat half my dinner before I started to feel a bit bleh.

So. That was how we ate in NYC. I'm seriously disappointed in our lack of dessert, ice cream, and so on. But, we did pretty well, I think.  Plus, it gives us plenty of excuses to go back and eat more. Though next time, we will have to stay closer to the downtown area, since all of the awesome-est food was there.


Kari said...

I am actually speechless. No words are forming because my mouth is now primed for eating, not talking! I wish some of this could fly out to Australia every now and then.

M.L. said...

I can't get back soon enough — and this post has only strengthened that feeling! My only regret of my trip last year was missing Lula's Sweet Apothecary.

Nadine said...

i am so jealous. that pizza looks AMAZING!!!

Hannah said...

*swoons into a heavenly dream of deliciousness* Each time I've gone to New York, I've lived almost exclusively on food from Whole Foods and Garden of Eden (I honestly still wake up craving the seitan with kale and no-egg tofu salads from thsoe two shops all the time), but I definitely do need to focus on actual restaurants next time I'm there. Thank you Theresa! :)

Mel said...

Your travel posts have been so great to read. I was never particularly interested in travelling to the US until going vegan and finding out about all of the awesome food they have over there. It all looks fantastic and I'm happy to hear that you got a fix of delicious Ethiopian food too! :)

K said...

I can't believe you didn't get to pala (best pizza ever) or lulas or stogo (best ice cream ever). It shows though how much variety there is in nyc