George and Julia's Vegan Underground

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George and Julia’s Vegan Best of 2012

Pianos are Chairs, Indian Pizza

Pianos are Chairs, Indian Pizza

Vegans unite and take in this news of the best vegan food according to us, George and Jules (Julia).  So here it is, we bring you the vegan best.

George and Julia’s Vegan Best of 2012

Formal Dining = Candle 79

Although we have been told the Candle Cafe is much chipper (cheaper and hipper), it’s difficute to beat a romantic vegan dinner from C79.  This restaurant has been bringing vegan food to the masses before it was trendy.  It’s possible they actually made it trendy.  This establishment was started using lottery winnings.  Candle 79 is PaulMcCarthy’s favorite but you don’t need to be a Beatle to eat there.  Just throw on an ironed shirt and clean pair of trousers.  Take your Mom, your fiancé, or a business client you want to impress.  Request a seat on the second level.  Reservations are accepted and recommended and we recommend the polenta fries.

Candle 79 154 East 79th Street at Lex, NY, NY

Wings = Veggie Grill (Los Angeles)

Word has it, Food Swings  http://www.foodswings.net/ fry those fake bitty birds the best but we have never been there.  Foodswings proximity to Champ’s makes it difficult to select.  While spending time with Julia’s brother in Los Angeles, he recommended the fast vegan foodie paradise, Veggie Grill.  Served classic cafeteria-style, this place cooks up great bang for your buck.  Personally, I (that would be George) never liked wings.  I always found them slimy and Neanderthal.  Julia on the other hand, is always on the lookout for a chicken-less substitute to her former favorite.  So yes, Julia says Veggie Grill’s wings win the prize. We’ve had wings at Soy and Sake’s but Julia insists Veggie Grill beats ’em.  If you miss the burger king whopper (I do not), the Veggie Grill burger is an amazing meatless replica.  I sound like a stuck-up jerk in this wings review.  So here’s their new slogan: “Veggie Grill, yes I think I will.”  V.G.’s has 17 locations in California, Oregon and Washington State but no New York chapter.  Why not start your own New York Veggie Grill so I can eat it?  Inquire here.   various locations

Wings = Champs Family Bakery

Sorry Veggie Grill but their called Champs for a reason.  The Champs specials board read “hot wings.”  As the chef works to revamp their menu with some new and exciting options, they often test on their customers.  The wings are everyone’s favorite and our server said it will definitely make the new menu.  I like that they use tempeh instead of gluten or tofu.  The texture is less slimey than a traditional wing (which I like) while still maintaining the item’s best characteristics.  I’m talking about the sauce!!  t made our pancakes buffalo saucy.  This sauce is so perfect, so rich, the best wing sauce I have every tasted.  Julia should really be writing this…If we go this weekend (which is quite possible), we will each be getting 3 orders of wings and that’s it.  I love you Champs!!.  If that’s not incentive enough, Super Bowl Sunday, they are offerring their wings $10.00/dozen (carryout only). 

Veggie Grill, yes I think I will...

Veggie Grill, yes I think I will…

Sandwich = Free Foods (Julia), Cinnamon Snail (George)

While their connection to Pure Food and Wine may be officially severed, a connection remains.  Michael and the crew offer up some delish raw foods and vegan sandwiches.  Their food is made out of some of the ingredients available and most are happy to pay extra for that.  Once a monthly special, the Buffalo “Chicken” Wrap is a regular menu item easily tops the chart for Julia.  In fact, I’m often recruited to bring a Buff Wrap home for her highness;-)

Me, I’ve got to go with Cinnamon Snail.  It’s one of their staples and what keeps me coming back.  While I am not much of a seitan man, when the snail puts together Lemongrass Sub or Cajun hoagie, I’m in love.  Their sandwiches often incorporate 7+ delicious ingredients.  It’s something I could never make at home and I like that.  As Cinnamon Snail pointed out, most of the people who eat their food are not vegan so I guess that says something right there.

Free Foods 18 West 45th Street, btwn 5th and 8th Ave NY, NY,

Cinnamon Snail is mobile so check twitter for location.

Sushi =  Beyond Sushi

This was a no-brainer.  Beyond Sushi has taken sushi to a whole new level.  As a vegan I appreciate that I no longer need to pretend to like raw fish sushi (yuk).  I was ready to hang up my sushi galoshes when Beyond Sushi created a whole new world using fruits, nuts, wild rice, avocado, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and so many other fresh vegetables.  The colors make these rolls works of art.  And no fish means longer shelf life and your safe from mercury and fish parasites.  Un-freakin believable. We were there for the opening.  Two months later they went full vegan.  Julia suggested this and they listened.

Beyond Sushi 229 East 14th Street  New York, NY 10003

Raw Food = Pure Food and Wine

This place got my best of in 2011.  This place has not gone downhill but my tastes have changed.  Pure Food and Wine (PFW) has made raw food a delicacy.  Bring your carnivores, they’ll love it too.  BillClinton has a table there.  It is still one of the most recognized vegan restaurant in the world and with good reason.  Yes the prices are high but this romantic gem offers superb sight and taste.  Try it, you’ll love it.

Pure Food and Wine 54 Irving Place (between 17th and 18th streets) , NY, NY

Ice Cream = One Lucky Duck (Julia), Lula’s Sweet Apothecary (George)    

One Lucky Duck is the café adjoined with Pure Food and Wine and serves the same food in a coffeehouse environment.  We had the Sundae and it was perfect.  The waiter told us it was about the mixing for maximum fluff.  Their hot fudge brought me a childhood flashback.  While it is amazing, almost perfect, I still lust for Lula’s Sweet Apothecary.  Set up like an old tyme candy joint, they have 10+ different flavors of ice cream, banana splits, classic sundaes and more.  This place was named by the  the Meetup group, “Eatup Vegan Lunch Bunch” as the pride of New York.  In other words, if someone comes from out of town, you take them to Lula’s.  It seriously blows minds. One Lucky Duck is the café adjoined with Pure Food and Wine and serves the same food in a coffeehouse environment.

One Lucky Duck 125 East 17th Street, NY, NY

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary 516 East 6th Street (btwn Ave A&B) New York, NY

Breakfast = Champs Family Bakery

This was not even close.  Pancakes!  These are fluffy mouthwatering flap jacks like no other.  We brought a guy from France to Champs and Mr Fancy pants (apparently they don’t have pancakes in France) was blown away.  Seriously, put Champ’s pancakes on your bucket list.  The problem is, we go there for dinner and can’t help but get pancakes.  How could you not.  In addition, they’ve got the best tofu scramble I’ve ever had.  The spicy version is called the Drunken Cowgirl which was the first and last meal I had at Champs.  We moved farther away from Champs so we went there 2-3 times a week until our move date.  They’ve even got a great bakery.  We prefer the cookies over the cakes.  You’ll need to take it to go.  Champs serves up huge portions.  

Champs Family Bakery 176 Aislie Street Brooklyn NY

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

Falafel = Taim

The Vegan Guide to New York City (by Rynn Berry, Chris Abreu-Suzuki, and Barry Litsky) kind of panned Taim as good, not great.  We couldn’t disagree more.  Crisp (another favorite of ours) reinvented this classic with untraditional gourmet toppings like sweet potato and peanut sauce.  Taim has brought new life to the falafel ball itself.  They have a spicy ball option and even their traditional falafel has a “zing” you won’t find at the other places.  Talk about raising the bar.  Julia and I housed them sammies.  Simply the greatest falafel in the world.  Taim’s wise to the whole vegan thing, so let them know.  They’ll be no “tude.”

On a side note, Vegan Guide to New York City author Rynn Berry is best known for his book debunking the myth that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian (Thank you Rynn!  A lie invented by the meat industry (no doubt)). On a lighter note Julia would also like to point out that the Vegan Guide  forgot to mention Atlas Cafe’ although I think I know why. My point being that the Vegan Guide to New York City is a great book to have in your pocket.  Great job (except for panning Taim and omitting Atlas)!

Taim 45 Spring St, New York 10012 (new location!)

Taim 222 Waverly Place, New York10014. 

Taim Mobile


Burger = Johnny Mack’s (Julia), Zen Palate (George)

When Julia wants to get her burger on we go to a pub of all places.  Serving standard bar fare, they have two things on the menu we can eat, the veggie burger and the sweet potato fries.  Initially upset at our limited selections, we shut up when we took a bite of their veggie burger and scarfed down sweet potato fries.  Absolutely great.  Not flashy but a well put together, made-with-actual-veggies pattie and fried orange potatoes on the side.  Way to go JohnnyMack.  Who would have known?

Personally I (George) prefer a more earthy burger.  Zen Palate’s Zen Burger is piled high with sprouts and a virtual salad between an oat bun.  The pattie doesn’t stay together like Johnny’s.  This says to me it’s all vegetable goodness with no binders or breadcrumbs.  Zen Burger was started by the parents of the Gobo guys.

Johnny Mack’s 1114 8th Ave (between 11th St & 12th St) Brooklyn, NY 11215 

Zen Palate  663 9th Ave (at 46th), New York, NY 10036

Vietnamese Sandwich = Hanco’s (Julia), Bahnmigos (George)

You may think it’s unusual that we have a separate best for Vietnamese Sandwiches.  In 2012, we lived in the infamous Vietnamese Sandwich warzone.  It got pretty ugly and the competion was fierce but there was no better place to get a Vietnamese Sandwich  than Park Slope Brooklyn, 2010-present.  This still is the center of the Bahn Mi universe and it became a weekly choice for us.  We had Henry’s, Home, Lotus but the true great was a place called Hanco’s.  They had it down, the bread, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalepeno.  Even having it vegan with tofu or fake pork with no butter or mayonnaise, it still ranked high.  I wonder how many we’ve eaten.

Bahn Amigos Jay, George and Foon

Bahn Amigos Jay, George and Foon

Before we could depart the great Vietnamese Sandwich heaven, I met a couple of guys opening yet another Bahn Mi shop called Bahnmigos.  No, it was not Vietnamese/Mexican fusion (although I thought that could work).   Jay the manager asked for my honest feedback.  Foon was the former chef at Hanco’s and was speading his wings to a new generation of Bahn Mi lovers.  I fell in love with Bahnmigo’s modern versions of this classic sandwich.  While I would never eat sausage Bahn Mi, they also offered one with a Portobello mushroom.  More carrots than I was used to and less cilantro but the bun was super fresh and the mushrooms sauted to perfection.  I fell in love that day.

Hanco’s 350 7th Ave. (corner of 10th ST.) Brooklyn, NY 11215

Bahnmigos 178 Lincoln Pl(between 7th Ave & 8th Ave) Brooklyn, NY 11217

Bagel = Le Bagel Delight (Julia), Ess-a-Bagel (George)

I always hand-quote “bagel” when eating one that is not New York born.  It’s just a fact that nobody beats us.  The best of New York is the best in the world.  One of my first experiences in NYC was a trip to the H&H bagels that used to be across the street from Zabar’s.  Julia prefers Le Bagel Delight.  They make a fine bagel and it used to be near our home.   Many a day, we walked and shared a chewy and crispy circle of goodness.  To me, the bagel place that wins, hands down is Ess-a-Bagel.  This place is a New York institution.  The guys behind the counter yell “Hey, who’s next” and always seem grumpy.  The bagel though, you have to taste to believe.  Perfect texture, chewy and usually hot from the oven.  I love these bagels so much I skip the tofu cream cheese and just eat the bagel as is.  Ess-a-bagel wins best bagel in the world with me.

Le Bagel Delight –  122 – 7th Avenue (Between Carrol & President) Brooklyn

Ess-a-Bagel 831 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10022

Bakery = Vegan Treats (George) / Babycakes (Julia)

Vegan Treats?  Bethlehem?  What gives?  Although the Vegan Treats bakery resides in Pennsylvania, there’s a good chance you’ve eaten them in New York.  They supply many restaurants with vegan sweets.  This includes the Cocoa Room, V Spot, Moby’s Teany, Dao Palate and many others.  My heart belongs to the Vegan Treat’s Peanut Butter Chocolate “bomb” cake (or is it “explosion”).  Following them on Facebook is grueling and drooling to see.  There’s a good chance the George and Julia wedding cake/pastry will be a vegan treat creation.  Julia prefers the cute and always delicious Babycakes.  They are set up to serve the gluten-free people of the world too.  I had a mint chocolate cupcake that was so good, I wanted to buy a dozen.  Julia put a stop to that.  You seem I’m watching my weight.

Vegan Treats – 1444 Linden Street  Bethlehem, PA 18018

Babycakes – 248 Broome Street (Btwn Orchard & Ludlow) New York City, NY 10002

Korean = Hangawi    

Are you tense or have a tense friend.  Bring him/her to surrender to serenity at Hangawi.  Take off your shoes and get comfortable in the wooden seats and tables built into the floor.  Are these floorboards heated?  Yes they are.  Most people naturally whisper as you experience this restaurant and its spa-like qualities.  You’ll dine on colorful bowls of porridge, noodles, wild rice and soup.  You’ll feel like Buddha.  Have a tea and digest the cruelty-free meal you have just ingested.  Romantic and often called a vacation from the city,  Hangawi has more to offer than just food.

Hangawi 12 East 32nd Street, New York, NY10016

Japanese/Fusion = Gobo

Truth be told, this is a lot of people’s favorite restaurant.  The menu offered rice, noodle, fake meat.  It all looked pretty standard.  Make no mistake, these kids know what they are doing.  I invited a bunch of non-vegans to join me and they loved it.  I often tire of Asian-inspired vegan dishes.  The food they served had spice and flair.  So here is another fan, big fan.  Do yourself a favor and experience their flavor.

Gobo –  401 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY

Vietnamese Loving Hut

It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what Loving Hut is.  You’ve got the eccentric philanthropist Supreme Master ChingHai who preaches vegan as the path to peace.  It’s not a cult (at least I don’t think) but there is a feeling of love and energy in each restaurant.  The Supreme Master is tied to these tasty establishments.  There are now 200+ (40+in the United States).  So if you end up in a place like NaplesFlorida, there will be Loving Hut waiting for you.  Thumbs up from both of us.  Even though every Loving Hut is privately owned and operated, their menus are similar.  Julia was overjoyed with the Naples Florida Loving Hut.  I dined finely at the Atlanta one.  We have yet to experience the New York Loving Hut but I’m told it is great but small so it’s best to take it to go.- 348 7th Avenue (between 29th St & 30th St), NY,NY  over 200 locations (including over 40 in the United States)

 Loving Hut – 348 7th Avenue, NY, NY

01george and julia at champs

Ethiopian = Ghent

I consider Julia an authority on Ethiopian cuisine which sometimes gets a bad name for its mushy consistency.  I enjoy it and judging by the general health of the Ethiopian people, it is extremely good for your body.  It also happens to be an easy place to get a vegan dish without missing out on 90% of the menu.  Ghent is our favorite.  Tucked away on 4th Avenue and Douglass, there is a comfortable vibe in an unusually noisy dining room.  I think the acoustics need to be dealt with.  We eat our lentils, beans, collard greens, chick peas and more on the sour bread.  Delicious!  You don’t even need teeth to enjoy it.

Ghent 348 Douglass Street Brooklyn, NY 11217

Indian = Dawat

Dawat was Julia and I’s first date so it has a special place in our heart.  While not solely vegetarian, the waiter will set you up with a meat and ghee free combo platter.  I love the combo as Julia often jokes.  The place is a bit pricey and fancy with fine silverware and white tablecloths.  The staff can be hit or miss, some reporting irate wait staff.  What makes Dawat so great is the flavors.  Spices are ground each day and whether hot, sour or mild, your taste buds will be giddy, even euphoric.  Hands down the best I’ve had and lord knows we’ve tried a lot.  If vegan doesn’t come up, always try Indian.  Indian places recognize the word and will accommodate you pain in the ass vegans.

Dawat 210 E 58th St, New York NY10022 40.760397 -73.96639 (Btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave)

Pizza = Vinnie’s Pizzeria

Pizza is tricky as a vegan.  Sure, I make one at home with so many vegetables, you forget about the cheese.  Some pizzerias carry the cheese alternative Daiya  to accommodate their vegan customers.  We are not fans of Daiya  People use it like real cheese (too much) and the taste is overwhelming and unappealing.  So we order our pies without cheese which sometimes works (Grimaldi’s) and sometimes not (Joe’s).  We took our bikes over to Williamsburg to Vinnie’s which we heard had the best vegan pizza in town.  Yes you will have to navigate around hipsters.  Hell, Titus Andronicus played a show in Vinny’s kitchen.  So here’s what you are going to get:  7+ vegan slice options, vegan wings, vegan desserts (from vegan treats), daiya and daiya-free and tease vegan cheese options.  The crust is crispy, the sauce tangy and a little sloppy just like an ultimate New York slice only here, vegan is King.

Vinnie’s Pizzeria 148 Bedford Ave(between 8th St & 9th St)Brooklyn, NY 11211

True Original Restaurant = M.O.B. 

M.O.B. was opened by a French guy who happens to be obsessed with 80’s Brooklyn rap/graffiti culture and it shows.  As the story goes M.O.B. is vegan because the owners girlfriend is vegan.  Oh the French.  What won’t they do for love?  If you walk inside, it’ll all make sense.  The long last-supper style tables, an occasional DJ, the stoned or just super-mellow staff and the décor, oh the décor.  Everyone we ever brought there said they were going to bring an out-of-towner to experience this strange and completely unique phenomenon that is M.O.B..  Only in New York, right.  Like some vegan places, they don’t announce themselves as vegan.  In fact, when I asked if they were vegan, the waiter said, “we serve food that’s really really good for you.”  Whatever, you’ll love their grits, yucca fries, soy nuggets, M.O.B.’s (mini pizzas shaped like the Brooklyn bridge) (yes I just said that), and our personal favorite corn soup with popcorn.  Get over there before life is over.  It might just be actual heaven.

M.O.B. 525 Atlantic Avenue – Brooklyn, NY 11217

What about V-dog?

What about V-dog?

Food Truck = Cinnamon Snail

If you can find it run to it.  Boasting “Vegan Food Truck,” the Cinnamon Snail has long lines for a reason, the food is out of this world.  Come 2pm, they are usually out of everything.  I’m often pleading for the last muffin or special of the day.  So if you go, expect a line that will be worth the wait.  They do a fantastic breakfast in the morning and big hoagie sandwiches are the pride of their lunchtime.  They even have desserts so grab a donut or pastry as you head back to work.  Cinnamon Snail agreed and said they would be “stoked” to cater our wedding.  We’ll see about that.  This was an easy choice on the food trucks.  We’d like to give honorable mentions to: Palenque and Crisp.
Buffet = Govinda’s at the Hare Khrishna Center

Not only is it tasty, cheap and hearty but it is one of those best kept secrets spots.  No, they are not luring you into the Hare Krishna house to convert you although you might after you have a bite of their mango cheese cake.  It’s 90 percent vegan, so ask.  Monday-Friday, the Hare Krishna’s open their basement to the general public for a lunch buffet feast.  This Indian-inspired grub contains the freshest ingredients grown and picked that day from the Hare Krishna garden.  The food sometimes lacks spice but when you take a look at your cafeteria tray full of enough vegetables to credit you for the whole week, you’ll know you made the right decision.

Govinda’s 305 Schermerhorn Street  Brooklyn, NY 11217 (basement of the Hare Khrishna Center)

Food = Sacred Chow (George)  Alice’s Teacup Scones (Julia)      1

I was sold when I tasted Sacred Chow Mama’s Soy Meatballs.  The only vegan meatballs I could stomach and I used to be a big fan of meatballs.  Julia and I had a great brunch on Sunday.  She said the burrito was excellent.  I suspect they put mustard in my scrambled eggs which I did not like but the potatoes where to die for.  They have amazing latkes, Heroes (get Mama’s soy meatballs) and soba noodles with peanut sauce. You really can’t go wrong with this place.  It’s unique to them.  Apparently it was founded by a Candle 79 chef who wanted to do his own thing.  For dinner go tapas style so you can sample all the delectable dishes.  On a side note, you can get Sacred Chow sandwiches and desserts and the Angelika movie theatre.  Yeah, vegan friendly movie theatre!

Julia as to mention a best food choice which happens to be the only choice in an oddity in this quaint tourist trap know as Alice’s Tea Cup.  A waitress at Two Boots Brooklyn told us about Alice’s Tea Cup’s daily vegan scones.  Intrigued, we travelled and had tea and the vegan scone of the day (very-berry scone).  What the hell, it was unbelievable.  It’s like Ovenly Bakery that makes one vegan item (salted chocolate chip cookie) and whatever reason, it rises to the top and becomes famous.  The next time, I went with my Mom and the vegan scone was an mind-blowing banana-chocolate scone.  Unbelievable.  We recommend you go to the Alice’s on the West side because the East side scones are not as good.  If I’m ever in the dog house with Julia, I bring home a couple of these babies and all is forgiven.

Sacred Chow (George)  227 Sullivan Street, NYC 10012 (b/w W3 & Bleecker)

Alice’s Teacup Scones (Julia)  102 West 73rd St, NY, NY

Best Overall Restaurant = Champs Family Bakery

What makes best Restaurant?  A few things come to mind.  It’s not what you might think.  Yes, a speedy wait staff is great but at Champ’s I’ve (on occasion) had to ask for more coffee or experience a serious wait for my food.  That doesn’t really matter when you go to a really great restaurant because you want to be there.  You are not in a hurry to leave because you truly like being there and this is a moment to be treasured, not complained about.  So what makes a customer feel that way?  When Julia and I want to go out to eat and we can go anywhere and money is no object, we choose Champs.  How could that be?  You could be at Candle or Pure Food and Wine and you choose a diner?  There is only one restaurant we drive to and that’s Champs.  It’s located in a neighborhood where it is easy to park (but not always easy to navigate around).  When we come in and we are brought to our table, I feel legitimately welcomed, like there is an assumption that these people like me or at least assume they are going to like me.  Our waitress brings our water immediately, which acts as a natural excuse for a “how do you do?”  Smiles all around and I’m not sure why but I feel I’m exactly where I am supposed to be.  I don’t feel attractive, ugly or defensive, I just feel comfortable.  We look around and the decor is kitschy and homey, like an old-time diner I went to as a kid.  The booths are comfortable and there’s a positive vibe.

A Champ at Champ's

A Champ at Champ’s

Then there’s the food, diner classics vegan-style.  I don’t even like mock meats but the “chicken” fried “steak” was phenomenal.  We’ve worked our way through the menu and loved everything.  They made vegan cooking a creative challenge and redefined what vegans can eat.  I already mentioned the breakfast but let me tell you some more of our favorites:  Nachos, Kitchen Sink Salad, Chili, Bro Wrap, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Soltero Bowl, Oatmeal Cookie Crème Sandwich,  and I could go on and on.  The bottom line is we leave there a bit stuffed but always with a spring in our step.  We then go home and dream of our perfect Champ’s dinner or breakfast as we smile because it’s all good.

Champs Family Bakery 176 Aislie Street Brooklyn NY

SUPER BONUS – CUT OUT AND PUT THIS IN YOUR WALLET

_wallet

OR CUT AND PASTE THIS:

George and Julia’s NY Vegan Best of 2012 (Wallet Size)

Formal Dining = Candle 79154 East 79th Street at Lex, NY, NY

Sandwich(Julia) = Free Foods 18 West 45th Street,

Sandwich(George) = Cinnamon Snail  mobile

Sushi =  Beyond Sushi 229 East 14th Street  New York, NY 10003

Raw Food = Pure Food and Wine 54 Irving Pl (between 17th& 18th st)

Ice Cream (Julia)= One Lucky Duck 125 East 17th Street, NY, NY

Ice Cream(George) Lula’s  516 E. 6th St (btwn Ave A&B)

Breakfast = Champs Family Bakery 176 Aislie Street Brooklyn NY

Falafel = Taim 45 Spring St, NY  (new location!) & 222 Waverly Pl, NY

Burger (Julia) = Johnny Mack’s  1114 8th Ave Brooklyn, NY

Burger (George)= Zen Palate 663 9th Ave (at 46th), New York, NY

Vietnamese Sandwich (Julia) = Hanco’s 350 7th Ave. Brooklyn, NY

Vietnamese Sandwich(Geo)=Bahnmigos 178 Lincoln PlBrooklyn

Bagel = Le Bagel Delight (Julia), 122 – 7th Avenue Brooklyn

Bagel = Ess-a-Bagel (George) 831 3rd Avenue,New York, NY

Bakery (Julia)  = Babycakes 248 Broome Street NY,

Korean = Hangawi     12 East 32nd Street, New York, NY10016

Japanese/Fusion = Gobo 401 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY

Vietnamese Loving Hut  348 7th Avenue, NY, NY
Ethiopian = Ghent 348 Douglass Street Brooklyn, NY 11217

Indian = Dawat210 E 58th St, New York NY  (Btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave)

Pizza = Vinnie’s Pizzeria   148 Bedford Ave Brooklyn, NY 11211

True Original Restaurant = M.O.B.   525 Atlantic Avenue – Brooklyn,

Food Truck = Cinnamon Snail mobile check twitter
Buffet = Govinda’s Hare Khrishna 305 Schermerhorn St Brooklyn,

Food (George) = Sacred Chow227 Sullivan Street, NYC

Food (Julia) = Alice’s Teacup  102 West 73rd St, NY, NY

Overall Restaurant = Champs Family Bakery – 176 Aislie Street Bkln

Another Bonus:  Here’s a freeVegan Restaurant Guide put out by Friends of Animals

Call Me

Lunch Buffet Hare Krishna Style

When I heard that the Hare Krishna’s opened up their lunch room to the public, it wasn’t “why go” but “when do we go.” You won’t be pushed to accept flowers and make donations. Govinda’s is set up like a legit restaurant.  Located in the basement of the ISKCON Hare Krishna Temple, it fits nicely into our “vegan underground” theme.  Their menu is 80% vegan so be sure to ask so you don’t accidentally eat some ghee

Govinda’s buffet-style lunch fits every budget at $3, $5, $7, or $10.   It even includes some of the best bread on earth and sweet lemonade.  The menu for this traditional Indian fare changes daily. Typical dishes include spinach with tofu, jasmine rice, split pea soup, quinoa salad, samosas, kale and sweet potatoes, curried grilled veggies, lentils and their famous mango cheesecake. Are you getting hungry? The food is filling and fresh. While less spicy than we prefer, the dishes work for all palates.   Check it out. It’s an original experience and a satisfying meal. I’d be there 2-3 times a week if I didn’t have this darn job in Midtown. LIU students, senior citizens and Downtown Brooklyn workers should take advantage of this precious gem.

On our way out, Julia and I took off our shoes and sat near the Sri Sri Radha Govinda Mandir. We watched as this Krishna spiritual leader sat in meditation, worshipers danced and we calmingly digested our meal and pondered over the universe. While our lunch did not make us Hare Krishna’s, we had a wonderful, positive and satisfying meal. You will too.  Govinda’s Kitchen is in the basement of the Hare Krishna Temple at 305 Schermerhorn St (between Nevins and Bond) in Brooklyn

Grand Central goes Vegan

Do you ever find yourself waiting in Grand Central for someone to come in from upstate or Connecticut? As the time wears on and the grumbling in your stomach gets worse, take a moment to explore the dining concourse. There isn’t much veg-friendly places there, but Cafe Spice (the only Indian place) has taken the steps to identifying there is a booming vegan consumer out there. No need to think anymore about if you can eat it or not, because Cafe Spice had labelled the vegan dishes at their station. The lentils were my favorite, although they were a little bland. The kara curry was waaaaay too coconutty for me, and I’m a snob when it comes to Channa masala because my homemade masala is boss. It’s no Dawat or Tamarind, but it does taste okay and it’s better than Curry in a Hurry.

After you’ve dined, head up toward track 19 and visit Joe’s art of coffee for dessert. They have an incredible vegan cookie selection. But beware, it goes fast and they run out.

Other Acceptable Veg-Friendly Restaurants in Grand Central Terminal:

Two Boots: They have vegan slices for sale. Very yummy, but I still hate Daiya.

Hale and Hearty: Good vegan soups, and also can work a sandwich to be vegan

Manhattan Chili Company: A few vegan chili options.

Zaro’s Bread: Okay bagels and coffee. Vegan sandwiches available upon request

Hot and Crusty: Decent bagels

Dishes: Fresh juices!

Ethiopian in Connecticut

One of my all time favorite cuisines is Ethiopian food. I just can’t get enough of the vibrant spices and the complex taste! I’m always very excited when I come across an Ethiopian restaurant and this time around I visited the only Ethiopian eatery I know of in the Hartford area: Abyssinian Restaurant. I’ve been coming to this place for years but never visited as a vegan. It does have 4 cows on Happy Cow, but how did it really hold up?

I’ve always meant to try the Mexican restaurant to the left of this place, but the Ethiopian aroma gets me every time.

Amazing. Absolutely stunning and unbelievable. One of my best friends (now a recently turned vegan) and I mentioned to the host that we were vegan, and when we placed our order he reaffirmed “No butter, but oil?” We nearly started dancing on the table tops because this showed attention to detail and a lot of times you put your trust in cooks to make it vegan. This time, he MADE sure it was vegan. We ordered the vegetable combo (#24 on the menu) and it was super filling although looked a little sparse.

Consisted of beets (yuck), split peas, lentils, cabbage, bean curd (?), potatoes, and collard greens, and spicy lentil (aka Yemiser wet) in the middle. We got extra spicy potatoes too.

We also indulged ourselves with Sambusas to start. A Sambusa is very similar to a Samosa all you Indian cuisine lovers out there who are new to Ethiopian and African food. To say the least we were very full and very satisfied. For being one of the very few (possibly only) Ethiopian restaurant in Hartford, we’ll keep coming back.

nom noms

Abyssinian Restaurant

535 Farmington Ave.

Hartford, CT 06105

860-218-2231

Juiced Up Thursday

We’re juicing on the streets this afternoon. On the street, you can’t control the amount of vegetables or fruits that go into it, but the benefits of having fresh juice remains the same.

Look at all the love and all the choices

Today I wandered over to midtown to grab lunch with George at the gourmet Crisp falafel truck (the African sandwich is baller). After we stuffed our faces and fed some pigeons (not on purpose), we headed over to 45th and visited the juice stand which sits a stones throw away from vegan friendly Moshe’s falafel stand and Free Foods on 44th.

Get down on some Moshe then get a juice to wash it down

We ordered a large mixed vegetable juice which consisted of a smorgasbord of goodies:

  • Green apples
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Ginger
  • Lemon
  • Celery

There might have been a cucumber in there but I’m not certain. It was a tasty juice, but  one downfall of grabbing juice from a street cart is it’s a tad warm. And on a day like today when it was 96 degrees, a ice cold juice would’ve been ideal. We did get some ice in it, but still it was warm. Anyway, here are some benefits of the newest veggies to the cup:

Juice break!

Parsley: This decorative herb should be mandatory in every summer camp. It helps freshening your breath. It also helps the swelling of bug bites. Also, if you’re feeling a little backed up, parsley serves as a diuretic and laxative. Lastly, if work is causing you migraines, parsley supposedly can help rid you of your headaches.

Spinach: Ever wonder why Popeye was chowing down on spinach and not milk? Well this leafy green vegetable is known to be pretty potent in calcium, iron, and potassium. It also has several key amino acids like arginine and lysine. Basically, spinach helps strengthens your body, which means it helps prevent cataracts, diabetes, and muscular degeneration. Spinach has also been linked to cancer prevention. And Ladies, if you’re expecting the rich amount of folate and folic acid can help prevent birth defects.

Ginger: If you happen to have a stomach ache, think about grabbing a juice with fresh ginger in it. Ginger has a rich history of treating nausea associated with pregnancies, chemotherapy, motion sickness, and my personal experience of having head trauma. This ancient herb also carries calcium, iron, protein, B3, silicon, phosphorus, and essential oils. So how does that help your body? Well it boosts your immune system and helps with digestion! If you’re an athlete looking for a quick recovery, Ginger also helps relieve muscle pain and soreness, and pain from inflammation.

With all those benefits, more juice please!

Spicy tomato sauce

Thanks to the vitamix, we’ve whipped together our lunch in no time. It includes the following:

  • 6 Roma tomatoes (2 without pulp)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 tbs organic tomato paste
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil and oregano mix
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbs agave (touch less)
  • 1 tbs cashew cream cheese
  • Salt to taste

Threw it into the vitamix in that order and turned the dial from 1 up to 8 for about 20-30 seconds. Then we tossed the blended sauce into a sauce pan and cooked up some pasta. Super fresh and tastes wonderful. We did take it from the cook book included with the vitamix but made some healthy George and Julia vegan tune ups to it.

Anna’s Goes Vegan

On our George and Julia Eat Manhattan blog I’ve declared my love for Anna’s Taqueria, but now I’m bringing a new vegan outlook on Boston’s favorite burritos. There must be a new kind of culinary consumer in the area because Anna’s now provides warnings of what consists of dairy and meat. A year ago this definitely did not exist.

Sour cream in guacamole? Huh?

My number one concern on this is what the caption above says. Vegans LOVE guacamole, but at this establishment it’s now tainted with sour cream. Not a big deal, to have a vegan experience there’s a number of items they provide:

  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Beans (Pinto, Black and refried)
  • Vegetarian Rice
  • Homemade Salsa
  • Lettuce and jalapenos

Beans corner with a visit from carnitas

The proximity of meat to vegetables is something that would turn hardcore vegans off, but fortunately I’m not an overly zealous vegan. I don’t meltdown if there’s cheese on the same platter as my celery. Because Anna’s was pretty scrupulous to warn about the guacamole and rice I figured the beans were safe. George would claim the refried beans have lard in it.

Nobody puts roasted vegetables in the corner. Well apparently Anna’s does.

From when I started visiting Anna’s Taqueria in 2006, they’ve provided customers with roasted vegetables. But when I did order the vegetables for my burrito there was something I should highlight:

  • Con: When you order the roasted vegetables, they do chop them up with the same knife and on the same cutting board as the meat.

Would this make it not vegan? Some would argue yes. Again, I’m not a go-into-freakout-mode vegan with things like this, but I know it’s something that some vegans would find unacceptable. So what did my plant-based burrito look like?

Veggie Super Burrito

What I got on it was vegetarian rice, pinto beans, lettuce, roasted vegetables, homemade salsa (chockfull of cilantro), and tons of hot sauce. It was delicious. But I did return again and decided to omit the roasted vegetables (because of the cutting board incident), and went with lettuce, jalapenos, salsa, rice, pinto beans and hot sauce. To be honest I think it taste better without the roasted vegetables. Stop by Anna’s while you visit Boston, it’s good for vegans and carnivores.

It’s like Subway (sandwich shop) style choices

UPDATE: Calorie Breakdown

  • Tortilla Wrap: 290 (12 inch super burrito)
  • Rice: 160
  • Pinto Bean: 140 (black beans 130)
  • Vegetables: 70
  • Salsa: 20
  • Lettuce: 5
  • Hot Sauce: 10

Total: 695

Soupy surprise

I tore through Dr. McDougall’s soups. That’s why they’re not as organized as Fig’s. Sorry Whole Food employee who has to reorganize.

I had surgery today and afterwards I headed over to whole foods to find some soft foods to eat later today. Well to make a long story short, in the soup isle there were a bunch of organic pre-made soups. Most weren’t vegan (but they were vegetarian) but Dr.McDougall’s and Fig Food Co were totally vegan friendly. Fig contains soy but the ole Dr. kept it vegetable focused and heeded no soy warnings.

I Hate French Fries

I don’t want French fries again

You read that correctly, I hate french fries. This won’t be a rant about how greasy and unhealthy they are because I don’t think I need to say what so many people already know. Because the truth is, they taste delicious and are good to have once and awhile. As Sarah Silverman would say, “make it a treat.” What’s my issue with fries? Well I love being able to have the CHOICE of getting fries, what I loathe is having NO OTHER choice but to get fries. That’s when my feathers are ruffled.

Sweet potato fries are George’s kryptonite

This post is going to come off as another “boohoo vegan is complaining again.” But the reality of it isn’t simply being vegan but more so health conscience. I recently went to a tournament in Pennsylvania, and usually the food options include sandwiches, fruit, chips and other little snacks. Well for some reason this year they changed up the food choices; Instead there were hamburger, hot dogs, fried dough, chicken fingers, cheese fries and of course french fries. This ostracizes not only vegans, but vegetarians and anyone who doesn’t want their cholesterol levels to skyrocket.

I’m sitting in the chair in the middle. Watching in comfort

So begrudgingly I had to accept the french fries for a meal. Not once, but twice. The first time I thought, hey I haven’t had fries in awhile so I’ll make do. But the second time I gritted my teeth and said, fine. I cannot express how disgusting I felt by the end of the day. My dinner the night before was french fries, my breakfast the next day was a soft pretzel (yes that was one of the choices offered at the tournament) and my lunch was once again the greasy julienned potatoes. One of the sacrifices I have to make in order to keep to my guilt-free dietary restrictions I guess. George and I always say you can always find a vegan option in french fries and salad, but that’s okay only once. Not back to back days.

Well, today was spent detoxing by picking fresh vegetables and berries from the garden. I’ll be omitting fries from my diet for quite awhile.

Shucking snow peas for dinner

Free Foods gives away Free Food at Equinox Gym

If there’s one thing Free Foods (45th Street, btwn 5th and 6th) and Equinox have in common, it’s high prices. If you must have your locker room clean, high end shampoo and towels that are big and fluffy, it’s worth the price to join Equinox. The vegan-friendly Free Foods on the other hand… A month a go I would have said no. This magical night, to entice membership, maybe cross market, I got to sample an impressive sample of vegan and vegan-raw Free Foods food, for free (is that getting old yet). I’ve converted. I had a raw kale wraps, quinoa salad with apricots, and a raw chili with cashew sour cream. It was so incredible, I stuck around for thirds. Now I’m hooked and a little broke. Free Foods, it’s like vegan crack.  The first taste is free.  Crack Dealing 101.  Nice one FF.

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