New York City’s East Village, featured in our May+June issue, may get all the (deliciously deserved) hype, but hop on an L train heading to Brooklyn and you’ll soon be privy to Williamsburg’s vast selection of cruelty-free eats. With its bustling bar scene, packed musical venues, and fashion-forward residents, this undeniably hip locale has established itself as one of Kings County’s cultural capitals, so it’s no surprise that some of the best vegan grub in the Tri-State area lurks behind its crumbling brick facades. If you don’t have your hands on our current issue, check out these nine Williamsburg eateries (including a brewery) that’ll have you clamoring across the bridge into this buzz-worthy borough.
For those seeking a lighter meal, Bliss Café serves wholesome meals in a sunny, casual setting. This unpretentious vegetarian eatery has opted to ditch the highly processed fake meats that dominate other veg menus in favor of fresh, lightly seasoned veggies, whole grains, and house-made protein patties. Locals love the café’s Harvest Plate, a brown rice bowl topped with sautéed mixed vegetables, lentils, and tofu or tempeh—all smothered in your choice of dressing. Bliss isn’t entirely vegan—some dishes contain egg and dairy—but cruelty-free substitutes abound at this homey locale.
Since it was founded in 1988, Brooklyn Brewery has been doling out quality craft beers, the vast majority of which are vegan-friendly. The company prides itself on using cruelty-free Biofine Clear solution to filter its brews, unlike many companies, which use animal products. But there are a few exceptions—the brewery’s Brooklyn Local 2 and Brooklyn BAMboozle beers, along with several past Brewmaster’s Reserve drinks, contain honey. Regardless, vegans have a rotating roster of libations to enjoy. Plus, the brewery encourages patrons to bring in outside food, so you can chow down as you drink up.
Champs Family Bakery
From the ashes of much-loved Brooklyn sandwich joint Boneshakers comes Champs Family Bakery, offering baked goods and classic comfort food worthy of its diner décor. Its recently revamped menu features greasy spoon standards such as a club sandwich and tuna melt, along with healthier fare such as the gluten-free Awesome Bowl, packed full of quinoa, greens, and scrambled tofu. Champs also serves up breakfast basics such as vegan pancakes and tofu-eggs on toast, so you can indulge in the most important meal of the day even if it’s dinnertime.
Vegans and omnivores alike can agree that Dun-Well Doughnuts’ holey indulgences are the top of the line. Even NY Daily News has weighed in, crowning the doughnut shop the best in town. The brainchild of buddies Christopher Hollowell and Dan Dunbar, DunWell is well on its way to fulfilling its mission of being “the premier vegan doughnut shop on planet Earth,” using a revised family recipe to craft inventive, artisan treats. The menu rotates, but past flavors include cruelty-free Cadbury Cream Egg, Green Tea and Ginger, and Maple Bourbon, best washed down with a sip of Brooklyn Egg Cream soda.
Whoever said vegans don’t like junk food has obviously never been to Foodswings—a mecca for all things salty, savory, and generously fried. The buffalo-style drumsticks have reached legendary proportions, especially when paired with the restaurant’s vegan bleu cheese. With a menu featuring nine different types of French fries (Disco Fries included) and more than 15 milkshake combos, Foodswings may not help you get swimsuit-ready for summer, but it will greatly increase your threshold for face-stuffing—after all, one veggie drumstick is never enough.
Ever-protective of their unofficial state dish, many California transplants argue that New York burritos are just not up to par. However, LA Burrito gets an ‘A’ for effort, with delicious wraps containing the hallmarks of any traditional burrito. This burrito joint has made an effort to accommodate its vegan patrons, placing soy cheese and tofu sour cream alongside typical Mexican fixin’s such as salsa, beans, and guacamole. And if their burritos aren’t your bag, the restaurant offers jam-packed salad made with a variety of fresh veggies, tossed in vegan Caesar dressing.
Pine Box Rock Shop
Pine Box Rock Shop, which straddles the Williamsburg-Bushwick border, is an all-vegan bar with rock ‘n’ roll flair. Married duo and seasoned musicians Jeff and Heather Rush, both vegan, opened the bar in 2010, converting a former casket factory into an acclaimed watering hole. In addition to its veg-friendly beers and cocktails—its fish-free Bloody Mary is said to blow others out of the water—the bar hosts the bi-monthly Vegan Shop-Up, New York City’s only all-vegan pop-up market.
Pizzerias are a dime a dozen in Brooklyn, but finding one with great vegan options can be more of a challenge. Lucky for us, Vinnie’s Pizzeria aims to please, going the extra mile with its special vegan menu. Vinnie’s offers not one but two types of vegan cheese (Teese and Daiya) in its internationally inspired specialty slices. Culinary concoctions include the Spicy Slicey, a piquant combo of jalapeños, spicy chicken chunks, hot sauce, and cheese, and the Black Bean Taco, made with Mexican-style meat, fresh salsa, cheese, and beans.
With its vast vegan menu and emphasis on fresh ingredients, Wild Ginger is the antidote to greasy, carb-loaded Chinese takeout. Proteins are the star of this pan-Asian eatery, with ingredients ranging from vegan seafood to soy fillets. For a filling main dish, choose the Black Pepper Seitan, a much-loved concoction that couples the savory wheat meat with Chinese broccoli. But don’t forget to save room for dessert—diners rave about the Peanut Butter Bomb, a towering peanut-butter confection coated in a hard chocolate shell.
Photo: Le New Yorking
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