If you’ve been keeping up with the controversial news about by Chloe and chef Chloe Coscarell—or the recent announcement that Angelica Kitchen is closing its doors after 40 years—it might feel like vegan options in New York City’s East Village neighborhood are waning. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, everyday in New York City, there seems to be more vegan options making their way onto restaurant menus. Whether you reside in the area or are just visiting, here are five iconic East Village gems that will restore your faith and have your taste buds singing.
Located on the historic Saint Mark’s Place, VSpot is a Latin organic restaurant built upon a fully vegan foundation. Best known for delectable empanadas and other traditional Colombian eats (including arepas, tostadas, and tacos), VSPOT first opened in Park Slope in 2006 and has expanded to various locations, including its East Village residence (as well as a Gramercy location). The East Village location allowed VSpot to blossom with many new opportunities such as an in-house pastry team, an event space, and an expanded menu. Since the 2015 opening, VSpot has hosted numerous food competitions, fundraisers, holiday events, birthday parties, comedy nights, and book signings in the event space.
2. Dun-Well Doughnuts
Dun-Well Doughnuts has radically changed the vegan pastry game in New York City. College friends/Dun-Well co-founders Dan Dunbar and Christopher Hollowell came together in 2011 to create the first all-vegan doughnut shop after realizing the vegan options for doughnuts in NYC was virtually non-existent. Famous flavors such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, PB&J, and Maple Pecan generated buzz, which allowed the pair to open a second location in the heart of the East Village. Dun-Well also offers a full coffee menu featuring locally roasted coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company. Dun-Well’s commitment to sourcing quality ingredients and partnering with local businesses is all the more reason the eatery is an awesome place to fulfill your sweet-tooth craving.
3. Peacefood Café
Founded in 2009, Peacefood Café has been committed to serving delicious and innovative vegan cuisine with a sense of mindfulness, gratitude, and intention to nurture the spirit and body. The name “peacefood” is derived from the idea that peace really begins on your plate. After an initial location on the Upper West Side, Peacefood Café opened a second location on East 11th Street in 2013. Peacefood’s menu caters to many dietary restrictions such as raw, kosher, and gluten free items, while also offering a number of different juices, smoothies, cakes, and pastries. Highlights include the Roasted Japanese Pumpkin sandwich, PFC Seitan Medallion focaccia, and Grasshopper Cookie Sandwich.
4. Jivamuktea Café
In 2006, Jivamukti Yoga Studio founders Sharon Gannon and David Life were looking to showcase how compassionate spiritual activism can be put to practical use … both on and off the mat. Based on this idea, Jivamuktea Café was created. The restaurant focuses mainly on a plant-based dishes and uses certified organic ingredients wherever possible. Their menu is not the largest but is packed with delicious whole foods. “Jiva” means any living being or entity with a life force, so it comes as no surprise that Gannon and the people at Jivamuktea Café believe that, in order to reduce the amount of fear and suffering in the world and ourselves, we must make kind food choices and uplift the lives of all beings.
5. Two Boots Pizza
If you’ve lived in New York long enough, chances are you’ve stumbled upon or maybe have even tried Two Boots Pizza. If you haven’t and are looking to satisfy your palate with an Italian dish mixed with New Orleans spice, look no further. While there are several Two Boots in New York (and a few more across the country), the East Village location was where this pizza hot spot was founded in 1987. While Two Boots is not a fully-vegan pizzeria, the restaurant offer a handful of options for vegans, including Mother Earth—a Bette Midler-inspired slice topped with five vegetables and marinara on a whole wheat Sicilian crust—and V for Vegan, which comes with artichokes, red onion, shiitake mushrooms, sweet red pepper pesto, basil pesto, and Daiya cheese. Two Boots also features “veganized” versions of their classic non-vegan pizzas such as the Tony Clifton, and vegan slices including The Bubba (featured in Jersey City, NJ) and The Vegan in Furs in Los Angeles.
Emma DeBono is a freelance journalist, vegan, and avid traveler currently based in New York City.
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