The Big Vegan Apple

Gotham’s next mayor, Eric Adams, went vegan a few years back. Follow his lead with these vegan-friendly hot spots throughout the city.

By Julia Szabo

New York City’s mayor-elect, Eric Adams, cast his vote for the vegan lifestyle, then converted his mother to a healthier diet. (By her late 70s, she’d spent “15 years as a diabetic, seven years on insulin,” he recalls.) Some folks have a tough time transitioning to a plant-based diet. Not Adams, who took to it with ease, air-frying battered cauliflower and making his own three-ingredient “ice cream” from scratch (with fresh peanut butter, frozen bananas and cacao powder). Now that he’s about to take the helm of the multiburner range that is NYC, it’s a safe bet Adams won’t have much time for home cooking—but that doesn’t mean he’ll be dining out exclusively at vegan establishments. Extremely health-conscious, he’s not one for fast food, even if it is meatless (he also eats oil-free, and makes his preference known wherever he dines out). “I can find a plant-based meal in every restaurant I go to,” Adams says. Whether or not you’re considering a plant-powered pivot, here are the restaurants we predict will appeal to the new mayor and his eating mates.

 

Eleven Madison Park

The power of the vegan lifestyle to convert even die-hard carnivores is on full display at this venerable establishment, which famously made the switch to an entirely plant-based menu in June 2021. Eggplant is brined, fried, dehydrated, roasted and marinated in mushroom stock, and brushed with tomato-shiso vinaigrette, creating an umami-rich, velvet-textured astonishment. And, as if by alchemy, sunflower seeds transform into “butter,” served in a molded shape that looks like an emoji sunflower, with a circle of dark miso for the flower’s center. This sublime spread is served with a laminated roll that has croissant-like flakiness (it’s a creation of pastry chef Laura Cronin). elevenmadisonpark.com

 

One White Street

A three-story Tribeca townhouse (with sexy Saarinen seating, upholstered in blue) is home to a joint venture by former Eleven Madison Park wine director Dustin Wilson and chef Austin Johnson, formerly of the Michelin-starred Frenchie in Paris. Wellness aficionados will savor the menu’s organic produce (some of it grown at Rigor Hill Farm in upstate New York), including beets, potatoes, purple top turnips, fingerling potatoes, cipollini, toasted pumpkin seeds and squash. A vegan diner will savor muhammara, a spread made with red bell peppers, walnuts, pomegranate molasses and breadcrumbs. onewhitestreetnyc.com

 

Sestina, the name of Matthew Kenney’s new plant-powered outpost in the East Village, is also the Italian word for an exquisite form of verse, and fittingly, the food at his “Pasta Bar” is pure poetry. All the noodles are housemade, and come with a plant-based pesto that blends basil and pine nuts with Mayor Adams’ favorite leafy green, kale. For weekend brunch, a peckish politico can refuel with Limoncello Waffles or Primavera Scramble (an egg-free, veggie-rich version of tofu scramble, the vegan’s go-to egg substitute). For dessert, the mayor and his fellow frozen-dessert-favoring constituents will surely endorse Sestina’s selection of dairy-free gelato; it comes in chocolate, pistachio, or—for an extra Italian flavor boost—strawberry-balsamic. matthewkenneycuisine.com

 

Nura

When in Kings County, the mayor and his fellow vegans will want to check out the creations of chef Jackie Carnesi (an alum of Brooklyn dining destination Roberta’s). Focusing on local ingredients and a United Nations of global spice influences—from Mexico to India and beyond—Nura offers such equal-opportunity taste bud pleasers as Charred Eggplant With Preserved Peach Chimichurri, Nuts and Seeds, Roasted Koginut Squash With Chamoy, Coconut Rice and Fideos, and an intriguing variety of dessert toppers: tamarind, candied kumquat, toasted coconut, habanero, sunchoke and black cardamom. nurabk.com

 

SHI

Many New Yorkers travel to Queens for Pan-Asian fare; SHI takes the pilgrimage to new heights, serving up delicacies in a high-rise eatery with sweeping Manhattan skyline views. The vitamin K-rich veggies—string beans, Chinese broccoli, sauteed spinach, baby bok choy—are right up a wellness aficionado’s alley, as are Buddhist Delight With Lotus Root and Triple Mushroom. shilic.com

 

Santina

On Manhattan’s West Side, right under the Highline, stands a gallery of culinary artistry called Santina where, in what might be a NYC restaurant first, squash carpaccio holds its own alongside tuna carpaccio. A galloping vegan gourmet can easily build a satisfying meal out of the antipasti and salads: Chickpea Pancakes and Avocado Trapanese (with tomato and almond pesto) look equally appetizing as Calabrian Tuna Tartare, or Fried Artichokes with grapes and hazelnuts. The salads are substantial: Kale Sunchoke Salad with pomegranate and sunflower seeds, or a tricolor Chopped Salad, with olives and potatoes, to which diners may add avocado, tuna or shrimp. One of Mayor Adams’ hacks is to read what is paired with a main dish, and ask the server to customize—so, a vegan might point to the Capellini Blue Crab with light cherry tomato sauce, for example, asking the chef to hold the crabmeat and serve the sauce with pasta. santinanyc.com

 

Dominique Ansel Workshop

Sometimes, a croissant hits the spot like nothing else, but for years a truly vegan Viennoiserie was an unsolvable conundrum. Happily, ingenious bakers like Dominique Ansel manage the impossible: concocting crescent pastries sans dairy. Ansel replaces butter with olive oil and adds rosemary and garlic for a flaky, savory treat that’s just as satisfying as the old-fashioned kind. dominiqueanselworkshop.com

 

The Mary Lane

Named for an heirloom fig varietal, this brilliant Mike Price Bank Street eatery showcases chef de cuisine Andrew Sutin’s green thumb in the kitchen. Vegans will delight in celery root soup and fermented soy dip with crudités. More mouthwatering options: housemade black olive and rosemary focaccia; smoked and grilled beet with braised mustard greens, pearl onions, parsnips, and beet demi; and the earthy, showstopping king trumpet mushroom tartare with capers, truffle Dijon aioli and crispy sunchokes. themarylanenyc.com

 

Indochine

At Indochine, a foodie favorite since 1984, it’s easy being vegan: Simply build a meal with an appetizer or two (Asian Kale Salad, Grilled Eggplant, or Summer Roll of Vegetables with black bean sauce) and follow up with the Vegetable Stew entree, which blends seasonal vegetables with curry and lime leaves. indochinenyc.com

 

Omen-Azen

Its devoted followers are thrilled that this classic restaurant has survived the pandemic to sustain them with shiitake mushroom in soy and sake…Kinpira Burdock (twice-cooked burdock)…pickled vegetables…umeboshi plum. These and other familiar flavors make Omen-Azen wonderful to come home to. While their fish-eating friends dine on seafood, vegans with a vested interest in longevity will delight in the entree of grilled, marinated vegetables (spinach, carrots, kabocha pumpkin, lotus root, burdock and red radish in a walnut sauce) and vegetable sushi rolled into red, green or orange vinegared rice, the jewel colors courtesy of beets, spinach and carrots. women-azen.com

 

Superiority Burger

Both vegetarian and vegan, Superiority Burger may look and feel like a fast-food joint, but the top-drawer ingredients—collards and spinach from Camporosso Farms; broccoli from Bodhi Tree Farm—are as good for you as the sum of their parts is irresistible. Loyalists stalk Instagram for bon mots from Brooks Headley, Superiority mastermind (and former executive pastry chef at Del Posto), who drops tidbits about specials du jour, and stellar selections like the (vegan) coconut black sesame gelato. superiorityburger.com