Taking a bite out of the Big Apple

Last month, I went to New York City for a few days. Before my trip, I started a list of vegetarian, vegan and vegetarian-friendly places to eat in the city I had heard about, and looked into them. Soon my list became so long, I wasn’t going to be able to eat everywhere I wanted.

When Bill and I got to the city, it was lunchtime, so we went to a Belgian restaurant, Petite Abeille. I had actually seen this place on some travel food show (not sure which one, I love them all!) and the waffles are supposed to be great. Since it was lunch, I had a beet, goat cheese and arugula sandwich. The beer selection looked  pretty good and I’m always up for a Belgian draft but, since I had slept only two hours between work and my flight, I opted for coffee.

Later in the day we got a slice of pizza — decent but not great for New York City standards — and hit up two bars on Stanton Street, Stanton Public (good happy hour and rotating tap) and Arlene’s Grocery, which had cheap beer and our friends performing with their band. After the show, we went with the band and its fans to The Meatball Shop. I was a bit hesitant of a place with meatball in the name, but didn’t want to be a downer. I was happy to find they have vegetarian meatballs! I also loved the setup of the menu. You are given a laminated menu and dry erase marker, and mark the type of meatball, sauce, sides, extras, etc. What a great idea for a restaurant in both ordering and meal.

Wheat everything bagel with sundried tomato and tofu spread

As I was staying across the street from a bagel shop I like, Ess-a-Bagel, I took advantage of it every morning (because carbs don’t count on vacation, right?). I didn’t order right at first, and could feel their exasperation. By the third day I knew how to order, to speak up and say it fast. The bagels were amazing. They are so fluffy, big, flavorful and warm, with so many different toppings. Even plain was great.

Portobello burger, lemonade and fries

We only had one full day in the city, and I had about a half dozen places I really wanted to eat, I would have had to spend the whole day eating. Based on time and location when we were hungry, we headed to the  Shake Shack for lunch, a place known for its shakes (duh!) and, for vegetarians, surprisingly good portobello burgers. I had seen a picture of the burger and heard only rave reviews about the restaurant. I got a ‘shroom burger, fries and lemonade, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m already planning a trip to the new Miami Beach location. One cool thing about the Shake Shack is that each store has a shake specific to that location.

Top: Open-faced turkey sandwich Bottom: Maryland crabfakes

That evening, we decided to go to a vegetarian sit-down restaurant on our list of a few places to check out. We ended up at Curly’s Vegetarian Lunch (also open for dinner and brunch, lucky us) and it was a great choice. It has diner and casual food, all vegetarian and vegan in a very small restaurant. Bill ordered the open-faced faux turkey sandwich with cornbread stuffing, greens and cranberry sauce; I got the Maryland Crabfakes with dressings over a southwest salad. Both dishes were excellent, and everything looked great. As usual when we go to vegetarian spots, we each had about half of each dish.

While all the food I had was great, there were a few other places I really wanted to go, mainly N.Y. Dosas, a vegetarian Indian food cart in Washington Square Park, and Schnitzel & Things, a German mobile food truck where all the sides are vegetarian. I would also like some “real” New York pizza, and wouldn’t mind checking out Dirt Candy (it was closed for the month), Candle Cafe or the Union Square Greenmarket. I need to make another trip soon for food alone.