Sometimes I think if I lived in New York instead of Austin I would have been following a bagel cleanse instead of a taco cleanse. Bagels have long been my favorite part about trips to the city because they are so amazingly good and so many places have a variety of tofu cream cheeses, including green olive. It’s the best thing in the world.
Other than bagels, the last few times I went to New York I felt like the popular vegan places were overrated. Candle 79, Champs, Beyond Sushi, Wild Ginger, and Dunwell Doughnuts are all infamous vegan spots that I was super excited to try and then a bit let down by. This trip was different because I went with traveling expert, and awesomest person ever, my pal Jojo who set me straight on all the best places to go. Wait, actually it was my Austin friend Jessica who told me we had to try the impossible burger at Momofuku Nishi which was our first stop.
I had read that you have to get in line before they open because they only make 50 burgers a day so we got to happy hour super early. Eventually a staff person came out and asked us if we were there for the burgers. When we told him we were, he said that they don’t do them for happy hour anymore, only lunch! GASP! But then they said they would make them for us. Whew. The impossible burger is supposed to be so meat-like that vegetarians are grossed out. Known as “the burger that bleeds” we couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about. In the end, all five of us, all vegan, enjoyed it. Someone said it was on par if not better than Arlo’s here in Austin, which, I have to disagree with. The patty reminded me of the burgers I ate in the elementary school cafeteria. The fries were like McDonalds fries, which was awesome since the real McDonalds fries are made with meat so I can’t eat them. I would have liked it better with some cheese and I do think Arlo’s is better but I’d, for sure, recommend it.
Later we stopped for a slice at Vinnie’s in Brooklyn which reminded me of Dimo’s in Chicago, they have all sorts of crazy options like vegan mac and cheese or teriyaki chicken.
The next morning we got bagels and did the most touristy thing one could ever do in New York: rowed boats through Central Park. I should have taken a video so that I could use it in a video montage set to New York City. It was so fun, we saw turtles and didn’t capsize once. We headed to Riverdel Cheese shop and deli in Prospect Park in Brooklyn for sandwiches and it was just the kind of sandwiches I love, roasty, toasty, and filled with cheese. I got the M Night Shamlani (or something) which was cheese and salami just like the sandwiches I made growing up. Yes, I went from a diet of almost exclusively meat, cheese, and bread (and olives) to a vegan. I wish a place like this would open around here, I love that vegan delis are getting so popular.
After some wandering about we headed for Lagusta which now has a location in the East Village. I had been to the original in New Paltz a few years back and thought I’d died and gone to heaven, a very expensive vegan chocolate-based heaven. I saved my chocolates for an emergency because I knew at our next restaurant we were going to want to eat everything on the menu.
Meeting up with friends at Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new Brooklyn location of Modern Love is something I’ve been wanting to do for as long as it’s been in existence…or before it even existed. When I found out my friend Laura was going to be in town the same weekend as Jojo I knew it was time to make the trip.
Everything about Modern Love is perfect, from the dark wood walls, the cute bathrooms, to every single thing on the menu. I was overwhelmed. Even though I’d been studying the menu in anticipation for a while I could not decide what to get. Luckily, I had enough people with me that I got to try just about every appetizer. The poutine was what I was maybe most excited for (I did have a dream about it). Instead of french fries they were large potato wedges and covered in the most delicious porcini gravy, and truffled almond riccotta. We also had chili cheese fries, the tempeh stuffed avocado, Brussels with bacon, and what turned out to be my favorite, the mushroom blintz with smashed beet relish and kasha arugula salad.
For my entree I had a hard time deciding. I really wanted the Mac and Cheese with pecan-cornmeal crusted tofu, BBQ cauliflower and kale and I got to try it and it was truly fantastic. The tofu was just perfectly done and crispy on the outside. I ended up getting the Stuffed Poblanos with Street Corn (spicy lentil meat, yuba chicharrones, red rice, jicama slaw, smoked guacamole, pico de gallo, coconut sour cream, fresh herbs). The yuba was like nothing I’ve ever had before. A couple people thought it was potato-skin esque put when Laura said it tasted like pig skin, it was an aha moment. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten something like that!
Finally came dessert and I went for the Dulce De Leche Coconut Cream Pie.
We tried to walk off the excessive eating by taking Isa’s advice and walking across the Williamsburg bridge which was super fun and beautiful.
Dim sum in New York has seemed like something important to do since I first heard of it in the movie Working Girl circa 1988 and I’ve seen many pictures of Vegetarian Dim Sum House. We met up for brunch even though Jojo thought dim sum for brunch was inauthentic and I think Nick might have just been full up still. Everything was crazy good and only 6 dollars apiece.
The turnip cake (not pictured) reminded me of the most giant noodle ever. The monk dumplings, the coriander ham rolls, & the vegetarian pork rolls were all perfectly done and ridiculously tasty. It was just so much deliciousness in one meal. I could eat there every week. It would suck to live in New York and be super lazy, knowing that you could get on a train and have the best meals ever if only you could leave the house. I would be terrible at it. At least you can get so many things delivered.
We stopped in Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery to grab some knishes to-go and I followed the sign’s advice and brought one home for a friend! It was delicious. The perfect airplane treat.
We also stopped at By Chloe a couple of times for various desserts. I had never had a black and white cookie so I was super stoked to try one.
We had heard that the yuba sandwiches from Superiority Burger were some of the best food in town so we tried those as well. The restaurant was so tiny we couldn’t all sit at once and I didn’t take a picture but I had to share Jojo’s. I now want to make all sandwiches with yuba.
Seriously. This trip was 100% tastier and way more fun than my last few trips and it was all thanks to Jojo and her wonderful husband Nick. If you are ever on a trip check out her blog Vegan in Brighton cause girlfriend does her research and there is no dicking around eating shitty food with Jojo. It’s all good all the time.
And grab a knish for the airplane. You won’t regret it.