New York City is full of restaurants that offer the unexpected. A nearly 80-year-old Jewish deli run by a Yemeni family, scallion burritos dropped from someone’s fire escape in a bucket, bagels to rival New York’s, delivered from Connecticut. Isn’t that why we live here? The ever-present possibility that something exciting could be just around the corner.
That’s what I had in mind when I started thinking about restaurants that aren’t vegetarian, but treat veggies and other non-meat dishes in such a surprisingly loving way that they feel like they’re made for vegetarians? Here are just a few options that I find so exciting that I have to completely reconsider my omnivorous status.
miss, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is the first that comes to mind. You may be thinking, a pasta restaurant? Really Nikita? But Misi is so much more. It has one of the most impressive and well-considered antipasti lists you’re likely to find on that side of the East River. Consider the earthy trumpet mushrooms sprinkled over the Instagram-famous crostini with whipped ricotta. Or the fat little butter beans in a glistening puddle of olive oil. Maybe Swiss chard studded with pine nuts is more your thing. I’m so enamored with how the vegetables are treated here that I’m just as likely to choose a vegetarian pasta for my entrée: Run, not walk, to the corzetti.
Look at the Middle East
A tip I can’t emphasize enough: Middle Eastern and North African restaurants always have a thing for vegetables. A place that reflects this perfectly is Miriam, an Israeli restaurant with locations in Park Slope, Brooklyn and the Upper West Side. So much of the menu is vegetarian that adding meat is an option. Think turmeric-dusted cauliflower over a swirl of green tahini and kebabs made with “meat” from Impossible Foods.
My colleague Kasia Pilat — whose adorable illustrations you may have seen as part of the meal plans Tanya Sichynsky puts together for her DailyExpertNews Cooking newsletter, The Veggie — is mostly vegetarian. She says (and I agree) that my above statement holds up Sofreh, a Persian restaurant in Prospect Heights, who call their smoked eggplant with fried onions “BONKERS good.” What’s more, the cauliflower starter with walnuts and pomegranate isn’t a sad excuse for a vegetarian main course. That’s really the highest praise a veggie lover can give to a restaurant that also offers a lamb shank the size of a professional wrestler’s fist.
And something special for you
Or maybe you’re just tired of housing carnivores. I hear you: Eating out should be a two-way street. But New York is full of uncompromising one-way streets that work just fine, thank you very much.
Then let this be your umpteenth memory Superiority burger, in the East Village, is finally open. The eponymous burger is one of the best veggie burgers in town, though I’m drawn to the focaccia sandwich stuffed with long-cooked kale. (As a lifelong anemia, I need the iron.) Beets sprinkled with baked pretzels? Yes please. Seasoned lentils and cornbread, absolutely.
You can enjoy those veggie burgers until 1:45 a.m. if you’re feeling fancy and are in the East Village on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night, as part of the restaurant’s stripped-down Night Shift menu. New York is (maybe) back, baby!
In other news…
I got so many nice comments on last week’s newsletter about where to eat with picky parents. (I also received your prescription requests; thank you, please wait!) Kenzie D. said so Periyali, a Greek restaurant in the Flatiron neighborhood, “caters to groups” and is on the quieter side. Matthew R. took his parents with him Vic’s, in NoHo, where they enjoyed the simple menu while rubbing elbows with the “NYU/hipster crowd”. Lacey B. says her “picky mom” loves Frank, in the East Village, not least because she’s “in love with the bartender.” And Michael R. said he usually takes his parents with him Turkish grillin Sunnyside, Queens, which is “wonderfully low-key yet delicious” and offers dishes his parents can’t get in their hometown.
Pete Wells reviewed the Mexican restaurant Tobalá, in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, founded by a chef and his wife who fell in love with Oaxaca while on vacation. The restaurant, which serves carajillo cocktails and dishes like duck enmoladas with mole negro, “tryes to stay true to Mexico without getting precious about it,” he writes.
Openings: Jaffa cocktail + raw barfrom the CookNSolo team, joins Laser Wolf and K’Far at the Hoxton hotel in Williamsburg; Donna, which closed during the pandemic, reopens in the West Village as a co-op; And 929 and Gulp serving Taiwanese takeout and Chinese-inspired cocktails in Long Island City, Queens.
Service costs for restaurants are indispensableeven though diners and employees don’t always know where the money is going, reports Priya Krishna.
The Chino Latino restaurants in Manhattan have found a new audiencewrites Christina Morales, of viral TikTok videos explaining their history and menus of dishes like lo mein and mofongo.
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