I can’t get away from Brooklyn. Since moving to Spain to teach English, Brooklyn still hounds me like a spurned ex-lover.
Even going for a stroll in Madrid means thinking about Brooklyn. I see it daily, printed on t-shirts and hoodies, worn by my students and city pedestrians. There are establishments proudly named Brooklyn Pizza and Brooklyn Boxing. Ads that list major cities like Paris and London include Brooklyn instead of NYC.
Has Brooklyn replaced New York City on the international scene?
Will you end up there if you’re planning a vegan tour of New York?
Fortunately for you, I’ve done the plant-based legwork of scoping out the best spots for cheap vegan food in Brooklyn. I’ve clocked endless hours of travel on bike and train to see my stubborn friends who insist on living in the costlier, trendier New York borough. Now that the Sam and I have teamed up, we’ve perused the vegan Brooklyn scene with a vengeance.
Despite the reputation, Brooklyn is not an all-encompassing place with a singular face. The borough consists of a multitude of neighborhoods now mostly colonized by transplants. Visiting my friends in Brooklyn required a separate, dedicated day per friend. It’s that spread out and varied. So knowing the vegan places in Brooklyn was key.
Here are my go-to vegan restaurants in Brooklyn, along with the best vegan friendly restaurants in Brooklyn, grouped by neighborhood.
$ = meal under $10
$$ = meal under $15
Vegan Restaurants near downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, and Cobble Hill
One could easily live their lives entirely in this part of Brooklyn, with it’s own massive downtown, and slightly quieter, more residential Boerum and Cobble Hill. We have house sat around here, and Trader Joe’s plus our picks for vegan restaurants near downtown Brooklyn are how we can afford to enjoy ourselves here. These are all adjacent neighborhoods, and the sooner you get away from the Atlantic Ave madness, the better.
$$ Luanne’s Wild Ginger – All Vegan
This local NYC chain serves pan
I particularly enjoyed the seitan steak as it broke apart and was a bit meaty. It wasn’t just a solid or gummy texture like seitan can be sometimes.
What makes this place extra cheap is if you catch the lunch special that many Asian restaurants and NYC ones offer. Luanne’s lunch comes with soup or spring rolls. Outside of lunch, all of their entrees are under 15, with most being 11 – 13, still fitting within our budget criteria.
There are several locations, so check their website for others.
$$ Kor Tor Mor – Omni with separate vegan section on menu
This vegan friendly restaurant in Brooklyn gets an honorable mention for their well executed and clearly labeled vegan options as well as a separate vegan section on the menu. In general, Thai places in NYC will have vegan options – just make sure to confirm for seemingly vegetable based dishes or you may end up with fish sauce in your food.
You’ll have two choices of protein, with tofu and vegetables being a buck cheaper than mock duck. The lunch special comes with salad and spring roll or soup.
If you’re not into tofu, or prefer something different, the mock duck here was excellent – just as good as my favorite Thai place in Queens that has unfortunately closed since.
$ Van Leeuwen’s – Omni, Vegan options labeled
Probably the best vegan ice cream you’ll ever have. Omnivores willingly eat the vegan flavors – they’re that damn good. For more info, see our entry below in vegan food in Greenpoint.
At this Cobble Hill location there are a few tables and high chairs, so you can reasonably expect to grab a spot.
$$ BareBurger – 50% vegan menu with gluten-free options
Originally based out of Queens, this chain has expanded beyond NYC and even into Japan. See our section on Astoria in our Budget Vegan Queens Guide for more info.
Vegan in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
At the heart of the neighborhood, North 7th street and Bedford Ave, tactful tattoos, generously sized ear gauges, and thickly spectacled mustached faces assault your senses, threatening to drown out your unexamined mediocrity. Hang in there – delicious vegan food in Williamsburg is just steps away from the subway station.
$$ Little Choc Apothecary – Vegan and Gluten Free
This cute cafe and creperie will make all your Brooklyn vegan brunch dreams come true. They offer sweet and savory crepes, juices, smoothies, and acai bowls. This vegan restaurant in Williamsburg is also entirely gluten-free and comes in at the upper end of our threshold for budget. Some of the dishes would come out to more than $15 after you include tax and tip. Still, they have a range of offerings from $9-15, which is still on the low end for quality, vegan (and gluten-free) food in New York!
We tried two savory crepes at Little Choc: “Jacked Up”, which is stuffed with smoky pulled jackfruit, caramelized onions, roasted red pepper, kale, and homemade BBQ sauce, as well as “The Breakfast”, which has scrambled tofu, homemade coconut bacon, spinach and cucumber. Of the two, the Jacked Up was the clear winner, and something we’d definitely get again! Super tasty, homemade, and even though it’s a $15 crepe, it’s incredibly filling. To be honest, the tofu scramble in the breakfast could use some work. It didn’t have much flavor besides nutritional yeast, which is just lazy vegan seasoning if used solo. Also, can we please stop calling flavored coconut shavings bacon? It does not resemble bacon in the least, even if it is mildly tasty.
Still, this is a great healthy restaurant in Brooklyn well worth a try. They also do a vegan afternoon tea which we’ll need to come back and try! Located right along the well-trafficked Havemayer street, we recommend grabbing some window seating and people-watching over brunch.
$ By Chloe – All Vegan
If you’re vegan, you’ve probably heard of Chloe Coscarelli. She became famous for winning Cupcake Wars as a vegan chef. She took New York by storm a few years ago with her line of vegan fast-food style eateries. Unfortunately, Chloe is no longer part of the franchise after some drama involving her co-founder wanting to open a non-vegan restaurant in her name. Still, if you’re looking for only plant-based places, By Chloe is a solid, affordable all vegan restaurant in Williamsburg.
By Chloe’s menu ranges from burgers and sweets to healthier fare like bowls, salads, and juices. If you’re looking for a vegan breakfast in Brooklyn but don’t want to go as far as Champs (see below), By Chloe is another spot for vegan brunch in Brooklyn (brunch menu is available weekends only).
Definitely check out their rotating baked goods. Last time, we stopped in and tried a gingerbread cookie – deliciously gingery snappy.
$ Oasis – Omni, Vegan options
While many spots in Brooklyn sell falafel, none of them hit the sweet spot like Oasis.
My Polish American friend, born and raised in Greenpoint, saved me and my hunger during our college days. She’s always been a fan of the quick and cheap but quality eats.
Or ask my other born-and-raised New Yorker friend, who brings Oasis falafel all the way back to Queens for her mother, who never admits to liking food she didn’t make herself (she’s a great cook too).
I’ve visited Williamsburg at the oddest of hours yet this place was always open. With such regular turnover, the falafels come piping hot and crispy fresh at virtually any time.
Nowadays it kicks the chickpeas out of Mamoun’s in Manhattan with the help of great toppings. Poise your taste buds for a pickled punch. Red cabbage turned bright purple, red onions turned hot pink, and many more vinegary bits will blast your pleasure brain waves into higher frequencies. Expect a post-meal sour burp – or two. BELCH. Excuse me.
Want some extra mileage from your food with minimum cost? Ask for a fifty cent schmear of babaganoush, a smoky rich eggplant spread that’ll cut through the layers with a snappy tang. Some prefer a hummus schmear, but you’re eating falafel – both are chickpea based – so that’s just redundant.
$ Two Boots – Omni, Vegan options labeled
Two Boots is a local chain (also featured in our Manhattan vegan guide), but I particularly like this location if you’re looking for vegan pizza in Williamsburg. It’s got a small space for the counter and a more spacious dining room in the back. Especially convenient for those mid-winter pizza munchies when you plan your next trek through the arctic tundra that is New York’s winter streets.
The two readily available vegan slices are the Earth Mother and the V for Vegan, although recently they’ve been rolling out more vegan slices. The Earth Mother has a thick whole wheat crust, is cheeseless and salad-like, while the V for Vegan is crispy, cheesy, has two kinds of pesto, and is covered with red onions and artichokes.
Not satisfied even with those by the slice options? You can call in advance and order a whole vegan pie from their vegan menu section, topped with whatever your plant-based heart desires. We recommend the presets combos, like the Vegan Mel Cooley white pie with basil pesto. They use Daiya cheese, and before you fret, somehow Two Boots still manages to make damn delicious vegan pizzas.
Update: Daiya has revamped their recipe again and it’s soooo much better – we didn’t even know we were eating it.
$ Vinnie’s – Omni, Vegan options labeled
Once upon a time, all we had was Vinnie’s for vegan pizza in Brooklyn. Times have changed (see Two Boots above, Screamer’s below in Greenpoint) but Vinnie’s still slings solid vegan pizza in Williamsburg.
They boast a fine selection and the counter service is always happy to share the details. The best, consistently good slice is the eggplant parmigiana – it keeps me coming back. Breaded eggplant strips, saucy, and cheesy though not as cheesy as the dairy-laden brethren. If tradition isn’t your thing, their daily vegan specials are worth a glance.
This spot has limited seating and is usually full, but if the line is only a few persons deep, chances are a spot will open up while you wait. If you can’t snag a seat, get it to go, walk to McCarren Park and mow down that slice while lounging on the grass.
$ Vanessa’s Dumpling House – Omni, vegan options
If you want the full lowdown on the grubs at Vanessa’s, see our Manhattan vegan guide. I can, however, provide you with a location unique review.
Upon entering the Williamsburg outpost, you’ll notice something immediately – it’s prettier than their Manhattan counterparts. You could take a low key date here if they’re like the Sam aka the girlfriend, who refuses to go to any establishment with white tablecloths.
In general, go for the veggie dumplings, fried. While I prefer steamed, the only other offer is boiled – steam’s distant, drowned out flavor relative. If you’re looking for more than a snack, add a plate of their housemade cold sesame noodles.
A cheap dumpling word of caution. A famous Alaskan once confided that he knew another place that was even cheaper than this. I knew exactly where he was thinking. This “cheaper place” turned out to be a regular rat rampage that was consequently shut down by the authorities. You have to draw the line somewhere and not leave your dignity/hygiene on the wrong side. Moral of the story: cheaper is not always better.
$ Van Leeuwen’s – Omni, Vegan options labeled
For more info, see our entry in vegan Greenpoint below.
Vegan Greenpoint: Cafes, Pizza, and More Ice Cream
I earned my first inter-borough travel chops from Queens in this neighborhood where my Polish American friend grew up. She showed me all the cool places that New York natives didn’t feel were overrun by transplants – yet.
Things have changed, and while Greenpoint looks like a quaint, oldschool preserved neighborhood, it’s merely a well maintained aesthetic. Apartments 20 minutes walk from the neighborhood center are astronomically out of our price range, so imagine the rent on that cute little boutique. Fortunately, there are some stubborn remnants of the old neighborhood, and with that, cheap vegan food in Brooklyn that’s actually still cheap.
$ Brooklyn Whiskers Bakery in Greenpoint – All Vegan
Sam and I are cat lovers, so of course we love everything about a place by a cat-loving vegan couple. Cats adorn everything, including the logo/sign at this vegan cafe in Brooklyn. Stay awhile and enjoy the cat vibes.
They bake everything and send out a lot of their products all over the city, so don’t fret if you can’t make it out to both of their two locations (the flagship is in Bushwick – see below about that location).
The coffee comes from a local roaster, cus you can’t call yourself a proper Brooklyn vegan cafe without it. The coffee gets the Sam’s seal of approval.
Not only do they sport the usual plant milk options, they also offer a locally sourced plant milk blend of cashews, almonds and macadamia nuts.
They even offer sandwiches and brunch options, all $10 and under, with many ingredients sourced from local vegan business, like the Cheezehound (for more info see entry in Vegan Shop-Up section below).
What about the baked goods?
You’ll want to eat the entire chocolate chip cookie sandwich but control yourself and share with a friend.
Going vegan meant swearing off certain foods, like bagels and pizza.
But that is so 2010. It’s 2019, and you can expect to find anything vegan in NYC. So imagine our delight when we saw a New York classic, the black and white cookie. This classic NYC treat should be a cross between a crumbly cookie and a dense cake, with thick, almost fondant-like icing that’s half vanilla and chocolate. This vegan bakery in Brooklyn is definitely worth a stop, but be forewarned about the croissants.
What do we mean? The croissant pastries are delicious, but shouldn’t be called croissants. They’re too fluffy and doughy – not flaky nor crispy. This dissatisfaction could easily be averted by calling them something else altogether, like vegan brioche rolls, as they are delicious and enjoyable on their own terms. However, people who have experienced authentic croissants will be sorely disappointed.
$ Screamer’s Pizzeria – All Vegan
Holy shit Screamer’s pizza had me screaming. Authentic New York style pizza made vegan that doesn’t suck, but does not make me miss moo goo shreds one bit? I sold any remnant of my omnivore soul to
Somehow Screamer’s pizza keeps getting better every time we pop in. Crispier, chewier crust. Richer, tomato-ey sauce. Meltier, gooier cheese (thank the vegan cheese product by Violife, a European vegan staple).
While some people go nuts for toppings, I have to judge a pizza spot by their regular aka plain aka cheese slice. It does not disappoint. Now with Violife cheese, it actually looks like your typical slice of new york style pizza – the cheese and sauce meld together. The texture and flavor are vastly superior to their Daiya days.
I’d be quite satisfied with just this, but Screamer’s goes above and beyond with a recently added Margherita slice with Brooklyn’s own Numu vegan mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. Don’t leave without trying this.
And of course, all their topping slices are excellent as well. Expect the usuals like pepperoni and sausage, but also more inventive combos like the artichoke spicy basil. T
As you can see, Screamer’s has all their pizza bases covered.
Note: the Sam aka the girlfriend ranks our three recommended vegan pizza in Brooklyn spots as following: Screamer’s, Paulie Gee’s, Two Boots, Vinnie’s. I don’t disagree.
$ Van Leeuwen’s – Omni, Vegan options labeled
Go immediately here after finishing your pizza at Screamer’s – they’re right next door. They make the best vegan ice cream, literally. Our omnivore friend’s favorite flavor, Pistachio, is vegan. Suck on that one, dairy-dooers.
Van Leeuwen’s offers a variety of vegan ice cream flavors to assuage your animal-free attitude. This is not just an also, but something they take pride in. Their vegan ice cream is cashew coconut based and you honestly won’t miss the frozen mammary milk. The interior has a nice wooden panel homely feel: a twist on Williamsburg hipsterdom and New York chic minus the pretension. They even have seats outside.
Try the peanut butter chunk – it’s got just the right amount of peanutty-ness and doesn’t overpower the vanilla base flavor. Or try the amazingly rich chocolate: its cocoa density exceeds a neutron star and its darkness rivals black holes. Or the salted caramel – just bring yourself some water. Definitely split a tub of pistachio with a loved one as they don’t usually offer it by the scoop.
$ Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop – Omni with vegan options
If for some reason you can’t make it to Screamers (in the same neighborhood, a 10 – 12 minute walk away) you’ll have a solid vegan time here. The atmosphere is a styled after a classic nostalgic NYC slice shop and this is a great option if you’re dining with uncompromising omnivores. They use locally made NUMU and Follow Your Heart vegan cheese on their slices.
Our major gripe is that they could be a bit more generous with the toppings. More cheese on the cheese slice and even the slices with supposedly more toppings were a bit too untopped (think like two pepperonis on your slice). I wonder if they’ve ever tried a slice barely half a mile down at Screamer’s, which by the way, is cheaper too.
And before you ask, you so sure that Screamer’s is better? We went here to scratch our pizza itch before a concert, only to go to Screamer’s after the concert. Paulie Gee’s, you need to give us a better reason to come back.
Vegan in Bushwick
The vegan Bushwick scene has been positively exploding in the past few years. If you’re returning reader you’ll notice this section has more than doubled in our latest update.
For those not familiar with New York, Bushwick is an industrial area turning/turned alternative artist hot spot. Bushwick is a neighborhood in transition and unfortunately gentrifying rapidly. Read more about Williamsburg and Bushwick gentrification in this fantastic article in The Gothamist. As sustainable travelers, we always advocate learning about the city in which you are traveling (or living) and to make sure to contribute in the community in the best way possible.
$ Bunna Cafe – All Vegan
I had a dream about Bunna’s last night. I kid you not. Our experience eating here was so memorable, it persists in my mind’s eye.
Here is a place that will impress anyone, carnists and vegans with everyone in between. This food is no joke authentic; not some vegan Bushwick posers attempting some fusion nonsense. There are unashamed vegetables in every dish and it all tastes so damn delicious. This is without a doubt one of the best vegan restaurants in Brooklyn.
I had my first try of Ethiopian food years ago and was impressed at how vegan friendly it was. I especially loved eating it with my hands. They have these rolls (think roll of carpet, not buns) of steamed bread that you use to grab pieces of food. Here is no exception. If you come here don’t disrespect them by asking for a fork, you heathen.
Not only are they one of our top food experiences ever, but they also take the vegan cake for lunch deals. Come here and split the lunch for two $16 Feast plate with 8 dishes – you won’t be disappointed (at 8 bucks a person too). A literal plethora of stewed chickpeas, sauteed squash, tomato’d lentils… I have to stop talking about it because I’m sad last night was a dream.
Lunch is by far the best deal, but for dinner, you can order half plates for $7 – 8, and full plates for $14 -16. And they have brunch! This makes our budget list because you can get plenty to eat for under $15 no matter what. For a detailed description of their dishes (and tons of house made beverages) and how ordering works, check out their menu page.
It doesn’t matter what you get here – it’s all good. If you’ve got room, try dessert, but especially their pistachio baklava with coffee syrup. It’s flakey with pistachio crumbles all drenched in syrupy coffee goodness. There is no way you could not like this unless you don’t like coffee.
If you’re into coffee then you must know that Ethiopia handles it like no one else. It’s such an integral part of the culture. The menu at Bunna’s Cafe shares the wonderful coffee origin story about a goatherd finding his goats jumping off the walls, only to realize they ate this peculiar berry. They even host a traditional coffee ceremony every Weds and Sunday.
Come pay respect to Ethiopia and thank them for their beautiful goats with their nondiscretionary palates.
$$ Champs – All Vegan
Champs is great and technically they fit the criteria of an under $15 meal. Yet nothing here feels budget, with 11 dollar plates at the cheapest (good portions, to be fair), and 8- 9 dollar milkshakes. Don’t be deterred! Champs serves quality vegan diner food. Just know their prices reflect the vegan food premiums combined with New York rent prices. Expect to hit near 20 bucks if you want dessert and appetizers too.
Within the grand financial scheme of New York, this is an affordable date spot for the alternative type. Decorated like an old school diner, the inside is checkered black and white with aluminum side tables in booths. They don’t mess around when it comes to style. Servers with colored hair not wearing high waisted pants are the exception.
The menu is big, but we mostly enjoy the breakfast items – Champs easily has the best vegan brunch in Brooklyn. They excel at the food they make in house, like their tofu scramble, nacho cheese, guacamole, and waffles/ pancakes. I have yet to try a tofu scramble that’s better in the US (Kopps in Berlin may be the best ever – read more in our Berlin vegan guide).
It seems that vegan
Keep in mind that some options are much better than others. To optimize your potential satisfaction, try asking what is housemade as opposed to items that are just an assemblage of brand name vegan products. Or just stick to our recommendations.
$ Dunwell Doughnuts – All Vegan
With a smaller location in Manhattan, we felt we owed the flagship store of vegan donuts in Brooklyn a proper review. It’s right around the corner from Champs, so if you’re waiting for your table (which you inevitably will be), you can pop into Dunwell for a pre-brunch donut (#gluttony).
This spot has a super old school retro feel, with black walls and an art deco radio the size of R2-D2. The donuts are fluffy soft and standards like the glazed come with our seal of approval. Also, the size of the space here allows for some time to stop and enjoy some coffee with your donut. Very good donuts – fluffy, soft and fresh. We’ve had donuts all over the world and these rank pretty high.
Although the best we’ve ever had are in Madrid at Delish Vegan Doughnuts.
Read more: Ultimate Vegan Guide to Madrid
$ Brooklyn Whiskers in Bushwick – All Vegan
Whether you want a meal, a quick dessert, and/or a coffee break, these cats have got you covered. We will elaborate here on the Bushwick location. Check the vegan Greenpoint section above for more on their second location.
The original location sits in a very residential area of Bushwick. Take your pick of either indoor or outdoor seating. Indoors can be a bit tight as there are only a few tables. Weather permitting, the extra seats outside are a welcome addition, especially considering the several seater long table was blissfully occupied by a sole laptopper when we went, despite the line of people ordering food. Luckily, we were able to enjoy the nice fall weather outdoors while we snacked.
They offer an assortment of all day breakfast plates, signature sandwiches, desserts and coffee and are another spot for vegan brunch in Brooklyn. However, both locations have additional house special sandwiches that are different and exclusive to each spot. There are a ton of options for such tiny cafes and most items are under 10!
Given that, we can recommend the black and white cookie, and the sandwiches. Despite the cuteness of the Biscats and Gravy, the general consensus (four of us shared it) was that the gravy was on point, but the biscuits shaped like cats, were too dry, and not buttery tasting enough. Literally too hard to chew. Hopefully it was a cooking error, cus the marketing is on point.
Some sandwiches feature vegan cheese from the Cheezehound, one of my favorite artisan cheese makers who used to set up at the Vegan
$$ Hartbreakers – All Vegan
Whether they’re breaking my heart or hearts of palm, Hartbreakers is doing it house made and they’re doing it generously. Hartbreakers is the latest star of vegan Bushwick, and yet another concept created by the team behind two now classic vegan restaurants in Brooklyn: Champs and Screamers. Named after the street it is located on (Hart), Hartbreakers is a 70s style comfort food joint.
Up until their launch this summer, their creative team was hyping up Hartbrakers hardcore, and we are happy to report that they live up to the hype. Their fried chicken sandwich, aka Picnic Basket, again, is probably the best fried chicken sandwich we’ve had – Sam had it twice within a week. This baby is the product of six months of development, and our mouths are thankful of the developer’s patience.
Think of this as a sandwich, some salads and sides sort of place. Rich, indulgent comfort food where everything (except the bread and sliced cheese) is made in house, down to the waffle fries, and they’re proud of it. I’d say the stars of the show are the veggie meats that are all exceptionally well executed, whether it is tender and crunchy fried chicken style seitan, or crumbly sausage chunks. I especially liked the sausage chunks and bacon bits on top of the Dynamite Fries. The cheese sauce was creamy and rich, and I suspect they use a squash base. I am always improving my vegan cheese sauce efforts and take notes whenever we dine out.
Also, when’s the last time you’ve heard of a place cutting their own waffle fries?
$ Toad Style – All Vegan
Toad Style is another vegan restaurant in Bushwick (some say Bedstuy) and it pisses me off. Why? Because all these amazing vegan food spots are in Brooklyn, not Queens (our home base when visiting NYC).
Toad Style, along with Hartbreakers and Pickle Shack (see below in Industry City), are what I lump into top-notch vegan comfort food. I say “comfort” because junk food implies they’re using cheap, overly processed ingredients, which is not the case in any of these spots. If there’s a French fry, they cut it in house. If there’s a sauce, they made it from scratch. You get the idea. However, that doesn’t mean this is food for every meal. It’s for vegans to feel like they never gave up such sinful gluttony that carnists partake in regularly. When we go out to eat we like comfort food. Salads and smoothie bowls are better left to make at home.
It would be hard to go wrong at Toad Style. They use fried oyster mushrooms as a fried chicken substitute, so if you’ve yet to try fried oyster mushrooms, don’t miss it. My personal favorite here were the disco fries – pure collegiate nostalgia. Many a time I’d duck out with diner buddies for a sloppy plate of greasy goodness slathered with American cheese product and questionably brown gravy during my college days.
Fortunately, nothing is questionable here at Toad Style; they’re handcrafting every part. Also, Toad Style is a few bucks cheaper than
$ Sol Sips – All Vegan
While we haven’t yet made it to this spot serving up vegan food in Bushwick, it 100% deserves a mention for this incredible initiative by owner Francesca “Sol” Chaney. Noticing that the vegan and wellness community was often out of affordable reach for many people of color, she created Sol Sips, offering a sliding scale for diners based on their income. Favorite dishes at Sol Sips include a classic NYC bacon egg and cheese, jackfruit panini, gluten-free waffles, and their assortment of freshly made smoothies and juices.
Read more about Sol Sips in this article on Essence.
$ Norbert’s Pizza – Vegetarian with vegan options
This pizzeria makes the cut because it’s cheap and quality. The crust and sauce are so on point, I just have to give them a shout out. It was so good that I was able to ignore the paltry portion of vegan toppings.
But! Maybe if you order that whole vegan pie deal with two additional free toppings (on top of the cheese) then maybe I’ll find out they can redee themselves. If their choice in cheese portions is based on taste, they need some higher quality vegan cheese, maybe local brand Numu, or store brand Violife.
Hopefully Norbert’s will do right by vegans and get some more toppings on their by the slice vegan offering. I literally could count the cheese shreds. This is why we go to vegan instead of vegetarian restaurants in Brooklyn.
$ Los Hermanos – Omni, Vegan options
Los Hermanos is actually a tortilla factory with a self-service front. The deli case inside contains dozens of fresh ingredients waiting to be sliced, rolled, smashed, scooped, chopped, and diced on the prep counter behind it. What’s wholly guacamole impressive here is the veritable montón of avocados they have stocked. These perfectly ripened, green buttery bad boys need to be on everything you order here.
A half-dozen army assembles taquitos, cemitas, tostadas, and tacos non-stop. Virtually everything up for offer is a set of toppings/fillings on a corn/wheat tortilla or sandwich bread, either quickly pan-fried or heavily deep fried. I recommend getting the tacos as real fresh corn tortillas are rare in NYC.
Want to get your order veganized without a hitch?
Here’s a veteran tip: write your order on the card in Spanish, with the following: [insert taco,
Also highly recommended: a pound of a freshly made tortillas, to go. For a buck! I used to frequently leave on my bike with tortilla stacks dangling from the handlebars.
$ Old Stanley’s Bar – Vegan Options
There is not much to say about Old Stanley’s. It’s a fairly divey spot with an unusual open design and they sling vegan hot dogs for a few bucks. Perfect during that alcohol-fueled night out when the junk food craving hits. Considering that the same quality veggie dog will cost you more than twice as much
Vegan Brooklyn Pop Up Markets (both in Bushwick)
Brooklynites are spoiled. There are no less than two vegan markets in Brooklyn, so you’re guaranteed to always have at least one per month.
This vegan market in Brooklyn pops up monthly, at a minimum. In busier seasons, like the holidays and summer, it can happen twice or even three times a month at different locations – their website has all the up-to-date info.
The original is at the Pine Box Rock Shop, a self-professed vegan bar in Bushwick. This is definitely a sight to see, as all the vegans and the vegan-friendly come out of the woodwork in true New York fashion. Tattoos and piercings abound, obscured by chunky knit wool in the cold months and skin boldly emblazoned with ink in the warmer ones.
At Vegan Shop Up, you can scope out the latest artisan products in the vegan scene. Discretion is advised as I cannot recommend every kiosk. Some of the best vegan products in New York make appearances here. Here are some of my favorite regular vendors (subject to change – check their website to know for sure):
This is gourmet vegan cheese at its finest. Rich, creamy, spreadable, cuttable – whip out your finest wines. The best vegan bleu cheese I’ve ever had was from here, releasing the former cheese fiend in me. The owner is a punky, (faux) leather-y jacket-wearing, badass woman handing out samples and withholding the recipe with a smirk.
The brownies from here are the best vegan brownies I’ve ever had, hands down. An (omnivore) friend is a devout brownie worshipper and devoured two of Spanky’s brownies in one sitting. Spanky’s is confident in their product, always offering hearty sample chunks.
Why do their brownies beat all the best vegan endeavors? The owner’s desire to create food that appeals to non-vegans is the key; the owner actually isn’t vegan. His wife is severely lactose intolerant, and he wanted to create a cream cheese to go with her bagels she missed so dearly.
He didn’t stop there, making butters, cookies, and now brownies. My happiest moment was when, as a regular customer, I couldn’t decide which of two kinds brownies to try, they gave me both for the price of one.
Artisan vegan hot dogs with all the toppings. They make their own hot dogs with whole food ingredients. Tastes damn delicious, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything like it in stores. A bit expensive, but an impressive product nonetheless…
These Philly based peeps sent a cute couple envoy to represent their vegan cannoli endeavors. Yes, they hailed from a not entirely vegan establishment, and like Spanky’s, gave us vegans a spanking.
Sometimes the best vegan food is made by non-vegans. Why? Because they can compare and contrast the original concept with the imitation, much more accurately than vegans. Classic vegan scenario: “hhmmm, this tastes and looks sorta like cheesecake, so it must be cheesecake!” Never mind the dryness, or lack of flavor, or grit (why is that there?) or that it just tastes like a slab of sweet tofu.
Not with these folks.
I grew up on cannolis and these are the best vegan ones I’ve had. Super smooth, creamy, and rich filling with crispy crunchy outher shell. Cannoli filling should finish with a lemony snap and these do. They’re based in Philly, and I’m not sure if they’ll be at every Vegan Shop Up. But if they are – get a damn cannoli.
*New* Pisces Rising
Also makes appearances at Vegan Market – see entry below.
A monthly pop up vegan market at Market Hotel (not an actual hotel), an event space with a full bar.
A lot of new players are at Vegan Market, and it reminds me of the early days of Vegan Shop Up but more grungy and punky – my kinda scene. It may be farther out in Bushwick than Vegan Shop up, but well worth it. Expect an assortment of food, beauty products, and other vegan goodies.
Below are our current favs. The vendors rotate monthly, meaning you can’t expect the same people to be there every time, but we’re sure there will be something in attendance you’ll love. Check their Facebook page for the upcoming vendor listing.
Note that many of the vendors only take cash, so come stocked unless you wanna pay hefty ATM fees.
Get your Astrology infused food fix via these friendly folks. You’ll find sweet and savory pastries here. One ambitious regular item: vegan challah bread – served plain and with spreads! Though our favorite
Even our friend’s omnivorous girlfriend willingly devoured it.
We haven’t had a bad thing here and we love supporting fledgling businesses like these. Give em a gander!
Disclaimer: generally I am against many toppings on a dessert. I love the simplicity of a glazed
Layering flavors and textures
Some of the best vegan dessert in Brooklyn – no joke! I suspect these folks named their business How Delish after asking aloud “damn how delicious is this?” so many times that they needed to cut down the exit time on that exclamation. Thus How Delish was born, according to my unofficial and unauthorized theory.
The true story is that this is a family affair. A mother was implored by her son to record her epically delicious dairy free desserts. You can taste the parental love in every bite.
They offer many things and we especially enjoy their cheesecake – thick, sweet, creamy, sitting on a crumbly, perfectly savory crust. Usually they have seasonal favorites on offer as well, such as pumpkin cheesecake in the fall. I have a friend who will always buy their cheesecake, no matter if she had it a week ago, or the day before. She sees How Delish; she buys a slice. It’s that damn good.
Try the sweet potato pie, the regular, the double trouble chocolate – it’s hard to go wrong. Their tiramisu is incredible too.
It’s not like your traditional mascarpone one, but rather a super creamy and oozy drenched piece of coffee soaked cake. I’m a tiramisu snob and I’ll break with tradition if it tastes like this.
These cookies were specifically advertised at weighing 5 oz prebaked. Almost ⅓ pounder cookies? Sign me up.
They proudly serve all organic, non gmo, soy free, delivered to your door for free! Insert swirly eyed emoji. If you want a messy, soft, chewy, sorta salty, rich, gooey, choc O chip cookie, you will be pleased.
My only gripe: the dough to chocolate ratio – had too much chocolate chips.
Wait! Hear me out.
Of course I prefer too much chocolate than too little, but damn, I’ve had a lot of vegan chocolate chip cookies and consequently have become a cookie snob. The ratio is key to perfection. Though that doesn’t mean my eyes didn’t glaze over while my brain melted on each and every bite. To quote Andre 3000, I’m… just being honest.
Vegan in Crown Heights
Eating as a vegan in Crown Heights Brooklyn is becoming easier and easier. There’s new places that we still need to try, like Greedivegan (which gets excellent reviews on Happycow) and Ital Kitchen. Below we list those we have tried and can honestly recommend.
$ Screamer’s Pizzeria – all vegan
Looking for the best vegan New York style pizza? Look no further than Screamer’s Pizzeria. Their original location in Geenpoint Brooklyn features a different menu (but still offers the same basics like plain, sausage, etc), but in Crown Heights, their second location, they have easily three to four times as much space and a much bigger counter with more slice variety.
Here you can expect to grab a seat, and stay awhile, whereas the Greenpoint location feels a bit cramped, a more hole-in-the-wall joint punk vibe joint (which we like). Crown Heights feels better lit and more family-friendly, thanks to way more seating.
If you’re feeling like a caffeine boost after your pizza gluttony, head down to Breukelen Coffee House, a proudly black-owned business since 2009 with seriously local vibes and clientele, and they only charge 50 cents for Oatly oat milk!
$$ Luanne’s Wild Ginger – All Vegan
See Cobble Hill section for more info.
Vegan in Prospect Heights
Right on the border with Crown Heights but north of Prospect park sits this neighborhood with growing vegan options.
$$ Riverdel – 100% vegan cheese shop!
The original flagship location, this 100% vegan cheese shop is the first and one of its kind.
However, they’ve blessed Manhattan with another location in Essex Market, where I give my full, unadulterated, cheese snob review.
They do however offer the same sandwiches as Essex Market but also brunch/breakfast exclusively at this location. Though I strongly recommend coming here for cheese and having a picnic in Prospect Park.
$ Van Leeuwen’s – Omni, Vegan options labeled
For more info, see our entry in vegan food in Greenpoint above.
Vegan in Park Slope
Eating out vegan in Park Slope is a bit tricky – the most vegan-friendly places (including a 100% vegan restaurant and a 50% vegan restaurant) are difficult to get a satisfying meal under $15 per person.
$ Hanco’s – vegan options
This vietnamese spot slings salads, summer rolls, pho, and banh mi. They make a surprisingly good vegan banh mi – a Vietnamese sandwich that features fresh veggies stuffed into a french style baguette. Here you can opt for vegetarian chicken or pork. The pork they slather in a sweet tangy sauce and considering the price given your other more expensive options (see right below), it’s not a bad deal for eating vegan in Park Slope. If the mock meats aren’t your jam they do offer tofu as well.
$$ The Vspot – all vegan
Here they focus on a broad swath of Latin American cuisine, much like Luanne’s Wild Ginger focuses on Pan Asian cuisine. Expect to find a little bit over everything here, and with some finagling, you can make it work for under $15 if you avoid the big plates. My biggest gripe is that the portions are a bit small for the price although quite tasty. Like really good guacamole, but I could’ve eaten the entire portion in two to three chipped dipped bites.
$$ BareBurger – 50% vegan menu with gluten-free options
Originally based out of Queens, this chain has expanded beyond NYC and even into Japan. See our section on Astoria in our Budget Vegan Queens Guide for more info.
Vegan in Sunset Park / Industry City
First, some quick geography to understand where this is. Immigrant working class Sunset Park lies southward, while gentrifying South Slope is more north. Awkwardly nestled between these two Brooklyn neighborhoods is Industry City. One of NYC previously forgotten relics, this waterside industrial complex is still in the process of being facelifted.
$ Pickle Shack – All Vegan
Their claim to fame is running a pickle factory, sending their pickled and fermented goods all over the world. Now they have a storefront with a several sandwich sized menu, along with fermented flights! Also, every sandwich features one of their pickled or fermented products.
Gone are the days where housemade vegan comfort food was distant, fantastical thought, unless you were lucky enough to live near a spot that the Cinnamon Snail parked. Fast forward from 2010, and you’ll find that NYC is chock full of vegan comfort food.
We had the jackfruit slider and the cheezesteak. When each ingredient is so top notch, my taste bud neurons start misfiring so fast I can’t remember how to do anything but keep mowing down. I’ll say this much: these sandwiches are layered with freshness, friedness, and pickledness.
Definitely one of my favorite cheesesteak sandwiches – up there with Bud’s from Salt Lake City.
Also their three buck salted chocolate chip cookie is worth every cent. Top tier my friends. Best news about them? The owner estimates that at least 70% of their clientele isn’t even vegan as it mostly is just people who work in this strange place.
We consistently write about budget vegan travel, because that’s what we actually do. Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t break our own rules on occasion. Often, treating ourselves out means finding a way to make that experience cheaper. And sometimes the best vegan food out there isn’t cheap. While our philosophy is that good vegan food doesn’t have to be expensive or inaccessible, often many people equate higher cost with better food.
Not necessarily the case, as Sam and a friend’s experience with PS Kitchen shows. While it’s honorable that they’re donating 100% of profits to charity, their food is overpriced and underwhelming in terms of flavor and portion. Your bill accounts mostly for ambiance and location here.
So in this section, we will do writes ups for places that warrant an exception, and can be “budgeted” in if you plan accordingly.
$$$ Modern Love – all vegan
Isa Chandra is modernizing food while smothering it with vegan love. She gained cult vegan fame via her youtube channel with friend Terry Hope Romero. Nowadays she leading the plant-based edge on vegan comfort food.
The menu is varied, the portions are ample, and the presentation is top-notch. Often what’s lacking in most vegan restaurants is a real sense of flavor and texture. Meat and dairy has an almost incomparable richness and “mouthfeel” – a new plant-based industry buzzword – that’s hard to replicate. But that doesn’t mean that vegan food has to taste bland and feel mushy.
Whether it’s chicken-fried tofu, buffalo tempeh sliders, or breaded mozzarella sticks, all are perfectly prepared. I wasn’t sure where they sourced the tofu from, but the chewiness was on par with chicken albeit nothing like chicken. Meaning, it provided a texture that didn’t feel like a vegetable, but rather something unto itself.
The same thing about texture can be said about the mozzarella sticks. The filling, the mock cheese, was just so soft, but not oozy like most vegan cheeses, had a bit of heft and stretch, and just right amount of saltiness. Both the brooklyn fried tofu and the mozzarella sticks had their own distinct crisp breadiness to compliment the softer, chewier inside. I had the buffalo tempeh sliders all to myself, and even the sourdough rolls matched the quality of freshness of the rest of the ingredients. Smothered in sauce, with crunchy veggies, on chewy but soft bread. What’s not to like here?
How to Budget it Up: Go with a friend or two and catch the Happy Hour on Tuesdays to Fridays from 5:30 to 7 (hours subject to change and not posted online – let me know if it does change). You can expect discount drinks, like five buck rosé, and some appetizer specials that aren’t on the menu – like kimchi fries! Take advantage of these times and you could easily have a great experience just sharing a couple of appetizers or an appetizer, entree, and two rosés combo for $20 apiece. Not a bad deal when you consider most more expensive NYC restaurants serve overemphasized presentation and underwhelmingly mediocre food.
So there you have it – the best cheap vegan food in Brooklyn. New York is exploding with new vegan eateries every day and Brooklyn is well within the epicenter of NYC veganism, so there are sure to be more that we haven’t tried (or possibly even heard of!) yet.
What spots for cheap vegan food in Brooklyn do we need to try next time we’re in town? Is Brooklyn on your radar as a vegan hot spot? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
*Editor’s note: This post was originally posted in February 2017 and has since been updated tremendously.