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“I’ve lived in LA and Chicago, but so far nothing touches Queens for vegan living”
Queens presents the discerning and enthusiastic eater with an insane array of options. We know this. That’s why you’re reading an entire magazine dedicated to it, why certain tattooed men explore it on their food-travel TV shows, why it has birthed two of our most beloved local chains.
If you’re looking for something—tempeh served in a traditional Indonesian style, a tamale from a cart, a taco from a truck—Queens will have it. From Indian sweets shops in Jackson Heights to the Thai of Elmhurst to the Chinatown of Flushing, New York City’s most diverse borough always delivers.
But does it do so for vegans, the persnickety people who eat no animal products? The vegan diet doesn’t just exclude meat and dairy, but perfectly poached eggs, a sprinkle of feta, the tang of tzatziki and the umami of fish sauce. There are many places in Manhattan and Brooklyn that service this diet exclusively, carefully fermenting their own cashew cheese and blending house-made veggie burgers.
You don’t hear much about that sort of thing happening in Queens. Nonetheless, the borough that delivers on everything else does, indeed, feed its vegans—and well. The one caveat: You’re mainly going to find your options in Astoria, but as this list proves, there’s widespread awareness of veganism. All you have to do is ask.
“I’ve lived in LA and Chicago, but so far nothing touches Queens for vegan living,” says Astoria-based lawyer Robert Greer, who’s been dabbling in the diet for seven years. “Thanks to Queens’ lauded diversity, the supermarket near my house is less a traditional grocery store than just a mish-mash of international markets. Want to choose from 20 different varieties of daal? How about a full aisle of Latin American offerings, and another for Greek/Italian? How do you feel about prickly pear pads for $1.29 per pound, or never-ending Medjool dates, or perpetually 89-cents-per-pound tomatillos?”
The restaurants, too, don’t pose many challenges. “I’ve been to my fair share of Astoria restaurants, and my request for ‘vegan’ has never been met with any confusion,” says Queens resident and avid food Instagrammer Jessie Roth, who’s been avoiding animal products for six years. “People in Queens know what veganism is, and restaurants are making a clear and concerted effort to add options to their menus.” Sara Sohn, who makes her vegan Sweet & Sara marshmallows in Long Island City, also notes “there aren’t too many all-vegan spots in Queens, but so many places have incredible vegan options.”
We have 16 suggestions that should leave you full and happy, with no animals harmed in the process.
The Astoria-born organic burger chain now needs no introduction; however, any list of vegan options must pay homage to this joint that offers not just one, but two vegan burger patties and clearly marks all sides and bun options with a “v.” Save room for dessert: They’ve also got dairy-free shakes.
71-49 Austin St., Forest Hills; 718.275.2273
42-38 Bell Blvd., Bayside; 718.279.2273
Additional locations in Astoria and Long Island City
For pho, an essential meal throughout the year, or excellently acidic pickled mango summer rolls, head to this family-owned and familyoperated. Vietnamese eatery that takes veggie options very seriously.
37-15 Broadway, Astoria; 718.956.0007
It’s another Astoria burger joint, yet it’s become an essential. From the owners of Queens Comfort, this wacky, colorful restaurant also specializes in comfort food, but they’ve made a point of including an intense vegan burger: The Love Supreme has a sweet potato black bean patty, barbecue sauce, avocado and crispy shallots. You might not be able to enjoy the loaded tater tots, but this gigantic dish should do.
33-06 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria; 718.267.0400
Xi’an Famous Foods T
his now-super-famous northwestern Chinese chain has spread into Manhattan and Brooklyn, bringing the cuisine of its namesake city to everyone who craves a tasty plate of noodles for lunch. You can go to Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall for the original, though, and should. It opened in 2005 and the hand-pulled veggie noodles (known by New York’s vegans as N5) are a revelation. Hot, perfectly oily and as spicy as you like it, eating a plate of these is a rite of passage. If you have room, don’t miss the dumplings either. They’re F6.
41-10 Main St., Flushing; 212.786.2068
King of Falafel & Shawarma
A list of vegan recommendations can’t leave out falafel, and Astoria has one of the best around in King of Falafel. The brick-and-mortar has followed the insanely popular truck and cart, and their menu describes their spiced, fried chickpea fritters as “vegan heaven.” Order it in plate form, which also gets you rice, a house salad, tahini and homemade hot sauce.
30-15 Broadway, Astoria; 718.340.8068
Do you like your veggies and tofu spicy? You’re in luck! Ayada Thai in Elmhurst can make things very, very hot while maintaining a ton of flavor. From the fried tofu with chili and peanut sauce appetizer through the mixed vegetable kang som, everything works. And no matter what you’re in the mood for, you’ve got options: Every à la carte option can be served with tofu.
7708 Woodside Ave., Flushing; 718.424.0844
Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao
On your next trip to Flushing (perhaps after you’ve digested the noodles and dumplings from Xi’an Famous Foods), you must visit this staple. “Their veggie dumplings are vegan, delicious and ENORMOUS,” says Roth. “Their garlic cucumber is the tastiest thing ever; they have incredible ‘fried bean gluten,’ a.k.a. seitan; and a ton of other vegetable sides, as well as vegan-friendly mains like noodles.”
38-12 Prince St., Flushing; 718.321.3838
At Jujube Tree, everything is vegan. The Astoria staple goes pan-Asian in style, with a lot of mock meat in their expansive main entrees (like General Tso’s soy protein) and rice bowls. They have a bevy of lunch specials that go for under $10, making it a budget-friendly place to hit midday.
35-02 30th Ave., Astoria; 718.545.1888
“For standard North Indian dishes, Seva is a Manhattan-beater,” says Greer, “with amazing aromas and my favorite coriander chutney.” Every vegan option on the menu is clearly marked with a green leaf, but you should definitely go for Aloo Gobi Matar, which features stir-fried cauliflower, baby green peas, potatoes, ginger and turmeric.
30-07 34th St., Astoria; 718.626.4440
At this Mexican spot in Woodside (which also has a location in Sunnyside), you can order a seitan burrito with tofu cream cheese. “They have vegan cheese to make vegan quesadillas or sub cheese in any dish,” says Sohn, who also has a hot tip: “Ask for the vegan mole, which is not on the menu.”
4502 48th Ave., Woodside; 718.392.2161
This is the most vegan-friendly of pizza kitchens, with tons of vegetables available to top your brick-oven-baked marinara pie that comes with simple tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and basil. Peppery arugula always makes for a deliciously crisp contrast.
36-08 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria ; 718.278.4800
Natural Tofu & Noodles
This cozy Korean kitchen specializes in tofu stew, and Sohn loves the vegetarian one. “The tofu is made in house,” she adds. And if you order the bimbimbap, just request no egg.
40-6 Queens Blvd., Sunnyside; 718.706.0899
A gastropub doesn’t necessarily scream “vegan!” but Roth says it’s become one of her go-tos. “Surprisingly, they offer numerous vegan entree options, such as vegan fried chicken banh mi (no longer offered at time of print), vegan chik-n parmesan and a vegan burger,” she says. “I’ve tried all of these and they’re all delicious and huge.”
36-10 30th Ave., Astoria; 718.269.3443
Monika’s Cafe Bar
Do you want vegan calamari? Of course you do! This place serves it up with oyster mushrooms for that same chewy, meaty texture you once knew and loved. You should also hit up Monika’s if you’re in the mood for a classic vegan “earth bowl” packed with veggies and drenched in tahini dressing.
32-90 36th St., Astoria; 718.204.5273
There is no list of vegan eats in Queens without dosa, and Dosa Delight in Jackson Heights delivers some of the best. You should also go for their momos, vegetable uttpam and aloo gobi (cauliflower and potato seasoned with ginger, garlic, herbs and spices).
35-66 73rd St., Jackson Heights; 718.397.1000
Much of the menu uses veggie stock in the filling, so you can enjoy these veggie empanadas when you’re in the mood for something fried and delicious.
85-05 Northern Blvd., Jackson Heights; 718.505.9937