In recent years, New York City has made a name for itself in the world of seriously amazing vegan dining options. The proliferation of plant-based choices on menus around town has obvious benefits for vegan foodies—and for anyone who wants to enjoy delicious vegetable-forward cuisine—but has also made deciding where to go much more difficult. So we went straight to the source and asked five celebrated vegan chefs and restaurant owners to share their absolute favorite vegan dish.
The caveat: they had to pick a dish made by a colleague in the industry rather than one of their own making. Read up on the knockout meals they chose, and then go try them out for yourself.
Kung Pao Tofu at Spicy Moon
328 E. 6th St., East Village, and 68 W. 3rd St., Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Why this dish is so great: According to Dominique Roy, the chef de cuisine at the three-Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant , Spicy Moon makes “amazing” vegan Szechuan food. “Their kung pao tofu is a huge hit and just so enjoyable,” chef Roy says. “It comes packed with plenty of veggies, crispy tofu and this incredible spicy kung pao sauce. This is my go-to when I’m craving Szechuan.”
What to pair it with: When you’re dining at Spicy Moon, it’s always a great idea to order a bowl of their dan dan noodles for the table. This crowd-pleasing dish consistently packs a complex punch of flavor, and the noodles are never soggy, instead retaining that perfectly al dente, lightly chewy texture.
Mezcal Mushroom Tlayudita at For All Things Good
343 Franklin Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant, and 314 Grand St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Why this dish is so great: Tlayuditas are a mini twist on the tlayuda, a large corn tortilla—think platter size—that has been crisped on a griddle and topped with refried beans and fixings of your choice (typically proteins, lettuce and so on). Juan Pajarito Xaltepec, head chef at beloved modern vegan restaurant , says this version of the dish—which is vegan if you order it without cheese—is a standout.
“I love this dish because everything is about the quality of the ingredients,” chef Xaltepec says. "You really taste the heirloom corn in the masa, the sear of the mushrooms and the chiles of the salsa macha [a Veracruz-style chile oil].”
What to pair it with: Chef Xaltepec recommends enjoying your tlayudita with a glass of the horchata, a traditional Mexican drink made from rice milk and seasoned with cinnamon. “When it comes to the food of my culture, everything on For All Things Good’s menu is amazing and reminds me of my childhood, but the combination of tlayudita and horchata really reminds me of home,” he says.
Vegan Lobster Rol at Aunts et Uncles
1407 Nostrand Ave., Flatbush, Brooklyn
Why this dish is so great: Shenarri Freeman, executive chef at critically acclaimed vegan soul-food establishment , offers nothing but praise for this creative play on the seafood classic. “I just love the flavor and texture,” she says. “It’s my go-to meal.”
Sweet, delicate hearts of palm play the starring role; the team at Aunts et Uncles uses seasoning to inject the flavor of the ocean into the dish.
What to pair it with: There are so many great offerings at this Caribbean-inspired restaurant that chef Freeman recommends bringing a crowd to try out a range of dishes. “I usually go with friends so I can order more things on the menu, like the vegan white-truffle-oil-topped mac ’n’ cheese,” she says. “My favorite drink is the Soca Sangria, which combines sorrel, rum and lambrusco.”
"I Can't Believe It's Birria" Tacos at Raiz NYC
120 First Ave., East Village, Manhattan
Why this dish is so great: Ask chef Guy Vaknin, founder of —a restaurant group known for its plant-based restaurants Beyond Sushi, Coletta and Willow—for a recommendation and he'll praise the “can’t believe it’s birria” tacos from Raíz.
“They make the filling with braised jackfruit, which is a great alternative to shredded beef,” Vaknin says. “It mimics the texture in a delicious way. The guacamole and lime balance the richness of the birria broth. It’s an overall fantastic taco.”
What to pair it with: If you like to end your meal with something sweet, Raíz has that covered too. “They have awesome plant-based gelato,” Vaknin says, noting that one of his favorite flavors is the mango Tajin (a chile-lime seasoning).
Maitake Wings at P.S. Kitchen
246 W. 48th St., Times Square, Manhattan
Why this dish is so great: According to innovative restaurateur Pinky Cole, founder of the maitake wings from P.S. Kitchen are exceptional. “I love the flavor—so much so that I wish they would give me the recipe!” Cole says.
The “wings” make use of maitakes, also known as hen of the woods, a variety of mushrooms beloved for their meaty texture and deep flavor. The team at P.S. Kitchen magically transforms these rich mushrooms into an exceptionally crispy, crunchy riff on buffalo wings.
What to pair it with: If you’re looking to create a seriously delicious brunch vibe, you can always go for a bottle of mimosas, but Cole says there’s an even better option on the P.S. Kitchen menu: “My cocktail of choice is the vegan bloody mary.”