Love the place, hate the "no pandas" policy. (Note: This is the Manhattan location.)Photo: Shanna Ravindra
Non-meat-eaters know how to travel to eat well (the half-day schlep to Flatbush’s Veggie Castle, a converted White Castle, is a right of passage). So, we predict the path through the city’s first-ever Vegetarian Restaurant Week, taking place in Harlem and Brooklyn through October 27, will be well worn. The week’s itinerary is filled with some proselytizing info sessions for those looking to go raw or from veggie to vegan. But we’re focusing on the free tastings and prix fixe meals.
In Harlem, knock out two of the city’s most richly flavored vegetarian restaurants in one visit with a little pacing. Strictly Roots on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard has a chill Rasta vibe that suits their vegan buffet stocked with spot-on soul and comfort food like green-bean succotash, collard greens, yams, and fried tofu balls stuffed with herbs and onions. Around the corner on 125th Street, Uptown Juice Bar entices with time-tested Caribbean and soul fare. They serve the best tofu dishes in town — let’s hope they’ll have the honey-BBQ tofu on the menu — and also do knockout mock-meat dishes like barbecue soy chunks and curried "duck."
In Brooklyn, try Fort Greene’s Red Bamboo if you haven’t yet. They do a legendary soul soy-chicken sandwich. Cobble Hill’s Jill’s is the spot to explore raw foods and light, organic fare. Then RSVP to a private gourmet event called 4 Course Vegan in Williamsburg. A mystery man named Chef Matteo is behind this Saturday’s $40 prix fixe menu, which includes autumn-vegetable roulade with watercress and parsley-root purée, chile-roasted cauliflower with baby greens and mustard-dill vinaigrette, and a pumpkin-mousse tart with cocoa nibs and citrus-vanilla cream.