Discover an epic 3 night itinerary for The Big Apple in order to get the most out of your trip, see all of the top sights and, of course, where to pick up the best vegan food in New York along the way.
New York City gave us a trip full of fun, friendship and making lifelong memories – I’d go back in a heartbeat! Plus the vegan food was IN.CRED.IBLE. Including:
- The best carrot cake I’ve ever tried – sweet, moist, packed full of juicy, spiced fruit and nuts, and topped with an ingenious silky-smooth tofu frosting.
- Mac N’Cheese with a thick and creamy sauce, the most incredible moreish, smokey mushroom ‘bacon’ and sprinkled with nutty, salty almond parmesan.
- Ooey gooey gluten free chocolate chip cookies that were a melty cookie-shaped piece of NOM.
- My first try of the cult ‘Beyond Burger’ with a side of crispy, salty truffle fries that were TO DIE FOR.
In a moment of madness, my best friend Fi and I decided to book ourselves flights to New York to celebrate her birthday. Neither of us had been to The Big Apple before but it was at the top of our bucket lists.
Much to the disappointment of the HB, who also desperately wanted to visit, I jumped at the chance to spend several days sightseeing, shopping and of course eating. A lot. Like a lot a lot.
Friends become best friends for many reasons; shared interests, similar backgrounds, mutual friends. Fi and I are the very definition of ‘opposites attract’.
Fi is a spendy-happy shopaholic, I’m a penny pinching recycler.
Fi has three wardrobes bursting at the seams with more clothing than Topshop in Oxford Street (plus her alternative season wardrobe in the loft), I have half a wardrobe of 5 year old eBay acquisitions and that’s too many.
Fi’s cupboard under the stairs is like her personal prosecco-cellar and if you so much as suggest not drinking on a night out she looks at you as if you’ve asked to hack her arm off with a blunt razor blade. I drink about 2 times a year and thats just because I succumb to the peer pressure.
Fi is the life and the soul of the party and will be the one standing on the bar at 3am singing karaoke at the top of her lungs when everyone else has gone home. The last time I was awake at 3am was when my toothless cat dropped a live mouse on the bed for entertainment. The last time I was in a bar was… um… ?
Anyway, you get the picture. Basically the only thing we’ve got in common is our obsession with cats. But hey, that’s all you need to guarantee a lifelong friendship! #crazycatladies
So, back to the point. Going away with a friend can be a risk, regardless of how well you get on, but we could not have got on better or had a more amazing time.
I happily went along with her need to shop until we dropped, she understood my need to hunt down the best vegan food in New York in weird and wacky places.
We were in bed early every night and shared a bottle of something sparkling whilst we chatted until the early hours about anything and everything.
It was 4 days of fun, friendship and making lifelong memories and I’d go again in a heartbeat. Plus the vegan food was OUT OF THIS WORLD!
NYC, as you’d imagine, has rather a lot of vegan offerings, more than can possibly fit into one blog post so I thought I’d write this blog post as…
An Epic 3 Night Vegan Itinerary
It’ll show you exactly how to structure a 3 night stay in order to get the most out of your trip, see all of the top sights and, of course, where to pick up the best vegan food in New York at each step of the way.
Don’t worry, there is a concise summary of the itinerary at the bottom of this blog post, along with a ‘things to remember list’ and details of all of the incredible restaurants mentioned.
So without further ado, lets get into it!
Day of Arrival
Book your accommodation as far in advance as possible and ideally in Times Square as this is a brilliant central location and has easy access to the subway.
Fi and I stayed at The Time in Times Square which was a lovely hotel, albeit quirky, and was just around the corner from the main square so it was set back from the hustle and bustle. We booked it a year ahead so we were able to achieve a relatively good price (well for NYC anyway!).
Once you’ve arrived and got yourself settled into your hotel, grab a quick bite for dinner from Two Boots Pizza and a bottle of something bubbly for the room from the off-licence across the street and enjoy an early night.
Two Boots is a brilliantly quirky fast casual restaurant that serves pizza by the slice or in custom whole pies. They have many locations but the one we went to was in Hell’s Kitchen, just around the corner from Times Square.
The service was warm and friendly and they offered a wide range of vegan pizzas alongside their main non-vegan menu. I opted for a slice of the ‘V for Vegan’ (mushrooms, onion, pesto and dairy free cheese) and the ‘Vegan Night Tripper’ (sundried tomatoes, garlic, jalapeño pesto and two vegan cheeses) – both of which were delicious.
Top Tip: Get yourself a freebie city and subway map and familiarise yourself with where everything is. Finding your way around is straightforward once you get the hang of it because the streets go up and down in number (e.g. 42nd, 43rd, 44th).
Day 1 – Downtown
After a good night’s sleep its time to start sightseeing!
Hop on the subway from one of the many stations around Times Square and head for one of the stops near the Brooklyn Bridge (e.g. Fulton Street). From here you will also see Wall Street and the Manhattan Bridge.
Top Tip: Book your hotel with breakfast so you can eat like a champ before you head out for the day and save yourself some money.
The Brooklyn Bridge // feat. Build Your Own Pasta Bowls
If you are feeling energetic and it’s not too cold you can walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or alternatively, if you are planning in advance, you could book a helicopter ride from the pier next to the bridge.
From the helicopter pier, wander up Broad Street to number 74 where you will find a healthy eating cafe called ‘Flavors’, which is perfect for a light lunch. They actually have 3 locations around the Brooklyn Bridge so they are hard to miss.
Flavors allow you to make your own custom pasta, quinoa bowls and salads with many vegan options including falafel, tofu and Beyond Meat ‘chicken’. They have a massive menu with something for everyone.
Little Italy & Chinatown // feat. The Best Carrot Cake You’ll Ever Try
Two streets up from Broad Street is Broadway and if you head up this main street you will come across Little Italy and Chinatown. Whilst you are in Little Italy, be sure to stop at a restaurant called Spring Street Natural for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
Spring Street Natural is a beautiful restaurant adorned with fairy lights and has the most incredible menu. If you haven’t had lunch already it will be a great place to stop – their vegan menu looks to die for and includes dishes such as roasted veg Mac n’ Cheese with 3 vegan cheeses, taco salad and scrambled tofu with caramelised onions.
We stopped at Spring Street for a cup of tea and almost didn’t order food but when I saw the vegan carrot cake with tofu ‘cream cheese’ frosting I just had to try it! Thank goodness I did. It was the most incredible carrot cake I have ever tried – vegan or non-vegan. It was moist, sweet and packed full of deliciously moreish ingredients.
The tofu frosting was GENIUS.
I knew the instant I tried it that I had to re-create it once I got home and, if I don’t say so myself, I have NAILED IT. It took a few attempts but the result is a carrot cake so delicious it should come with a warning. Think:
packed with deliciously moist, juicy and moreish ingredients,
and topped with the holy grail of vegan icings – a sweet, cinnamon and orange frosting.
If you only try one recipe from my blog, make it this. It might just be the most incredible cake you’ve ever tasted!
*** Recipe re-creation ***
Check out my recipe for The Best Vegan Carrot Cake You’ll Ever Try. It’s deliciously sweet and moist, packed full of spiced fruit and nuts and topped with a silky smooth orange and cinnamon frosting. You won’t want to miss this one!
The Rockefeller // Feat. Sunset Cocktails and a View That Must Not Be Missed
Once you have finished perusing Little Italy and Chinatown, hop back on the subway to Times Square and freshen up for an evening that you will never forget.
Out of all of the incredible things you can do and sights you can see in New York, having a cocktail in Bar 65 in the Rockefeller Centre (the Rainbow Room) at sunset will be the most breathtaking.
You will most likely need to book in advance as it gets busy but it should be top of your list of things to do (trust me!). Put your glad rags on and make your way to the top of the Rockerfeller to enjoy a cocktail overlooking what must be the most jaw-dropping view in all of New York, especially if you are lucky enough to be there for the sunset.
We chose to have dinner whilst we were there and whilst the vegan options are limited, I still enjoyed a delicious meal of poached pear and pomegranate salad. So delicious in fact that I decided to make this recipe re-creation no.2 from our NYC trip!
This fresh and fruity salad is perfect for a hot summers day – with sweet poached pears, juicy pomegranate and a tangy maple sherry dressing. Delicious!
*** Recipe re-creation ***
If you are looking for the perfect summer salad, look no further! My Poached Pear and Pomegranate Salad is packed full of fresh and fruity flavours including sweet poached pears and crisp, juicy pomegranate.
It is sprinkled with caramelised walnuts and drizzled with a tangy maple sherry dressing that cuts through the sweetness of the fruit, making this a perfect pairing (resist the pun Tara, resist the pun).
Day 2 – Midtown
The Empire State Building // Feat. The Vegan Burrito of Dreams
Today is the day every NYC tourist dreams of – the Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty and Times Square all in one day!
The Empire State Building is a 10-15 minute walk from Times Square and is located on the corner of 34th Street and 5th Avenue, a great street for shopping.
Grab yourself a decent breakfast, put on your walking shoes and head out early. Get to the Empire State Building by 9am if you can, to avoid the queues and go straight on up. Getting your tickets in advance will also help speed things along (don’t worry there is a ‘things to remember’ list at the end of this blog post so you won’t forget anything!).
The Empire State Building is so worth doing – the view is truly breathtaking and I could have stayed up there for hours, taking it all in. There are windows all around the building and also an observation deck if you prefer to go outside. One not to miss!
Spend the morning shopping up and down 5th Avenue and grab lunch at Chipotle (next to the Empire State Building) whenever you are ready. I am a big Mexican-food fan and Chipotle is a quick and easy stop to pick up something delicious like a spiced tofu burrito bowl, complete with lashings of guac and salsa. Mmmmm mmm.
Lady Liberty // Feat. A Breathtaking Skyline
Once you’ve finished shopping and picking up your Macy’s souvenirs, head down 34th Street to Circle Line Cruises at pier 83 (about a 30 minute walk). Check in for the 1.5 hour guided Landmark Cruise, which is an incredible way to see so many of the New York sights, including the Statue of Liberty. If you are going at a busy time of year you may need to book in advance but we didn’t have any trouble getting on.
Now, seeing Lady Liberty is something that you have to do as a tourist in New York but I’m afraid to say she is a little underwhelming! That’s why the cruise is a great way to see her – it goes right up close so you can get some good pictures but you also see lots of other interesting sights, and the view of the city from the river is beautiful.
If you are wanting a photo just be sure to get to the outside deck way before you reach Lady Liberty otherwise you will be stuck behind lines of people.
Times Square // Feat. Surely The Best Vegan Restaurant in NYC
Picture yourself standing in the middle of a street staring at the sky with your mouth open in disbelief. You best perfect that look because that is exactly what you’ll be doing when you get to Times Square!
It’s got to be one of the busiest places on earth but it truly is a sight that has to be seen! I’d suggest going at night so once you have finished on your cruise, head to the Rockefeller Plaza, which is on the way to Times Square, and be prepared to be ‘vegamazed’ (see what I did there?).
Nestled in the Rockefeller Plaza, around the corner (you may have to walk around the building once or twice before you spot it) is the wonder that is ‘By Chloe’. Quite possibly the best fast casual vegan restaurant around.
They’ve got it all – the quirky IG-able decor, the extensive and inventive all-vegan menu and some of the most delicious vegan food you’ll ever eat.
We opted for The Classic Burger, complete with the most incredible ‘beet ketchup’ (you HAVE to try it!), a sizeable portion of Avocado Pesto Pasta, air baked sweet potato fries and Mac N’ Cheese made from a sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce, topped with shiitake bacon and almond parmesan.
I literally dream about that Mac N’ Cheese now.
The sauce was so thick and creamy.
The ‘bacon’ the most incredible, moreish, smokey flavour.
The almond parmesan so nutty, salty, punchy.
Urrrgghh. Please let me go back to NY just for that!
One day I will re-create it… but I’ll save it for a special occasion 😉
We finished the rather sizeable meal (aka eyes bigger than our belly moment, aka just like the rest of our trip) and then I decided to tip myself over the edge with a gluten free chocolate chip cookie that was an ooey, gooey, melty cookie-shaped piece of NOM.
Now I will move on shortly but just in case you haven’t got the message, just read some of the other things on their menu:
Daily Pancake – Matcha pancake with fresh strawberries, chocolate sauce, whipped maple butter and pure maple syrup.
Oh So Fancy Fries – Air baked fries with spicy seitan chorizo, whiskey onions, chipotle aioli and tofu crema.
The Whiskey BBQ Burger – smoky portobello mushrooms and seitan with grilled pineapple, onion marmalade, sautéed kale, bourbon bbq and a potato bun.
SRSLY. Do you not care about our waistlines ppl?!
I shall now move on from my delicious food-induced craze.
From ‘By Chloe’ waddle down to Times Square to see it all lit up at night. It’s so incredibly beautiful and has a buzzing atmosphere that you won’t want to miss.
Unless you’re in a food coma and cannot eject yourself from the By Chloe seat. Then you might have to miss it…
Move on Tara, move on.
Day 3 – Manhattan
Central Park & Grand Central // Feat. The One, The Only – The BEYOND BURGER
You are in for a treat today! What a lovely, chilled last day it will be.
After a good breakfast, head out on 7th or 8th Avenue and you’ll arrive at the ever famous Central Park. It’s beautiful whatever time of year you go but especially in the spring when all of the cherry blossom trees are out. We went just before this but it was beautiful nonetheless.
Take a leisurely stroll and grab yourself a coffee to enjoy whilst taking in the calm. I could look for hours at the buildings that surround the park, wondering who is in them and what they are doing. How did they come to be there? How lucky they must be to have that view to look upon every day.
Once you’ve finished your morning exploring the park, head to Grand Central Station, which you can get to by taking most of the subways, or you can walk to by heading down 5th Avenue and then cutting across to Park Avenue when you get to 43rd Street.
Grand Central is one of those iconic New York sights and even for someone to whom it isn’t familiar, you can’t help but see the beauty. The building and decor is stunning inside and the main hall with the green ceiling is a masterpiece. Just avoid it at rush hour!
The last stop of your trip will have you heading home with a full, happy belly and a glow of contentment because it is a vegan restaurant that donates all of its profits to charitable causes. How perfect can you get?
Head back to Times Square from Grand Central (it might be worth grabbing the subway since you are already there) and make your way to PS Kitchen.
PS Kitchen is clean and modern, with an unrivalled friendly service and a really rather special menu. I opted for my first try of the cult ‘Beyond Burger’, which I was so excited about, and the house truffle fries.
The Beyond Burger was scarily realistic, so much so that Fi said she wouldn’t have known it wasn’t meat! It came served with queso, thousand island and fries. Yes we ordered double fries. Don’t judge us, we were carbing up ready for a strenuous flight….
The house truffle fries were literally TO DIE FOR.
To be honest I think I may have almost died because I ate so many of the delicious little critters. We just couldn’t stop eating them! The truffle flavour is like nothing else on the planet and they were salty and crispy and incredibly, incredibly delicious.
That leads me nicely on to recipe re-creation no.3!
*** Recipe re-creation ***
A healthier version of the incredible crispy truffle fries that we wolfed down at PS Kitchen, my oven-baked Skinny Sweet Potato Truffle Fries have a subtle, aromatic truffle flavour that is downright addictive!
Serve these delicious fries topped with freshly chopped parsley, a generous sprinkling of sea salt and my very own 2 Minute Vegan Parmesan. Pure vegan heaven!
So that’s it my friends!
Three nights of fun, frolics and vegan food. Lots and lots of delicious, incredible, world-class vegan food.
My recipe re-creations from this trip:
- The Best Vegan Carrot Cake You’ll Ever Try, inspired by Spring Street Natural – deliciously sweet and moist, packed full of spiced fruit and nuts and topped with a silky smooth orange and cinnamon frosting.
- Poached Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Maple Sherry Dressing, inspired by Bar 65, The Rainbow Room – the perfect summer salad packed full of fresh, fruity flavours. Sprinkled with caramelised walnuts and drizzled with a tangy maple-sherry dressing.
- Skinny Sweet Potato Truffle Fries, inspired by PS Kitchen – oven packed with a subtle, aromatic truffle flavour that is downright addictive! Serve these delicious fries topped with freshly chopped parsley, a generous sprinkling of sea salt and my very own 2 Minute Vegan Parmesan.
- Swirly Cinnamon Rolls with Tofu Icing (BONUS RECIPE) – Squishy, soft, doughy rolls with a sweet and gooey cinnamon swirl and a silky smooth tofu icing on the side, literal food heaven!
- 2 Minute Vegan Parmesan (BONUS RECIPE) – Nutty, savoury, tangy vegan parmesan with a light and crumbly texture. Made with just 4 ingredients and whipped up in less than 2 minutes, this is about as easy as it gets! Perfect for pizza, pasta and topping fries.
Here’s your summarised itinerary:
DAY OF ARRIVAL
AM/PM: Arrive and check in to your Times Square hotel.
6 PM: Dinner at Two Boots Pizza – quirky decor, friendly service and an extensive menu of vegan pizzas.
10 AM: The Brooklyn Bridge
12 PM: Lunch at Flavors – build your own pasta with allll of the toppings
1 PM: A wander around Little Italy and Chinatown
3 PM: Afternoon tea at Spring Street Natural – a great cuppa and the best carrot cake you’ll ever try
5 PM: Sunset cocktails at Bar 65 and an unforgettable evening
9 AM: The Empire State Building
11 AM: Shop till you drop on 5th Avenue with Macys
1 PM: Lunch at Chipotle for the vegan tofu burrito of dreams
3 PM: A cruise to see Lady Liberty and the New York skyline
6 PM: Dinner at By Chloe – quite possibly the best vegan restaurant in NYC
8 PM: Times Square at night
10 AM: Central Park
12 PM: Grand Central
2 PM: Lunch at PS Kitchen
PM: Off home. Sad face.
Things to remember:
- Book your hotel near to Times Square – it’s a central location and close to the subway, making it easy to get around. Try to get a hotel just off the square to avoid some of the hustle and bustle.
- Book your hotel with breakfast. Yes this may seem expensive at the time of booking but trust me, it’ll be more expensive to eat out (especially if the hotel breakfast is a buffet and you can load up…).
- Pack comfortable walking shoes and, depending on the time of year, plenty of layers. The weather can be very changeable and be baking hot one minute and freezing cold the next.
- Get yourself a freebie street and subway map either from your hotel or put one on your phone before you go. Familiarise yourself with where everything is and it’ll make it a lot easier to get around.
- Things I’d recommend booking in advance if you fancy doing them –
- A helicopter ride from the Brooklyn Bridge
- A cruise to see The Statue of Liberty and the New York Skyline
- Sunset cocktails at Bar 65/The Rainbow Room in the Rockefeller Centre
- The Empire State Building