Food Trucks in New York
Food Trucks in New York

Maharaj’s Food Guide To Vegetarian Food in New York 

During my first international trip to the USA, I attended KubeCon in Chicago. After spending a few days in Chicago and enjoying the amazing food there, I decided to take a mini vacation to New York. I did all the typical tourist things, like visiting the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and the World Trade Center

But being a foodie, my priorities were set on food. New York is a melting pot of cultures, and you can see that through its street food.

In this post, I’ll share my first-time experience with New York’s food trucks and exploring vegetarian food in New York. Through this post, I want to help first time visitors to New York by creating a New York Food Guide, especially for vegetarian food.

Food Trucks in New York

Food trucks have a long history in New York, starting with pushcarts and street vendors in the late 17th century. They gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s as affordable and convenient dining options during economic challenges. The 2000s saw a resurgence thanks to social media, with many trucks offering gourmet and fusion dishes, elevating the street food scene. 

Food Trucks in New York - New York Food Guide
Food Trucks in New York

Today, food trucks are a vital part of New York’s culture, the whole “grab & go” culture started here from what I felt. They offer a wide range of cuisines, from classic hot dogs and pretzels to gourmet fusion and desi Biryani, fitting the fast-paced lifestyle of New Yorkers.

So while I was in New York, I had spent quite some time in Manhattan just walking around and exploring the neighbourhood and also the New York Food Trucks.

Vegetarian Food in New York

New York’s food truck scene offers a wide variety of cuisines, from hot dogs and burgers to churros and tacos. Mexican food is quite popular, with tacos and other specialities drawing in crowds. Mediterranean food trucks are also a favourite, offering delicious options like hummus and falafel. However, the most popular cuisine has to be Indian, with offerings like biryani, paneer, and rice combos attracting long queues.

Based on my visits, the most crowded food trucks were Mediterranean and Indian. Since I wasn’t trying Indian food, I opted for Mediterranean at The Halal Guys, which is one of the most popular food trucks in NYC. I ordered their classic falafel hummus and rice bowl. It was loaded with veggies, rice and falafel and it was delicious! For $12 this was worth it. They also give extra sauce with it, but that contains egg. 

Falafel Rice Bowl at The Halal Guys
Falafel Rice Bowl at The Halal Guys

I also tried a Falafel and Hummus Wrap at Moshe’s Falafel which is near Times Square and that was good too. Quite a bit of filling and it wasn’t easy to eat on the go. So I had to grab a place to sit and eat. Luckily that neighbourhood in New York had plenty of places to sit. 

In my opinion, for vegetarians, the options can be limited, but Mediterranean food trucks are a safe bet with their variety of flavorful, plant-based dishes. Apart from that, there are Indian food trucks operated by Asians that have good taste as I’m told. 

Further, many small newsstand-type stalls sell water, cold drinks and snacks, and most of these are also operated by Indians. So in case you don’t find anything there, these could be a good option.

New York Food Guide – Restaurants I Tried & Tasted

Joe’s Pizza

One of the popular dishes in New York is the New York Pizza. While Chicago’s deep dish pizza is a different league, New York is more about regular crust pizzas. Some popular pizzerias in the city are flocked by many for their pizzas including John’s of Bleecker Street, Bleecker’s Street Pizza is another place worth trying.

Slice Pizza at Joe's Pizza
Slice Pizza at Joe’s Pizza

Apart from these, if you’re on a budget then I’d suggest Joe’s Pizza. There are multiple outlets, I tried the one in Carmine Street. They sell pizzas by slice$4/$5 for a slice depending on the topping. This is a classic NYC Pizza that’s thin crust, not crispy but pretty big in size. I tried Mozzarella and Spinach which were quite good and satisfying. Added a bottle of Coca-Cola for $3 and had a good meal.

Naya – Delicious Lebanese Bowls

Another place that I found out by accident was Naya Bowls. I had just returned from the Statue of Liberty and was walking around the streets of Manhattan and opened Google Maps to find a place to eat. It showed me Naya which was the closest. This again is a chain QSR that I realised later. 

Falafel Bowl at Naya Bowls
Falafel Bowl at Naya Bowls

It’s the Subway version of Lebanese food. I opted for a Naya Bowl where you choose a base of rice or noodles then add some meat, Kibbeh, falafels, etc. Post that you can add some veggies and then get to the best part – unlimited sauces – Hummus, Labneh, Yoghurt, Tahini etc. This wholesome bowl is too good. One of the best in the city. For $12 it’s similar to other food truck bowls that I had, but this one is different. Worth trying for vegetarians. 

Shake Shack

This is another chain QSR popular for their burgers. Like McDonald’s (now I realised that I didn’t eat at any McDonald’s or Starbucks in New York :() Anyways, Shake Shack was a place that was recommended by a few folks. Since there are multiple outlets, I went to their Upper East outlet that’s close to Central Park and the New York City Museum.

Veggie Burger At Shake Shack
Veggie Burger At Shake Shack

It’s located next to Target and is quite a busy place. I ordered the Veggie Burger which was around $9. I decided to eat there and luckily had someone come to my table and leave the burger. It was packed typically like McDs and frankly, felt the burger was small for the price :/. Coming to the taste, it was decent but not amazing types. It had some pickles, onions and lettuce along with the patty and cheese. Since it’s a QSR, you’ll find it in a lot of places in the city. 

Bunna Cafe

If you’re into exploring different cuisines then you must check out Bunna Cafe in Brooklyn for Ethiopian food. This was my first time trying it and quite liked it. The ingredients were familiar and the preparations were simple. Obviously, the flavours weren’t on the spice level of what we have here in India, but it was good different.

Ethiopian Food At Bunna Cafe
Ethiopian Food At Bunna Cafe

I had their breakfast platter which had a few dishes and topped it up with an Iced Ethiopian Coffee. If you’re not a coffee drinker let me tell you that coffee in India came from Ethiopia, so yeah, if you’re here, you must check out this place. 

Magnolia Bakery

Another local favourite when it comes to desserts especially Banana Pudding is Magnolia Bakery. Opened in 1996, the bakery has become one of the most loved places in New York. There’s one that opened in Hyderabad a year ago, never went there. Instead, I visited the Rockefeller Center outlet and had to be in a queue to try one of their Banana Puddings.

I couldn’t eat there since the store is quite small, but I brought it to my hotel room and indulged in it. Quite sweet, pretty heavy but heavenly. I also purchased a box of Banana Pudding Pies, these also were pretty sweet but pretty good on taste. 

Local Markets

TimeOut Market

If you’re exploring Dumbo and Brooklyn Bridge a good place to spend your time (especially evenings) is the TimeOut market. It’s a food court with plenty of good eateries from Indian to Chinese and local food, it’s quite a happening place. If you’re a tippler, you’ll truly love this place. Head to the first floor and you get one of the best views of the New York skyline. So head here with your friends, grab a beer or soda and enjoy the skyline.

Chelsea Market

Located close to the Hudson River, Chelsea Market is a popular market amongst the locals. It’s an indoor market which has a wide range of groceries and fresh produce. There are also quite a few eateries here that you can try. Most of them were full the time I went there and there was quite some waiting time. From chocolates to burgers and breads, you’ll find everything here. There’s also a Japanese store that sells souvenirs and things like that. 

Apart from all these places, there are Subways, Seven11, Starbucks, McDs and a lot more such stores that have vegetarian options. Many of these places are run by Indians so they can surely guide you to a good Indian restaurant if you want to.

Having said that, do try to explore other cuisines that you get here and trust me it would be next level experience. 

Vegetarian Food In New York – Not Difficult To Find

If you’ve read the entire post, you might have realised that I didn’t eat any Indian food at all. Well, that was my oath in a way that if I ever visit any country outside of India, I’ll not eat Indian food. New York has plenty of eateries for every budget. You have affordable food trucks and Michelin-star restaurants that are worth your flight ticket from India to NYC. So there’s everything for everyone. 

Vegetarian food too is not too difficult to find. While there will be concerns about the oil they use, many places use fish oil to fry the things as I was being told. So make sure to confirm that. Else, there are a lot of vegan eateries that you can explore and try. There were so many more places that I wanted to try, but I had only one stomach and even had limited time at hand. I’m hoping I’ll travel to NYC again sometime in the future and explore other eateries that I couldn’t on this trip.

That’s about it for this blog post. Hope you found this insightful and helpful to plan your trip to New York. Feel free to reach out to me for any assistance. Drop your thoughts in the comments below, tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj, DM on Atulmaharaj on Instagram, or Get In Touch.

About Atulmaharaj

A seasoned blogger and a content marketer for close to a decade now. I write about Food, Technology, Lifestyle, Travel, and Finance related posts. Blogging brings me joy and the best part is I get to read and e-meet so many amazing bloggers! PS: I'm also the founder for Socialmaharaj.com :) Favorite Quote: "Traveling is like reading a book, one who hasn't traveled, hasn't turned a page.

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