After getting off to a great start the night before, I began my first full day in New York the way every day there must start – with a bagel.
Where I live, non-dairy cream cheese only exists in the grocery store. In Iowa bagel shops, I usually go with the option of hummus, and David opts for peanut butter.
However, in New York City, tofu cream cheese abounds with a variety of flavors like scallion, vegetable, and olive. (And plain, of course, too.) I snagged a toasted bagel with scallion tofu cream cheese before jumping on the subway to meet up with Dianne.
Dianne writes the blog Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen and is the editor-in-chief at Chic Vegan. We met at Vida Vegan Con in Portland a couple of years ago, and she showed me around New York when we were there last year. We always have so much fun together.
Since we’re both vegan food bloggers our interests overlap, and we’re both happy ducking into vegan doughnut shops and ice cream stores. Plus, it’s great seeing the city with a local who knows the best spots and can take you there without getting lost on the way.
Dianne and I met up at Penn Station and then continued on the train together to Brooklyn.
I had heard so many raves about Champs Diner, and I was looking forward to trying it myself. There was a 20-minute wait, and so Dianne and I stood outside and talked until our names were called.
The restaurant is totally vegan and has a cute 50’s diner motif. The extensive menu covers breakfasts to after dinner milkshakes and egg creams.
Dianne and I shared an order of mozzarella sticks with marinara dipping sauce to start. They come with four to an order, which was perfect for two people. The sticks were perfectly crisp on the outside with gooey mozzarella non-dairy cheese melted inside.
If you go to Champs, you need these. No question.
For lunch, I ordered the reuben. It was stuffed with grilled seitan, like the best reubens are, sauerkraut, melty cheese, and Russian dressing on toasted marbled rye.
This didn’t take me to the heights of the Chicago Diner reuben, but it was still quite good.
After lunch, we walked to nearby Dun-Well Doughnuts. Too stuffed to eat any doughnuts at that moment, I grabbed four to share with David later.
(To read more about Dun-Well, check out this post from last year’s visit.)
After that we hopped back on the subway and took the train to Manhattan for more stops at Pearl River and Moo Shoes before parting ways.
David had been working that day, and we went to dinner with one of his co-workers that evening. The co-worker isn’t vegan and preferred going to a non-vegan restaurant. I had asked Dianne for a suggestion, and she mentioned Pala Pizza, which has both non-vegan and vegan menus.
We started with patatini, homemade potato chips. Usually when I get homemade potato chips at a restaurant, they come out hot. However, these were room temperature.
They had the flavor of truffle oil and fresh herbs.
We shared the carciofi al parmigiano, a salad with greens, grilled artichokes, and cherry tomatoes. It typically comes with Daiya cheese, but I asked for it to be omitted.
The salad had a light, lemony dressing that enhanced without being overbearing.
All of the vegan pizzas come with Daiya. David and I prefer a cheeseless pizza; however, for whatever reason there’s only one that they’ll make without cheese. We weren’t interested in that particular pizza, and so we ordered the funghi e salsiccia with light Daiya cheese.
It was topped with Field Roast sausage, mushrooms, and hot pepper. The pizza comes without sauce, but they’ll add it if you prefer. In retrospect, I think it would have been better with sauce, because it was a little on the dry side.
This “personal” pizza was plenty for two to share, especially with a salad and appetizer to start.
After dinner, we walked through the city before hopping on the subway and heading to our hotel for the night.