Hats off to these sly chefs. According to the owners of the restaurants below, all of these New York City hot spots actually tell no lies, no matter what their signs or locations imply. The next time you find yourself meandering into one of these restaurants for the first time, hopefully this will do you the service of preempting the crippling disappointment when you realize that your “chocolate” souffle actually has no chocolate in it at all… Pursue these deliciously unconventional eateries bravely.
267 Elizabeth St.
3. Tacombi at Fonda Nolita: Not only is this sneaky underground gourmet taco joint conveniently tucked away inside a random parking garage in Lower Manhattan, but it’s camouflaged discretely by its Italian neighbors. Owner Tacombi’s sneaky Nolita locale for his vintage, taco-bus-food-truck is popular among the reportedly “skinny-jeans crowd” according to New York Times food writer, Oliver Strand. Tacombi also says that upon walking inside the Little Italy garage, you’ll immediately be transplanted to its spicy origin of Yucatan. Not only do they serve beer and sangria until 1 a.m. on the weekends, but they take credit AND deliver your food truck orders to your table!
430 e. 8th St.
2. Dirt Candy: Unless you consider carrots or corn candy, then reconsider Amanda Cohen’s vegetable-worshipping dinner spot. A vegetarian chef by degree, Cohen ironically became famous for her buffalo wings at a diner she worked at in Spanish Harlem. A few restaurants later, she opened Dirt Candy, a gourmet haven for veggie lovers. After my boyfriend so keenly pointed out that the name actually makes sense (at least if you love greens enough to consider them the candy of the earth), then the Celery Cheesecake Roll ($10) doesn’t sound so bad. The menu embodies the veggies-as-gold theme by naming each dish after (and revolving each dish around) the featured produce, paying homage to the earth’s bountiful legumes. Thumbs up for this clever place. Dish to try: Beets ($20), salt-roasted beets, thau green curry, beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream.
229 E 14th St.
1. Beyond Sushi: Created by power couple, Guy and Tali Vaknin, this “sushi” place is a hot spot among New York City herbivores. And for a good reason: It’s one hundred percent vegan. No sashimi nor Nigiri can be found among rolls of Forbidden black rice (or a six-grain medley), colorful tofu, fruit and veggie purees on this menu. But take heed before you raise your eyebrows: Beyond Sushi has conveniently posted a disclaimer on their website which distinguishes what sushi traditionally means and what it implies in the States (“Sushi which originates in Japan is a dish that refers to a specially prepared rice, and not the raw fish itself. This is commonly mistaken amongst frequent restaurant-goer.”) Although I wouldn’t actually come here if I were simultaneously dieting and craving sushi, I would absolutely try the Nutty Buddy (buckwheat noodles, peanuts, jalapeno peanut butter, avocado, you get the point). And Tali makes a great point: “You do not have to be vegan to enjoy our menu,” he says. “It’s all about taking a moment to detox from your daily eating habits and enjoying something wholesome. After all, it’s a fun way of enjoying your essential fruit and vegetable servings.” Oh, and the prices are unheard of-cheap: The most expensive item, the “Roll of the Month,” caps off at $8.27.