Latin cuisine can be challenging for vegetarians, since meat always tends to be the main staple of any dish. With the number of Latin restaurants on the rise, it’s important to know which ones have something to offer besides salads. These five restaurants allow your taste buds to flair up for savory Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Colombian food, while not breaking any rules.
$=Under $15 | $$=Over $15
Café con Leche
Where: 424 Amsterdam Avenue
The good news is that there’s a part of the menu dedicated to vegetarian options, so it’s easy to find the food that suits your vegetarian diet. The bad news is that the vegetarianos dishes are just variations of vegetables seasoned differently Try a batida after your meal as a sweet dessert. The shakes come in any tropical fruit flavor.
Scene: If you want to feel like you’re at the neighborhood cafeteria, this is where you want to go grab lunch. It’s a small space with a casual appeal; when the weather warms up, they set up tables out front. Sipping cafe con leche with the sun warming my wind-burned winter skin? Don’t mind if I do.
Tip: If you’re vegan you might have to consult further because the options are labeled vegetarian, not necessarily vegan.
Where: 23 Avenue A
If you’re a pescatarian, this place has tons of seafood dishes from appetizers to entrees by the renowned chef Julian Medina. They also have a fries menu where you can get avocado or hearts of palm fries, and let’s be real, it’s not a Latin meal without some avocado.
Scene: Wooden floors, white leather chairs, and an exposed brick wall offer up a modern decor, but at the expense of your wallet. Yerba Buena is too pricey to be a regular spot, but perfect if you need to impress someone with the kind of place that garnishes the plates and drinks to make each meal look like a work of art.
Tip: The only vegetarian items on the menu are the vegetable sides; luckily they aren’t plain vegetables. Everything has a little Latin spice.
Where: 400 E 57th Street
The only entrée containing the word vegetarian is possibly the sole meal you need to care about, a paella vegetariana. It’s not everyday you eat a paella, in fact you probably don’t know how to make one yourself, but at Sofrito you can indulge in this special dish. This menu has no other dishes labeled as vegetarian, which means you’ll have to spend the time going through the whole menu line by line .
Scene: It’s the perfect place to go for a special occasion. Under dim lighting, waiters/waitresses seat you and even open up your napkin to place it on your lap. This is a celebrity hot spot, and everyone dresses the part so don’t come in your sweats. And prepare to swipe your card like an A-lister, too, because the experience doesn’t come cheap.
Tips: You should make a reservation because this place gets packed.
Where: 151 W 46th Street
A stuffed pepper is the only vegetarian attraction on this menu. Anything marked (V) is safe for your feasting.
Scene: Enjoy your meal in a spacious two floor venue with a tropical flare. Luckily this spot has two floors considering its Times Square location.
Tips: There’s a vegetarian section to this menu, but it contains one item.
Where: 141 5th Avenue, Brooklyn
Not only does this spot have vegetarian and vegan options, but they also offer gluten free food, and it’s all labeled on the menu. They even have two gluten free fryers, which shows they care about your dietary needs. And finally, you can have some Latin vegetarian lentil soup.
Scene: Art depicting Latino icons and culture cover the walls, giving this place a traditional comfort. This is the one restaurant on the list that requires you to venture out of Manhattan and into Brooklyn, but it’s worth it for some Colombian eats.
Tips: There are a lot more gluten free options than vegetarian and vegan.