So I’ve fallen way behind in writing up good vegan restaurants I run into on my travels. Luckily no ones had trouble finding good vegan grub in Manhattan in the last 20 years (if you ever do, just head over to SuperVegan or vegguide) but a few bright spots in my recent experience are Gobo and Candle Cafe.

Gobo has two locations, one in the west village (401 Avenue of the Amercias, between 8th street and Waverly place – map) and one on the upper east side (1426 third, at 81st – map).

I’ve only tried the west village location. It’s a pretty unassuming building from the outside, crammed in between fast food joints and discount stores. Don’t be fooled, though – the interior has good ambience (see photo below of lunch crowd) and the food is fantastic:

Rooted in Zen compassion, Gobo is founded on the belief that delicious food & beverages using wholesome, non-meat ingredients will nourish both your body & mind.

They do have some “faux-meat” type dishes but don’t limit themselves to that, also providing more innovative cuisine mixing Vietnamese and Japanese traditional dishes with more “nouveau” faire. (There’s also a few more tradition lunch items like veggie burgers for the less adventurous). The vietnamese spicy stir-fry rice noodle with five spice tofu rolls was excellent, though if I had it again I might ask for a bit more spice – I’d call what I had moderately spicy.

Gobo Crowded at Lunch

(Gobo West Village with a full crowd)

Candle Cafe is rather an institution, but when I’m in town on business it can be hard to get time to go uptown just for lunch, at at third and 75th it hasn’t been close to a client’s location yet.

Candle Cafe

In general, I’d call Candle the best of vegan dining I’ve had, anywhere. I’m told the ambience is nicer at Candle 79 (haven’t made it there yet, though they catered a Farm Sanctuary event) but I think the food at Candle Cafe is just as good. I guess others agree, since Candle 79 was named best vegetarian in NY by Zagat’s for 2007.

Last time I had lunch there, unfortunately, the Miso soup was a little blah. Nothing specifically wrong with it, just too bland for my tastes – but the rest of the meal was up to their usual standards – guess you can’t be perfect all the time.