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A Vegan Grows in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Bike as ice cream cone holder

A bike outside of Natural Blend on Washington Avenue does double-duty as an ice cream cone holder.

A recent announcement on the Brooklynian message boards that a Franklin Avenue “holistic and organic” coffee shop would soon open sans cow’s milk sent folks in a typing frenzy that the shop was destined to fail. Within two weeks, far in advance of the shop’s opening, the owners posted on Brooklynian that they would offer organic cow’s milk after all.

But, for a few days, I was able to bask in the thought of my corner coffee shop as a truly vegan-friendly establishment. I wasn’t surprised to learn that cow’s milk would be offered, and I’m still thrilled that such a wide variety of non-dairy milk and vegan pastries will be available. Franklin Avenue is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, so one more reoccupied storefront is a good thing. (I would be remiss not to acknowledge that gentrification is driving up prices in the few local grocery options, but there’s not enough room here to do that type of unpacking.)

Before I moved to Crown Heights, I did not expect much in the way of vegan eating beyond the options available in the neighborhood’s many fine West Indian restaurants. Since my arrival, I’ve amassed a diverse handful of go-to options when I need a quick vegan fix near my new home.

Bombay Masala on Franklin Avenue near Prospect Place makes, arguably, the best North Indian food I’ve consumed since moving to Brooklyn more than seven years ago. Get the chana saag and sit outside on the large back patio before it gets too cold!

When I’m too lazy to ride to Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, I walk around the corner to Natural Blend on Washington Avenue near St. John’s Place. Natural Blend serves $2 cones of Klein’s Kosher Non-Dairy Ice Cream, flaky vegan soy patties, fresh juices and smoothies, and a slew of prepared vegan stir fries, sandwiches and baked goods.

Chavella’s on Classon Avenue near Park Place proudly waves its “vegan options available” flag. Chavella’s has become a destination spot, so it’s often packed with both locals and those traveling by Metrocard (or bike!). They don’t stock vegan cheese or vegan sour cream, so the many vegetarian options are veganized by leaving the dairy ingredients off the plate. They serve a mean (always vegan) Tacos Verduras for only $3.

Bristen’s Eatery on Franklin Avenue at Sterling Place serves brunch, which includes a tofu scramble with vegan sausage platter, until 4pm! Bristen’s is BYOB, Wi-Fi free, and an all-around good neighborhood business that hosts a variety of special events. I hope it expands its vegan offerings soon!

Imhotep’s on Nostrand Avenue at Park Place is Brooklyn’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. In fact, it’s been 100% vegan since 1985. They serve the best vegan Caribbean food in the neighborhood. Do not leave without trying the fried “chicken,” which consists of the basic May Wah drumstick you can find throughout NYC but breaded and fried to perfection.

Franklin Avenue’s Nam’s Green Market (at St. John’s Place) keeps me in vegan product heaven in between trips to the Park Slope Food Coop. Nam’s was once a run-of-the-mill corner vegetable and fruit market. It now carries vegan specialty items like Sweet and Sara’s vegan marshmallows, Soy Whip, and Gardein. There’s even a small, but growing, gluten-free section.

Other restaurants of note: Rawstar on Washington Avenue at Prospect Place, The Islands on Washington Avenue at Eastern Parkway, and Ital Shak on Nostrand Avenue at Lincoln Place.

Breukelen Coffee House, Franklin Avenue’s “holistic and organic” coffee shop, is expected to open during October 2009.

This is one of Supervegan’s posts for Vegan MoFo 2009.

4 Comments

  1. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Thanks for this fantastic post! It almost makes me want to move to Crown Heights.

  2. Comment by

    Tiffany

    on #

    I work in Crown Heights and love the selection of vegan food in the area. I live in Greenpoint, so it’s really nice to have access to Caribbean deliciousness during the work week since it’s totally not available in my Polish nabe. I can’t say enough good things about Natural Blend, the patties are delicious and the staff is super nice.

  3. Comment by

    cde0901

    on #

    Just wanted to say that I have found Bombay Masala to not be very vegan friendly since they say they put dairy in their rice and when I asked if they could make rice without dairy for me, they said no.

    Also Bristen’s Eatery changed their menu to be a noodle & dumpling place and I asked what the noodles were made of and they did not have any vegan noodles.

  4. Comment by

    veggies785

    on #

    What About Veggies…Veggies Natural Juice Bar is also on Franklin Ave (Crown Heights) since July 2010…we offer All Natural Fruit/Vegetables Smoothies & Juice Drinks…we also serve Vegan Dishes & Soup Daily…If you haven’t please stop by Veggies today…Satisfaction is Guaranteed…follow us on twitter @veggies785 for daily menu updates.

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