For more years than I care to admit, whenever I feel melancholy, reflective or simply in need of some consistently-appealing, vegan comfort food, my feet will subconsciously guide me directly to Angelica Kitchen, a cozy little corner of the world on E.12th Street near Second Avenue in Manhattan’s East Village.
As I approach the door, I always peek through the large, glass windows to size up the current situation: How crowded is this very popular gathering place tonight? Are there are any tables for one or two available–since I often dine solo with a good read? Who is already seated at the “Community” dining-room -style table which seats eight comfortably and can become an “instant dinner party” if you’re in the mood to blend Angelica’s delightful cuisine with lively input from diverse diners of all stripes — ranging from seasoned vegans to newbie’s.
Beyond my love for its hippy decor and quirky yet friendly waiters, I love the fact that Angelica Kitchen has been serving fresh, delicious food in an atmosphere where sustainable agriculture and responsible business practices are the main ingredients since 1976. This combination reflects their deep respect for the environment and their gratitude toward the dedicated people who produce our food.
According to them, maintaining committed, direct relationships with local farmers, food artisans, purveyors, and customers keeps their menu reasonably priced while ensuring the vitality of the ingredients.
“All Angelica’s food is prepared right here, fresh each day.
Practicing intuitive cooking, the menu changes daily
according to season, weather, availability of ingredients,
and the personal creativity of our chefs.”
The Dragon Bowl
After all these years, I still usually gravitate to my favorite menu item, the macrobiotically-oriented, soul-satisfying Dragon Bowl which includes rice, beans, tofu, sea vegetables & steamed vegetables; served with your choice of dressing for just $14.00. Part of the Angelica Kitchen menu since day one, this special combination of is named for the Chinese bowl in which it was originally served.
If I am in the mood for more food, I sometimes order the Dragon Bargain which is simply a Dragon Bowl served with a cup of soup and homemade bread with spread. I always opt for Angelica cornbread which is an amazing blend of brown rice and cornmeal that I top with their “to die for” sweet, tangy, homemade carrot spread.
The Daily Specials
Angelica Kitchen is famous for their Daily Specials which are almost always a gourmet surprise and the descriptions read like poetry! But the truth, I have never been adventurous enough to order a Daily Special yet! I promise myself that I will one day!
Specials vary. For example, on my last visit the Daily Specials were:
The French Lentil Connection (featuring gluten free ingredients)
Flavorful Thai inspired stew featuring roasted butternut squash, turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, carrots & French lentils, simmered in an almond milk broth with lemongrass, cilantro & jalapeño pepper; served with star anise-ginger infused jasmine rice. Accompanied by broccolini & marinated red cabbage; garnished with watercress. A la carte $16.00; With a choice of two basics or a cup of soup $18.50.
Jimmy “Pepper” Doyle
Classic vegetable lasagna layered with a mix of spinach, roasted eggplant, red & green peppers, button mushrooms, carrots, caramelized onions & seitan, whole wheat noodles & a basil tofu cheese top; served over tomato sauce. Accompanied by roasted cauliflower & an arugula, radicchio & chicory salad, topped with lemon marinated shaved fennel. A la carte $16.00; With a choice of two basics or a cup of soup $18.50
Marinated seitan, avocado, green beans, celery, marinated kale, seasoned brown rice & mustard. 6 Pieces $8.25 / 9 Pieces $12.00
Appetizers, salads and other raw entrees, soups, sauces, beverages and mouthwatering yet healthy desserts round out the sizable vegan menu and they recently added Lasagna-Tuesdays! I can’t wait to try that!
Local, Sustainable Citizen
There are many more reasons why I feel so good about eating here and supporting this sustainable institution. According to Angelica Kitchen:
- Ingredients used to prepare Angelica’s menu are grown ecologically and fairly traded.
- Angelica’s prides itself on serving first quality organically grown ingredients often served to us less than forty-eight hours after harvest.
- They use no refined sugars, no preservatives, no dairy, no eggs, no animal products whatsoever.
- They use renewable sources of energy and a high quality backwash carbon system to filter their water;
- Their active composting and food donation program through City Harvest assures as little waste as possible, as does the fact that they don’t use bottled beverages of any kind.
- As an active member of the community, Angelica Kitchen supports small, independently owned local businesses and local, national and international non-profit interests like The National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, Farm Aid, the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Slow Food USA, N.Y. Farms, Green Maps and Global Exchange among many others.
300 East 12th Street, NYC, 10003
Open Daily from 11:30 am to 10:30 pm.
Seating is on a first come, first served basis.
What are your favorite vegan restaurants? And why? Share your thoughts with us below.