So having lived now in NYC for nearly a year, worked/volunteered at one of the Raw Food restaurants here, and as of recently admidst my transitioning apts/jobs- I have been eating out way too much for my own good- and in all honesty- 75% of the time- the raw food dishes are unsatisfactory and left me thinking once again I could have easily prepared it way better for a 1/4 of the price. So many places are popping up in the city trying to add one or more "raw" dishes to cater to our life style but let me aid in helping you to spend your money eating out where its worth spending.
The well-known Raw Food restaurants in nyc are: Pure Food and Wine, Quintessence, Jubb’s Longevity, Bonobos, and Raw Soul, and Caravan of Dreams(half the menu is Raw Dishes and half are cooked). Counter Vegetarian, Organic Avenue, Candle 79, Angelica Kitchen, Health Conscious Express, the V Spot, and Liquiteria have a small selection of Raw and Lifefood items to choose from. Additionally, Lifethyme Market, Integral Yoga Natural Foods, and Westerly Market, and Health Nuts prepare and/or offer a selection of Raw Food dishes to go or eat there.
As far as Atmosphere is concerned:
Pure Food and Wine: Interior Designed with Fine Dining in mind- cozy in the take away section too. You will definitely make a positive impression with whomever you take here. There is much more of a positive energy in the takeaway side if you go when the guys are working than the girls working.
Caravan of Dreams: Lively, more laid back atmosphere- they often have live music playing, can be noisy depending when you go, a cute place to have a date if you wanted to.
Quintessence: very small sit down place- good service but you might feel a little boxed being so close to everyone.
Bonobos and Raw Soul: Very casual Cafe style. Bonobos has a large sitting area and neither is noisy.
Jubb’s Longevity: Counter Cafe with little to no place to sit down – more of take out place or sit on the bench outside. The best tasting food and positive energy you will note if you go Monday-Thursday (when Zilmar,William, or Andrea is working) and Not the weekend.
Candle 79 and Counter Vegetarian have more formal finer dining atmospheres.
Angelica’s kitchen- nice atmosphere and communial table.
Health Conscious Express and Liquiteria- casual counter cafe setting limited seating.
Of the supermarkets- Lifethyme has a good amount of seating upstairs and Health Nuts on the upper east side has a very small counter space to sit down.
Where to go for what type of dish:
If you’re looking for an awesome and large portioned dark green salad- head to Caravan of Dreams. If you want to spend more and have a smaller portion- Pure Food and Wine (order the S&M salad) or Jubb’s Longevity (House salads)would be my next recommendations. If you want a “tuna” salad but not really tuna- try their Anut salad (Nut based- not very much green). If you want a heavier nut based salad mix- bonobo’s has a very good mix to choose from. I like the cauliflower salad there.
Wanting a soup: Best Lifefood soups by far Jubb’s Longevity- you cannot go wrong with any of them- but my favorites- Tomato Onion Vegetable or the new Sumac berry one they have for a lighter, and more on the vegetable side. If you want a heavier soup- alfredo or thai ginger good bets. My next recommendation would be Bonobos Coconut Red Bell Pepper soup. I was less than impressed with the soups I have had thus far at Quintessence and Raw soul-so save your money and DO NOT select soup at these places.
Dehydrated crackers: Go for the Pumpkinseed Brittle or onion rings at Jubb’s Longevity. The Rosemary Quackers at Pure Food and Wine are delicious. The flax crackers at Bonobos are fairly tasty. If you’re not strict on eating all life food ingredients- the corn(not truly raw) chips at Raw Soul and Quintessence are also very good.
Sandwich and Wrap: Cauliflower Samosa (although not well food-combined) and the thai lettuce wrap at Pure Food are very tasty you might find yourself ordering a second helping. Try out the papaya avocado wrap at Jubb’s – just make sure to have them check that the papaya was not dehydrated too long- so its easy to chew or if so eat it the next day as it will soften a bit. If you want to go mexican style- then try out the burrito and/or quesidilla at Jubb’s. DO NOT waste your money on any of tasteless wraps at Lifethyme.
Casserole entrees: Hijiki casserole at Jubb’s is magnificient! The quiche at Raw Soul is alright- the bed of greens is more like a sprinkling- not sure I’d opt to pick this dish as top choice but. And save your money and forget the casseroles at Lifethyme- not attractive nor tasty.
For Pizza: If you prefer a soft hearty crust to your pizza- try out Lillian’s pizza at Raw Soul (she does the crust with sprouted buckwheat and you might request to keep off the mushrooms if you are sensitive to nama shoyu as they’re marinated in it and/or you struggle w/candida). If you want a more crunchy pizza (dehydrated pizza bread with flax, chia, etc) – go for Jubb’s Longevity- with the cheddar or pesto.
For Lasagna and/or pasta like dishes: Jubb’s Longevity- Alfredo lasagna is delicious- (however if you’re expecting the taste of the traditional italian heavy tomato and cheese style it might not be your cup of tea as my none raw foodist mom responded). The Ravoli- is scrumptous at Pure Food and Wine- and you have to do a double take to not think its real pasta. One of the few raw dishes Angelica’s Kitchen serves is the raw pasta- I’d recommend not investing in this dish- as you can make it just as easily in your home and probably tastier.
Sushi: Delicious at Pure Food and Wine made with Jicama and Pine Nuts. For a different twist with a nut pate of your choice and you pick the fillers- bonobos.
Middle Eastern: You cant go wrong with the falafel(more green than most- utilizing parsley), hummus, or grape leaves at Jubb’s longevity. If I remember correctly- I actually did like the sunflower falafel alright at Organic Avenue also. The hummus (made with nuts and not zucchini) at Caravan of dreams is also very good. Recently, I did have the falafel prepared from Lifethyme- and its alright- a little on the pepper side and could use some extra tahini and or olive oil to be a little more palatable.
Burger Wise: For a crunchy B-Mac style burger- definitely check out Jubb’s Burger deluxe. The Barbeque burger at Raw Soul is also good- completely different (no dehydrated breads or pattie used- and its in napa cabbage). I recently gave a go at the Big Moc from Quintessence- with the Vegetable Bread (the usual dehydrated bread they have is gluten containing-fyi) and was very impressed- Not quite as heavy on the nuts/seeds with the vegetable bread used and less dehydrated.
Now the critical dessert part;) and I have a sweet tooth and obsession with Raw Honey.
By far the best Parfaits (and live for that matter- no toxic cashews used) is the Irish Moss Parfaits at Jubb’s. The dude’s at Pure Food and Wine’s takeout were actually challenging me to theirs- which did not come close. Dont waste your money on parfaits anywhere else. The Irish Moss Creme beverages are also very good- and essentially made the same as the parfaits- only difference being you can drink it with a straw and not have to use a spoon. Tryout Apricot for if you want a caramel like twist.
For Cakes or Pies: Again, Jubb’s is the winner in my book (no toxic non-lifefood ingredients like cashews or hybridized dates used) – particularly Zilmar’s Keylime Pie- very light and not as heavy on the nuts or seeds. The Apple Berry pie and Lemon Cheesecake also very good. Lillian from Raw Soul’s Lemon Meringue Pie would be my next top pick- scrumptous and made with a base of macadamia nut instead of their more commonly cashew based pies. Stop by Waverly Market or Integral yoga whom both carry her pies if you cant make it uptown. The Pumpkin Pie was actually the one thing I liked at Quintessence even and they insist no cashews in the filling only the cream on top (but check to see if its seasonal only). Forget about investing your money in health conscious express’s raw papaya pie- disgusting! Their pumpkin pie is pretty good but the little bit of cashews used still did not sit in my tummy well. The papaya dessert at westerly’s (only one they make w/o cashews was actually pretty tasty). Lifethyme’s fruit cake- is not too bad- a bit on the lemon/fig taste- hard to balance out other flavors but a nice chew.
For Raw Cookies, Nut balls, etc: Bonobo’s nut balls very tasty. And Pure Food and Wine’s ice cream sandwich very good. I did not care for the pistachio truffle or buckwheat snack though.
Pudding/yogurt/Ice Cream: My pick would be Bonobo’s Durian Ice Cream!!! (if you can make it out to Exotic Superfoods in Queens- you would get triple the portion for the same amount of money) When available- the passion fruit yogurt is very good at Jubb’s and is cultured to have the healthy bacteria. Ice Cream wise, Pure Food and Wine- has the best ice cream (although not raw life food ingredients used b/c of the toxic cashew/maple syrup) their ice cream sundae with pistachio ice cream a good pick. I recently tried out the raw praline ice cream at Raw Soul and it was quite good (do keep in mind it does utilize cashews and agave- both of which are NOT raw or healthful) but if you do not react with either and want the texture and taste of the ice cream you loved as a child go for it!
Beverages: Teas- Gingerbread tea or EZ tea from Jubb’s Longevity. If you want something that tastes like coffee- tecchino. I had an exotic fruit filled tea recently at Pure that was very good. If you want a cold smoothie you can use a straw with- definitely try out any of the Irish Moss Smoothies at Jubb’s -yummy and the irish moss is very healing!
If you’re going for green juices- Liquiteria uses the hydralic press (which preserves best the nutrients in the juices) but I personally am not a big fan of their juices. You’d be better off getting a juice made at Health Nuts, Integral Yoga, or Lifethyme and stick to the all green juice and add apple/lemon/ginger – dont give into the high sugar/over hybridized carrot/beet juice blends.
Smoothie wise: Try out the Goji High (which I think tastes like chocolate milk-lol) and thai green(does utilize hybrid pineapple fruit) at Pure Food and Wine. Any of the smoothies at Jubb’s are very good- particularly- the irish moss parfait or the lemonade if you’re in the middle of the liver/gallbladder flush prep week.
A final couple points:
As far as purity and adherence to true raw, lifefood ingredients (ie. no hybridized foods such as beet, carrot, banana, pineapple, kiwi, soy, wheat, dates, cashews,peanuts, etc) with the exception of them now using raw cacao and agave in dishes Jubb’s Longevity best fits the criteria. With that said- the majority of dishes are heavily nut/seed based and on the sweeter and/or salty side so its a bit on the heavier side for the optimal raw food diet.
As far as simplier dishes and not much spices- Bonobos is very good and they also do not use toxic raw cashews or dates in their entree dishes only in the dessert balls as far as I know. They do use carrot in quite a few dishes and quite of bit of nuts/seeds and also lots of agave so be careful.
Quintessence, Pure Food and Wine, and Raw Soul- all incorporate non lifefood ingredients in one or more dishes including: Cashews,Corn,Maple Syrup,agave, Cacao/Cocoa,Cane Sugar, some glutenous grains in addition to hybridized fruits and vegetables. With that said- fewer dishes are dehydrated at these places.
Happy Eating Out!