Of course vegans can find a variety of options at ethnic eateries around the Island—including mock meat selections at a handful of Asian restaurants—as well as at gourmet Manhattan hot spots, such as Blossom and Candle, but what a pleasant surprise to find interesting and delicious dining options near the Nassau-Suffolk border, where vegans can eat alongside their carnivorous friends and family.
With its relaxed cool vibe set to reggae music, you’ll feel like you were transported to the tropics when you enter The Purple Elephant on the marina in Northport. Run by husband-wife team, chef David Intonato and his adorable wife, Erin, who’s behind the bar with long, light-brown dreadlocks, they believe food should be clean, simple and delicious—and make every effort to procure organic and non-GMO foods. Their menu reflects the freshness, love and passion of Central American/Latin Food, though the kitchen highlights many other cuisines in its vegan and nonvegan selections.
While enjoying the view, share a fun appetizer of Patacones & Guacamole “Jubileo,” which is an assortment of Costa Rican crispy fried green plantains, homemade white corn tortilla chips and yucca chips that can be dipped into little cups of pico, refried black beans, guacamole and hummus. Or choose from a handful of delicious salads, such as Erin’s Kitchen Sink Salad of quinoa, baby greens, kale, market vegetables, tofu and marinated tempeh with a red-beet vinaigrette. Most of the salads can become a meal with the addition of tofu, grilled chicken or grilled shrimp.
One of the most flavorful entrées I’ve ever tasted was a generous portion of Chris G’s Eggplant Extraordinaire, made with crispy eggplant, roasted tomato and Daiya mozzarella over raw zucchini “noodles” with pesto. The selections looked so delicious that it was hard to choose among dishes, such as “Burnt Ends” Enchiladas made from white corn tortillas with roasted ancho tomato sauce, vegan cheese, rice and beans; Mac Attack, which is fresh pasta with vegan sausage, a creamy vegan cheese sauce, toasted bread crumbs, sriracha and jalapeños; Casado Platter Costa Rican “Comida Tipica,” with gallo pinto (brown rice and black beans), plantains, sautéed fresh vegetables and salad; or Rainforest Burger & Yucca Fries, which is plancha seared brown rice and black bean burger with baby greens, tomato, red onion, avocado and vegan cheese on toasted ciabatta. End the meal with a decadent vegan dessert, such as the brownie topped with peanut butter cream, which comes all the way from a specialty bakery in Pennsylvania.
The Purple Elephant is located at 81B W Fort Salonga Road, Northport; 631-651-5002; www.thepurpleelephant.net.
Head south to Tula Kitchen, a vegan-friendly, candlelit space with the motto: “Live to eat. Eat to live.” Tula is the word for balance in Sanskrit and owner and chef Jacqueline Sharlup says, “To be surrounded by delicious, nutritious food, good company and enjoy oneself implicitly is to be at Tula.”
At Tula, the vegetarian proteins and grains are organic; the chicken is antibiotic and hormone free; and the dishes are healthfully baked, not fried. For starters, choose from a Mediterranean Spread of spinach pie, Greek salad, hummus, grilled pita and tzaziki sauce; Mexican Tortilla Pizza with roasted veggies, white bean spread, cheddar, lettuce, sour cream and guacamole with an option to add tofu, seitan, chicken or shrimp; or select from eight salads that can easily become a meal with the addition of grilled tofu, seitan, shrimp, tuna or chicken. In addition to Din-Din choices of Sesame Crusted Tuna and Coconut and Almond Crusted Tilapia, the vegetarian/vegan section of the menu offers Sesame Crusted Tofu, Veggie Moussaka and Tula Burrito.
Tula Kitchen is located at 41 E. Main St., Bay Shore; 631-539-7183; www.tulakitchen.com.
Heading west, 3 Brothers Pizza Cafe in Farmingdale offers Italian favorites in both vegan and traditional versions. On the vegan menu, diners can design their own pizza, choosing from a variety of crusts, including regular, whole wheat or gluten free; five vegan cheeses; and eight vegan “meat” toppings. Delicious appetizers range from Oyster Mushroom “Calamari” to Buffalo Drumsticks made from soy and wrapped around chopstick-like bones to Tofu “Crab” Cakes. Any of the mouthwatering salads can become a meal with the addition of grilled seitan or tofu. As for the entrées, in addition to just about any pasta dish you desire with regular, whole wheat or gluten-free pasta, the twist on traditional Parmesan, marsala, picatta and scarpariello using delicate seitan instead of chicken or veal, will have vegans smiling.
Click here to read our feature about Dr. Cow in Brooklyn, the first vegan cheese shop.
Click here for a story about Vege Eats, a vegetarian specialty store in Queens that imports convincing varieties of plant-based “meats.”
Click here for other vegetarian menus on Long Island.