Last week we took you to Smile of the Beyond, a low-key luncheonette in Queens run by the disciples of the late spiritual master Sri Chinmoy. As fascinating as it is though, Smile of the Beyond only scratches the surface of what this city has to offer. When it comes to spiritual eateries in New York, there are plenty of small, local favorites that are tucked away in every borough. So, for your convenience, here’s our list of the best spiritual restaurants, canteens, and cafes to check out in New York City. Enjoy!
1. Ganesh Temple
The overly ornate architecture of the Ganesh Temple on 45-57 Bowne Street in Flushing, Queens (which we wrote about here) may be a familiar sight for many New Yorkers who travel through the outer-boroughs. But many people may not be aware that the Ganesh Temple also offers amazing food. As the Hindu Temple Society of America, Ganesh Temple is not only an important landmark in the Queens religious community, but it’s also a favorite for fans of authentic Indian vegetarian cuisine. And did we mention it’s cheap? Their food canteen serves Mango Lassi for only $1.50 and you can also nab an order of Rava Masala or Tomato Uttappam for under $7.
2. Govinda’s Canteen
Perhaps even more off of the beaten path than Ganesh Temple, Govinda’s Canteen on 305 Schermerhorn Street is perhaps the most obscure eatery on the entire list. This canteen is located in Boerum Hill and is part of the Hare Krishna Temple, which, similar to Ganesh Temple, is an odd sight to behold in an otherwise quaint looking neighborhood. Of course, Govida’s is also a vegetarian restaurant in accordance with the Krishna’s belief in non-violence. You can expect to be full for well under $10 and choice picks include their home-made samosas, tofu, and quinoa salad.
3. Loving Hut
Loving Hut on 76 Bushwick Ave. is the brainchild of Supreme Master Ching Hai, a Vietmenese spiritual teacher with hundreds of thousands of followers world-wide. According to their website, the restaurant was created with the idea of helping the world “with a more compassionate and noble way of living by making vegan food easily available to everyone.” If this is indeed true, then the affordable prices at Loving Hut are proof enough. Some of the food available includes sesame seitan, eryngii mushrooms, and roti curry.
4. Vegan’s Delight
Vegan’s Delight on 3565 Boston Road in the Bronx serves a very particular style of food called ital. This style of food carries a variety of spiritual connotations and is widely celebrated by many Rastafarians. Ital is easiest to find in many Carribean-heavy areas of the city and are usually very vegan friendly. Vegan’s Delight, as you can probably tell by it’s namesake, is no different. With a juice bar and grocery to boot, some of the tasty things you can find at Vegan’s Delight includes different styles of prepared bean curd, plantains, and eggplant melange.
This celebrated cafe on 841 Broadway is interesting in that it also doubles as a yoga school. The decor is inviting and the food is relatively cheap and made with love under the supervision of Cafe General Manager Oscar Maccow. Maccow currently holds the honor of having the best vegan tuna in the city and, along with his accomplishments in the kitchen, is also releasing his own cookbook in September. The food itself is enough to make anybody consider going vegan and some standouts form their menu include the Portabello Panino, tofu salad, as well as their great rainbow chakra smoothies.
6. Veggie Castle II
Located on 132-09 Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park, Veggie Castle II is the successor of the original Veggie Castle in Flatbush which is now closed. It got its name because the original restaurant was built in the same location as a former White Castle. Veggie Castle II on the other hand is still going strong as one of the best authentic Caribbean-style restaurants in the city. The prices are not dirt cheap, but the servings are enormous and dishes like pumpkins and collards are well worth a visit.
7. Annam Brahma
Like Smile of the Beyond, Annam Brahma is another one of the many restaurant run by the disciples of Sri Chinmoy in the late spiritual teacher’s former home in Queens. Located on 8443 164th Street, this restaurant is similarly dedicated to providing good vegetarian food for very cheap. Unlike Smile of the Beyond, don’t expect any complimentary yoga classes. On the other hand, their delicious menu should more than suffice. Standouts include avacado sandwiches on chapati as well as vegetarian spins on American, Italian, and Chinese dishes.
8. The Oneness Fountain Heart
Yet another one of the many establishments devoted to the late Sri Chinmoy, The Oneness Fountain Heart brings the same level of quality and value as Annam Brahma to Flushing, Queens. This cafe, which can be found on 157-19 72nd Avenue, has been open for 14 years. According to their website, Oneness Fountain Heart was founded in an effort “to create a peaceful oasis where you can enjoy food that nourishes body, heart and soul.” They offer nearly 20 different kinds of tea and in addition to staples such as tofu and veggie-meats, Oneness also offers curiously tasty slices of vegan chocolate cake.
To find out more, contact the author @DouglasCapraro