It’s been nearly a year since we started social distancing, staying home to make mountains of sourdough, Korean whipped coffees, and focaccia bread art. But for all the at-home deliciousness we’ve mastered, we’re ready for our favorite restaurants! So although travel is still off the table, we’re celebrating with a mouthwatering tour of the stories—and recipes—from some of the best-loved, Black-owned vegan restaurants in America. From soul food in Detroit to Ethiopian eats in Brooklyn to a stoner-inspired burger joint in Wisconsin, get ready, because it’s time to eat.
Why has Harlem flocked to beloved mother-and-son-run vegan outpost Seasoned Vegan for the past decade? Easy—each dish is artful, tasty, and made with love. That’s because the recipes, conceived by owner Brenda Beener, came from when she tasked herself with learning how to cook for her husband who’d decided to adopt a completely plant-based lifestyle in the 90s. The goal was for her food to be both delicious and familiar enough for her whole family to enjoy. Now, more than 20 years later, Beener has met that challenge with her comforting menu that hearkens back to her childhood in Louisiana—and hungry New Yorkers are reaping the rewards.
Along with Beener’s menu of familiar vegan favorites—including fried crawfish, Harlem chopped cheeseburger, and lemon-crusted fish steaks—a robust raw menu is also on tap at Seasoned Vegan. Keep it fresh with standouts like the Nori Roll—a medley of tomato, avocado, onion, market greens, and almond meat; the Raw Burger made with pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, and pecans on flax-onion bread; and the crowd-favorite Stuffed Avocado—a tower of almond meat, cashew cheese, and fresh pico de gallo nestled in a giant split buttery avocado on a bed of greens.
Why we love it
Boasting a guest book that reads more like the Hollywood Walk of Fame—think Forest Whitaker, Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, and the King of Wakanda himself, the late Chadwick Boseman—there’s a reason Seasoned Vegan is Harlem’s plant-based mainstay. With an ambiance reminiscent of Cheers, Beener has created a second home for hungry diners. And when the coronavirus outbreak cast a shadow on New York, the restaurant cemented its status as a bastion of the community with the launch of The SV Market—an online marketplace of curated vegan goods—so quarantining customers could stay home and enjoy their peace of mind (as well as a piece of the cheezy pizza quesadillas, delivered).
Read the entire Great American Black Vegan Restaurant Tour feature in the newest issue of VegNews—on newsstands now and available in The VegNews Store! For even more of the stories behind Black-owned vegan restaurants nationwide, follow our Black-owned restaurant web series.
Photo credit: Kim-Julie Hansen
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