This is a list of restaurants compiled from searching Chowhound and correlating the info with addresses from other sites / search engines. The list is eclectic, but fun, and thank you to the people whose comments are 'borrowed' here and ... thanks to tanyal and Janet who told me about the Sanctuary and the vegetarian dim sum place.
(I also have lists from two other sources, and can email them to anyone who's interested. Just put Food or Chow in the subject line.)
Village Restaurant and Pizza (on 1st Ave. between 2nd and 3rd Streets). Egyptian food!.
The specials (6 to 10 dollars)
the vegetable soup a tasty meat-free stock, with vegetables, beans and a full flavor that apparently came from butter. Surprisingly flavorful, balanced vegetarian food in what seemed to be a divy hangout (I had, however, noticed a few cabs parked outside, usually a good sign). They told me they closed at 7 am and opened at 10 am. (Now they are open 24 hours.)
The falafel is tasty, fresh and garlicy.
A weekend special I recommend is the cold casserole. Three layers: pasta, lentils and rice, topped with crispy, fried brown onions, and doused with a garlicy marinara-type sauce and salad dressing. Unusual and filling. The small is probably enough (or more-than-enough) for one. Also, the garlic knots are actually pretty amazing and a great cheap eat. They are free of saw-dust parmesan, not soaked in oil like most are, and the crust is crisp and dense. Three for a dollar. I once had an amazing dessert here. I think its called kalufa. It was a slice of an angels hair pasta-type crusted pastry, filled with rice custard. The next time I ordered it, the filling was a syrup or something else too sweet so I never ordered it again. I wish I knew what the rice custard version was called.
Bamiyan (Afghani restaurant), on 26th and 3rd
BETH Doogh-- Sort of like a salty lassi with a difference. Dried mint mixed in a salty, thin yogurt
Bread-- focaccia-like squares covered with sesame seeds. Crunchy and not overly greasy, but nothing special.
Quorma Baunjuan-- eggplant with onions and tomatoes, roasted before being cooked down into a puree and served with rice on the side. Rice was good, very separate grains and quite flavorful. Eggplant was kind of odd. I liked my first bite quite a bit but I liked each subsequent bite less. It was assertively smoky, but I'm not entirely convinced the smoke was real. I suspect they used liquid smoke, which was why the smokiness got cloying. I probably wouldn't order it again.
Ashak-- steamed scallion "dumplings" topped with yogurt mint sauce with or without meat (we got without). I loved this, although I was somewhat surprised when it arrived. I think of dumplings as plump and steamed or fried, but these were boiled and thin, like ravioli super models. The pasta was obviously freshly-made and perfectly cooked, and the sauce and scallion filling were lick-the-plate good. My friend (who generally doesn't particularly notice food) was raving. We fought over the last bite. I could happily eat this a couple of times a week.
And, for dessert, Shir Birinj-- It's translated as rice pudding, but if that makes you think dense and custardy, you're on the wrong track entirely. It had a soft and subtle flavor, but what really delighted me was how light and airy it was. Somehow, the rice had been liquified with a touch of some liquid (milk? water?) and whipped until it was the same density as egg whites at soft peak (different texture, though). I really liked it, but it might not be everyone's thing.
Total cost: $24 or so for two.
DAVEENA. Bamiyan's on my list too - similar experience. Some of the things I've had there were great (soup, eggplant), some were just... sour (the sauteed spinach). If you haven't been, you should definitely, definitely go to Pongal (27th or 28th and Lex).
CAITLIN south-Indian vegetarian places (Madras Mahal and Pongal on Lex btn. 27 and 28, ...
Tossed, on Park just below 23d, has fresh, tasty, meal-size salads in the $8-12 range (many include meats). I suggest sticking with dressings that aren't straight-up vinaigrettes, as theirs are all bitingly acidic.
INDIAN FOOD STEFani Try any of these: Pongal, Vatan, Chola, Madras Mahal, Mavalli.
Pongal, 110 Lexington Ave (27th &28th)
AnOTHER Little India is along Lexington Avenue from about 27th through 30th streets, and along those side streets, where there are a number of Indian restaurants, as well as sari shops, spice shops and Indian groceries. I haven't yet tried it, but I have heard good things about Pongal, which is on Lex.
MICKI I love the selection and quality of the dosai. It's an interesting place. Probably the only kosher Indian restaurant I know of in NYC. The crowd is very diverse. The food is mostly south Indian with some ventures into Guajarti territory.
I had a wonderful rava masala dosa--it's a lacy crepe filled with a spiced potato filling served with the traditional coconut chutney and vegetable sambaar.
My cousin stuck to the tried and true palak paneer (spinach and cheese in a spicy tomato based sauce)that was served with basmati rice and paratha--the layered, flaky bread laced with ghee.
Try it if you have a chance. The food is fresh, well prepared and not the usual North Indian food we are used to.
TAJ MAHAL, the food's good, the service unreal, for the prices, but the nuanced flavors you may be searching for may be better elsewhere....BUT,those prices...UNREAL.you will not walk away hungry....and i do think that one has to go either real low end or real high end here, because the middle ground just doesn't seem to cut it..and if you're a veggie..well it doesn't get any better, or tastier than this...
104 Lexington Avenue
(btwn 27th and 28th St.)
Famed as "best vegetarian food in the USA" by both Vegetarian Magazine and Vegetarian Times, and "best dosai" by the Village Voice. Make sure to tell them not to use ghee (a product made from butter) or yogurt. (Going Vegan in New York)
Vatan, 409 Third Ave. at 29th Street 212-689-5666 reservations ($$$, not cheap)
This ethnically decorated restaurant features prix fixe dinners, and an extensive menu. Vatan's staff is very friendly, with many staff and customers calling each other on first name basis. (Going Vegan in New York
Gam Mee Ok (Korean food) at 43 West 32d Street, 212-695-4113(a chowhound) Gam Mee Ok was the choice and I loved it. I haven't had much Korean food and am a vegetarian so I've been trying the same dish, Bi Bim Bap. The rice was evenly cooked here and I prefer it slightly crispy, a little on the burnt side. Is this a cooked in a clay pot dish?
A narrow restaurant with an open kitchen, where the chefs prepare sul long tang-soup with a simmered oxtail broth-and platters of grilled meats (43 W. 32nd St., NY; 212 695-4113; B, D, F, Q, N, R train to 34th St./Herald Sq.). (Asia Society)
Bennie's Cafe Amsterdam at 75th., i.e. 321 Amsterdam Avenue. (Middle Eastern food, deli form), 212-874-3032. (or 321 1/2 Amsterdam Ave).
This is in response to looking for vegie eats in NYC,
25 1st Ave,Sanctuary. Very simple veg food, reasonably priced. ie a HUGE platter of fried brown rice and vegies, nicely spiced for $5. Dairy or vegan cheesecake....guess which one is delicious!! :-)
The vegetarian dim sum place at 24 Pell, between Mott and Bowery. Chinatown is right outside the "zone" geographically yet a world away, and if you don't have much of an appetite you could get just one or two dim sum dishes and spend less than $5. a head. While they'll remove the plates promptly because they think it's good service, no one will annoy you while you sit and read and drink tea