New York City’s Largest Vegan Restaurant is Now Open. Here’s Where to Find It

|Updated Jul 26, 2022
Instagram / @belsenyc

The space at 265 Bowery sat collecting dust for nearly four years after New York City's Paulaner Brauhaus shuttered in 2018. Now, the vast former restaurant area in the middle of Nolita is seeing new life with Belse – an upscale vegan brewpub with an extensive plant-based food and beverage menu. Belse is officially New York City’s largest vegan restaurant, providing locals and tourists with an atypically spacious dining and drinking experience.

Belse’s space is approximately 11,000 square feet with the ability to seat almost 200 people. With a high ceiling and an expansive dining area, guests can eat and drink on two floors of this vegan restaurant. For many New Yorkers, the new vegan brewpub will provide a refreshing dose of fresh air in an otherwise cramped bar scene.

The massive vegan restaurant delivers an impressive plant-based food menu designed by executive chef Anthony Spino. Known for his plant-based adaptations of Italian classics, the Belse menu features dishes such as an aubergine filet topped with a mushroom au jus, maitake risotto, and a charred broccolini. Some dessert options include a raw cheesecake and vegan cookies & milk.

"Our restaurant and brewery is unlike anything else in the world,” Spino said in a statement. “It’s a state-of-the-art brewery with elevated plant-based cuisine in the heart of the largest population center in the country and the greatest city in the world. The menu is region agnostic, as we all just want incredible food, made from the best ingredients, in a beautiful setting, where we feel comfortable and want to stay a while. That's Belse."

Bringing the Vegan Brewpub Experience to NYC

Belse is the offshoot concept from the owners of Los Angeles’ famed Little Pine. The celebrity hotspot is currently the top-rated vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. Following the success of Little Pine, the owners opened Belse Plant Cuisine in Dallas before expanding its vegan enterprises to New York City.

Since its opening, several major personalities and politicians have visited the vegan establishment including NYC Mayor Eric Adams, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and television personality Gayle King. Quickly gaining attention among celebrities, the vegan brewpub will also host New York’s longest-running vegan meetup, Vegan Drinks, later this month.

Beyond the vegan menu, the Belse brewpub will brew and serve its own beer on-site. The restaurant claims to be the only three-vessel German brewhouse in Manhattan. Led by brewmaster Ryan Gillette, the inaugural menu will feature four beers including a blonde ale, a blackberry ale, a hefeweizen, and a pale lager. All beers will be brewed with exclusively vegan ingredients, as opposed to some beers on the market that use isinglass and gelatin.

“I’m so excited to share Belse restaurant and brewery with everyone. It will be one of the most unique experiences in Manhattan,” Gillette said in a statement. “Having 100 percent vegan food and craft beer on-site affords guests a truly crafted experience. Get ready for some of the freshest beer in Manhattan!”

The drink menu will also feature four signature vegan wines directly from Belse Winery in Healdsburg, California. The wines include a white and a red blend, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Pinot Noir.

Manhattan is Going Vegan

Belse’s grand opening marks a historic event for New York City restaurants as the city’s largest vegan restaurant to date. But last May, the Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park set a new precedent for NYC’s fine dining scene. When the acclaimed upscale eatery reopened following the COVID-19 quarantine, chef Daniel Humm introduced a 100 percent plant-based menu. Since then, more plant-based eateries have shifted to more sustainable food offerings.

For more vegan hotspots in New York City, check out the top 12 places to eat vegan or plant-based in Manhattan

Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.

1. Burger King

Turns out there’s a lot more to rely on than a salad if you’re eating plant-based. Burger King has the Impossible Whopper featuring a meatless patty as well as a few secretly vegan options such as the French Toast Sticks and Hashbrowns.

2. White Castle

Known for its mini square-shaped sliders, this hamburger chain jumped on the plant-based bandwagon at some participating locations. You can find an Impossible Slider on some White Castle menus.

3. Del Taco

This was the first national Mexican fast-food chain to offer Beyond Meat at the company’s 580 restaurants across the country. Del Taco has the Beyond Avocado Taco on the menu along with the Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito and Avocado Veggie Bowl.

4. Carl's Jr.

Another brand synonymous with beef burgers, Carl’s Jr. offers several plant-based options for veggie and plant lover such as Beyond Famous Star Burger and Guacamole Thickburger.

5. Taco Bell

This fast-food restaurant may have been one of the first you frequented while transitioning to plant-based eating. That’s because Taco Bell has eight million vegetarian combinations and sells 350 million vegetarian items a year through menu substitutions or ordering off their vegetarian menu. In fact, they were the first quick-service restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA) certified food options.

6. Starbucks

From the time it started offering breakfast sandwiches in 2006, the coffee conglomerate became a competitor in the fast-food space. You can get your favorite hot and cold beverages made with almond, coconut or oat milk but there are also plant-based food options available such as the Baja Black Bean Veggie Wrap, bagel with vegan cream cheese and Impossible Breakfast Sandwich.