A, C, E at 14th St.; L at Eighth Ave.
Cash Only, American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Houston St. to 23rd St., Fifth Ave. to West Side Hwy.
At an intersection of indulgence, loaded with double helpings of beef (the burgers at Corner Bistro and Jane's Tavern) and chocolate (Li-Lac and the Chocolate Bar), this vegetarian café stands as the odd man out. Its menu, chalked up on the blackboard over the counter, is driven by sandwiches, more than half of which are vegan. Several mimic meat with seitan, tempeh, or TVP, textured vegetable protein, such as the tempeh Reuben. Of these, the Thai-inspired sesame chicken TVP wrap with peanut sauce is one of the best. The sauce is nutty, and crisp sprouts and carrot shreds give the filling a satisfying crunch. Better yet are the straight-up veg sandwiches, like the toasted fontina panini. The fontina's rich, grassy flavor is cut with caramelized red onions and an earthy tomato pesto. In the seating area past the counter are several well-spaced bare wood tables. One wall has a bookshelf stocked with paperbacks—everything from Chabon to Alcott—and a Scrabble board. Twenty- and thirty-somethings, many looking fresh from yoga class, ensconce themselves with cups of hot chocolate (soy milk, vegan marshmallows) or coffee (organic fair trade, natch). In the evening, a book group or game-night team might claim a few of the tables.Recommended Dishes
Fontina panini, $8.75; sesame "chicken" wrap, $8.75; tri-color panini, $8.75