This is an ode to my fellow animal loving, kale-worshipping and/or unenlightened Brooklynites, who haven’t yet found that vegan taco missing from their lives.
Before moving to Brooklyn, my dark, twisted idea of a taco was the brown sloppy mess you might find in a Connecticut public school cafeteria. After my first and last experience with these stomach-curdling Tex-Mex disasters, I swore off tacos for what I thought would be for life.
Many years and margaritas later, upon moving to Brooklyn at the ripe age of 22, I took an offer I just couldn’t refuse. The New Santa Ana, A BYOB restaurant (praise!) down the street was serving “cheap, fresh tacos with an entire veggie menu.” Despite my lifelong taco boycott, this thrilling review led to my most eye-opening meal, forever changing my entire outlook on hard days at work, drunken nights and happy hours. Now, almost a year later as a self-proclaimed taco connoisseur, these are the top five best vegan tacos I have yet to find.
The New Santa Ana
173 Irving Ave., Bushwick
“Veggie tacos” sometimes come as a plated floppy tortilla overflowing with lettuce, tomato and rice. The beauty of Santa Ana tacos are the variety of sautéed veggies, the healthy serving of homemade guac (which doesn’t cost extra… take note, Chipotle) and a blast of garlic and citrus, complemented with a lime on the side. Also, I repeat, B-Y-O-B!
766 Washington Ave., Prospect Heights
If you’re up on taco trends, you’re probably aware of the fact that Korean BBQ tacos are currently on the rise. However, I’m sure my fellow vegans can attest to the major FOMO I get when I see spicy beef, chicken and pork tacos enlaced with beautifully dank kimchi, without any vegan options. Thankfully, Kimchi Grill has blessed us with a tofu edamame falafel taco, which has the same spicy goodness as its meaty counterparts, topped with those good-good kimchi refried beans AND cucumber kimchi. I’ve never had so much stanky cabbage in one sitting, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
7 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
Spice addicts, rejoice! Whether you’re wrapping up a wild night in Williamsburg, looking to refuel or merely seeking to clear up those damn sinuses, Tacos Morelos Food Truck is hot, hot, hot! Enclosed within their veggie tacos are a plethora of juicy grilled vegetables, rice, and a stunning compilation of habaneros and jalapeños, making way for a hella flavorful meal.
156 5th Ave., Park Slope
The VSPOT serves “Vegan Latin Cuisine” which includes anything from quesadillas to nachos, burritos and, of course, tacos. Their carne molida tacos swap out ground beef for a giant serving of juicy-as-heck tempeh, mixed with onions, avocado, red beans and all that other good stuff. I recommend using their homemade hot sauce because it’s fiery and delicious.
283 Nostrand Ave., Bed-Stuy
Lucha Lucha truly brings a taste of “authentic San Diego Mexican” to Brooklyn, which really just means it’s Mexican cuisine with a hardcore American twist (i.e: you can put French fries on ANYTHING you order). Everything is always better with French fries, including their three-mushroom, three-bean or three-tempeh tacos (just specify “no cheese,” because they love Oaxaca!).
Honorable vegan taco mentions: Taco Dumbo (56 Prospect St., Dumbo) and Black Flamingo (168 Borniquen Place, Williamsburg).
This article has been edited and updated, originally published in 2017.
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The zucchini tacos at varrio 408 are my favorite vegan tacos. Or the fried tofu tacos at calexico, if you’re into gringo Mexican. <3
I have a question about how vegan some of these options are. If there are beans or rice as part of the taco equation, there is a possibility that the rice was cooked with a meat (chicken) broth or the beans have been cooked with meat or lard. Don’t just assume because there are no chunks of meat present that they aren’t there in some less obvious capacity. We have to explicitly ask these place if their options are actually vegetarian/vegan.