Avocado toast. Rainbow bagels. Unicorn lattes. No doubt we’re living in a time of innovative and unusual food choices. But what are some of the most unique and healthiest foods in NYC? We did the research, and herewith we present our favs, along with where to find them. By Jessica Allen.
Grasshopper Tacos at Toloache
251 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10019
Wait, wait, wait, before you bail and move onto the next spot on our list, hear us out: eating insects has a long history around the world, including parts of Asia and Latin America. Plus transforming bugs into breakfast, lunch, and dinner just might be the answer to proposed food shortages as the world’s population tops 9 billion in coming decades. So, really, Toloache is ahead of the game with its chapuline (grasshopper) tacos. They’re served dried, in the style of Oaxaca, with jalapeño, cilantro, onions, and salsa verde.
Impossible Burger at Saxon + Parole
New York, NY 10012
What’s impossible about the Impossible Burger? First, it’s made entirely from plants. Second, it has the same smell, texture, and taste as beef. Third, and most revolutionary, like a hamburger, it bleeds, which sounds kind of gross until you remember that veggie burgers tend to be, well, dry. Not so here. Indeed, the East Village restaurant and bar’s dish has become so popular that you need to make a reservation to eat it. Get it slathered with roasted oyster mushrooms, truffle cream, sherry onions, and mushroom puree, along with a side of French fries with blue cheese mayo and chili ketchup.
Quinoa Bowls at Eatsa
285 Madison Ave #101
New York, NY 10017
The future is now! And it looks, kind of, like the automats of yore. When the first Eatsa opened in San Francisco in 2015, the New York Times proclaimed “service with an impersonal touch,” which seemed a harsh, if accurate assessment. You place your order for a quinoa bowl or salad, such as the Smokehouse, including BBQ portobello and red quinoa, at one of the touchscreen kiosks. It gets prepared by unseen human hands behind a wall of windows, from which you pick up your prepared order after your name and number appear. Super high-tech! (If you run into trouble, you can chat to one of the “concierges” floating around.)
Popcorn Beets at Dirt Candy
86 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002
The philosophy behind Dirt Candy, an all-vegetarian restaurant on the Lower East Side, can be summed up as follows: anyone can slap a patty on a grill, but only the truly talented have what it takes to cook vegetables. Using popcorn shrimp as a model / departure point, popcorn beets are crunchy, salty, and sweet. The kitchen begins by roasting the veg in salt, then battering it, and finally frying it. The result comes topped with a Thai green curry ranch dressing. For your main course, consider a broccoli hot dog, served with mustard barbecue sauce and broccoli kraut.
Protein Cookies at The Protein Bakery
144 West 19th Street
New York, NY 10011
The secret to the sweet treats at this Chelsea bakery? Special muscle-building whey protein concentrate. It’s true! At last, brownies, blondies, and cookies that are not only made fresh in small batches each day, but that can also make you healthier and stronger! All goodies contain natural ingredients, like dark chocolate, rolled oats, and lemon zest, and are free of gluten, trans fats, preservatives, and wheat flour. In addition to giving you energy, the protein and fiber help fill you up, so you won’t be tempted to pig out. Rather, you’ll be able to savor every terrific, guilt-free bite.
Ube Ice Cream at Soft Swerve
85B Allen Street
New York, NY 10002
For anyone who doesn’t know, ube is purple yam—and, as you might expect, ube ice cream boasts a beautiful purple hue, just begging to be ’grammed. And, good news, the ice cream at Soft Swerve is as delicious as it is gorgeous. Try the Woodside, which tops the ube ice cream with mochi and toasted coconut, or go for the Mott and Mulberry, featuring matcha (green tea) ice cream, chocolate sauce, and crushed Oreos. Your choice of a black chocolate or a cinnamony red cone. The ice cream shop is run by two childhood best friends, who gave up corporate careers to serve up pure, photogenic joy.
Jessica Allen is a New York-based writer.