Plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular, but most dining options here on the Upper East Side are either made in kitchens that also prepare non-vegan items or require a trip to a full-service restaurant that isn’t built for quick bites. That’s where the homegrown fast casual chain Vegan Grill comes in, now set to open its fourth restaurant in Yorkville in just a few weeks time.
“There’s a high demand for vegan [and] I don’t see many options,” Abdo, founder of Vegan Grill, told Upper East Site.
And he’s right.
The Upper East Side does have a handful of fully plant-based options like Beyond Sushi and the popular bakery cafe Innocent Yesterday, Guilty Today, but as Abdo notes, many other UES restaurants serving vegan dishes also serve meat– leaving the potential for contamination by animal-based products.
Powered by a 100% plant-based kitchen, a huge selection of burgers, breakfast, quesadillas, mac n’ cheese, buffalo wings and even a vegan crunchwrap, inspired by the Taco Bell favorite, grace the menu at Vegan Grill.
“I used to cook everything from fresh veggies. I used to make my own cheese sauce with potato, carrots and nutritional yeast,” Abdo said, explaining how the restaurant’s recipes evolved using a combination of high-quality homemade ingredients paired with popular consumer food products.
Born in the Bronx in 2018, Vegan Grill has grown twice before, opening new locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the East Village, where you can be in-and-out with one of their famous plant-based chopped cheese sandwiches— made with authentic Beyond or Impossible meat— in just a matter of minutes.
“Then started to work with Beyond, Impossible Gardein [products] and upgraded to fast food.”
Upper East Site traveled to the St. Marks Place in the East Village on Thursday afternoon to chow down on Vegan Grill’s chopped cheese and now we know why it’s famous— the sandwich was packed with all the salty, sweet and tangy flavors you’d expect from a typical meat-based chopped cheese sandwich.
The new Vegan Grill is currently under construction at 1726 Second Avenue, between East 89th and 90th Streets, in the space that was formerly home to Noche de Margaritas Mexican restaurant, which closed permanently earlier this year after a failing a Health Department inspection.
The inside of the establishment will be unrecognizable once complete.
Artist renderings of the new Vegan Grill restaurant shared with Upper East Site show a tastefully designed, minimalistic but inviting dining area wrapped in white tile and wood panels.
Wooden high-top tables with two white stools a piece will line the right side of the new restaurant, providing a comfortable place to sit down, but not linger.
A large refrigerated display case featuring a variety of drinks sits to the left, leading customers to the counter where they can place their order, then slide to their right to checkout using cash, cards or contactless payments like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.
Abdo tells Upper East Site that construction on the new restaurant is going according to plan so far and he expects the new Vegan Grill to start serving customers in mid-October.