Vegan Survival Guide: Westfield Center Mall!  »

This Monday, as most of us return to our ridiculous jobs, let us celebrate the fun times every vegan has searching for affordable, tasty (read: not insanely expensive and edible) meals in the Financial District. Our guest post is brought to you by the fantastic Sharon who braves through the best and the worst of the Westfield Center Mall so that you may reap the rewards! What a gal!

At my stressful downtown job, the only time I get to myself during the day is my 45-minute lunch break. For whatever reason I almost always I find myself taking solace at the Westfield Center food court. Maybe it’s my Long Island upbringing, but there’s something oddly comforting about the variety of cuisine, the cafeteria trays, and knowing I’m just steps away from a Victoria’s Secret. (Who carries vegan skin care products now! Check it out.)

The Westfield Center has two distinct dining sections: There’s the familiar but pretty gross Panda Express section, which harkens back to my suburban upbringing when I thought a buttery Annie’s pretzel was a pretty good meal; and then, I’m not gonna front, there’s the bourgeois section with its bamboo lighting. The prices are admittedly a little higher, but there’s also a bounty of vegan options. This is my survival guide.

Sorabol: Korean Barbecue and veganism don’t usually go hand in hand, but Sorabol serves an awesome Bi Bim Bop bowl. There are a few tofu dishes as well, but I always go for this veggie bowl full of a variety of fresh and pickled veggies, rice, and jobche noodles.

San Francisco Soup Company: The soups here are great, and they always label what’s vegetarian and dairy-free. The vegan split pea is always on the menu, and there’s usually at least one other vegan special soup. Check out their salads, though. I often go for the Asian Chicken, substituting tofu, but becayse none of the recommended ones are vegan, you can always create your own. Their tofu is smoked and super tasty, and also comes in their yummy vegetarian wrap. Avoid their pre-made wraps though; they taste like plastic.

Out the Door: This is the take-out version of fancy-pantsy Vietnamese-fusion restaurant The Slanted Door. Similarly, it’s not the cheapest choice, but one of the healthier and tastiest. There’s a good variety of vegetable dishes, my favorite of which is the broccoli with five-spice pressed tofu. They often have a vegan curry special as well.

Also worth checking out:
The grilled Mesquite vegetable burrito at Andale Mexican Restaurant; the eggplant and tofu at Coriander Thai; any of the Middle Eastern dishes at Amoura.

What to avoid:
Although they have veggie burgers, Bistro Burger uses the cheesetastic Original Gardenburger. I’ve never even looked at the menu at Buckhorn Steakhouse because their workers bombard you with free samples of cow parts on toothpicks. And Bristol Farms: just don’t do it. It looks all fresh and Whole Foodsy, but their salad bar and hot foods bar are nauseating and ridiculously overpriced. They’re also non-union and always seem to have labor disputes, making your $15 worth of soggy spring rolls so not worth it.

Coming Soon! There’s a restaurant opening called Froots. Their website advertises fresh, healthy foods and smoothies, and I’m excited about the prospect of more vegan choices. There’s nothing sad about that, right?

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