People often ask me what my favorite restaurant is in New York City. I frequently mention the vegan diner, Champs, and recently have included some new spots, such as Toad Style and Cinnamon Snail. But the conversation will often conclude with my urging them to check out a pop-up market called Vegan Shop-Up or VSU, because it’s probably one of my favorite things to go to in the city.
VSU is a vegan market that happens about once a month, often in a vegan bar called Pine Box Rock Shop, in Bushwick, Brooklyn (although they have been adding some Manhattan shop-ups as well). The bar becomes crammed with all sorts of local, vegan vendors who sell everything from sandwiches and cheeses, to chocolates and pastries, to soaps and cosmetics, to shirts and bags. I mostly take advantage of all the wonderful and unique food options and the occasional Bloody Mary, of which the bar has a great selection.
VSU recently celebrated their 6th anniversary, which got me thinking about how long I had been going to them. I couldn’t quite figure it out, but it has been at least a few years and definitely before I went vegan. This is all thanks to my brother, who has been vegan for about six years (and living in Brooklyn for close to seven). He couldn’t remember how he first heard of the market just that he “always sort of just knew about them.” I still go often with him and we always overindulge. To put it simply, “Vegan Shop-Up is a damn nice place to eat a sandwich and drink a beer.”
So what kind of food can you find here? This is just a sampling of the copious amounts of delicious delights that I have had at VSU. I will likely post more about them in future posts, in addition to new vendors they are always adding. Also, apologies for everything being iPhone photos.
Back when they had trucks, and even when the trucks were off the road, Cinnamon Snail was often at VSU. They always had delicious sandwiches, like this maple mustard tempeh sandwich, one of the few that wasn’t powered by spice, but still flavorful nevertheless. They also had amazing pastries, such as their namesake, the cinnamon snail, and loaded donuts, a personal favorite being s’mores, which was stuffed with a chocolate ganache and topped with a perfectly toasted marshmallow. They now have a permanent location at the Pennsy, so I don’t know if they will be returning, but it is great to see how much they have grown.
Yeah Dawg!!! has been another favorite. They make hot dogs out of root vegetables, sunflower seeds, and gluten-free flowers, a little different than the soy or seitan ones you often find. And then they are topped with anything from pickled pineapple, to coconut bacon, to chipotle mayo, and more. They have also grown a lot, expanding to other pop-up events and now selling in stores and restaurants.
I think it’s also safe to say that I’ve eaten the best tacos here. Los Veganos Hermanos is a newer vendor that has partnered with Monk’s Meats. They start with amazing homemade tortillas and then fills them with amazing flavor combinations such as lentil chorizo, seitan chili verde, and mushroom carnitas.
Another amazing vendor is Peaceful Provisions. They are run by two super sweet twins, Bee and Jay, and make some of the most creative food. They make a lot of really good sweets and pastries, however my favorite so far has been their savory waffle bowls. I’ve only tried this one, which was tamale inspired, layered with flavors such as chick’n asado and tomatillo salsa, but they rotate their flavors and come up with many amazing creations.
Lastly I must mention Sweet Maresa’s macarons. Maresa has certainly perfected the art of the macaron, with a slightly crisp and chewy shell, a smooth filling, and the whole thing melting in your mouth. She comes up with so many unique flavors that I’m constantly grabbing a macaron almost everytime I go to a shop-up. These two are bay leaf plum and rose.
Although I could talk forever about the wonderful food, I think what I like just as much about VSU is the community. I have met some wonderful people at VSU, both vendors and other shoppers. You certainly don’t have to be vegan to go, but there is the feeling at these events that you have stepped into a vegan world where everyone shares similar interests and passions and it highlights the endless possibilities of this lifestyle.