620 Manhattan Ave (Nassau & Driggs)
City: Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (347) 844-9412
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Vegan
Payment: Cash only
If one of your new year's goals is to eat a bit less meat without ever feeling deprived, a cozy little pocket of comfort food in Brooklyn's Greenpoint known as Champs Jr. (diminutive relative of Williamsburg's Champs Diner) will help you on the path. The menu here is loaded with items like bratwurst, Buffalo wings, and "the Grinder." But this is place is not only vegetarian; it is (gasp!) vegan.
Vegetarians and vegans will love knowing that every single thing here is open to them; and overall foodies will love the rich, tasty dishes that seem as if they're loaded with butter and other guilty-pleasure non-vegan ingredients. As a vegetarian myself, I have taken pleasure in savoring the Buffalo wings, made of tempeh (served with crudite and ranch dressing; $8), because I generally can't order this dish. The chili ($4 per cup, $6 per bowl) is hearty and satisfying; the grilled cheese (obviously not dairy cheese, but tastes like it) is gooey and decadent ($7 for a sandwich; add $3 for soup—the tomato is fantastic); and I don't know what the pulled pork burger is made of, but it's not an animal product of any kind, and it's yummy ($6.50).
Depending on your mood and appetite, you can get anything from the Mexican raw kale salad (with a side of creamy-but-dairy-free dressing, $10) to an entirely unexpected banana split (with deep-fried oreos!; $10). Early-bird breakfast starts at 7 AM, and late-night snacks (check out the "garbage bowl"—fries with mac 'n' cheese, gravy, and a faux--burger or hotdog; $12) are served till 2 AM.
The space is small and friendly (counter seating only, but take-out is also popular). The staff is cheery, the menu is fun, and you can breathe easy knowing that no animals were harmed in the making of your meal. Cheers to our animal friends—and to vegan dishes that will more than satisfy all palates.
Review By: Pamela Grossman