grilled cauliflower

New York City’s Argentine restaurant Balvanera, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, recently launched a new vegetable-forward and vegan-friendly menu to accommodate their plant-based customers. We decided to stop by and give it a try.

A New Vegetable-Forward Menu at Balvanera in New York City

Argentine cuisine, known for its meat-centric dishes, may not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about veganism, but it turns out that the two are a match made in heaven. The owner and head chef, Fernando Navas, who’s originally from Punta Alta, Argentina, personally developed each of the new menu items with a clear focus: showcasing the versatility of plants rather than recreating vegan versions of existing dishes.

Stepping into Buenos Aires: A Cozy Argentine Restaurant in the Heart of the Lower East Side

A warm and welcoming decor that evokes the vibrant culture of Buenos Aires makes for an authentic Argentine dining experience at Balvanera. Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic dinner for two or a casual night out with friends, Balvanera is the perfect place to relax, unwind, and savor the flavors of Argentine cuisine, now also suitable to vegans thanks to the addition of their vegetable-forward menu.

Chef Fernando Navas. © Mark Zhelezoglo

Veggies Take the Spotlight: Argentine Cuisine & Innovative Vegan Options by Chef Fernando Navas

The following were the four courses we tried when visiting Balvanera. Every recipe was developed by the restaurant’s owner and head chef, Fernando Navas, who named the eatery after one of his favorite Buenos Aires neighborhoods.

remolachas (beets)
© Mark Zhelezoglo

Remolachas – Roasted beets, Aquafaba Aioli, Fried Garlic

This first course was our absolute favorite. The beets were roasted to perfection and the combination of the root vegetables with the creamy aioli and fried garlic was exquisite. Balvanera was kind enough to share a variation of this recipe (with a vegan ricotta and sour cream base instead of the aioli) with us so that you can try it at home. Click here to read more about the dish and to get the recipe.


grilled cauliflower

Coliflor – Grilled Cauliflower with Apricot Vinaigrette

This dish featured grilled cauliflower that was perfectly seasoned and paired with a refreshing apricot vinaigrette and topped with whole almonds and a squeeze of lemon juice. The vinaigrette added a sweet and tangy flavor that perfectly complemented the cauliflower. Even though grilled or roasted cauliflower is by no means a new concept, this combination of flavors and textures was refreshing and different from many other cauliflower recipes we’ve tried.

tempura green beans

Green Bean Tempura with Aquafaba Aioli

These fried green beans battered in tempura were crunchy and flavorful, providing an original alternative to French fries. We loved the aquafaba aioli that was paired with the Remolachas, so we were delighted to enjoy it once more, but this time as a dip. For those who may be unfamiliar with aquafaba, it’s the liquid that’s retrieved after cooking garbanzo beans. Its texture and versatility make it the perfect substitute for cream and/or egg whites in many dishes. Balvanera’s version of the aioli was super creamy and delicious, with just the right amount of garlic to complement the crunchy green beans. This dish is perfect for anyone who loves fried foods and/or who enjoys vegetables prepared in creative ways.

Cavatelli | squash, sage, toasted hazelnuts, Pecorino nut ‘cheese’

This dish features cavatelli, a type of small semolina pasta shells that are made in house by the chefs at Balvanera. What makes cavatelli unique is that they’re a bit more al dente than regular pasta, which gives them a satisfying texture and chewiness. Paired with butternut squash, fragrant sage, and crunchy toasted hazelnuts, this dish is a symphony of flavors and textures. The Pecorino nut ‘cheese’ adds a finishing touch of richness and depth, without any dairy whatsoever.

Verdict: The New Vegetable-Forward Menu at Balvanera is a Must-Try for Anyone Who Loves Vegetables

We asked Balvanera why they decided to add a vegan-friendly menu and were told that after some requests from vegan guests, they decided to create options to make them feel more welcome. We love a restaurant that listens and caters to their guests’ wishes, so we applaud this initiative whole-heartedly.

© Mark Zhelezoglo

Who This Menu is Ideal For

Overall, this new menu is perfect for:

  • Any vegans or vegetarians wanting to dine with non-vegans who may be reluctant to go to a fully vegan restaurant
  • Anyone wanting to try Argentine cuisine
  • Anyone looking for a cozy, welcoming restaurant experience
  • Those who love a good drink with their food (they offer a great selection of wines and other drinks, including vegan ones)
  • Vegans looking for options that focus on creative ways to prepare veggies, rather than veganizing meat-centric dishes
  • Non-vegans looking to try something new

What could still be improved upon

We had a wonderful experience at Balvanera and loved the food, so there isn’t much to critique. That said, we would have loved to try a vegan dessert option. Hopefully they’ll add one in the future, in which case we’d be delighted to return to the restaurant to give it a try.

Coliflor_Mark Zhelezoglo

Where, When & Tips


Balvanera Restaurant is located on 152 Stanton Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.


Happy Hour – Tuesday – Friday 4-6 pm.  Outdoor & Bar only

Dinner:  Monday – Sunday 5pm – 11pm

Brunch: Saturday – Sunday 11am-4pm

Special features:

Monday BYOB (corkage is $50 per bottle on all other nights)

Tuesday -Thursday ARGENTINE FEAST

Click here for the most up-to-date opening hours.


  • The restaurant is a popular spot, so be sure to make a reservation. 
  • The vegetable forward menu includes both vegetarian and vegan options, so be sure to let them know that you’re vegan when you arrive.
© Mark Zhelezoglo
  • Disclaimer: The restaurants we feature on are selected by our editors and any reviews are in no way sponsored by the restaurants. All opinions expressed are our own. 
  • Photography by Mark Zhelezoglo (whenever indicated below the picture) and Best of Vegan. Editors: Saqera Kokayi & Kim-Julie Hansen.

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