the Mood for Foodswings: Brooklyn’s First Vegan Fast Food
Restaurant Review by Sangamithra Iyer
Buffalo Wings! Those two words used to disgust
me, confuse me (do buffalos have wings?), and trigger in my head the
image of feasting
upon animal suffering. That is until several months ago, when I first
went to Foodswings, the vegan fast food joint in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Excited by the concept of an eatery serving cruelty-free versions of
familiar American fare, my friends and I perused the menu with delight.
At first, I was hesitant about trying their spicy buffalo style drumsticks—they
come with a choking warning about “bones.” Realizing they
were merely bamboo sticks, I decided to take my first bite of breaded
and fried soy goodness. What resulted was a severe addiction marked
by constant cravings in the weeks that followed. Now when I hear the
words “buffalo wings,” I can only dream of fauna-free feasting
at Foodswings—that is the power of their food.
In this cozy vegan eatery, the compassion doesn’t stop at the plate—restaurant
owners Freedom and Lee realize the struggle for human liberation and animal liberation
are one and the same, and accordingly they provide food for Food Not Bombs, the
all-volunteer organization that recovers would-be discarded food to make fresh
hot vegetarian meals to serve in city parks, protests, and elsewhere. Foodswings
also gives discounts to union workers, provides free food for workers on strike,
and has donated their delicious specialties to several animal related benefits.
Sound perfect? Almost: a by-product of almost every fast food joint is a disposable
culture. The incorporation of reusable, washable utensils, plates, and cups for
dine-in customers would be a welcome change reflecting the ideals of both the
patrons and the socially responsible owners. On a more personal note, the lack
of public bathrooms is an inconvenience for patrons, especially ones making the
trip across town. Share the love, share the food, and please share the toilet!
Though only open for several months, the restaurant has attracted a core group
of regulars who’ve developed a list of favorites and usuals from the menu,
which offers sumptuous sandwiches like the no-chicken parmesan, no-turkey club,
and faux philly cheese steak. The quesadillas are, unfortunately, a disappointment—meltable
cheese apparently is still the weakest link in the vegan food chain—but
the grilled cheese with tomato is satisfying. Burgers and hot dogs with the works
are popular, as is the no-chicken caesar salad, and be sure to order some yummy
sides like fried plantains, traditional-style veggies and mashed potatoes. Vegans
rejoice and skeptical omnivores are intrigued with the plentitude of options.
The menu continues to expand, along with the list of favorites. For me, milkshakes
have been a most welcome recent addition. Yes, milkshakes! A simple pleasure
for both those fond of and free of dairy in flavors of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry,
coffee, and pistachio, with mix-ins like cookies ‘n’ cream and peanut
Other desserts include key lime pie, homemade cookies, Vegan Treats cakes, and
a freezer filled with dairy free ice cream novelties.
For the late night snackers, Foodswings has a special midnight munchies menu
Friday and Saturday nights with goodies like disco fries, eggie and cheese sandwiches,
and pizza pies. Be sure to swing by one Sunday for brunch and experience berry
good pancakes with tofu scramble.
The atmosphere is bright and welcoming. Tables are decorated with either A People’s
History of the United States timeline or random pop culture references, and a
movie is usually playing in the background. It’s a comfortable environment
serving vegan comfort food that won’t make your omnivore friends uncomfortable.
Their reasonable prices also free budget conscious food lovers from the hype
of expensive elitist vegetarian chow.
So gather some friends and go experience for yourselves the exciting new taste
sensations in the vegan world.
Foodswings is located at 295 Grand Street (between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts),
near the Bedford or Lorimer St. stop on the L or G trains in Williamsburg, Brooklyn;
(718) 388-1919. Open Tues-Thurs 2-11pm; Fri 2-2; Sat 12-2; and Sun 11-11. Closed
Mondays. Major credit cards accepted. Visit www.foodswings.net for current menus
and information about their catering services.