Orchard Grocer: A vegan paradise for everyone

Market and deli Orchard Grocer offers a variety of food items that appeal to both vegans and non-vegans alike.

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Manasa Gudavalli

Orchard Grocer, located at 78 Orchard St, is an all-vegan deli and grocer. They offer vegan sandwiches, soft-serve ice cream, and groceries for vegans and non-vegans alike. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

By Natalie Melendez, Staff Writer

Orchard Grocer, which lies in the heart of the Lower East Side on the lively Orchard Street, is an entirely vegan market and deli that many vegans like myself have come to consider paradise.  

Walking through the doors of Orchard Grocer is like stepping into a world of wonders. It feels cozy and nostalgic, almost like an urban rendition of a small-town convenience store. Every nook and cranny is filled to the brim with items in colorful, inviting packaging.  

If you’re trying to find the vegan alternative to just about anything, this place will probably have it. Vegan bacon? You got it. Plant-based chicken? There are countless options to choose from. Chocolate bars and candy? That’s my favorite section! And for all you dairy lovers out there, the store even carries a wide variety of vegan cheeses — enough options to impress even the biggest skeptics. 

The inside of the store is filled with shelves of vegan alternatives like vegan bacon, plant-based chicken, chocolate bars and candy, and vegan cheeses. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli) (Manasa Gudavalli)

Though I don’t visit Orchard Grocer often, mostly out of self-restraint, when I do I make sure to pick up a few of my favorite snacks. My go-to order usually consists of Gigantic! brand chocolate bars — which I can only find here — peach rings from SmartSweets, canned oat milk lattes and a few other miscellaneous items. 

But the market side of this shop is only part of the charm. 

The deli is the reason why you may encounter a long line of people snaking around the Orchard Grocer storefront. The menu consists of everything from sandwiches to salads, baked goods and soft serve. The mouthwatering photos of the menu items on the shop’s Instagram page instantly drew me to it. 

On my first try of the menu, I ordered the Upstater salad with buffalo tofu. I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of textures and flavors — the crunchiness of the shredded carrots and cabbage, the tanginess of the buffalo sauce-soaked tofu, and the rich creaminess of the avocado. Eating a salad had never been more satisfying. 

More recently, I tried out one of the shop’s daily specials, which on that day happened to be a beautifully crafted sandwich consisting of buffalo tofu, avocado, red cabbage slaw, provolone cheese and ranch dressing on a roll — essentially the sandwich version of the Upstater Salad. Even though I was impressed by my previous order, this daily special outright blew me away. The symphony of flavors blended gracefully to create a sandwich from which dreams are made of. 

But perhaps the best thing about the Orchard Grocer menu is that it has something for everyone.

Orchard Grocer’s vanilla caramel milkshake is a cashew-based vanilla soft serve combined with oat milk and topped with coconut whip and coconut caramel. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli) (Manasa Gudavalli)

On my latest trip to the shop, I brought along a non-vegan friend. Intrigued by the promises of vegan soft serve, he ordered a cup of plain vanilla. After a couple of skeptical bites, and what seemed like hours of contemplation, he rated it a nine out of 10. Though it was not as creamy as regular soft serve, the vegan version was still rich, had a prominent almond flavor and was not overly sweet. This is quite an impressive review from someone who claims he’ll never go vegan.

So, whether you’re vegan like me or simply in the mood for an exquisite taste of the vegan lifestyle, I highly recommend that you stop by Orchard Grocer. With its nostalgic atmosphere and unforgettable deli menu, the shop might just become your new favorite lunch spot.  

Email Natalie Melendez at [email protected]