NYC has a large number of (mostly Korean-run) delis with steam tables in the back full of hot food where you pay by weight. In midtown Manhattan, they're every few blocks. For a higher quality option, all Whole Foods stores also have a grand variety of pay-by-weight hot and cold food items, as well as big seating areas to enjoy the food in. That said, I can't think of any of these places being exclusively vegetarian, although it's certainly easy enough to just pick out vegetarian options from the buffets.
Ok great. Thanks. We gave been to the whole foods several times at Columbus circle. The best whole foods by far compared to others I have been to. I'll look into the Korean ones.
Honestly, you can end up spending more paying by weight than if you eat at a restaurant. It depends on whether you prefer light weight foods (like lettuce) vs heavier foods (like potatoes, tofu, beans, pasta salads or even tomatoes) :-) There are loads of vegetarian friendly restaurants in NYC.
That said, I agree that Whole Foods offers great choices, and that there are lots of neighborhood markets with vegetarian friendly food bars that can work. Be sure to check what they have in the "priced by item" cases as well. You can avoid the weight penalty for heavier foods.
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