Hotel Tortuga

Manhattan, New York City

3.8 / 3 votes

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vegan-friendly Mexican

Hotel Tortuga - brought to you by the owners of Curly's and former owners of Burritoville - is a very vegan-friendly Mexican restaurant. They offer the usual beans, rice, guacamole, and chips and salsa, but also offer more interesting and hard-to-find items like portobello tacos, vegan pozole, soy chicken mole, and vegan cheese and sour cream.

The restaurant has both table and booth seating and can accommodate groups of up to about 6 without having to split them up.

Added by Cass Danger on Apr 17 11 (last updated Apr 17 11)

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Hotel Tortuga has nice ambiance but I found the food woefully lacking. It's basically just heavy, mushy Mexican food served on fiesta ware.

I got the chilaquiles made vegan (~$9), though they were out of the vegan cheese and instead gave me some guacamole. Interestingly, they charged me extra for the guacamole, which showed a strange lack of attention to detail. Also, my dish came with many sizable chunks of real cheese, which also shows a sloppiness in the kitchen.

The dish was boring and heavy. It's the type of dish that becomes a soft, soggy mush within minutes of it leaving the kitchen; the tortilla chips wilt and disintegrate under the heat and weight and wetness of the sauteed, overly-soft vegetables. You get more mushy-starchy textures from the beans. It's basically just a bunch of standard Taco Bell ingredients dumped into a dish, with some salsa spread on top. I'd prefer thoughtfully spiced and seasoned vegetables put together into a whole dish; at Tortuga, you get unseasoned ingredients thrown together.

Tortuga also doesn't seem to carry vegan chicken anymore, so the dish came instead with ground-up chorizo tvp bits that didn't add much taste or flavor.

All told, a mediocre dish. The other options didn't look that interesting to me and the menu makes it hard to figure out what's vegan or veganizable.

One weird point: you can get free chips and salsa here, but it's DIY, and you pick some chips with tongs and put them into a small paper basket and then have to ladle your own salsa into a small paper cup. The whole thing is crazy and hard to do (the chips will fall out of the tiny paper basket, believe me).

Lastly, the service is friendly.

Those of you looking for good vegan Mexican food should look further west---Quesadilla, La Cocina Logan Square and El Faro, both in Chicago, do fabulous, fresh Mexican dishes with mockmeats and from-scratch seasonings. No fiesta ware, no tofu sour cream, but straight-up Mexican foods made with vegan meats and marinades. Flacos in Oakland is also a wonderful spot with deep-fried taquitos stuffed with soy chicken, as well as vegan polvorones.

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God bless Hotel Tortuga for their chips and salsa bar! As soon as I walked in, it reminded me of Burritoville, and come to find out, it's the same owners! I can't say that the chips and salsa were the most spectacular I've ever had but they're free and they're plentiful and that works for me.

The menu was full of so many interesting vegan options but there was no way I could order anything but the chilaquiles since I've NEVER seen this veganized and I've been dreaming about it forever (but apparently was too lazy to make on my own). Chilaquiles are basically Mexican lasagna made of layered fried tortillas, cheese, and meat. Hotel Tortuga uses Daiya vegan cheese and I got my chilaquiles with the soy chicken mole. Delicious! The cheese made the dish ridiculously greasy but it was still very good and I loved that there was also homemade tofu sour cream.

My friend had the vegan pozole tacos, which were also very good. He also had the portobello tacos, which he loved, but I passed on since I don't like mushrooms.

The food is well-priced, good, and far more interesting than pretty much anything you'll get at other Mexican joints (except, perhaps Mexican Radio). I will definitely be back!

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Neighborhood

Union Square

Directions

3rd Ave-14th St (L)
Union Square (4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R)

Non-Smoking

Prices

$ - inexpensive

Cuisines

  • Mexican

Features

  • Delivery
  • Kid-Friendly

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chilaquiles with vegan Daiya cheese and soy chicken mole

chilaquiles with vegan Daiya cheese and soy chicken mole

portobello tacos

Hours

11am - 11pm

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