Chopped cheese — hold the cheese.
A bodega-inspired vegetarian and vegan sandwich shack has opened in DUMBO, Brooklyn. The 140 Plymouth St. space is the first permanent home for Vodega, which had operated as a pop-up and caterer since April 2019.
“We have anything that you’d find at a New York bodega, turned vegan,” Vodega owner Jeremy Dean told Eater shortly after the spot opened in July.
Vodega has five sandwich options — a vegan breakfast “sausage” sandwich ($8), a jackfruit Cuban ($13), Impossible ground beef chopped cheese ($14), seitan Philly cheesesteak ($14) and the Mac Stack, a Philly cheesesteak including smoked mac and “cheese” ($18). (Some vegetarian ingredient alternatives are available.)
All sammies are made on locally made bread from Carroll Gardens’ Caputo’s, Gothamist reported, and are impressively greasy, successfully serving more as an homage than an upgrade on classic bodega sandwiches. Sides include smoked mac & “cheese” and “Jeweled Grains.” A coconut banana pudding dessert option has also been added.
In addition to its in-store menu, Vodega delivers, has a weekly “Veggieship” membership program and caters.
While now popular enough to scale into a brick-and-mortar space, Vodega initially struggled to peak customer interest.
“We weren’t very successful at food events in general, but when we started popping-up at vegan festivals, we found our niche,” Dean, a Texas-bred, Mexican-Salvadoran chef who’s lived in DUMBO for 12 years, told Eater.
While previous attempts at utilizing the beloved local term for NYC corner stores has ended in appropriation accusations, Dean feels his heritage uniquely positions him to do so respectfully.
“The NYC bodega experience is now vegan,” reads the restaurant’s Instagram bio.
The eatery’s new home — directly beneath the Manhattan Bridge overpass — makes it extremely noisy, warns Dean, so customers should plan to take their food home or to one of the many nearby parks. Vodega is open for takeout and delivery from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.