V-Spot Organic Restaurant is the second restaurant opened by Dan Carabaño, Alex Carabaño, Steve Simicich, and Nathan Smith. Brothers Dan and Alex were raised on traditional Colombian food in Brooklyn, the site of their first restaurant. Like the original V-Spot, the St. Marks eatery churns out entirely vegan Latin fare. Steve and Dan took the time to speak with me about their joint venture and the move to the East Village.
Dan had been vegetarian for many years before making the switch to the vegan lifestyle in 2003. He then sought to “veganize” the type of cuisine with which he grew up. Before entering the restaurant business, Dan was a math teacher. “Many math teachers are vegetarian,” he told us, “Like Pythagoras: you had to be vegetarian to join his club.” His brother Alex is a stand-up comic who was originally an omnivore who used to sneak meat into the back of their Brooklyn location for his dinner. He soon joined Dan, however, in cutting meat out of his diet. Dan and Steve, a land-use lawyer, are college buddies from SUNY Albany.
This spot on St. Marks is unique in that it is all organic and locally sourced. Charles, the owner of this East Village building V-Spot calls home, is very passionate about organic farming, having grown up on a farm since the age of three. Though excited to have a vegan restaurant as a tenant, he insisted that the food be entirely organic, and Dan and Alex were happy to agree to his demands.
Members of the Manhattan Sideways team sampled two of their delicious empanadas: the Philly empanada is filled with mushroom, onions, green peppers, vegan cheese, and house-made seitan while the Colombian empanada has potatoes, carrots, onion, corn, and Latin-seasoned house made seitan. Both were perfectly crispy on the outside and flavor-packed on the inside, with two accompanying sauces: a house-made spicy vegan mayo and a pico de gallo. Another favorite with their customers, Steve informed us, is the cheese quesadilla made with vegan cheese and plantains.
V-Spot is friendly, full of good energy, and the food is fabulous. As we were leaving, we managed to catch Alex, who was just arriving. He told us that on the last Thursday of every month, there is a comedy open-mic at 7pm followed by a pre-booked comedy show. He then sat down to the dinner that Dan had ordered for him. “I eat here every day!” Alex happily declared, while tucking in to his quesadilla.