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U.S. Open Not Quite An Ace for a Vegan

Heading to Queens over the next two weeks? You might want to pack a picnic lunch.

First things first, I hope you all made it through Hurricane Irene without a hitch. According to the USTA, the National Tennis Center made it through with minimal damage, and the U.S. Open is set to start as scheduled Monday morning. 

If you've been to the Open, you're probably well aware that tennis is only half the show. With more than a dozen restaurants and unique food stands, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center offers countless dining options. Chinese, Indian, American—you can find just about anything. But can you find vegan? 

Yes. In a tour of the grounds last week, I noticed that the options have decreased significantly since last year. There are no veggie burgers, and the sushi stand that I relied on last year is gone. I spoke with the chefs at each stand to verify this information. Here are your best meal bets in the food court:

Pizza Pasta

  • penne rigate, no cheese—has tomatoes and basil, $9

Fresca Mexicana

  • vegetarian burrito, no cheese, $10
  • vegetarian tostadas, no cheese, $10

New Delhi Spice 

  • vegetarian combo, $10.75
  • samosas, $2.50
  • nan, $2.50
  • **please note, the vegetarian kati rolls are NOT vegan.

Vegan snacks, on the other hand, are easy to find. They're not cheap, but what is at the Open? Many, such as the Kettle Korn Gourmet ($5.75), Cape Cod Kettle Chips ($3.25) and waffle fries ($4.75/$6.50) are available at multiple stands. The fries are cooked in a separate fryer, in vegetable oil.

Other snacks are unique to one or two stands. Here are the ones I tracked down—have you found any others?

South Plaza Cafe

  • fresh fruit, $1.50
  • gluten free caramel and cheddar popcorn (not vegan, but GF), $4.75
  • Eden Organic dry-roasted spicy pumpkin seeds, $7.50
  • Eden Organic wild-berry mix, $7.50
  • Go Free gluten, soy & dairy-free dark chocolate crunch, $5
  • Lara Bars—cherry, $5

Lemonade Stand (along promenade walkway)

  • All-natural homestyle frozen lemonade, $5/$8
  • Cinnamon roasted almonds or pecans, $8/$10

Cuppa Spotta (throughout the grounds)

  • Mango Blast or Wild Berry Smash smoothies (made with a carton mix, not fresh fruit, but mixture is vegan), $6.50
  • fresh fruit, $1.50
  • fruit cup, $5.50

Stoneyfield Cafe (throughout the grounds)

  • Grandy Oats: granola & seasonal berries, $6
  • Food Should Taste Good multigrain tortilla strips, $3.25
  • All Natural Popcorn Indiana, $5.75

Grey Goose Bar (throughout the grounds)

  • wasabi cashews, $3.75
  • Fruit 'n Nut bars, $4.50

Ben & Jerry's (throughout the grounds)

  • sorbet and sugar cones are dairy free
  • choose from several smoothies made with sorbet, $7

Other food stands seem to pop up throughout the Open. There is usually a grilled vegetable and mozzarella wrap at the stand inside the Grandstand, which I turn to when I'm desperate. (I work at the Open throughout the week-long qualifying round and the two-week main draw). 

If you have a chance to dine in one of the sit-down restaurants, you have more options. I wasn't able to get my hands on a menu for any of these, as they were not yet open for business. Admittance to all but Mojito and Patio Cafe is restricted to certain ticket holders, or to those who have purchased a restaurant pass. For more information, visit www.usopen.org.

Aces—Sushi

Mojito Restaurant & Bar—Cuban

U.S. Open Club—a full buffet with a couple of vegan options, but this is the least attractive of the restaurant-pass-required joints.

Champions Bar & Grill—Steakhouse, options are limited

Patio Cafe—American fare, including a few salads.

If you are coming out to the U.S. Open, look for me. I'll be running around the grounds as host of USOpen.org's features. I'm always looking for people to interview, and love meeting fellow vegans!

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