Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Rising Tide of Veganism at the Jersey Shore

When you mention the Jersey Shore to those living outside of the Garden State, oftentimes what first comes to mind is the seedy MTV television show of the same name or the self-indulgent and out of control Real Housewives of New Jersey. But true Jersey natives know better. In fact, a crop of vegan eateries and hotspots is changing all that and bringing some positive, national recognition to the vegan community that is burgeoning along the Jersey Shore. The resilient residents who took a beating after Hurricane Sandy are proving that they’re not only Jersey Strong, but that they’re smart and compassionate, too.

A Little Place of Heaven
The small storefront in the heart of Red Bank belies the abundant and diverse menu presented by Good Karma Café. In the mood for Asian, then indulge in the Indian Plate of curried tofu, jasmine rice and chana masala with banana ginger chutney. How about something hot?  The Southwestern Seitan Bowl with brown rice and black beans incorporates guacamole, caramelized onions and spicy jalapeno aioli. In addition to salads, wraps, sandwiches and smoothies — The Elvis smoothie is a dessert in itself with bananas, chocolate syrup, peanut butter and soymilk — the cafe also boasts a raw section. And speaking of dessert, their Tiramisu is by far the best vegan version of the coffee-flavored Italian cake I have tasted. As its name implies, this vegan eatery is sure to nurture good vibes.
17 East Front St., Red Bank; 732-450-8344; goodkarmacafenj.com

Blocks from the Beach
Work up an appetite swimming in the ocean and lying in the sun, and then head on over to Kaya’s Kitchen to feast until your heart’s (and stomach’s) content. The newly relocated and renovated restaurant aims to please with a mixture of American favorites and international fare. Dine on mainstays like the Philly cheese steak and Reuben sandwich or branch out with the Mississippi Maverick BBQ ribs and Rocky Mountain Stew. There’s also live music every Friday night and a vegan buffet all day long on Sundays. Kaya’s menu has something for everyone and goes one step further by including information on the many benefits of a vegan diet. 
1000 Main St., Belmar; 732-280-1141; kayaskitchenbelmar.com

Award Winner
Whoever said you can’t get a delicious, organic, vegan meal out of a truck? Having garnered a slew of recognition from food critics and voted a 2013 Veggie award winner for favorite food truck by VegNews magazine readers, the Cinnamon Snail is taking over the streets of NY and NJ. Owner/Chef Adam Sobel opened the truck in 2010 with the intent of bringing vegan food to the masses and succeeded! With a focus on seasonal and organic, the 2012 Vendy award winner serves breakfast, spicy lunch sandwiches, and desserts like raspberry blackout donuts, made fresh daily. The truck — which assisted victims of Hurricane Sandy by handing out free meals — is on the go six days a week and can be found at the Galleria Red Bank Farmers Market on Sundays from Mother’s Day through mid-November.
201-675-3755; cinnamonsnail.com

High-End Dining
Sometimes you just want to dress up and go out somewhere special. When the mood strikes, Goldie’s is sure to please. The new vegan restaurant is an experience unto itself with fine linens, dazzling woodwork, and a woven ceiling. It offers an eclectic, creative menu and fills the void for cool and sophisticated vegan dining that is often so hard to find. Combined with a striking, snaking bar and inviting banquette; the enticing, plant-inspired vegan drinks menu brings new meaning to socializing after dark. Relax with friends while munching on smoked eggplant pâté with grilled ciabatta and sipping a Goldie's cocktail. This place is sure to appeal to your inner chic. 
550 Cookman Ave., Unit 101, Asbury Park; 732-774-5575; goodgoldies.com

The Shop(s) Around the Corner
Those hard to find vegan foods and toiletries are just a stone’s throw away at the local health food stores. The Healthfair Natural and Organic Market has everything under the sun, including a certified nutritionist to answer all your health related questions about food, supplements and healthy living. Close by is Dean’s Natural Food Market where vegans can feel right at home. The smoothie bar is a local hit with three non-dairy milk options, and the fresh food department serves up vegan sandwiches and soups daily. The veggie spinach wrap with organic veggies, avocado and veganaise, and the coconut yogurt parfait with berries, mango and hemp granola are deeply satisfying and filling when you’re on the go.
625 Branch Ave., Little Silver; 732-747-3140; healthfairvitamins.com
490 Broad St., Shrewsbury; 732-842-8686; deansnaturalfoodmarket.com

To Your Health
Alex Mazzucca and Cara Pescatore, owners of From Seed to Sprout, want to please your palate as much as they want to nourish your body, mind and spirit. This vegan diamond in the rough strives to serve only the most wholesome, organic, vegan food. Before heading off to the beach, stop in for brunch and enjoy a bowl of chia seeds soaked in raw vanilla coconut milk topped with coconut, blueberries and goji berries. Or stay for lunch and the Miso Bowl; red cabbage, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, sliced scallion, and brown rice topped with miso broth, cilantro, chili flakes and squeezed lime. The owners also give guided cleanses and wellness tips, and will be opening a grocery store under the same name in the coming months so you can create equally nutritious and scrumptious meals right at home.
410 Main St., Avon-by-the-Sea; 732-774-7333; seedtosproutnj.com

What’s Your Flavor?
With a new location on Main Street and a Cupcake Wars victory under their belt from the Food Network, Papa Ganache is showing just how delectable vegan desserts can be. The bakery offers cookies, muffins, pies, donuts, biscotti, scones, and specialty items but is well renowned for its cupcakes. If you plan to visit, come hungry and be prepared to be overwhelmed by the seemingly endless variety of flavors like crème brûlée, snozberry, almond joyous and chocolate obsession; you will want to devour them all. And while you’re in town, leave a little room for Loving Hut, a local hit. Try the tasty falafel sandwich covered in homemade tahini sauce with a side of sweet potato fries and wash it down with an avocado banana shake. And don’t leave without taking the cannoli; you’ll be glad you did!
106 Main St., Matawan; 732-217-1750; papaganache.com
952 Route 34, Matawan; 732-970-6129; lovinghut.us/matawan_01



chris said...

Love all the recommendations! I'm going to try them all (except for Goldie's and Good Karma--I already know I love them both!!)

Amy H said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful resource!! The tide is definitely changing!!