This piece was written by Sara Schweizer.
The Jersey Shore is so much more than the birthplace of Bruce Springsteen and the home of a fist-pumping reality TV show. The most revered “city by the sea,” Asbury Park—which was ranked as one of the top 10 “Best Places to Travel in 2016” in Travel + Leisure—and the surrounding area have seen a boom in vegan food options to fuel beachgoers of all types.
Planning a trip “down the shore” and wondering if you’ll be stuck eating French fries and uninspired veggie hoagies? Here’s our list of where to find the best vegan eats in the area at any time of year:
Seed to Sprout has two locations—meaning twice the opportunity to experience its vegan specialties. Open for breakfast and lunch every day at both locations, the restaurant in Avon-by-the-Sea has a reservation-only dinner on Thursday nights and different types of pizza on Friday nights in Fair Haven. Weekend brunch here is a must: Try the cinnamon bun French toast, wild blueberry pancakes, and coffee with homemade coconut creamer. Too busy saving the world to sit down for a meal? Check out the premade meals and treats as well as the juice bar.
A stop at Papa Ganache is a “must” for anyone passing through Monmouth County. The bakery—whose owners won an episode of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in 2013—is adorned by massive pastry cases of treats that are free of common food allergens and will weaken the knees of even the most experienced baked-good connoisseur. The restaurant also offers savory options such as vegan soups, quiches, and mac ‘n’ cheese. Lisa Siroti, the owner of Papa Ganache and a licensed social worker, combined her love of baking and helping others by founding the PGP Strengths Development Program, which uses the bakery as a nontraditional therapeutic setting for at-risk youth, thus proving that there’s no such thing as doing too much good.
The sleepy shore town of Belmar is the home of Kaya’s, a vegan smorgasbord of nearly every type of cuisine. Kaya’s staff prepares each sit-down meal fresh to order with organic ingredients. Crowd favorites include the Hungarian pierogies, the Mississippi Maverick (seitan barbecue), and the Turkish Delight (a sharing-size plate of all types of Mediterranean fare). Find them at the back bar of The Stone Pony in Asbury Park during the summer months to grab some quick vegan grub while watching some of the country’s biggest music acts perform at Summer Stage.
This all-vegan Asian restaurant chain didn’t miss the Jersey Shore, and we’re thankful for it. Its menu at the Matawan location is massive, including vegan versions of classic Chinese takeout dishes, but regardless of what you order, be sure not to overlook the boba tea. Take advantage of the generous lunch special, which is offered from Tuesday to Saturday.
If you’re spending time “down the shore,” a trip to bustling Front Street in the town of Red Bank is a must. The breakfast menu boasts everything from Organic Homemade Belgian Waffles and Coconut Bacon Crunch Wrap Supreme (you read that correctly) to a main menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and live foods. While in Red Bank, indulge your inner nerd by stopping into the comic book shop of #EmptyTheTanks advocate and Jersey boy Kevin Smith—Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, located around the corner on Broad Street.
Since retiring their food truck from regular lunch duty and launching their successful cookbook, owners Adam and Joey Sobel opened a brick-and-mortar shop in New York City’s Penn Station, offering vegan eats to the city’s commuters. The truck still cruises central New Jersey for farmer’s markets and other events, so be sure to check out its social media accounts for upcoming stops. Adam and Joey are also yoga teachers who teach free traditional hatha yoga classes every Monday and Wednesday night at their home in Red Bank. Follow them on Facebook at @yogaatadamsandjoeyshouse.
Plentiful Vegan Options
Need to grab a quick bite before going to one of the area’s many live-music venues? It’s All Good Kitchen, part of Dunes Boardwalk Café, is the café’s all-vegan option (when you swap honey for agave) with fresh juices, smoothie bowls, and pour-over coffee, in addition to salads, sandwiches, and treats courtesy of Seed to Sprout. Vegan-friendly vendors at Dunes include Bites on the Boards (burgers), Coney Waffle (ice cream), and Miyako (sushi).
If there’s one thing that the tri-state area does better than anywhere else, it’s pizza. Talula’s is a welcome addition to Asbury Park’s famed Cookman Avenue: All the menu items here are made from scratch, and most of the ingredients come from local purveyors. While the menu isn’t entirely vegan, the plant-based offerings are plentiful and delicious. The highlight of the pizza menu is the Temple III—made with vegan mozzarella, cashew ricotta, house-made vegan pepperoni, and kale and cooked to perfection in a wood-burning oven. Talula’s also offers monthly cocktail classes for those who imbibe and a DJ’d Sunday brunch.
Twisted Tree was one of Asbury Park’s first vegan-friendly establishments and is always bustling, regardless of the weather. Most of the menu is vegan, including all the baked goods. The tofu meatball sandwich with vegan cheese has a history of fooling omnivores, and the extensive list of espresso drinks (try a dirty chai with oat milk—you won’t regret it) and smoothies is a welcome addition to brisk fall afternoons spent shopping in the town’s blooming artisan community.
The Jersey Shore is famous for a lot of things, including quality Italian ices. Ralph’s is the grandfather of them all—in business for 85 years, it has locations just about everywhere you turn in New Jersey as well as throughout New York City and Long Island. Grab a water ice at its location on Asbury Park’s boardwalk, then catch some live tunes nearby at Pop’s Garage or play on vintage pinball machines at Silverball Museum.
Porta is an authentic Neapolitan pizza restaurant (seriously, its ovens were built in Naples!) and one of Asbury Park’s notorious hot spots. Here’s a local hack: Order the flavorful Gentle Giant pizza—a traditional white pizza made with cashew crema, squash blossoms, and oregano—and load it up with the broccoli rabe and Jersey tomato appetizers. Because why not? If you’re in the mood for a traditional red pizza, there are two terrific vegan options that are difficult to choose between.
The town of Oakhurst is the home of Broad Street Dough Co., a popular local doughnut shop. Its staple “vlugen” (vegan and gluten-free) made-to-order doughnuts are a must-eat menu item that can be accessorized with an impressive variety of toppings.
Located in Bradley Beach, this family-operated shop serves up raw and organic cold-pressed juice and various vegan treats such as Almond Joyfuls and popsicles. It also produces creative nut-based milks—try the Banana Slamma, made with cashews, bananas, cacao powder, peanut butter, and agave. Nourished by Nature is a friend to animals not only by offering mostly vegan options but also by putting on special events every month to fundraise for local animal shelters.
MOGO has you covered if you’re craving light Korean-style tacos while getting your tan on (be sure to lather up with your cruelty-free sunscreen!). While its stand on Asbury Park’s boardwalk offers only tacos, the brick-and-mortar shop—located a few minutes up Cookman Avenue—also offers salads, burritos, and bowls, as well as “dinner & a movie night” on Wednesdays. Order the dubu—spicy-soy glazed fried tofu with soy-sesame slaw—however you want it served, with a side of vegetable fried rice. Want it hot? Add the homemade kimchi at the self-service bar.
Summer by the sea doesn’t feel right without a loaded vegan ice cream cone. Cookman Creamery, a new kid on the block in Asbury Park, is the spot to get yourself a traditional cone with none of the cruelty. Boasting a full vegan menu, the creamery caters to the area’s sweet-toothed audience with homemade flavors such as Blue Lavender, Cookman Monster, Strawberry Balsamic, and many other creative and childhood favorites.
There’s no such thing as too much pizza, especially when you’re in the land of the best pizza. Crust & Crumble offers a complete vegan menu of traditional pizzeria favorites, from appetizers to pizzas to entrées. Be sure to take advantage of “Vegan Wednesday,” when the vegan menu is 10 percent off (every little bit helps, right?). Want something sweet? Check out the in-house bakery for vegan desserts. If you want the best of both worlds, request a custom cake that looks like a pizza.
It’s known as the best espresso bar in New Jersey. Order an almond latte and avocado toast for a simple late breakfast, then walk down Bangs Avenue to Red Moon, a local artisan shop in Asbury Park that sells a wide variety of products, including those by cruelty-free favorite Little Barn Apothecary.
This traditional Mexican dive in both Belmar and Red Bank has a “veganizable” menu and is also worth listing for its chips, with either grilled pineapple salsa or chunky guacamole, and the “Dirty Hippy” tacos, made with a simple but tasty combo of marinated and grilled tofu, black beans, onion, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice. Don’t miss Taco Tuesday, when you can get all the tacos you can eat for $12. Live music from a wide variety of genres rounds out the fun dining experience here, because good food and good music always go hand in hand when you’re down the shore.
Vegan options are abundant, not only in the Jersey Shore food scene but also all around the world. Text “GOVEGAN” to 73822 to order PETA’s free vegan starter kit, which will provide you with vegan recipes, tips, and tricks on how to order vegan in restaurants—and much more.
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