My 5 Favorite Places to Eat Vegan in New Jersey

by Dianne Wenz

I’m extremely excited to be a part of the Hot From the Kettle team, and I thought I would use my first Meatless Monday post to talk about my five favorite places to eat vegan in Northern New Jersey. There are a few road-trip worthy vegan friendly restaurants south of here, my favorite of which is Red Bank’s Good Karma Café, but for now, I will to stick to the area I know best. Chances are that I will delve deeper into restaurant reviews for these eateries in the future, but for now I wanted to give you a little flavor of each, since they are all very different.


Veggie Heaven  Veggie Heaven has three locations in the Garden State but my favorite is the one on Valley Road in Montclair because it’s closest to home, and because I love being greeted by the always friendly Cliff, who can usually be found close to the front door at dinnertime. I used to drive to Denville for dinner at Veggie Heaven, and I was beyond thrilled when they opened their Montclair location several years ago.

For those unfamiliar with Veggie Heaven, they serve the standard type of Chinese fare, such as sesame chicken, beef with broccoli and roast pork, only the “meat” is made with soy, wheat and tapioca.  The chefs at Veggie Heaven get creative with their meals too, cooking up new dishes you won’t find on any other Chinese restaurant’s menu. My current favorite is Okra Chicken, and they make hands-down the best spring rolls anywhere.

Veggie Heaven is a favorite with both vegans and omnivores alike, making it the perfect place for people with different dietary preferences to enjoy a meal together. And the food is so good that when my in-laws visit from the depths of Oklahoma’s cattle country, they usually ask to be taken to Veggie Heaven straight from the airport!


Mesob When I have visitors in town, when I want something or a little different, or when I just feel like eating with my hands, I go to Mesob, located at 515 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Mesob is an Ethiopia restaurant that’s a favorite with local vegans because about half of their menu is not only meat-free, but dairy and egg-free as well. In fact, Mesob is so sensitive to the needs of their vegan diners that they cook their vegetables dishes in dedicated vegan pots.

There are so many vegan options at Mesob that it’s difficult to choose, but fortunately they have a sampler menu, which means you get to pick 6 dishes for your meal. My favorites are the Ingudai Tibs (portobello mushrooms), Gomen (collard greens), Ye’shimbra assa wat (chickpea biscuits) and Buticha (pureed chickpeas). All meals are served on a large piece of bread called injera, and as I mentioned, food is eaten with your hands. Well, it’s actually eaten with more injera, which is used to pick up pieces of food.

And for dessert, there’s halewa, Mesob’s wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free deluxe dessert cookies, or – my personal favorite – the dark chocolate sampler.


Rutherford Pancake House It’s difficult to find good vegan breakfast food out in the restaurant world, but fortunately we have Rutherford Pancake House, located at 40 Park Avenue in Rutherford. Their ever expanding vegan breakfast menu includes pancakes, waffles, stuffed French toast and four types of tofu scrambles. That’s right – four.

RPH, as it’s known to those who frequent it, also has an extensive vegan lunch menu that includes quesadillas, pizzas, seitan cheese steak sandwiches, and veggie burgers. If you’re wondering about the “cheese” that’s used in those dishes, it’s Daiya cheese, which is made with tapioca and is so good that it’s changed the way vegans across the country eat.

Rutherford Pancake House is also open for dinner on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and vegan items on the menu include seitan marsala, pasta primavera and musaka. While you’re there, you should do yourself a favor and try chef Spiro’s amazing chocolate mousse or his incredible vegan cheesecake, which is so delicious that it’s now the only cheesecake RPH serves.

And for dessert, there’s halewa, Mesob’s wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free deluxe dessert cookies, or – my personal favorite – the dark chocolate sampler.


True North Osteria When I have a hankering for fancy pizza, I head over to True North Osteria located at 345 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Co-owner Leah Moon is a lifelong vegetarian herself, so she’s very familiar with meatless cooking. In fact, almost all the food on the menu at True North is meatless and quite a few of the dishes are vegan, or can be made vegan upon request.

The sign outside True North Osteria says “This pizza with change your life” and I think it just might. The dough is crispy and chewy with a sprinkle of sea salt to bring out the flavor, and vegan mozzarella for $2 extra, which is well worth the price in my opinion. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite dish here because everything I have tried has been amazing! I love the True North pizza, the pan seared Brussels sprouts, the cauliflower and chickpea bruschetta – oh and there’s even a chocolate dessert bruschetta!


Café Metro Located at 60 Diamond Spring Road in Denville, Café Metro has long been a favorite of mine. Their menu is very heavy with vegetarian dishes, most of which can easily be made vegan by omitting mayo or cheese.

 Café Metro’s extensive meatless menu includes standards such as a hummus veggie wrap, grilled portobello sandwich and vegetable stir-fries, but they also have dishes that vegans might not be used to being able to get out at restaurants, such as whole wheat linguine with marinated tofu, grilled tempeh with chutney, and an FLT made with “faken bacon”. There are also several veggie pizzas­ which are available with dairy-free cheese upon request. For dessert there’s a scrumptious vegan carrot cake complete with vegan whipped cream.


Honorable Mention – The Cinnamon Snail Food trucks seem to be all the rage these days, and New Jersey is lucky enough to have The Cinnamon Snail, an all vegan food truck that parks in Jersey City on Thursday nights and the Red Bank Farmer’s Market on Sundays. The Snail used to be found in Hoboken on weekdays, but sadly it’s moved on to the streets of New York City.

The Cinnamon Snail serves breakfast dishes, salads and sandwiches, along with raw dishes and the most amazing pastries and donuts your taste buds will ever experience. The word “sandwich” doesn’t really do The Snail’s food justice though, as what I’ve eaten is more of an incredible, mouthwatering explosion of deliciousness housed between two slices of bread. Chef Adam Sobel is truly a wizard in the kitchen… er the back of the truck… and the long lines that are usually found where the The Cinnamon Snail is parked are a true testament to his talents.