The Best Vegan Restaurants in New Jersey

Whether you follow a plant-based diet or are simply looking to lessen your carbon footprint, these vegan restaurants are sure to satisfy.

Yvonne Rodriguez, left, and a sandwich and juices from Subia's Cafe in Jersey City. Photos: Michael Persico

Blueberry Café


Growing up in East Orange, the seventh of eight children, Rashena Burroughs disliked meat so much she rejected it. She didn’t drink milk, either. Though meatless, she ate pastas and sugary things and became an overweight adult. Finally, she says, “I learned about ancient grains and healthier things and lost 60 pounds.” Burroughs, 45, opened Blueberry Café in 2017. It serves hemp-seed thickened smoothies, juices, pastas, soups, quinoa patties, tacos and a wild-rice platter. Burroughs says people come for atmosphere and service as well as food. “We want to take care of the neighborhood,” she says. BYO. —CC
547 Central Avenue, 973-732-1711

Good Karma Café

Red Bank

Shore natives Gail Doherty and Tiffany Betts opened Good Karma in 2010. Doherty, co-author of You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan, says just 20 percent of their customers are vegan. “We try to be welcoming and friendly and don’t judge people for not being vegan,” she says. “We try to make delicious food that just so happens to be vegan.” Doherty says 90 percent of the menu is organic. The popular, crispy, baked buffalo wings, made from tempeh, come with house-made soy-based ranch dressing that tastes like the real thing. One menu section is dedicated to “live foods,” meaning not heated above 108 degrees. Doherty says low heat keeps alive enzymes that aid digestion, and that live foods help cool the body in hot weather. In 2018, the partners opened the take-out only Karma 2 Go on Bridge Avenue, where they also offer vegan cooking classes. BYO. —BM
17 East Front Street, 732-450-8344; 1 Bridge Avenue, 732-268-8630

Greens and Grains

Galloway, Northfield, Mays Landing, Shrewsbury, Vorhees, Wall Township

Falafel with sriracha tahini sauce and the Cuban panini at Greens and Grains. Photo: Courtesy of Greens and Grains

Since opening in 2015 in South Jersey, this fast-casual vegan empire has expanded throughout Atlantic and Monmouth counties, as well as Philadelphia. Popular items include smoothies, pitaya bowls, and falafel or chk’n wraps. Build your own greens or grains bowl topped with two or three sides, such as the excellent coconut-curry lentils and sweet potatoes; smoky eggplant and chickpea ragoût with cashew cream; or the spicy buffalo chickpea salad. BYO. —SV
80 West Jimmie Leeds Road, Galloway, 609-277-7060; 1600 New Road, Northfield, 609-380-4337; Hamilton Commons, 4215 Black Horse Pike #340, Mays Landing, 609-277-7507; 454 Shrewsbury Plaza, Shrewsbury, 732-945-6551; 1120 White Horse Road, Voorhees, 856-685-7087; 1861 Highway 35, Wall Township, 732-856-9690

Kaya’s Kitchen


The walls are covered with masks from Eastern Asia, South America and Africa, representing the range of dishes offered at this Shore favorite with outdoor seating. “We have everything from burritos, curry and falafel to a meatloaf-and-mashed-potato dinner,” says Omer Basatemur, who opened Kaya’s in 2004. Though Basatemur says he doesn’t believe in “labeling diets” good or bad, he advocates eating mostly organic and non-GMO, which is what he serves at Kaya’s (named for his daughter). The Kaya’s Combo—with tofu buffalo wings, tempeh wings, seitan ribs and a stellar potato salad—is a great way to take the plunge. BYO. —BM
1000 Main Street, 732-280-1141

Living on the Veg


Not far from LBI, where the choices are mostly seafood or fast food, a vegan option is a haven­. Husband and wife Lauren and Rob Ramos stay open roughly from St. Patrick’s Day to New Year’s Day. The Veg offers creativity with humor: Take the Knuckle Sandwich, combining steamed tofu, tempeh bacon, tomato, vegan cheese and ketchup on toasted ciabatta, or the Tu-no Melt, with vegan tuna salad made from mashed chickpeas, celery, onion and vegan mayo. All’s well that ends with The King smoothie of banana, all-natural peanut butter, granola and chocolate almond milk. BYO. —TLG
657 East Bay Avenue #3, Manahawkin, 609-891-2383

Luna Verde

Bradley Beach

Mahonrry Hidalgo and his wife, Eslin Morris, do all the cooking at the Mexican-themed Luna Verde in Bradley Beach. Photos: Michael Persico

Eslin Morris worked in restaurants for years before she and her husband, Mahonrry Hidalgo, opened Luna Verde in 2018. At the Mexican restaurant, where the couple do all the cooking, dishes have a personal touch. “We serve what we eat at home,” she says. A vegan since 2006 and a vegetarian for 15 years before that, she says she wanted to “veganize” traditional Mexican food, which is similar to the food she grew up eating. “We’ve had vegan customers come from as far away as Alaska or as close as down the street,” she says. “We also have many who are not vegan, but are interested in our food.” Ceviche—traditionally made from raw fish cured in citrus juices—at Luna Verde is made with cooked heart of palm, which convincingly mimics the texture of seafood. The al pastor tacos, made with seitan and jackfruit, are mildly spicy, with the texture and flavor of the traditional pork. The tres leches (“three milks”) cake is made with one milk, namely coconut. The sweet flan is made with cashew milk and agar, derived from algae. BYO. —CC
400 Main Street, 732-361-8180

Naked Lunch

Cherry Hill

Inside MOM’s Organic Market, this café offers a host of organic grain bowls, veggie burgers and raw juices that are good on the go. The Lin Bowl, with brown rice, miso-roasted tofu, carrots, seaweed, zucchini and mushrooms, is tossed in sesame oil and topped with kimchi and pea shoots. The Crowder Bowl—brown rice, spinach, peppers, tofu and cashews—is tossed in coconut-curry dressing. A cauliflower steak marinated in lemon juice, dill and garlic is served with brown rice, vegetables and chimichurri dressing. You can opt out of the actual cheese that comes with certain items to make them fully vegan. BYO. —SV
1631 Kings Highway North, 856-685-5760


Cliffside Park

Nefista, an international franchise that originated in Turkey, opened its first American location in Cliffside Park in 2016. Nefista’s vegan meatballs are made with grains such as bulgur, with cumin and garlic. Choose mild or spicy kofteh for wraps or plates, which include lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. The flavors evoke the originals, and there’s vegan baklava for dessert. BYO. —CS
656 Anderson Ave, Cliffside Park, 201-774-4080

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Papa Ganache


Opened in 2010 with the Papa Ganache Project social services agency, Papa Ganache is a kosher, vegan, partly gluten-free and 100-percent organic bakery. “We have the average person coming in,” says owner Lisa Siroti, “because, well, ours is healthier than the average cupcake.” Siroti, who has maintained her practice as a clinical social worker, says everything is made in small batches and is cholesterol- and preservative-free. Gluten-free items are made and stored in a separate kitchen. After bestsellers like the Instagram-worthy chocolate obsession and crème brûlée cupcakes helped Papa Ganache win Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in 2012, the bakery has expanded to offer cakes, truffles, bagels, pot pies, quiche and baked ziti. “We’re not afraid of taking on any new possibility,” says Siroti, who herself is neither vegan nor gluten free. “Whatever hits our creative nerve, we try to bring it.” BYO. —BM
106 Main Street, 732-217-1750

Seed to Sprout

Avon-by-the-Sea, Fair Haven

What started as a juice bar in 2012 has grown into two restaurants. Co-owners Alex Mazzucca and Cara Pescatore attended Rumson-Fair Haven High School, but didn’t become friends until mutual acquaintances reconnected them after each finished college and nutrition school. “The foundation for what we do,” says Mazzucca, “is filling our bodies with the healthiest, most nourishing foods and avoiding toxins, carcinogens, chemicals, pesticides.” The most popular items at the all-organic restaurants are the Seed Salad, with marinated kale, baby greens and creamy tahini dressing; the Mexican omelet with tofu-cashew mix subbing for eggs, taco meat made from sunflower seeds, plus pico de gallo, cashew cheese and avocado. Cooking classes are offered at both restaurants. BYO. —BM
410 Main Street, Avon-by-the-Sea, 732-774-7333; 560A River Road, Fair Haven, 732-268-7533

Simply Green Café


This cozy luncheonette, opened in 2017, does vegan versions of diner classics: breakfast sandwiches made with tofu scramble, cheese and meatless sausage; French toast stuffed with dairy-free cream cheeze; chick’n Parm panini; cheezeburger empanadas; and eggplant po’boys on baguette, made with a crispy breaded eggplant topped with kale slaw, tomato and chipotle mayo. Desserts, like chocolate cheezecakes with walnuts and dates, are made in house. BYO. —SV
25 North Spruce Street, 201-661-8905

Subia’s Cafe

Jersey City

Siblings Nilsa, Yvonne and Eddie Rodriguez opened this cozy café and organic market in 2003, naming it for their mother. The café occupies the space that once housed their parents’ bodega. On our visit, soup du jour was a thick cauliflower purée with hints of carrot and garlic. The spicy buffalo strip sandwich shows just how flavorful vegan can be. It’s made from soy chicken in spicy buffalo sauce, with lettuce, onion, avocado, vegan tomato mayo and cashew cheddar on whole-wheat ciabatta. It comes with gluten-free, organic blue-corn tortilla chips, and adds up to a meal. BYO. —CS
506 Jersey Avenue, 201-432-7639


New Brunswick

“Our food is balanced, organic and made from scratch,” says chef/owner Ron Biton, who has followed a plant-based diet for over a quarter century, “and I think we go above and beyond in decor and vibe.” All the beers, wines, sake, spirits and cocktails are organic. In food, Biton wins hearts with dishes like the Off the Grill, which, though made primarily from grilled oyster mushrooms, mimics skirt steak and has a garlic-rosemary marinade. The Mackin Cheeze, with elbow pasta, sweet-potato-cashew cream, smoked shiitakes and roasted broccoli, is virtually indistinguishable from the dairy version. “We don’t compromise on textures and flavors,” Biton says. —EL
1 Elm Row, 732-342-7412

Veggie Heaven

Denville, Montclair and Teaneck

Vegan sushi, veggie crispy chicken with green beans, barbecue veggie ribs, smoked veggie duck and vegan cheesecake at Veggie Heaven in Denville. Photos: Michael Persico

The menu resembles that of any other Chinese restaurant, except that everything is vegan. That includes wonton soup, lo mein, barbecue veggie ribs, General Tso’s chicken, beef and broccoli, and salt-and-pepper shrimp—all using meat and seafood substitutes made of soybean protein, mushrooms or wheat gluten. Standouts include crispy chicken with black pepper, a stir-fry with potatoes and sautéed string beans; and a veggie-smoked duck that tastes surprisingly like the real thing. There are 34 sushi rolls and 11 desserts, including a tofu ice cream and an outstanding vanilla cheesecake. All three Veggie Heaven locations are owned by the same family but managed separately, with slightly different menus. BYO. —SV
57 Bloomfield Avenue, Denville, 973-586-7800; 631 Valley Road, Montclair, 973-783-1088; 473 Cedar Lane, Teaneck, 201-836-0887

Wildflower Vegan


In 2011, Eric Nyman bought a food truck and operated it around Cherry Hill. A year later, he sold it and opened this café in Millville’s Glasstown Arts District. He serves a rotating menu of soups, salads and wraps with local ingredients. Stuff your wheat or gluten-free coconut wraps with sun-dried tomato hummus, roasted vegetables, buffalo tofu, spicy seitan sausage or a bean burger, and add toppings. Sweets include dairy-free cookies, Popsicles and cupcakes. The lavender lemonade is stellar. BYO. —SV
501 North High Street, 856-265-7955

The Zucchini Bar


Rashena Burroughs, who owns the Blueberry Café next door, turned her hair salon into the Zucchini Bar in 2018. She named it for her signature zucchini muffin. She calls the place an “organic, vegan dessert and herbal tea bar.” Specialties include apple-caramel cheesecake, made with cashew cheese and coconut milk; a banana split with plant-based vegan ice cream; and Crazy Shakes (example: banana, dates, pumpkin seeds, vegan vanilla ice cream, coconut milk, almond butter and chia seeds). For a dessert place, it offers a lot of savory items: oyster-mushroom gyro, empanadas, nacho bowls, and pizzas topped with cashew cheese and crumbled fennel. Burroughs eschews seitan and tempeh, which she considers processed foods. “We use vegetables, mushrooms and a lot of ancient grains like spelt, teff and rye,” she says. Having cooked for her large, meat-eating family, Burroughs says she relies on smell to get seasonings right for Caribbean and soul-food dishes. “We want to inspire wellness in communities like Newark that don’t have many healthy food options,” she says. BYO. —CC
547 Central Avenue, 973-732-1711

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