When I was growing up in NJ, vegan options were few and far between. In fact, most people had never even heard the V word, let alone knowing what it meant. Hence, my vegan life was one full of veggie dogs (thank goodness for a nearby food co-op), chips, and cheeseless pizzas. Sigh, lament, shake head. Well I am happy to report things have changed. Like really changed. And, I had some great food in NJ this time around, starting with the all veg Maoz.
This is a chain with only 6 locations in the U.S, and one of them happens to be in my hometown of New Brunswick, NJ. Yay! College (in this case, Rutgers) kids like veggie food, and this veggie food is bangin'. The deal at Maoz is this: You either get lettuce and falafel in a pita pocket or in a salad bowl. You can add things like hummus and eggplant, and then you top your creation with as much of the salad bar (above) that you can fit on that bad boy. Oh, and then you MUST order the sweet potato fries because they are the best you will ever eat.
That's my salad on the left and the amazingly crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside fries on the right. So good. Try them with the tahini sauce. Oh man, I have just given myself a Maoz craving. Luckily for us Bay Areans, there's one over in Berkeley. To be visited soon!
On the more fancy pants end of the spectrum, I take you to Eno Terra. First of all the feel of this restaurant is so wonderful. It is like eating in a very fancy old barn somewhere and it's super eco-friendly. It's not an all-vegan place by any means, but they are committed to using local products, and specifically as many heirloom varieties as possible when it comes to their produce. They always have a few veggie options on the menu, and are happy to make stuff up on the fly, as was the case with our not-on-the-menu bruschetta sampler:
As is often the case in fine dining establishments, the lighting really blew for pics, but I hope you get the idea. Each one of these poppers was sensational - from the earthy sauteed mushrooms to the light and vibrant chickpeas with lemon. Such a fun way to start the meal!
I didn't a picture of my salad, but it had roasted cherries and toasted almonds and was amazing. Seriously, so good. Still, the entree (above) stole the show. This is Eno Terra's seasonal veggies and quinoa and, while it may not look like much in my picture, I assure you that the quinoa was light and fluffy, the veggies seasoned and cooked perfectly, and the whole dish just sang with flavor. Hooray for vegan food at fancy places... in NJ!
Back on the budget-friendly tip, we have another chain - Pizza Fusion. I would not mind one bit if this place, complete with their organic crusts, plentiful veg toppings, and Daiya cheese, made it's way out to SF (my lucky SoCal readers - go!). This was some of the better pizza I've ever eaten actually. Above was my mom's large pie with tomatoes, black olives, and spinach. For me?
I went for a small (I also had a tasty salad) pie with spinach, artichoke, and roasted garlic. Really really delicious. Lastly...
Here we have the massaman curry from Pad Thai in Highland Park, NJ. Their list of vegetarian options is longer than the regular menu at most places and they are in-the-know about sneaky fish sauce. For my money, the massaman wins for its rich flavor and the combo of pumpkin and peanuts. Yum. Hands down the best Thai food I've eaten outside of Thailand and a must-stop every time I'm back east.
So there you have it. Some good NJ eats, right? I also took a side trip to Philadelphia while I was home, so stay tuned for that next!