After climbing up the Grove Street subway stairs I took in the scene around me as I do with every new place I visit. It didn’t take long to realize why Jersey City had been ranked the most ethnically diverse city in the United States for the third year in a row. And as I walked through the pedestrian-only area I quickly began to realize that Jersey City, which doesn’t often make people’s list of places to visit, was exhibiting what the rest of the US is trying to achieve – harmony among peoples.
As I wandered down Newark Street passing a fresh fruit stand, my eye spotted several Pride flags in windows of restaurants, book stores and shops. I observed people coming in the opposite direction and it became clear that Jersey City was quite the melting pot indeed.
The first restaurant we tried was Subia’s Organic Cafe (506 Jersey Avenue) which was opened 16 years ago by a sister duo who are from Jersey City.
The menu at this locale with a relaxed neighborhood ambience includes wraps, soups, sandwiches, burgers, smoothies, waffles and a nice variety of desserts that are hard to pass up.
They outsource their seitan and use my favorite brand of cheeze – Violife. The service was very friendly.
Desiring a bagel, I stopped into Wonder Bagels to check out their vegan options. After a long wait in line I was very disappointed to learn that while they did indeed have vegan cream cheese, their bagels were made with milk powder. So the only way that Wonder Bagels would have been any use to me is if I brought my bagel from some place else and asked them to put on the vegan cream cheese? Perhaps needless to say, the staff, albeit friendly, were also painfully unaware of what vegan means.
I also walked into Nicole’s, a neighborhood Caribbean eatery to ask about their vegan options. The man who worked there was friendly and said that they did not have any and when I asked specifically about ital food he said they didn’t offer any such dishes. Again, I left disappointed, especially after experiencing how easy it was being vegan in Jamaica.
Porta (135 Newark Avenue), was recommended by a Jersey City local, so we happily tried a meal in this industrial casual eatery with a busy atmosphere. Porta offers three vegan pizzas, including Marina (tomatoes, garlic, oregano, olive oil), Mark and Rita (tomatoes, vegan mozzarella, vegan parmesean, garlic, oregano, basil and olive oil) and Snawzeech (tomatoes, garlic, cashew ricotta, broccoli rabe, vegan sausage, crushed red pepper and olive oil).
We tried the Mark and Rita and the Snawzeech. Between these two we preferred the Mark and Rita because it more closely resembled traditional pizza; whereas, the latter did not have any cheese melted on it and instead had clumps of cashew cheese placed in various places on the pie.
Pet Store (193 Newark Ave) was also recommended by a local and while it looked interesting from the outside, we never had the opportunity to check out this bar with some neat-sounding drinks and a wide variety of vegan dishes.
While walking to and from New Jersey’s very convenient Path transit system, we noticed a pizzeria in town, right next to Porta’s. Two Boots Pizza (133 Newark Avenue) hadn’t quite opened yet when we stopped by, but we noticed that lots of vegan options were available in what seemed like a fun atmosphere. The next time we visit Jersey City, we will be sure to eat at Two Boots Pizza to check out some of their amazing-sounding vegan pizza pies.
Key Food Grocery Store
We thought we’d take advantage of the fact that we had a kitchen in our AirBnB around the corner so we stopped in Key Food Fresh & Natural to see what vegan options they had.
They offered a variety of vegan cheeses and vegan meats as well as vegan ice-cream, vegan pizza and more.
Overall, it was not hard at all to be vegan in Jersey City, New Jersey. We would happily visit this capital of diversity again.