Vegan AF: A New Plant-Based Spot in Jersey City Heights

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With so many restaurants now offering vegan and plant-based options, it’s no surprise that we are seeing many exclusively vegan restaurants sprouting {pun intended} up in Jersey City and Hoboken. The newest addition to the local list — Vegan AF. Vegan AF {which stands for “As F***”- or “Animal Friendly,” as the owners joke} is located at 291 Central Avenue in the Jersey City Heights and opened its doors just a few months ago on March 16th {aka right in the height of  the local lockdown}. This new spot for vegan fare has only known life during the pandemic, but it is holding on strong, with a love for plant-based food and a passion to feed its community. Keep reading to find out more about this new vegan spot, serving up a diverse menu of Mexican-American inspired vegan dishes. 

The Journey to opening Vegan AF 

Norma Perez and William Toledo both immigrated to the United States from Ecuador and had been dating for a year and their love of vegan food {and for each other} inspired them to follow their dreams and open up Vegan AF. Norma came to the United States in 1998 at the age of 18 and has called Jersey City home ever since. Norma shared with Hoboken Girl, “Last year I was diagnosed with early-stage stomach cancer. I knew I had to change my lifestyle and stopped eating all animal products.”

“I have felt much better being on an all vegan diet. I have a lot more energy and feel better all around. I also met William at the right time in my life. He is such a positive person and is always in a good mood and good spirits, I couldn’t have done this without him,” she continued.

Read more: Vegan Friendly Restaurants in Hoboken

William {also a Jersey City resident} also became vegan many years ago in response to health issues and hasn’t looked back. William has worked in the restaurant industry for the last 14 years and has always had a vision of opening a vegan restaurant that would appeal to a lot of customers with many plant-based options. Together, the couple wanted to share their lifestyle and the benefits of eating vegan food with the community. “I love Mexican food, I love American food, so why not put them together. No walls allowed, just food,” William shared. “Look, we are vegan- vegan as f***, and we want to share that with our community. That’s where we came up with the name.” 

The concept for Vegan AF came together when long time friend and mural artist David {@distort} painted the name “Vegan AF” on the storefront. And just like that, this new JC gem was born.

Breakfast + Brunch 

{Photo credit: @veganjerseygirls}

You know what they say about breakfast: it’s the most important meal of the day. Vegan AF serves up breakfast and brunch all day, which is something we can get behind. The scrambled tofu is a customer favorite and is served on seven-grain toast, a wrap, or Kaiser roll. Plant-based bacon, Taylor ham, spicy sausage, and cheese can all be added to the scramble {and many of the meat substitutes are made in-house}. 

The pancakes are another popular menu item, with options like “Go Bananas” and “No Meat Thanks.” The pancakes can be made sweet and savory by pairing tofu, vegan sausage, and/or bacon, and all the pancake dishes are topped with vegan butter, syrup, and whipped cream. The traditional vegan “brunch” platter offers up the standard vegan-style American breakfast with a Mexican twist, with options like spicy chorizo, V-eef {vegan beef} quesadilla, and sausage, mushroom, and tofu scramble. Brunch is also served with a side of salad garnished with cucumbers {topped with home-made vegan dressing}, home fries, toast and tomato, and a kidney bean sauce {cue the mouth-watering}. Avocado toast and grilled cheese are available on the breakfast menu as well. 

Salads + Appetizers 

If you’re trying to eat on the healthier side, Vegan AF has a “create-your-own” salad option where customers can pick their own base, vegetables, vegan cheese, and protein options like plant-based spicy chorizo, V-eef teriyaki or beef, breaded chicken, sautéed mushrooms, or scrambled tofu. We recommend starting or pairing your meal with one of the appetizers like the spicy chorizo empanadas or the loaded avocado tostones — trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

Burgers, Hot Dogs, Tacos, Nachos, and Burritos Galore

Owners Norma and William wanted to make sure their vision of burgers and Mexican-American fusion were the star of their menu. That’s why Vegan AF features 10 signature burgers, with customer favorites like hot jalapeno and guacamole burger, the teriyaki burger, and the Hottie from The Heights Burger, made with chipotle BBQ, herbs, spices, beans, pico de gallo, and freshly-loaded with avocado.

Customers have a choice of patties and can choose from the Impossible burger, Beyond burger, home-made spicy burger, home-made sweet apple burger {made with fresh apples}, and all topped with fresh tomatoes, onions, lettuce or spinach, served on a classic sesame seed bun with a generous side of thin crispy fries. Another customer favorite at Vegan AF are the burritos, filled with turmeric jasmine rice, home-made pico de gallo, fresh avocado, beans, garlic, spices, homemade dressing, and a choice of five plant-based protein options. The section called “The Mexican Corner” on the menu also offers delicious tacos, “cheesy” quesadillas, hearty chili, and Machos Nachos {loaded vegan nachos}. The restaurant also serves American or Mexican style plant-based hot dogs and sloppy joes made with jackfruit caramelized in BBQ sauce. 

Drinks, Juices, and Dessert 

Vegan AF has a wide selection of refreshing drinks to accompany its tasty vegan meals. The bubble tea is a customer favorite, offered in a wide selection of flavors like taro, mango, coconut, Thai, chai, matcha, almond lavender, honeydew, black, jasmine green, and hibiscus, topped off with traditional tapioca balls. The restaurant also has a vast selection of coffee and espresso, available with almond, soy, oat, or coconut milk. When you want something cool and refreshing on a hot day, Vegan AF also makes its homemade sodas, lemonades, and smoothies. The restaurant also has vegan desserts from Jam Cakery Events {@jamcakeryevents}, a vegan baker based out of downtown Jersey City. 

See more: Local Vegans Weigh in On Secrets to their Plant-Based Diets

If you’re looking for a great vegan spot to try a lot of different plant-based options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we highly recommend checking out Vegan AF in the Jersey City Heights. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00AM-8:00PM and on Sundays from 10:00AM-6:00PM.

Have you tried Vegan AF? Let us know your favorite menu item in the comments below!

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Evelyn is a born and raised Jersey Girl and is a local influencer {@thefoundrygirljc} in Jersey City. She has a degree in marketing and business from Syracuse University, and currently works freelancing in social media. She has lived in both Hoboken and Jersey City and is very committed to supporting local businesses and being a local resource to all her friends and neighbors. She is an animal {dog} lover and claims to know more animals in Jersey City than people {really}. When she is not freelancing, she can be found hanging out with friends at local spots in Bergen-Lafayette and attending social and networking events in Jersey City and Hoboken.