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Finding a yummy place to eat while on the road can be a difficult challenge. Finding one that offers vegan options can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
My first day of traveling across country had beautiful weather, and awful traffic. A supposedly 12 hour driving day turned into a 16 hour driving slugfest. Around 3:30 in the afternoon, finding something to eat was more than a necessity, it had become a morale-boosting imperative!
Typing in the word "Vegan" into the Yelp app can be hit or miss. (Seriously Yelp, as much as I love your app, offering french fries does not count as a "vegan friendly" restaurant.) However when I switched to map mode, the very next exit we were approaching (the SigO was with me on this day, although for the rest of the trip I would be driving alone), showed a restaurant whose online menu proved promising: Kitchen 519 in Glendora, NJ.
Now, I was feeling a bit low after being stuck in so much crazy traffic: unexpected freeway closures due to traffic accidents, lane closures due to construction (even when none was going on), the New York madness (for lack of a better term), etc. So I was not feeling that optimistic when we approached the restaurant. Set in an unassuming building, we weren’t even sure if it was open as we only saw one other car in the parking lot. We walked inside and I was more than pleasantly surprised by the eclectic decor revealed.
This place was cozily decorated with original artwork from local artists lining the walls (and even the bathroom). All of those items were for sale, and the waitress told us they usually sold several pieces a month allowing them to turnover the space to other artists. Although there were some expensive pieces, others were priced at $100 or under which would allow us strapped-for-cash art lovers to find beautiful options to grace our homes. (Being in a car that had every piece of space utilized meant that shopping for art was not an option. But if you are not traveling under such restraints, I advise you to closely look at the varied pieces on the walls as they had such a mix of styles you are sure to find something which may appeal to your artistic sense of beauty!)
I was also particularly taken with the lighting - chandeliers which looked like they had been created by old mason jars. And I was enchanted by the adorable half aprons lining some of the walls and windows. As we looked around, I saw that the hostess was adding small candles to the tables, giving the whole place a warm cozy glow.
Turns out, being at such an odd hour, we had missed their lunch rush, and had come while they were setting up the dining room for dinner. So we practically had the place to ourselves. The staff was extremely friendly, welcomed us graciously, and gave us menus and space to look things over. I started scanning the menu hoping I would find a couple of vegetarian options that I could veganize. Suddenly the SigO said, “Turn the menu over.”
Those four words turned out to be music to my ears. On the back of the menu they had AN ENTIRE SECTION OF VEGAN OPTIONS!
CAN YOU FEEL MY EXCITEMENT MY PEEPS???
Not only were they vegan entrees, but unlike the lackluster entrees I usually find at so called “vegan friendly” places, these options ALL sounded delicious. Being tired and hungry, I practically begged the waitress to make up my mind for me as my first inclination was to order everything!
Although she was not a vegan, she had tried many of the options on the vegan menu, and suggested about four of them. I chose the blackened tofu tacos which consisted of two flour tortillas, spicy tofu, pineapple manga salsa, red cabbage, tortilla chips, black beans and fresh pico de gallo. She suggested I add some avocado to which I readily agreed. (You can never go wrong adding avocado!)
It was almost embarrassing how many times I said “MMMMMMmmmmm” as I was eating! This is a meal vegans and nonvegans could both enjoy. Meanwhile, carnivores start your happy dance as this place has amazing options for you! The SigO had ordered Melissa’s Heat Wave Burger: Hereford beef burger stuffed with jalapeños, topped with bacon & a spicy ghost pepper cheese sauce with garlic fries on the side. (Note: I stole a garlic fry and found it to be delicious!) Although the SigO didn’t find this sandwich as spicy as he expected (we need to account for the fact that he eats SPICY things frequently), he said it was amazing and flavorful!
If only we had room for dessert!
My peeps, if you are traveling anywhere near Glendora, New Jersey, make time for a meal at Kitchen 519. I promise an experience that will leave you…with smiles!
Samantha Eve, a