On a recent trip to New Jersey, I had already assumed the vegan scene was gonna be rough. As I plied the townhome lined streets of Jersey City, visions of pasta and “steamed veggies” began to swirl in my head. Then, something caught my eye. The word “vegan” painted on the side of a red brick building.
The building was unassuming, and like many homegrown vegan places, relied on chalkboards and an array of health foods to greet customers. This was vintage veganism and it was grand.
I entered Subia’s to a very welcoming host that quickly took my order. She coached me on what was good, and I slipped a vegan cannoli into the bag. Baada Boom!
Once inside, there was a decent amount of retail, probably a staple for local vegans. They had Chao cheese, the Beyond Burger, vegan cheeses, yogurts, milks, fresh produce, and a ton of other stuff.
Taking my lunch back to the office, I wondered about the Rueben sandwich and that cannoli in the bag.
It was packed in one of those old school foil bowls with the plastic dome and the little rim you bend down to secure everything. While the order was to go, this little bit of to-go nostalgia was awesome. We don’t use stuff like that in Portland.
The rueben? It was the best I have ever had. And not even kidding. The meats were perfectly prepared and the tempeh strips lended some great texture. The sauerkraut was perfect too, and not too crazy – it didn’t overpower the sandwich. The bread was absolutely heavenly, and thankfully the same on all their sandwiches. It was pillowy soft and had some oats sprinkled on top for good measure. Lastly, the sauce was fantastic. It did provide the predominant flavor for the sandwich, and could possibly stand to be calmed down just a tad. But in the end it was just perfect. Oh and the vegan havarti? Insane.
That little cannoli, while almost $6 was equally satisfying and a great desert for my lunch.
So what does a vegan guy stuck in Jersey City do? He goes right back to Subia’s again the next day. And the day after that too.
Day two saw the BBQ “Riblet” sandwich. I was surprised with this entry, as it was flavored soy curls. I enjoyed it. But it was not my favorite from Subia’s. The flavor was solid, the bread was still amazing, and the curls were good. I think maybe my taste buds were still recalibrating from the Rueben.
Day three you ask? Well after talking about this amazing rueben at work, I was leading a small army of colleagues to Subias. They wanted to try the amazing rueben. We ordered and sat outside at the patio (great people watching BTW) and a plethora of ruebens soon graced us with their presence. Same damn amazing sandwich. And my non-vegan co-workers agreed. They are all returning.
Day three also saw my last day in Jersey City. And on walking back to the Airbnb one last time, an idea hit me.
I needed one last sandwich to take with me on my flight back to PDX.
In the three short days I was there, I think they knew me by name, and helped me choose the Philly steak and cheese. It was to go, and would most likely be cold when I got to enjoy it, so this seemed like a safe bet.
While delayed on the tarmac of Newark Airport, I decided it was probably time to crack open that familiar aluminum base and unfold the rim and enjoy the sandwich. Just like the rueben, it was amazing. The seitan was possibly the best I have ever had (diced chunks) and the now almost solid cheese helped keep everything together. The flavor was just perfect (and my favorite bread was still amazing).
The vegan donuts and cinnamon buns were really good, and accompanied my Dunkin Donuts coffee (almond milk) really well. But the sandwiches. Wow.
It was awesome to chat with the owners – two awesome women that have run the place for over 14 years. They told me how their parents thought it was a stupid move – they’d be starving – they said. But here we are, 14 years later enjoying this amazing vegan gem in the middle of a vegan desert (Ok not really but for someone from Portland, it can feel that way).
Next time you are in NYC or Jersey, stop at Subia’s! Get that rueben or Philly.
You will not regret it.
Note: Most of my meals there were takeaway. So the photos should be taken with a grain of salt…they do not represent the nice building or space at Subias.