Best Vegan Brunch in the NYC Area?


The vada-iddly combo will set you back less than $5, and is served with homemade coconut and peanut chutneys.

To hell with eggs and to hell with bacon. Yes, they can be great, but what if your dietary preferences prevent you from eating them? A brunch at Jersey City’s Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House is 100 percent just as good — and strictly vegan, if you avoid the two items out of over 100 that use butter (clearly stated on the menu). And, for vegetarians, you’ll be glad to know that there’s nothing on the menu you can’t eat.

Stuffed with a potato, spice, and cashew mixture, the well-browned dosa is almost too long to fit in the camera frame.

The restaurant is a short ride away from Manhattan on the PATH train (only $2!), and attained by walking three blocks north from the Journal Square station. An added bonus — if you’ve never been there — is enjoying the hurly-burly of Newark Avenue, a five-block stretch of Indian businesses where you can also get cheap groceries, flamboyantly colored clothes, English-language cookbooks, bargain cookware, and various other items imported from India.

Foremost among brunch items, for me, is uppma, a mash-up of cream of wheat with a half-dozen flavorings, including ginger, onions, and black mustard seeds, along with chilis and tidbits of tomato. Despite this onslaught of tastes, the effect is mellow in the extreme, and there’s nothing better to coat your morning-after stomach with after a night out.

The iddly (steamed rice-lentil cakes) and vada (fried lentil donuts) are another choice, and they can be ganged up in a combination. Then there are the dosas, offered in a dazzling 60 variations. These crepes are made of various combos of lentils, rice, and wheat, slightly fermented to provide leavening. They’re served either unfilled, or stuffed with a potato and nut mixture.

Uppma is really extensively doctored cream of wheat, served with a red Indian pickle.

The interior on a busy weekend (click to enlarge)

Ordering is easy. You pick the table you want to sit at, note the number, and then approach the counter in the rear. Give the harried guy your order and the table number, and then go sit down. He’ll call out the number as each dish is finished, so prepare to get your morning exercise by running back and forth between table and counter.

Appetize yourself by going over to the Crock-Pot opposite the counter along the wall and serving up the soup called sambar, and don’t forget to scoop up some chunky vegetables from the bottom. Miraculously, the soup is free.

There are plenty of other choices on the menu, too, including all-in meals served on metal trays called thalis for those with bigger appetites, offering a little of this and a little of that. But, no alcohol, so you’ll have to forgo that Bloody Mary or pitcher of screwdrivers.

Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House
809 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey

Look for the bright blue awning.