Vegan doughnuts = happy customers.
Vegan, organic food truck The Cinnamon Snail opened Valentine’s Sunday in Hoboken, N.J., to an eager crowd of two, my partner Jonathan and me. (Yes, we are that wacko couple who woke up at 7 on Valentine’s Day to get from Queens to Jersey “on time,” cause, hello, free opening day doughnuts!) Once we found the truck — parked on Sinatra Drive, between 3rd and 4th streets — co-owner and -operator Adam Sobel cracked open the serving window and handed each of us an apple cider doughnut covered in cinnamon-sugar. This is a day started right.
Placing the Snail’s very first orders at 9 a.m., Jonathan requested the breakfast burrito and I ordered the grilled kale baguette. We split a heavenly cinnamon roll while waiting for our made-to-order morsels. The baguette was pretty fantastic for being basically bread with kale on it: sauteed kale on a soft, grilled baguette slathered in tofu cream cheese with capers. (I skipped the olives, but you don’t have to.) The burrito justifies its $7-something price by being ridiculously enormous and delicious, crammed full of scrambled tofu, refried beans, and guacamole. The blue corn pancakes topped with fresh blueberries, a friend’s order, blew out of the water similar dishes I’ve seen in veg restaurants around the city.
After shooting the breeze with other patrons and appreciating the view and downtown Hoboken neighborhood, we ordered from the Snail’s more extensive lunch menu, served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. We chose a mustard-marinated tempeh sandwich and a grilled creole tofu sandwich. Both turned out to be enormous and divine. I don’t like tempeh, but I enjoyed the tempeh sandwich – go figure. The tofu sandwich had at least a third of a brick of tofu that was truly grilled, evidenced by those tasty little charred bits. Fresh greens and creole tomato sauce pulled it all together. The bread for both was appropriately soft, with just enough body and crust.
While waiting for our sandwiches we did a bit more sweets shopping from the truck’s fully-stocked pastry case. First we each tried the spinach pie. Very tasty, to be sure, but at $2 per piece this is the only item I’d say fell into the overpriced category. We then each summarily devoured a two-bite peanut butter chocolate cheesecake — who could resist? And to take home, we filled a small box with a chocolate ganache bundt cake, a Mississippi mud cupcake, and a maple raspberry cookie, which Adam affectionately referred to as a “really legit pop tart.”
We have Joey, Adam’s wife and business partner, to thank for the absolutely fabulous baked goods. Our take-home treats did not disappoint. Going forward both she and Adam will be doing the pastry baking, but Joey tells me there’s no doubt that Adam is always the cook.
The truck did not draw hoards on Sunday, but there was an unwavering steady stream of customers. Many people came out specifically for opening day, while others simply happened by. Comments overheard from fellow patrons included such (paraphrased) sentiments as, “I’m so glad we finally have a real vegan option in Hoboken,” and many versions of “OMG, this is the best ____ I’ve ever eaten!”
The truck has been about eight years in coming to fruition; Adam has wanted to bring extraordinary vegan food to the streets more or less since he became vegan when his first child was born. Nearing the end of the first day, he was optimistic about his new enterprise. “It’s been so much fun. It’s been a thousand times smoother than I could have ever hoped for. People have been very very sweet and accommodating.”
For now the Snail is sticking to Hoboken, where Adam was quickly and easily able to obtain a license to vend vegan vittles from a vehicle. The truck’s exact location is subject to where they can find parking each morning; as such, the best way to find them is through the miracle of the internet. They frequently update their Facebook and Twitter pages to let us know where they are and where they’ll be next. Too bad for us weekend warriors, the truck’s hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Kings County permits have not been so easy to procure. Adam projects that it may be a year or more before his one-of-a-kind truck makes an appearance in Williamsburg or DUMBO. He didn’t comment on how he’d split his time between the two locations, if and when he’s able to wedge his way into the fine borough of Brooklyn. He simply described the Cinnamon Snail project as his “life’s dream. I’m determined to make it work out.”