Once upon a time, a long time ago (2009-2010 to be exact) your girl was vegan. After almost 10 years of having some serious health problems, it felt like the best solution for solving digestive issues, lethargy and weight fluctuation.
At the time upstate wasn’t really known for it’s versatile cuisine. If you enjoyed meat and hardy traditional American fare, you could easily find a restaurant that catered to this taste. If you were a plant based vegetarian or vegan, not so much. A lot of places think they can get by with offering pasta or pizza to their veg based clients, but for many of us (myself included) this just doesn’t cut it.
Allow me to level with you from a diner’s perspective. It’s really annoying to go out and have to essentially change an item on the menu to fit your dietary needs. For years I had to stick to salads because that was the best section for me to find something I could eat and even then I was always like, “No bacon, no eggs, no cheese, no walnuts.” By the time my meal came I was paying all this money for basically a garden salad. It was just easier to stay home.
When I was vegan I was spending a lot of my time in one of the best places in the Hudson Valley to be plant based- New Paltz, NY. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a charming town in Ulster County. There’s a college, indie book stores, lots of mom and pop shops, and restaurants. In fact, many of these restaurants offer interesting vegetarian friendly food and some (as I found out) give much of their menu to the non-dairy, non-meat eater.
Karma Road is a vegan restaurant located at the end of Main Street, going towards Mohonk Mountain. More of a cafe style set up, you order your meal at the counter and can eat in or takeaway. There’s a deli space, counter and seating in and outdoors. Think casual, think clean, think a chill spot to enjoy really flavorful nourishing food. Expect plant-based ingredients, expertly seasoned. Lentil and vegetable soups, rice crust pizza, savory Cole slaw, lots of sandwiches, smoothies and the list goes on. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are open 7 days a week.
I use to eat there every Wednesday afternoon before I went to my 6:30 American history class at SUNY New Paltz. I’d order a Peanut Butter In My Chocolate Smoothie (chocolate rice milk, PB, cacao, banana) and a Peanut Butter Chocolate Rice bar- basically a giant rice crispy treat. Maybe not the most nutritious dinner but it was friggin good and exactly what I needed to power through a three-hour class.
Karma Road is the brain child of Jenn and Seth Branitz, long time veg heads and cuisine aficionados. They’re worked in the health focused culinary world for more than a collective 25 years and it shows. Each offering is masterfully prepared, showcasing an impressive knowledge of spices, cooking techniques and blending of flavors. In my experience, a person who doesn’t like vegetables is a person who had poorly prepared vegetables. If that sounds like you, please visit this place. You won’t be sorry. It proves how versatile the world of veganism food is when handled by experts.
In terms of price, Karma Road is fairly reasonable given that they use organic ingredients. While you can easily spend $20 and higher if you decided to get several items, you can also keep it under $10 if you only opt for a sandwich or shake.
This eatery is another great spot if you’re a vegan, but it’s also a must-check-out if you’re of other eating persuasions. The menu is diverse with bits of south-western inspired offerings, traditional American, Asian infused- do you see where I’m going with this? They serve breakfast and lunch, as well as brunch, so if you’re in a mood for a mimosa on Sunday, give them a visit!
The restaurant is often packed, so it’s a good idea to arrive thirty minutes before you think you’ll be ready to eat to put your name on the list (they don’t take reservations). On the plus, service is fast and in my experience, the wait is never really long as there is always someone too hungry to wait who ends up leaving, bumping you up the list.
What I love about this place is how many items are vegetarian or vegan. Tofu scrambles, burritos overflowing with veggies, even the oatmeal is full of seasonal fruits and far from boring. The servings are large and the prices are very reasonable. You will leave more than satisfied for under $20 and probably won’t be hungry for the rest of the day.
Have you visited New Paltz, NY? What are some of your favorite vegan/vegetarian restaurants? To see more places to eat and lounge, follow me on Instagram @theupstateedit.
Hudson Valley based writer.