Manhattan's First Vegan Food Truck Comes to Midtown

By Mathew Katz on December 8, 2011 4:46pm 

MIDTOWN — Vegans rejoice! The Cinnamon Snail has crawled to Manhattan.

The popular New Jersey-based all-vegan food truck served lunch for the first time in the city on Thursday, much to the delight of vegans, who say they are often left in the cold when it comes to lunch choices near their offices.

"It's hard to find good vegan food around here, especially relatively inexpensive vegan food," said Peter Herbsman, 41, who works near the corner of East 33rd Street and 5th Avenue, where the truck was parked. "There's vegan food around, but it's not cheap."

The snail-decorated truck offers an extensive menu of freshly made breakfast and lunch items — along with dozens of vegan pastries.

For customers who like a bit of hyperbole with their cheese-and-meat-free chow, the truck's also inscribed with odd catchphrases, such as "Food to help you transform into a being of pure light who can serve all living creatures simultaneously and eternally."

On Thursday, dozens of people lined up to get a taste of vegan dishes such as raw pizza (it uses cashew 'cheese'), a maple mustard tempeh sandwich, and a Korean barbecue seitan with kimchi made from local Jersey cabbages.

"It's been great for us, we're super-psyched to be here," said owner Adam Sobel, 29. "There's a lot of people who have been waiting a long time for us in the city."

Sobel said he had been interested in a permit to operate in New York since the truck opened two years ago, but was spurred to finally get one because of recent ordinance changes in Hoboken that have made it harder for food trucks to operate in that city. Manhattan's neighborhoods have had their own love-hate relationships with local food trucks, cracking down on trucks from upper Manhattan to SoHo, to name a few.

Earlier Thursday, the truck ran into a quintessential Midtown problem: finding a parking spot. Sobel said it took several attempts to find a spot that stuck.

"There really is quite a chunk of Midtown you can’t get parking without being abused," he said.

The truck will move around the city four days a week until Christmas, and then re-open, serving a partially-revamped menu, five days a week from sometime around Valentine's Day, according to Sobel.

"We're not exclusively in Midtown," Sobel said. "We want to operate in as many neighborhoods as we can where there aren't good vegan options."

The truck was certain a hit among the lunch crowd in Midtown — the Cinnamon Snail was so popular that it sold out of several items.

"I like it because it doesn't taste vegan," said Kiele Taitano, 30, who lives in Jersey City and often eats at the truck when it's parked there.

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