T.His idea of an all-vegan menu doesn’t excite most people, but that’s what makes Savory Leaf Cafe one of the best food trucks (and physical cafes) in New Jersey. They offer more than salads and potatoes, and offer a plant-based menu that even hardcore meat lovers love.
Savory Leaf Cafe operates as a physical store at the Trenton Farmers Market. Here, you’ll find unique twists on traditional vegan dishes like VIBS, plant-only vegan ribs and more. In fact, everything from “cheese” to “beef” at Savory Leaf Cafe is made of plants. However, the goal is to create dishes with subtle flavor variations that even meat eaters can enjoy.
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Eduardo Calderon and Marie Barber are the owners of Savory Leaf Cafe. Calderon quit his full-time job and dived completely into this business. In the meantime, Marie continues her practice throughout the week and weekends while balancing with her other work. In 2020, the team started operating Food Her Truck to bring different menus to local events. In addition to festivals and fairs, Savory His Leaf His Café also caters for special occasions.
Best of NJ spoke to Savory Leaf Cafe to learn more about both their food and trucks. Keep reading below for the full interview!
Best New Jersey Food Trucks: Savory Leaf Cafe Interview
Best of New Jersey: Which Comes First, the Truck or the Cafe?
Savory Leaf Cafe: The cafe first appeared in February 2019. From our own experience, we have noticed that there are not many vegan comfort food options in our area. So it was important for me to open a cafe and share food with others. A year after opening the cafe, we wanted to expand to another part of New Jersey. We quickly realized that food trucks were the perfect option. Instead, food can be shared at multiple locations in the state and surrounding areas.
We always felt that events, festivals and concerts needed to offer more plant-based options. As a result, many planned events have been postponed or cancelled. But we are looking forward to a great 2021.
BONJ: What inspired you to start this business?
Savory Leaf: As we continue our corporate professional careers, one of us pursues our dream of opening a vegan facility to continue promoting our products and one of us continues our professional career. After mastering our “vibe” (vegan ribs), we knew it was time to share it with others. Starting with an event, we promoted our ribs and it was an instant hit! It motivated us to continue making other products and even consider opening a cafe.
We started our business for multiple reasons. We love to cook, so it was only a matter of time before we mastered flavorful, plant-based comfort food. Our goal was to achieve the same with plant-based ingredients. Today we create and offer meat, dairy and egg free products I am proud of it. Packed with protein, flavor and the added benefit of being cholesterol-free.
BONJ: What was the business like when you first started?
Savory Leaf: It was a true learning experience and I was overwhelmed by the positive responses. We had to adapt our business model quickly to keep up with the demand we were experiencing. We knew there was a need for plant-based comfort food in our area. And that’s been demonstrated by the amazing customer response we’ve received.
Savory Leaf: A famous cheesesteak that rivals the best Philadelphia cheesesteaks without fat and cholesterol. Reuben, veuben with homemade pastrami. Key West Cuban cuisine, house-made chickpea “tuna”, and our all-time favorite mac and cheese.
The main feature that we always truck with is the famous cheesesteak. All specialty burgers. Buffalo “chicken” sandwich. and Key West Cuba. Rotate selections from the main menu.
BONJ: What are your fan favorites?
Savory Leaf: Our bestseller, unlike any other, is our house-made BBQ ‘Vibe’ ribs. This was a huge hit with the vegan pop-up shop we started with and has grown from there. Trailer top sellers are usually cheesesteaks, burgers, specialty sandwiches, and of course fries. We also try to keep things ‘fresh’ so we usually have specials. Such as lasagna, meatball parm, and other plant-based transformed specialties.
BONJ: Why did you adopt a vegan diet?
Savory Leaf: Our decision to go plant-based was a personal decision based on our family history of chronic illness. But 8 years ago after he tried a vegan detox and learned how to make delicious food from plants, we never looked back!
Many people seem to feel the stigma associated with the words “vegetarian” and “vegan.” That’s why many people write off these types of meals and dishes without even giving them a chance.
BONJ: Tell us about the benefits of eating these types of foods (even non-vegetarians and non-vegetarians).
Savory Leaf: Creating recipes with fresh vegetables is super healthy and good for the planet. Helps reduce high cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Also, removing meat from your diet can reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. I always share my personal experience over the years of battling high cholesterol. After starting a plant-based diet, my cholesterol went from high risk to low risk in a short period of time.
BONJ: What kind of catering options do you offer?
Savory Leaf: Anything from the menu can be accommodated upon request. Our favorite catering items include BBQ ribs, cheesesteaks, and mac and cheese. We also have some very popular new products such as lasagna and vodka rigatoni trays.
BONJ: Where can I find your track this spring and summer?
Savory Leaf: You can find us at the U-Pick Tulip event at Holland Ridge Farms in Cream Ridge this spring. We will be joining him from Saturday, April 10th. We also attend many other festivals and events throughout the spring, summer and fall.
For more information on Savory Leaf Cafe, click here to visit their website.
Click here to find out more about Best New Jersey Food Trucks.
Food Truck Photo: © Savory Leaf Cafe / Facebook
All other photos: Patrick Lombardi / Best of NJ