A new vegan comfort food cafe opens in Upstate New York. Owned by Dutch immigrant Kim Hoedeman, Secret Vegan Cafe opened last month in Kingston, New York, serving diner classics like cheeseburgers, pancakes, and breakfast sandwiches.
Vegan Junk Food and Late-Night Snacks in Upstate New York
The idea to open a vegan cafe began when both Hoedeman and her husband, Jeff Semones, went vegan in 2017. After visiting a number of bars and restaurants, Hoedeman realized that there weren’t many options for vegans in terms of comfort food bites.
Hoedeman also took inspiration from the bar snacks in her native Netherlands, in particular bitterballen, which are breaded and fried croquettes that are traditionally filled with beef, stock, and roux. After over two years of experimenting with a veganized version of the late-night snack, Hoedeman perfected her recipe using a mushroom base. In addition to opening Secret Vegan Cafe, Hoedeman also launched her own brand—Vegan Junk Food—in 2019 as a way to bring vegan bitterballen to bars, restaurants, and caterers in New York City.
Veganized Versions of Classic Diner Staples
Inside the cafe, an entire wall is adorned with a tree of life design from Hodeman and Semones’ friend John Sherman, an artist at Flavor Paper. The Secret Vegan Cafe menu is written on a white letterboard and features veganized versions of classic diner staples, such as pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, burgers with fries, cheeseburgers, nuggets, bitterballen (mushroom nuggets), and salads. Guests can also order drip coffee and espresso drinks with the option to add in a mushroom probiotic from the House of Waris Botanicals. Those with a sweet tooth should be sure to check out Hoedeman’s gluten-free apple pie, as well as beignets, which pay homage to the New Orleans favorite and oliebollen, a late-night Dutch treat.
Secret Vegan Cafe is located at 38 McEntee St, Kingston, NY 12401. The cafe is open Wednesday-Friday 6am-6pm, Saturday 7am-6pm, and Sunday 7am-5pm. Not in the Upstate New York area? You can get your hands on Hoedeman’s vegan bitterballen by visiting VeganJunkFood.co—they ship the snack nationwide!