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When It Comes To Vegan Dining, The Home Of The Cheesesteak Proudly Vedges Out
Philadelphia Offers An Array Of Vegan Fine Dining, Bar Eats, Fast Food & Café Fare
It’s a curious thing that a city so renowned for its cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches could also foster one of the nation’s most robust vegan food scenes. Upscale diners can find delight in the shared plates at Vedge or the coursed and the home-style elegance of Miss Rachel’s Pantry, while those seeking a quick bite can swing by Blackbird Pizza for fare that is more traditionally Philadelphian. Factor in some coffee shops, bars and even a diner, and vegan eaters will see—and taste—that the city’s offerings have something for every palate, day or night.
Here’s a look at some of Philadelphia’s vegan treasures:
- Arguably the granddaddy of all local vegan establishments, Vedge elevates meatless cuisine to unparalleled elegance. Chef Rich Landau fashions carpaccio from portobello mushrooms and fondue from rutabagas while his wife, pastry chef Kate Jacoby, coaxes golden peach robatayaki, zucchini blondies with rosemary ice cream and squash blossom gazpacho and blueberry cheesecake from only plant-based ingredients. 1221 Locust Street, (215) 320-7500, vedgerestaurant.com
- After a stint working with Landau and Jacoby, chef Rachel Klein founded Miss Rachel’s Pantry. Complementing the daytime luncheonette and catering side of the business, the restaurant offers a limited-seating weekend dinner around a farmhouse table. The six-course menu changes seasonally but may include seitan piccata, roasted red pepper grits and black garlic-cashew ricotta dumplings. 1938 S. Chadwick Street, (215) 798-0053, missrachelspantry.com
- A forerunner to today’s hip vegan joints, Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille cooks up plant-forward fare in Bucks County. While many dishes have some dairy, vegans enjoy selections like the ginger scallion miso bowl, tacos verduras (vegetables) with pumpkin seed-crusted tofu and a wild mushroom ramen in red miso with shiitake bacon. 727 2nd Street Pike, Southampton, (215) 942-8888, bluesagevegetariangrille.com
- At Jenkintown’s Flora, Timothy Thomas helms the kitchen with both a la carte and three- and four-course prix-fixe dinners. The tiny, cash-only bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot’s menu changes seasonally. 307 Old York Road, Jenkintown, (215) 779-7945, florajenkintown.com
- Weekend brunch draws vegans to Mi Lah Vegetarian, home to a completely vegetarian menu with favorites such as tofu Benedict and oversized pumpkin pancakes with blueberry soy butter. The eclectic dinner menu features tofu, seitan and inventive veg dishes. 40 W. Skippack Pike, Ambler, (215) 646-1808, milahvegetarian.com
- Ross Olchvary of New Hope’s Sprig & Vine learned his trade with Rich Landau. Focused on local and seasonal ingredients, his BYOB demonstrates the versatility of veggies, with green onion pancake rolls, tamarind-glazed tempeh and za’atar grilled oyster mushrooms all vying for diners’ attention. 450 Union Square Drive, New Hope, (215) 693-1427, sprigandvine.com
- From the owners of HipCityVeg and Charlie was a sinner., snug Bar Bombón specializes in vegan Latin food and cocktails. Think Cubanos, burritos, plátanos, tacos and margaritas—followed by tres leches cake for dessert. 133 S. 18th Street, (267) 606-6612, barbombon.com
- Pizza, sandwiches, steaks—nothing is off-limits at Blackbird Pizzeria, by chef Mark Mebus. His creativity shines in the Balboa pie (seitan sausage, pumpkin seed pesto, tofu ricotta), the Cubano sandwich (seitan pepperoni, coconut bacon, smoked tofu) and the root-beer BBQ wings. 507 S. 6th Street, (215) 625-6660, blackbirdpizzeria.com
- Named for its “pure sweets” (that are also available to-go), P.S. & Company beckons with an urban-rustic dining area and a full menu of cafe items—all of which are vegan, gluten-free and organic. Coconut yogurt, Caesar salad with house-made dressing and dan dan noodles entice even meat eaters. 1706 Locust Street, (215) 985-1706, puresweets.com
- In the heart of Center City, Su Xing House offers up an expansive menu of meatless Chinese delicacies. Classics like fried rice and General Tso’s tofu share menu space with signature dishes such as bean curd deluxe (tofu skin stuffed with mushroom caps and veggie ham) and lotus root with peanut soup. 1508 Sansom Street, (215) 564-1419, suxinghouse.com
- For more than 20 years, The Nile Cafe has been serving up comforting vegan fare. Menu staples such as pepper steak and chicken and gravy accompany a variety of salads, daily soup specials and plenty of desserts. 6008 Germantown Avenue, (215) 843-6453
- Newcomer The Tasty dishes out diner-inspired fare from a corner location. Patrons occupy seats at the counter for morning coffee and pastries, or settle into booths for quick-serve dishes such as waffles or biscuits and gravy. 1401 S. 12th Street, (267) 457-5670, thetastyphilly.com
- Everything’s fair game at local veg heroes Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby’s V Street. The internationally inflected street food bar trades in dishes such as piri piri tofu, carrot asado and Korean fried tempeh tacos. The drinks alone are worth a visit. 126 S. 19th Street, (215) 278-7943, vstreetfood.com
- Opened in 1969, Queen Village’s natural market Essene stocks all of the latest products from local makers, and it operates its own kitchen and bakery that turns out all manner of takeaway goods—including at least 50 desserts on any given day. 719 S. 4th Street, (215) 922-1146, essenemarket.com
- Govinda’s Gourmet Vegetarian has been serving up tasty vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, halal and Vedic food since 1985. Vegans and omnivores alike enjoy apps, salads and sandwiches—think vegan chicken cheesesteaks—at the eatery or on the go. Opening soon next door: a raw food buffet. 1408 South Street, (215) 545-5452, govindasvegetarian.com
- Proving that fast-serve burgers need not be limited to carnivores, HipCityVeg’s two popular locations make veggie sandwiches—the Ziggy burger features smoked tempeh, while the Crispy HipCity Ranch reinterprets fried chicken—and green juices more accessible. 127 S. 18th Street, (215) 278-7605; 214 S. 40th Street, (267) 244-4342, hipcityveg.com
- Philly-born startup Honeygrow honors most dietary restrictions with its build-your-own salads, stir-fries and vegan smoothies, each made with fresh ingredients. A King of Prussia outpost will soon join the multiple area locations. 110 S. 16th Street, (215) 279-7724; 3731 Walnut Street, (215) 222-0400; 1601 N. Broad Street, (215) 279-7823; 168 E. City Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, (610) 667-2573; 230 N. Radnor Chester Road, Radnor, (610) 688-8393, honeygrow.com
- In a city with brilliant banh mi, Kung Fu Hoagies ensures that no one feels left out. The food truck’s tofu meatball and “vegetarian pork” sandwiches and pho and ramen dishes can be made completely vegan. Location varies, (267) 344-6259, kungfuhoagies.com
- A healthy haven since 1984, the all-vegetarian Magic Carpet food truck caters to students and locals in the University City neighborhood with two street-side locations during weekday lunch. Almost all of the budget-priced platters—tofu meatballs, seitan peppersteak—can be made vegan. 36th & Spruce Streets; 34th & Walnut Streets, magiccarpetfoods.com
- Appealing to the generally health-conscious, Pure Fare always keeps some vegan options in the mix. Items typically on offer include the wild rice bowl, kale salad, Burmese papaya salad or almost any of the baked goods. 119 S. 21st Street, (267) 318-7441; 1609 South Street, (267) 687-2292, purefare.com
- All of the food at Vegan Tree is cruelty free. Whether it’s sushi, a cheesesteak sandwich or coconut cake, there’s no need to second-guess the ingredients. 742 South Street, (215) 454-2898, 742vegantree.com
- Fast and casual, Bryn Mawr’s Vgë Café operates on a simple premise: People want to eat great food that is healthy. All of the menu items, from falafel to buffalo tofu, can be ordered as a wrap, salad or over brown rice. Everything is less than 550 calories and entirely vegan, with no added oils or sugar. 845B W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-3091, vgecafe.com
- Because vegan eating doesn’t always ensure healthfulness, Germantown’s All the Way Live Café emphasizes alkalizing foods (select fruits, vegetables and whole grains). That means seaweed salads, chickpea burgers and coconut cream pie on an almond and date crust. 6108 Germantown Avenue, (215) 821-7298, alllivefood.com
- Vegetarian and health-promoting fare dominates the menu at West Philadelphia’s Atiya Ola’s Spirit First Foods. Not everything here is raw or vegan, but the abundant options include smoothies and juices, kale wraps, salads and plenty of raw desserts. 4505 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 939-3298
- An early proponent of raw eating, Montgomery County’s Arnold’s Way makes it very easy to dabble in vegan with its market and cafe. The menu boasts green smoothies, soups, salads and banana whip sundaes. 319 W. Main Street, Lansdale, (215) 361-0116, arnoldsway.com
- Situated in a former pharmacy on Doylestown’s main strip, Doc Bakers Farmulations takes on a health-advising role in the community. All the juices and smoothies can be boosted with natural supplements, and guests can enjoy a full menu of raw, vegan fare on-site or from the grab-and-go cases. 22 N. Main Street, Doylestown, (215) 230-3444, docbakers.com
- Norristown goes a little bit California at Gangster Vegan Organics. Hip-hop named juices (Rappers Delight, Soul 4 Real), raw pizzas, lasagna and wraps bring variety and interest to the proceedings. 2454 W. Main Street, Norristown, (610) 630-1600, gangstervegan.com
- Everything at Raw Can Roll Café qualifies as “clean eating.” While some items are cooked, the vast menu of smoothies, cleansing juices and zucchini pastas—not to mention four different kale salads—makes it easy to stay on a raw-eating plan. 767 W. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, (484) 580-8454
- Part juice bar, part burrito bar, Animo puts fruits and veggies in the forefront. Whether it’s the Animo Glo (orange, carrot, cantaloupe) or an açai bowl, the nutritious fare here is fresh and delicious. 1701 Arch Street, (267) 519-0949, animojuice.com
- Part of a national chain, Robeks specializes in juices and smoothies. Refreshing drinks including the Age Buster (soy milk, probiotics, kale, spinach, peach) and the Big Wednesday (strawberry, peach, banana, papaya) go down easy. Eateries: 1035 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-5500; 32 Parking Plaza, Ardmore, (484) 413-2998; food truck: 2551 Orthodox Street, robeks.com
- A juicery with a creative touch, Sip-N-Glo sates vegan hunger with mix-ins such as almond milk, hemp and chia seeds. Even the protein shakes contain only Plant Fusion protein powder. 257 S. 20th Street; 932 South Street, (267) 273-0639, sipnglo.com
- Drinks at Yellow Juice could be described as “rainbow,” given all the vitamin-packed produce used. Fruit and veggie juices and the sweet potato peach smoothie with ginger and cinnamon energize in the healthiest sense. 2046 Sansom Street, (267) 519-8296, yellowjuicebar.com
- Known for its service of late dinner and weekend brunch, Point Breeze’s American Sardine Bar offers meat-free interpretations of meatball sandwiches, tacos and cheesesteaks.1800 Federal Street, (215) 334-2337, americansardinebar.com
- Despite its suggestive name, Charlie was a sinner. caters to the conscientious client. The all-vegan Midtown Village bar/eatery serves small plates such as faux crab cakes, smoked cauliflower, chocolate pot de crème and classic cocktails—sans egg whites. 131 S. 13th Street, charliewasasinner.com
- Sibling establishments Cantina Los Caballitos and Cantina Dos Segundos aim to please Philadelphia’s herbivores with Mexican-inspired menus. Both locations offer tofu fajitas and nachos with vegan cheese. Diners find a variety of meatless dishes that are specific to each location. 1651 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 775-3550; 931 N. 2nd Street, (215) 629-0500, cantinaloscaballitos.com
- Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen serves the Fishtown neighborhood retro-American vegetarian and vegan dishes at lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Regulars come for the craft beer and specialties such as the kale burger, cauliflower fritters, fried green tomato po’ boys and veggie wings. 2370 E. Norris Street, (215) 423-5400, cedarpointbarandkitchen.com
- Amid its menu of southern-fried bar fare, Khyber Pass Pub leaves plenty of room for its vegan customers. Even the buttered popcorn, pulled pork and fried chicken sandwiches qualify. 56 S. 2nd Street, (215) 238-5888, khyberpasspub.com
- With a firm commitment to meatless eaters, Memphis Taproom has always accommodated its hipster fan base. Selections might include a smoked coconut club or the spaghetti sandwich. In warmer months, the beer garden serves a smoked jackfruit club, a fried portobello sandwich and a beefless burger. 2331 E. Cumberland Street, (215) 425-4460, memphistaproom.com
- Vegans need not thirst. The vegan cheesesteak, tempeh club sandwich and vegan Sloppy Joe soak up the craft beer at Royal Tavern. 937 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 389-6694, royaltavern.com
- Triangle Tavern has a menu that offers vegan versions of a number of South Philly favorites. Spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, roast beef sandwiches and personal pizzas (red or white) are just a few of the homestyle options available. 1338 S. 10th Street, (215) 800-1992, triangletavernphilly.com
Coffee & Treats:
- Really, why should a vegan have to forgo peanut butter banana bacon donuts? They don’t thanks to Dottie’s Donuts. Its rotating assortment of goodies (such as blueberry coconut or chocolate-coffee-cardamom) is available at Dottie’s recently opened West Philly location and a number of other veg-friendly spots. 4529 Springfield Avenue
- Coffee flows copiously at Pennsport’s Grindcore House—though there’s also a full menu of teas. All manner of milk alternatives, hearty sandwiches, salads and a selection of treats from local vegan bakeries are available. 1515 S. 4th Street, (215) 839-3333, grindcorehouse.com
- Local, artisanal, funky-flavored ice cream—everyone screams for it at Little Baby’s Ice Cream. This is especially true for vegans who find flavors like chocolate salt malt, balsamic banana, smoked cinnamon and the definitively quirky cucumber dill just waiting for their eager spoons. 2311 Frankford Avenue, (267) 687-8567; 4903 Catharine Street, (215) 921-2100, littlebabysicecream.com
- A light and luscious sensibility reigns at Northern Liberties’ Soy Café. Patrons can order a bowl of edamame, a sesame tofu salad, a bbq wrap with vegan pork or a smoothie with any type of milk alternative. 630 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-1103, mysoycafe.com
- Dessert lovers can break from animal products and refined sugars at the region’s two locations of Sweet Freedom Bakery, which also steer clear of wheat, nuts, corn and other allergens. On offer: salted caramel cupcakes, fruit crumbles and pumpkin donuts—all produced with wholesome ingredients. 1424 South Street, (215) 545-1899; 1039 W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-7323, sweetfreedombakery.com
- A pioneer in compassionate confections just outside the Philadelphia region, Vegan Treats turn out coconut caramel cheesecake, cherry Danish and a legendary peanut butter bomb without any help from animals. Sweets lovers can find its goods in Philadelphia at Grindcore House, Govinda’s Gourmet Vegetarian and Vgë Café. vegantreats.com
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