Vegan Dining in Philly
By Tom BoutellPhiladelphia has a reputation as a carnivore's paradise, and there are good reasons for that. Not merely the home of the famous Philly Cheese Steak, Philly is also a foodie haven; gourmet dining is probably Philadelphia's most popular form of entertainment, thanks to diverse "destination" restaurants like Morimoto's, Jones, El Vez and Striped Bass.
But where can a starving vegan or vegetarian get a decent meal amid all this plenty? Well, quite a few places, as it turns out.
Not every vegetarian or vegan restaurant in Philly is mentioned on this page; only places I have actually eaten in myself.
(Most gastropubs and trendy restos in Philly that don't have "Steak" in their names have at least one good vegan entree these days. There are too many to mention these here.)
|Location||507 S. 6th Street, between Lombard and South|
|Price||$ ($$ with dessert)|
|Specialties||Seitan "cheese" steaks (all vegan), vegan pizza, vegan cubanos, desserts from Vegan Treats|
|Blackbird Pizzeria is a 100% vegan cheese steak shop. They embody this contradiction without the slightest strain. The place has cheese steak shop ambience, but as soon as you taste the food you realize you're dealing with quality cuisine. Their vegan "cheese steaks" are great, but the vegan cuban sandwiches are better. Desserts by Vegan Treats round out the picture nicely. The chocolate chip cheesecake is a standout— rich and satisfying and not overloaded with sugar like so many desperate-tasting vegan desserts.|
|Restaurant||Govinda's to Go|
|Location||1408 South Street|
|Specialties||Veggie "cheese steaks"|
|Just a few steps from South and Broad, Govinda's offers two main things: vegetarian and vegan versions of classic Philly cheese steaks and hoagies from 11:30 until late.. and fine dining upstairs, Thursday through Sunday nights.|
|Location||Reading Terminal Market, 11th & Arch|
The Reading Terminal Market is a great place to grab lunch,
people-watch, and camp out on the wireless Internet for a couple of hours...
or as long as your battery lasts anyway. And vegans get to play too,
thanks to the Basic Four Vegetarian Snack Bar. Located near the
center of the indoor Market, the Basic Four offers its own vegan
and vegetarian "cheese steaks" and hoagies. The quality of these
is a bit uneven. I recommend skipping the cold cuts; they are
nothing you can't make at home, if you shop at the Whole Foods Market.
The chopped chicken salad hoagie is excellent, spicy and tangy and
filling. Desserts include sweet potato pie (tasty), sweet potato "cheesecake"
(I found this underwhelming), and tasty chocolate chip cookies at a
refreshingly reasonable price.
Open Mon-Sat 8am-6pm.
|Location||611 S. 7th St, just south of South|
|Specialties||Ancho Chocolate Tart|
|Ambiance||Classy (but not too formal)|
Horizons is something Philadelphia has never had before: a true
gourmet vegan restaurant. In quality and atmosphere Horizons is
at least as good as Cafe Flora in Seattle, or The Greens in
San Francisco. Soups, starters, entrees and desserts are all
stunning, particularly the ancho chocolate torte. The ancho pepper
imparts a spice that's a novelty to most American palates. These
are dishes to linger over! The downstairs is a bar and lounge,
featuring a tasting menu. The upstairs is a full restaurant,
also with a small bar. Reservations recommended! However,
lone-wolf diners can often steal a seat at the upstairs bar
for a full dinner without a reservation. You won't be lonely
with food like this.
Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. 6pm-10pm Tuesday & Thursday, 6pm-11pm Friday & Saturday. The lounge stays open later. Expect to pay $30+ per person, especially if you order drinks. It's absolutely worth it. No dress code per se, but clean up nice.