Finding flavorful yet healthy food while on the go isn’t always easy. Luckily, Philadelphia is not only the Cradle of Independence, but also the cradle of a kaleidoscopic assortment of small vegetarian restaurants with big ambitions. You probably already know vegan chef star Rich Landau from his stint as winner of Food Network’s “Chopped” and his cookbook “Vedge,” but Philly boasts equally bright vegan talent that will make even the most ardent meat-eater a believer. Here are the top spots in Philadelphia to whet your palate with something both good and good for you.
507 S. 6th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
This punk rock Philly pizza parlor has the best vegan pies around. Place your order at the counter, take a seat and wait for your name to be called for all vegan, all kosher, all of the time. Vegetarian Chef Mark Mebus creates a funghi pizza made with truffle oil that’s to die for, and the root beer barbecued seitan wings are equally as fabulous. Other great options include tofu wings, seitan cheesesteaks, the eggplant grinder and the chickpea tuna wrap, but make sure to leave room for pumpkin moon pie.
127 S. 18th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
With locations in Rittenhouse and now University City, HipCityVeg is the latest hot spot for awesome vegan fast food. This mecca of vegan quick serve offers up terrific artichoke salads, smoked tempeh burgers, curry tofu wraps and sweet potato fries. Be sure to wash it down with the eatery’s signature Groothie, a refreshing green smoothie made with seasonal fruit, bananas, organic apples and organic leafy greens. The kale lemonade hits the spot, too!
18 S. 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, practical cheapskates love the cheap eats at Mama’s. This no-frills kosher Middle Eastern eatery is known for its ample portions of delicious falafel oozing from freshly baked pita. Filling sandwiches are served with hummus and vegetables, and the platters are big enough to share. Although the menu is limited, the available selections are tried and true, with the eggplant sandwich and crispy french fries being real standouts.
MiLah Vegetarian Restaurant
218 S. 16th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
The corner restaurant with the orange awnings has been a Philadelphia fixture since 2008. Its dining room is elegant with high tin ceilings, cherry wood tables and wall sconces. Its menu features meat-free options that span the globe from Africa and Brazil to Cambodia and Thailand. Crispy Indonesian rolls with carrots, seitan, celery and basil avocado sauce make an excellent starter, followed by a curried cauliflower steak over butter spinach puree, yellow squash and roasted beets. Everything on the menu is vegan and can be cooked gluten free.
1221 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
For sophisticated, cutting-edge, vegetable-based dishes, head to Vedge. Folks flock to this restaurant for the legendary food created by chef-owner Richard Landau. The place gets packed as soon as the doors open at 5 p.m., as customers clamor for Landau’s smoked eggplant and cauliflower braciole, fingerling fries and smoked carrots with kimchi and pumpernickel. Landau’s wife, Chef Kate Jacoby, dazzles fans with her scrumptious desserts, including saffron cheesecake and dark chocolate mousse with pickled pineapple, wasabi pea ice cream, miso caramel and sriracha almonds.
Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.