The story of Philadelphia’s current vegetarian dining scene is really one of gourmet vegan options. As any restaurant in town worth its stars has a few good meatless dishes on its menu, the real action and innovation are happening on exclusively plant-based menus.
From highbrow and spendy to healthy fast food, Philadelphia’s epicurean landscape has grown to embrace the herbivore. Here are some of the best vegetarian options Philadelphia has to offer.
Highlights of Philadelphia’s Vegetarian Dining Scene
Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby set the agenda with Vedge, a fashionable restaurant that has earned them a national reputation and pitted omnivores against vegans for a precious reservation. Small plates add up quickly, with subtle and complex flavors that will please the most discerning palette and shut down dubious meat eaters. The portobello carpaccio is memorable, and the dirt list features the freshest local, seasonal vegetables.
Happy hour is a great deal here, as the resident mixologist is a true artist, crafting thoughtful, creative cocktails. Reduced priced plates and wine and drink deals make it a worthwhile stop if you can’t get a reservation or are on a budget. You may even luck into a bar table!
Across town on 19th Street, you’ll find their other restaurant, V Street. Here the chefs have recreated some of their favorite street foods from international travel in vegan form. Look for artfully spiced noodles, creative tacos, savory dips, and a carrot asado to remember, all in a more laid-back setting, with great drink options.
Next door, they run Whiz Kid, which offers vegan fast food. The menu includes a meatless cheesesteak that is as satisfying as the original minus the bloat and heartburn. Enjoy a quick bite here, or take your lunch to go and eat it in nearby Rittenhouse Square.
Philly’s Vegetarian Classics
Offering the original and best of the vegan fast food options, Hip City Veg has locations in Center City (18th Street and South Broad) and in University City. Enjoy their creative salads, dreamy sweet potato fries, and very satisfying mock chicken sandwiches that will fill you up.
In addition to their three locations, the owners also run Charlie Was a Sinner, a slick and stylish little vegan bar and restaurant with an inspired menu of small plates that can be ordered in pleasing combinations. The drink menu is to die for.
Of course, Philadelphia’s vegetarian scene was bustling long before these options opened. Standbys for good vegetarian food include Mama’s Vegetarian, a no-frills lunch spot making yummy Middle Eastern food. And Govinda’s on South Street has been serving up vegetarian cheesesteak and other classics and mock meat for decades.
Chinatown is overflowing with options. Philadelphia’s large community of Asian immigrants has endowed it with an extremely broad selection of Asian cuisines: Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and even a Burmese restaurant. All offer plentiful vegetarian options. Find excellent Vietnamese in South Philadelphia as well.
For dessert, head over to PS & Co. The PS stands for Pure Sweets, and they take that seriously. Their desserts are both vegan and gluten-free. This charming little cafe offers lunch options like salads and GF pizzas, as well and delicious cold brew coffee. Their knowledgeable staff can walk guests through all of their ingredients.
Plant-based dining is having its moment in Philadelphia, and that is good for all lovers of good food, omnivores, vegans, and flexitarians alike. Cheers to clean eating!