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May 25, 2015

Got plants? A restaurant guide for the best plant-based offerings in the Philadelphia area

Wellness Vegan
Healthy Food Options Amurri Lauren/for PhillyVoice

In recent years, Philly has given birth to an array of plant-focused food concepts catering to casual diners and complex palates.

Dining out on a plant-based diet is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when undertaking a plant-based lifestyle transformation. At one time, going to the newest and most popular restaurants was my favorite thing to do. When my diet became plant-based and I became more strict about eating organically, it quickly became an underwhelming task when even the most prized chefs clearly forgot about their plant-loving customers in menu planning.

Eating out makes it even harder to maintain goals when there are simply so few options and lack of accessibility. I quickly dreaded eating out and spending money on lackluster side dishes of steamed vegetables and grilled vegetable paninis. On the bright side, within the last three years, Philly has given birth to an array of plant-focused food concepts catering to casual diners, complex palates and those looking to capture the best “healthies” (healthy versions of selfies) young and old.

I've put together a list of restaurants dedicated to preparing delicious plant foods across Philadelphia and beyond. I hope that this encourages you to stick to your goals and plan a day to check out any of these establishments. They are more than willing to help you stay committed.

All the Way Live, Germantown

Cravings: Raw, vegan, soy-free

Why It’s Good: All the Way Live is the place to go when you just want a hearty and nourishing meal. There is nothing gimmicky or pretentious about eating living foods for health, and that is the message that the mother-daughter duo who own this business convey. Don’t look for soy-based faux meat here - the must tries are the “no meat” nutmeat made of walnuts and the “tuna” made of squash.

Location: 6108 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19144. (215) 821-7298

Blackbird Pizzeria, Society Hill

Cravings: Vegan pizza, vegan wings, vegan cheesesteak

Why It’s Good: Being from Philly, it’s ingrained in my blood to love both cheesesteaks and pizza. Blackbird Pizzeria was voted as having the best vegan cheesesteak of 2014. It’s safe to say that if you’re looking for vegan munchies, this is the place to go. Located just north of South Street in the Society Hill neighborhood, this little shop is a vegan’s savior while walking through this landmark district or if you need delivery for a night in at home.

Location: 507 S. 6th St., Philadelphia, PA 19147. (215) 625-6660

Gangster Vegan Organics, Norristown

Cravings: Organic, gluten-free, raw, cashew cheesecake, casual dining

Why It’s Good: Gangster Vegan Organics pushes the best product around at the lowest cost. Items are named after popular hip-hop and R&B classics from the '90s and 2000s. The menu features an amazing selection of raw food dishes inspired by your favorite comfort foods. GVO is flavorful, filling and worth the drive to Norristown. Clean eating never felt so good. Try the “Do the Right Thing” raw pizza and “Reasonable Doubt” raw lasagna.

Location: 2454 W. Main St., Norristown, PA 19403 Phone: (610) 630-1600

Hip City Veg, Rittenhouse Square & University City

Cravings: Plant-based fast casual, vegan burger, sandwiches and salads

Why It’s Good: Hip City Veg is my guilty pleasure. They have the most amazingly tasting veg burger and take full advantage of the burgeoning faux-meat market. At Hip City, cravings for traditional meat-focused sandwiches can be guilt-free and still super tasty. Try the vegan cupcakes. I don’t know what they put in them and don’t want to ask - they are too good to pass up!

Locations: 127 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103 Phone: (215) 278-7605. | 214 S. 40th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 Phone: (267) 244-4342

Miss Rachel’s Pantry, Girard Park/South Philly

Cravings: Vegan homestyle comfort foods, vegan catering

Why It’s Good: Miss Rachel’s Pantry is a delightful space in South Philly that features a communal farmhouse table available by reservation for Saturday night dining. Miss Rachel's also offers catering services for private events, as well as homestyle meals for delivery or pickup. I’ve been lucky enough to attend an MRP-catered event - everything was delicious, and I was so thankful that plant-eating guests were taken into consideration when preparing a menu.

Location: 1732 W. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19145. (215) 798-0053

P.S. & Co., Rittenhouse Square

Cravings: Organic, gluten-free, raw, kosher, Asian flavors

Why It’s Good: These guys are serious about organics, raw food and veganism - they don’t even use honey. They have amazingly tasty raw desserts with an Asian-inspired flair to many items (which I love). Everything is gluten-free and will definitely put a pep in your step after eating. This is clean eating at its best. The only downside is that this place may put a hole in your wallet, however, you get what you pay for. P.S. & Co. puts a lot of love into crafting their vegan dishes, and the space is absolutely gorgeous. It’s worth it.

Location: 1706 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19103. (215) 985-1706

Vedge, Midtown Village

Cravings: Vegan semi-fine dining, dinner, happy hour

Why It’s Good: Vedge is the place I like to come for a special occasion, date night or a sophisticated happy hour experience. The menu features vegan small plates. Creative interpretations of cheeses made from soaked nuts and mushrooms sliced and sautéed that resemble scallops never cease to amaze me, especially when the meal is so good that I am not wishing for the real (and less healthy) thing.

Location: 1221 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19107. (215) 320-7500