[List based on my trip from December 2019]
Back in the mid- and late 90s, I spent a number of years in Philly as a young college student. At the time, I found it to be rather unfriendly to vegetarians (e.g., cheesesteaks everywhere!). So I was a bit skeptical of the chatter I had been hearing over the past few years about about Philadelphia being a vegan hot spot. Well, my skepticism has been obliterated. After spending a few days eating and going down memory lane, I am happy to report that Philadelphia is indeed a plant-based haven. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say it without a doubt holds its own or even surpasses the vegan scene of its bigger and glitzier northern neighbor, NYC. Philly for the win!
The Best Vegan Eats in Philadelphia
Whenever I head out on one of our vegan food tours, the main criterion for evaluating a city is simply this: consistent, superlative, quality taste. Well, let me tell you, Philly is where it is at. Sure, it may be overshadowed by the size of NYC, but Philly’s vegan food was some of the best and definitely our fave East Coast city for vegan food — so far! It stands to reason that this list will change with each foodie trip to Philadelphia, however, for now, the following are my top 10 favorite vegan things to eat in Philly.
Also, I appreciate you giving me some creative license with the region. Two vegan eats on this list are from Bethlehem, PA. Of course, I know Bethlehem isn’t Philly but they were so off the hook and worth a trip from Philly to try them!
Note: The list is in no particular order.
1. Better Finger — Vegan Treats (Bethlehem, PA)
Okay, we’re not in Philly yet. But we had heard from my sister-in-law (a New Jersey vegan since the early 90’s!) that Bethlehem was a place to check out, primarily for the boss delicacies at Vegan Treats, including donuts, cakes, and candy bars. So we made sure to stop there on the way, and boy ‘o boy was that the right decision!
While my husband was on a mission for some donuts, I myself was hoping to satisfy a little bit of nostalgia. I had heard that VT made vegan takes on popular candy bars and, honestly, was hoping for Snickers or Twix. But seeing these vegan Better Fingers, a take on the traditional Butterfinger, was an amazing consolation prize! How Vegan Treats is able not only to recreate both the texture and taste of a Butterfinger, but also actually improve on it is a feat of culinary genius. No, I don’t think thats going too far. It was ahmaaazing and one of the top vegan eats I have had – EVER. Make the drive to Vegan Treats. You will be happy you did.
Follow Vegan Treats on Insta @vegantreats
2. Reuben — VegOut (Bethlehem, PA)
While in Bethlehem, we noticed this relatively new all-vegan joint. Now, it’s no secret that L.A. is my vegan food heaven, but there are some things that only the East Coast does right. Like, of course, the mighty Reuben sandwich. I was stoked to get some of those East Coast eats on this trip and this vegan sandwich from VegOut in Bethlehem, PA delivered! Marble Rye, baby. Marble. Rye. Sauerkraut, thinly sliced corned “beef”, and a flavorful sauce to pull it all together. Saucy. Messy. Amazing. It’s so worth the trip for this vegan deliciousness.
Follow VegOut on Insta @vegoutbethlehem
3. Margherita Pizza — 20th Street Pizza
Okay, onto Philly, and 20th Street Pizza, which came highly recommended from a longtime Philadelphian friend. When we stepped into this vegan pizza shop, it was like stepping back into time when I was a kid eating O.G. NYC style thin crust pizza. This, my friends, is real pizza. PIZZA. P.I.Z.Z.A.!!! As soon as I took my first bite, I just knew all the talk about Philly being a great vegan city was true. The texture of the cheese, flavor of the sauce, and crunch of the crust were sublime. There hasn’t been a day that has passed since we have returned from our trip that I haven’t thought about this out of this world pizza. This is hands down my favorite vegan pizza!
Follow 20th Street Pizza on Insta @20thstreetpizza
4. Cauliflower Tacos — Bar Bombon
Bar Bombon was another place that came highly recommended, and definitely lived up to the hype. After we ordered these beauties, the restaurant manager came over to our table to chat and noted these vegan tacos were a crowd pleaser and a diner favorite. So we had high expectations, but these tacos obliterated them! Yes, yes, and yes. Stunning flavors and satisfying without being too heavy. Vegan foodie food that makes your taste buds smile! Their cubano sandwich is also off the hook!
Follow Bar Bombon on Insta @barbombon
5. Cannoli — Batter & Crumbs
Batter & Crumbs made me so giddy with happiness. As soon as you walk into this place you can sense the deep vegan roots and love for animals here. My head was spinning with all the options but I settled on the cannoli. How could I not? Cannolis are awesome and it was exciting to find so many on our Mid-Atlantic vegan food tour. (Vegan cannolis are a a bit of a unicorn out West.) These B&C mini cannolis were my fave of all the cannolis I had on this trip. The cream had that traditional luxuriously creamy texture and the shell had that crisp bite to it that sends most of the filling falling all over you. In my book, there’s no other way to eat a cannoli!
Follow Batter & Crumbs on Insta @batterandcrumbs
6. Sausage Pizza — BlackBird Pizzeria
More vegan pizza? In Philadelphia, hells yeah! It was a cold and rainy day when we walked into BlackBird Pizza, but I forgot all about my discomfort as soon as I smelled the vegan goodness cooking in the pizza ovens. It was our last meal in Philly and we knew we were heading back West soon. So we did what had to be done – stuff as much pizza into our bodies as we could! And Blackbird was more than up to the challenge. We ate a lot of pizza on this trip and I can honestly say each slice was delicious. You know you are living in a golden age when there is such an abundance of vegan pizza that you can have a favorite sausage slice, and mine is for sure Blackbird’s sausage pizza!
Follow Blackbird Pizza on Insta @blackbirdpizza
NOTE: Sadly, Blackbird Pizza has shut it doors.
7. Sorbet (Yes, sorbet!) — Vedge
Vedge’s reputation precedes itself so we were not at all surprised by the fun atmosphere, impeccable service, and creative food. When it came time for dessert our server generously brought out this sorbet trio as a surprise for my husband’s birthday. Now, a word about sorbet: As many vegans know, sorbet is usually the last-ditch option you get at a non-vegan restaurant when there are no other dairy-free desserts available. So at the time, I thought how good can it be? Well, this sorbet trio blew me away. Cool, velvety, rich, sweet, and flavorful. It was not only tasty for sorbet, but it was the top dish of the evening for me, and, if you have been to Vedge, you know that is a massive claim!
Follow Vedge on Insta @vedgephiladelphia
8. Waffles — V-Street
Warm, crunchy, and pillowy waffles topped just right with maple syrup fruit and cream. I prefer savory meals so don’t often order waffles; however, I have this idealized image of a luxurious waffle meal in my mind that I think about often. You know how things never live up to the image in your mind? Well, folks, these waffles surpassed that idyllic soft and tasty waffle that I thought lived only in my mind. I could have eaten plates and plates and plates of these.
Follow V-Street on Insta @vstreetfood
NOTE: Sadly, V-Street has since closed.
9. Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Donut — Dottie’s Donuts
Now, as suggested above by our pitstop at Vegan Treats, my husband is a donut fiend. Pure and simple. The man loves donuts. This trip alone I think he ate several dozen. Don’t get me wrong, donuts are delicious, of course, but are not typically my go-to dessert. However, this donut was the perfect combination of old school glazed donut with new age hipster toppings. The flavors worked and I was pleasantly surprised by the ball of cookie dough in the middle – it worked so well. Score, Dottie’s Donuts!
Follow Dottie’s Donuts on Insta @dottiesdonuts
10. Philly Cheesesteak — The Tasty
I must say I wasn’t a big fan of Philly cheesesteaks back in the day. Part of the reason could be that I was vegetarian, which meant I basically ate toppings in bread. This go around I had the opportunity to eat cruelty-free Philly cheesesteaks, so of course, I said, “Bring it!” And, bring it Philly did! Time to let the pant waist out and shovel in, uhm, I mean eat those vegan Philly cheesesteaks. Out of all the vegan steaks we had the version at The Tasty was the most like a sloppy delicious cheese steak — simple, thin sliced vegan “steak”, tasty cheesy topping and crunchy soft sub bread. Thank you The Tasty for my fave vegan Philly cheesesteak!
Follow The Tasty on Insta @thetastyphilly
Check These Out for More Vegan Awesomeness:
Vegan Restaurant Review: Batter & Crumbs
Top 10 Vegan Eats in Los Angeles
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