The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Philly: Vegan Edition

Cheesecake at Vedge // Photo via Facebook

Cheesecake at Vedge // Photo via Facebook

*Welcome to our new occasional feature, The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Philly. We’re on a mission to find the most delicious, indulgent restaurant dishes for every kind of dieter—whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, raw and more. We’re all about occasional splurges, and that’s what this series is all about. We’ll talk to foodies to find out their favorite eats, but feel free to add yours in the comments. Bon appétit!

Once you find your favorite restaurant dish, you never, ever forget it. And upon discovering the amazing creation you’ve stumbled upon, you’re usually tempted to tell anyone and everyone who will listen, because they simply canNOT miss the trip to mouth-heaven that your new favorite dish provides. But aside from posting a “Man, the Curry Tofu Wrap at HipCityVeg is bangin’!’” Facebook status, there’s not a whole lot you can do to get the word out on your favorite Philly restaurant dishes. And this is where our new series, The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Philly, comes in.

To kick it off, we’ve asked seven Philly vegans to tells us about the best vegan restaurant dishes they’ve had in the city. As we expected, Vedge, the well-known vegan hotspot, kind of dominated the vegan-favorites category. But thanks to the folks who contributed to this piece, we also found out about a few new vegan-friendly restaurants to put on our must-try lists—not to mention some great vegan blogs to add to our bookmark bar. Check them out below.

Christina Pirello of Christina Cooks
Best thing I ever ate: Pizza Pomodoro at Caffe Valentino

“Everything about this pizza is freakin’ perfect, from the richly flavored handmade tomato sauce to the thin crisp crust baked in the imported-brick-by-brick oven from Naples, ensuring perfect texture every time. It’s vegan without trying and without pretense, and it’s just the most amazing pizza this side of Rome I have ever had. Oh, and they will add all kinds of grilled veggies to your pizza should you want that, which makes it even more perfect. The owner, Cosimo Trica, has a love of pizza-making that translates into every pie.”

“Cafe Valentino is surprisingly vegan-friendly with whole grain and veggie pasta dishes, a marinated vegetable antipasto that is to die for and, on most nights, at least one vegan soup. And they will do anything they can to accommodate your dietary needs.”

Dynise Balcavage of Urban Vegan
Best thing I ever ate: Grilled Seitan at Vedge

“Every dish Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby offer provides a transcendent culinary experience, but I always make sure to order the grilled seitan along with my ‘vedgies.’ Rich serves it up differently depending on the season, accompanied by various vegetables and sauces that are carefully chosen and painstakingly prepared to create complex levels of flavor and depth. But the seitan itself is the star of the show and is the best I’ve ever tasted—and I’ve tasted a lot. Perfect texture: moist yet toothsome, packed with a subtle, smoky flavor, courtesy, I assume, of Rich’s marinade and grilling process. I could eat it every single day.”

Samatha Fioravanti, Personal Trainer at Samantha Glo Fitness
Best thing I ever ate: The Create-Your-Own Salad at The Couch Tomato Café

“The Couch Tomato always makes sure that vegan dishes are satisfying and crave-worthy, but the best vegan dish I’ve ever had was one of their create-your-own salads. I chose baby spinach as my bed, bright roasted red peppers that packed a nice crunch and tenderness, creamy mushrooms, black beans and toasted edamame. As if all those ingredients weren’t delightful enough, I added some of their amazing toasted sesame tofu. The tofu boasts a crisp, nutty taste on the outside and cool, creamy center: It’s perfect. To top it all off, I chose their Greek Goddess dressing. Simple and delicious.”

Jonathan Farbowitz, content lead for VegPhilly
Best thing I ever ate: Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberries at Vedge

“A cheesecake, whether it’s vegan or not, is hard to pull off. But this vegan cheesecake’s texture was the perfect combination of firm and creamy with a great balance of sweet-and-sour flavors; it was so rich that I could barely eat an entire slice. I wish I knew how they did it.”

Alicia Galantic of Healthing You
Best thing I ever ate: Buffalo Bella at HipCityVeg

“I can’t get enough of the Buffalo Bella at HipCityVeg. If you are at all skeptical about vegan food, you’ve got to take a bite of this phenomenal sandwich. My first bite oozed with a spicy sauce that made the crispy, grilled portobello mushroom extra flavorful. To top it off, the sandwich was smothered in a celery slaw and tomatoes, all within a scrumptious, wholesome bun. This sandwich’s simplicity really allows you to appreciate each ingredient involved. And did I mention, portobellos are high in protein, too? Give it a try for your health. Heck, just give it a try for the pure satisfaction.”

Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan
Best thing I ever ate: Baingan Bharta at Indeblue

“Even though I’ve eaten plenty of Baingan Bharta in my day, as the Indian smoked eggplant dish is one of my favorites, the meal I had at Indeblue stood out vibrantly from the others. On this menu you’ll find a touch of modernness, where presentation is just as important as flavor. The atmosphere is lovely, and the menu is clearly labeled both vegan and gluten-free. So, as a bonus, it’s easy to choose a meal at Indeblue without the worry of any modifications.”

Vance Lehmkuhl of V for Veg
Best thing I ever ate: Barbecued Seitan “Wings” at Horizons (A Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby creation, now closed.)

“If I had to single out one vegan dish, I think I’d have to choose the tangy, chewy, messy and delicious Jamaican Barbecued Seitan at Horizon’s. This was a variation on the barbecued seitan ‘wings’ Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby had previously at their Willow Grove location. It was in eating those wings that I realized vegan creations were going to be able to compete head-to-head with non-vegan foods in terms of flavor, texture and all-around awesomeness! History has only proved this more correct with each passing year.”

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