7 Awesome Philly Foods I Ate When I Was Vegan for a Month
Way back in December, I decided to participate in Veganuary, a vegan-eating challenge that lasts for the month of January. When people asked me why I was doing it, I told them, “Because the animals!” And that was mostly true. But in my heart of hearts, I was also really hoping that ditching dairy completely would turn my unpredictable, highly temperamental skin into that of a crystal-clear, rosy-cheeked newborn baby. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
But it wasn’t a total loss, because the animals! And also because I got to eat some amazing Philly food that I might not have tried otherwise. Below, seven foods from restaurants around Philly that made being vegan for a month easy as pie — vegan pie, obviously.
Cabbage Hummus at Dizengoff
1625 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse.
Michael Solomonov’s Rittenhouse hummus spot offers a menu of hummus plates that change daily (and sometimes the menu even changes throughout the day) so you never quite know what to expect. When I went, an impressive three out of four options on the menu were vegan: a standard tahini hummus, hummus served with cabbage, and hummus served with beets. We opted for the cabbage option, which might sound sort of lackluster but was seriously lick-the-plate good. I won’t even try to guess how the cabbage was prepared, but I can tell you this: There were hints of mango, and my boyfriend and I got into a full-blown argument over who got to eat the last bite.
The hummus itself was perfectly creamy, and paired with the warm, fresh-from-the-oven pita, it made for the perfect lunch. Plus, the meal was a total steal. One hummus plate filled up two very hungry people for only $11. And, as the server told me, there is always at least one vegan option to choose from.
Vegan Pho at Thang Long Noodle Restaurant
2534-36 Kensington Avenue, Kensington.
Craig LaBan just named the beef pho at this Kensington noodle spot some of the best in the city, but their vegan menu is nothing to scoff at either: They offer 16 (!!!) vegan noodle and rice dish options. I got a giant, steaming bowl of vegan pho with tofu, noodles, greens and all the typical pho add-ins, like sprouts, jalapeños and basil for just $8, and it just might have been the best bowl of comfort food I’ve had all winter.
Sweet and Sour “Chicken” at New Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant
135 North 9th Street, Chinatown.
If you are a vegetarian living in Philly, chances are you’ve heard of New Harmony. I’d dabbled in New Harmony delivery in the past, but I had no idea that the menu was entirely vegan (The name of the restaurant is a bit misleading, right?), until I called to ask what I could order, and was told everything. Everything on the menu is vegan, people!
The sweet and sour “chicken” here tastes so real that, after my first bite, I called the restaurant back to make sure there wasn’t any meat involved. It’s deep fried, doused in a sauce that I can only assume is made mostly from sugar, and definitely not good for you. But hey, once in a blue moon, that’s just the kind of delivery you need.
Seitan and Smoked Tofu Fajitas at Cantina Dos Segundos
931 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties.
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I think about isn’t checking my email, or walking my dog, or how I really need to buy a pair of earplugs to drown out my boyfriend’s snoring. It’s these drool-worthy fajitas. They are pure perfection.
The seasoned medley of seitan and smoked tofu is served with guacamole, black beans, sautéed veggies, rice and tortillas. And if that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. If you order this dish on your own, you’ll definitely be leaving with a doggie bag, but it’s also the perfect size to split with your dinner partner.
Curry Tofu Wrap at HipCityVeg
127 South 18th Street, Rittenhouse, and 214 South 40th Street, University City.
During Veganuary, I tried a slew of items off the HipCityVeg menu, but still nothing came close to my all-time favorite, the Curry Tofu Wrap. It’s loaded with tofu cooked in a curry sauce, sprouts, spinach, tomato and a cilantro-white bean puree. It’s my idea of the perfect takeout lunch: incredibly filling, delicious and under $10. But be warned: You will be sad when you take the last bite and realize it’s over.
Singapore Noodles at V Street
126 South 19th Street, Rittenhouse.
I couldn’t very well participate in Veganuary without hitting up Rich Landau’s newest vegan spot, V Street, and it did not disappoint. The Singapore noodles are served with tofu, broccoli, peanuts and spicy lime sambal. And if they leave you wanting more vegan goodness, Samoa — as in the Girl Scout cookie — soft serve is a thing, and they’ve got it.
Pizza dough from Pizza Brain
2313 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown.
At the beginning of Veganuary, I really missed pizza. And to make matters worse, my mom bought my boyfriend a pizza stone for Christmas, and it just sat in our oven, tempting me every single night. So eventually, I bought some Daiya cheese and decided to make vegan pizza at home. And guess what? It was the bomb dot com. So I found myself making homemade vegan pizza again and again and again. By the end of the month, I’d consumed a truly absurd amount of vegan personal pies.
This insane vegan pizza binge wouldn’t have been possible without the folks at Pizza Brain who sell balls of vegan dough for just three bucks. Thank you, people of Pizza Brain.
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