7 Easy Ways to Enjoy and Create Meatless Meals, Philly-Style
Because eating less meat doesn’t mean giving up local classics like cheesesteaks and hoagies.
It has never been easier or more worthwhile to go meatless in Philly. Whether you’re looking to cut back and become a flexitarian or go full-on vegetarian/vegan, we’ve rounded up seven super simple ways to reduce your meat consumption, inspired by local chefs and their delectable creations.
The Best Meatless Dishes in Philly
The Shroomwit, Frizwit
A meatless cheesesteak in Philly might sound like blasphemy, but Frizwit’s Shroomwit is the crème de la crème. Chef Ari Miller gives the mushrooms a good long sizzle until they get crispy edges and a meaty center, then drizzles the whole thing in beer-infused cheese. Bonus: All the main ingredients are locally sourced, making this a veggie-forward, deliciously greasy, 100 percent Philadelphia sandwich.
Chicken-Wing-Style Beets, Laser Wolf
This roasted and smoked beet dish at Laser Wolf proves that sometimes, giving vegetables the meat treatment produces a dish greater than its animal version. Inspired by the restaurant’s super-popular chicken-wing entrée, the smoky pomegranate-molasses-glazed, hazelnut-dukkah-encrusted, tehina-ranch-dunked beets leave even the most dedicated meat lover hogging the plate.
The Phoagie, Middle Child
Inspired by the bánh mi sandwich, Middle Child’s version subs in eggplant for the dish’s traditional pork or chicken. Cooked until tender and packed with sweet-savory hoisin sauce, the fruit — eggplant is not a veggie — is stacked high on a Sarcone’s hoagie roll for Middle Child’s signature almost-too-much effect. The ultimate finisher? A multi-textured blend of avocado, frizzled raw onions, cilantro, and a schmear of pho sauce.
How to Cook with Four Meatless Substitutes
Re-create Sor Ynéz’s creamy, veggie-heavy dishes at home by simmering black or pinto beans with aromatics like garlic and onions and a good pinch of salt. Executive chef Alex Tellez also recommends throwing in a handful of epazote — an aromatic Mexican herb — to add complexity and freshness that’ll make you want to eat far more beans than you’ve ever dreamed of.
It’s hard (almost impossible!) to believe, but Pom Pom’s Jeff Walcott says he treats Impossible meat just like a beef or lamb burger. There’s no need to add eggs or breadcrumbs — just season your patties the way you would any other, with plenty of salt and pepper, of course, and give them a good sear on either side.
“Start with delicious tofu and you’ll end with delicious tofu,” says Judy Ni, owner of Baology. To get fried tofu with a puffed texture and creamy center, toss it lightly in potato starch, then shallow-fry or cook in an air fryer. Once it’s crispy and golden, season it well — Ni likes Chinese five-spice powder and General Tso sauce.
Kiki Aranita, chef-owner of Poi Dog, recommends that seaweed newbies start with nori komi furikake — a condiment made with dried seaweed, sesame seeds and savory seasonings that can be sprinkled on popcorn or steamed rice. She loves Badasoop’s dried seven seaweed mix for creating salads with a satisfying, earthy chew and the roasted gamtae for garnishing. Pro tip: Store the packets in your freezer to keep them fresh longer.
Published as sidebar content in “Where’s the Beef?” in the Be Well Philly 2022 print issue.