Look, we get it. It’s a new year and you want a fresh start. What better way to craft a healthy diet (and help out the environment) than with vegan and vegetarian eats? Lucky for you, Philadelphia is a perfect city for plant-based eating that is just as fun, delicious, and if you want, decadent as the rest of the local dining scene. Whether you’re after an upscale, multi-course affair at one of the nation’s best restaurants, craving a piece of chocolate cake (but not the dairy part), or simply really, really miss cheesesteaks, we have you covered. Take a look at these 15 places that make vegans and vegetarians feel right at home.
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Rittenhouse Bar Bombón makes plant-based Puerto Rican dishes beloved by herbivores and carnivores alike. Indulge in tacos, nachos, street food, and even vegan queso dip that makes you forget all about the real thing. Round it out with one of their house margaritas for an indulgent feast.
Rittenhouse V Street has a surprisingly diverse menu to suit whatever you’re in the mood for, always completely vegan -- plus it doubles as an ultra posh happy hour destination. Stop in for a savory “steak” wrap at lunch, or grab a seat at the chef’s counter for an intimate dinner of seasonal fare and noodles.
Gayborhood Charlie Was a Sinner is super romantic, dim, and inviting, offering hand-crafted cocktails and a menu of shareable vegan plates perfect for groups who want to try a little bit of everything (and are always looking for their ideal cheese substitute). Try the meatball & ricotta and the avocado toast for plant-based dishes that will truly fill you up.
Multiple Locations This is Philly’s quintessential vegan and vegetarian fast-casual shop for a fresh and healthy lunch or dinner on the go. Salads are the main draw here, but don’t sleep on the crave-worthy chick’n burgers or even the chick’n nuggets, all of which are crunchy and perfectly seasoned to hit the spot.
Multiple locations OMG. This place. Goldie serves shakes, fries, and falafel that are all 100-percent vegan and 100-percent addictive. You can’t go wrong with the signature falafel sandwich in classic sauce, but a bag of falafel balls is also an option, so really you just do you. If you have a sweet tooth, the tehina shakes are worth every cent, especially when used as a dip for your fries.
Fishtown Front Street Cafe is a unifying food force whether your group is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or none of the above. Alongside carnivore fare is a vast selection of plant-forward dishes, including their own vegan take on mozzarella sticks that come frighteningly close to the original.
Rittenhouse Hello, vegan pizza! For crispy square slices you can carry out or get delivered, the newish 20th Street spot is your place. The shop is from the same folks behind South Street’s Blackbird Pizzeria, putting their recipes and vegan mozzarellas to good use for pies like cashew ricotta white pizza and mushroom garlic herb pizza.
Gayborhood Time and time again Vedge is listed not only as Philadelphia’s best vegan restaurant, but often one of the city’s best restaurants overall -- and maybe even one of the best in the country. Since opening in 2011 they’ve pushed the envelope and exceed expectations for plant-based cooking, inspiring dozens of other restaurants to do the same.
West Passyunk This cozy vegan BYOB is the perfect place to curl up, get comfortable, and enjoy course after course of delicious plant-based dishes. Pre-pay for the five-course menu on Fridays and Saturdays for the latest seasonal creations, plus dessert, or book your whole vegan-forward private party there to enjoy taking over the welcoming space.
Northern Liberties It’s your classic Philly pizza shop, just vegan-ified. You can stop in for pies, cheesesteaks, and even wings that won't cost you any guilt. With roots dating back to 2010, it is one of the oldest all-vegan establishments in the city, and a leader when it comes to giving the easy comforts of pizza to the plant-based masses.
East Passyunk Royal Tavern is a great choice when you want to stay vegan or vegetarian during a night out with your friends, who are enjoying less complicated diets. The menu is full of homey bar grub that befit the cozy tavern, including the sweet potato mac n’ cheese, vegan burger, braised kabocha squash, and kimchi mashed potatoes, among other bar bites.
Queen Village One of Philadelphia’s most quintessential dive bars is also one of its most vegan friendly -- so you can go ahead and order that alcohol-fueled plate of cheese fries at 1am with no regrets in the morning (at least not in terms of your diet). You can also go for fried chik’n sandwiches and tots with “chz” wiz.
Rittenhouse Not only does P.S. & Co. offer an all-vegan menu, but items from either the front cafe or the back restaurant are all entirely gluten-free and kosher. That goes for the delicious and pretty cakes that decorate the front, as well as the breakfast nachos and bread basket for weekend brunch.
Kensington This super hip and welcoming neighborhood bar has a mixed menu of veggie-friendly and standard dishes. If you’ve got fresh on the brain, don’t skip the vegetarian snack and cheese boards, plus the vast selection of veggie snacks, pickle plates, and -- because Philly -- the vegan hoagie made with dried eggplant.
East Passyunk Vegans and vegetarians need diners, too. Take old school diner charm, subtract the excess bacon grease, and you have The Tasty, a South Philly diner serving baked goods, breakfast classics, and filling sandwiches all in a laid back setting where you could waste away an afternoon. Try the breakfast burrito or chik’n cheezsteak with a side of waffle fries.
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Marielle Mondon is a writer from Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @MarielleMondon.