Philadelphia’s Delicious Choices For Vegan, Gluten-Free & More Health-Conscious Eating
Green Soul (left) is a healthy soul food eatery from prolific Philadelphia restaurateurs, the Bynum brothers. The North Broad Street spot serves lunch and dinner via family-style dishes such as parsnip and carrot fries, Buffalo cauliflower tacos and chocolate avocado mousse.
At Zahav in Old City (right), James Beard Award winner Michael Solomonov prepares cuisine from his native Israel in his adopted home of Philadelphia. Diners can choose from a selection of raved-about hummus options, share a few small plates or order from the $45 tasting menu.
Credit: Photos by Doc Harris (left) and by M. Fischetti (right) for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
In a city whose best-known culinary contribution has long been the cheesesteak, Philadelphia’s vast number of independent, health-conscious restaurants can surprise visitors. Center City is home to both one of the world’s most renowned vegan destinations (Vedge) and lauded chefs (Michael Solomonov, Zahav; Marc Vetri, Vetri Cucina; who gladly adapt menus to diners whose diets prohibit gluten, soy, nuts, dairy, meat and more. The region has a host of quick-serve spots (P.S. & Co., Vegan Commissary) and gluten-free bakeries (Sweet Freedom, Taffet’s) that redefine the concept of fast food for a healthier generation.
Healthful Vegan Dining In Center City:
- Vedge – Culinary couple Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby make veggies haute at one of the world’s most acclaimed vegan destinations. Vedge’s unforgettable plates always feature the freshest seasonal ingredients; Landau and Jacoby are especially conscientious about customizing dishes to multiple dietary needs. 1221 Locust Street, (215) 320-7500, vedgerestaurant.com
- Bar Bombón – Puerto Rican fare goes plant-based at this chic, chill Rittenhouse Square bar and restaurant. Buffalo cauliflower tacos, hearts of palm ceviche and sweet plantains accompany lively cocktails like the “gardener’s revenge” (vodka, carrot, ginger, jalapeño and lemon) or “la preferida” margarita (with beet, habañero and lime). 133 S. 18th Street, (267) 606-6612, barbombon.com
- Charlie was a sinner. – Sure, there are strong cocktails and fried artichokes at HipCityVeg owner Nicole Marquis’ Midtown Village nighttime spot. But there are also heirloom beet salads, curry-spiced cauliflower steaks and wheatgrass 131 S. 13th Street, (267) 758-5372, charliewasasinner.
- HipCityVeg – This popular 100% plant-based quick-casual cafe has locations in Rittenhouse Square, Broad Street and University City (with location at Spruce Street Harbor Park expected to open in spring 2019). Fans line up for indulgence-inspired crispy ranch “chick’n” sandwiches, Philly “steak” and green smoothies. 121 S. Broad Street, (267) 296-9001; 127 S. 18th Street, (215) 278-7605; 214 S. 40th Street, (267) 244-4342, hipcityveg.com
- P.S. & Co. – Organic purists, gluten-free adherents and vegans all rest easy while sampling any of the fare at Center City’s P.S. & Co. The 100% organic avocado toasts, amaranth porridge, summer rolls, Burmese chickpea curry, salads and sandwiches on freshly baked bread showcase the best of plant-centric cuisine, and the desserts put ordinary baked goods to shame. 1706 Locust Street, (215) 985-1706, puresweets.com
- V Street – This delightful, dinner- and weekend brunch-only global street food pub from Vedge owners Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby pushes the boundaries of vegan flavors and textures with Korean-fried tempeh tacos, mushroom shawarma, Peruvian fries and seasonal waffles wowing diners. 126 S. 19th Street, (215) 278-7943, vstreetfood.com
Healthful Vegan Beyond Center City:
- Grindcore House – In the heart of South Philly’s Pennsport neighborhood, this hip vegan coffeehouse stands out for its comprehensive range of plant-based milks (soy, almond, coconut, macadamia and oat), tasty sandwiches and baked goods. 1515 S. 4th Street, (215) 839-3333, grindcorehouse.com
- Miss Rachel’s Pantry – This South Philly destination has vegan catering, meal service, a kitschy-chic dining room for private events and Friday/Saturday communal, prix-fixe, by-reservation dinners around a reclaimed wood farmhouse table. 1938 S. Chadwick Street, (215) 798-0053, missrachelspantry.
- The Tasty – Across from Columbus Square in South Philly, this retro diner is known for its breakfasts—blueberry pancakes, tofu scrambles—and lunches—Buffalo chik’n sandwiches, kale salads with coconut bacun. 1401 S. 12th Street, (267) 457-5670, thetastyphilly.com
- Vegan Commissary – This deep-in-South Philly market and luncheonette outdoes itself daily with creative veggie burgers, tofu egg sandwiches and a reliable grab-and-go section of salads, spreads and such. 1429 Wolf Street, (215) 964-3232, vegancommissary.com
- Vegan Tree – Fast, healthy meals include wraps, “steak” sandwiches, sushi and noodle dishes, juices, smoothies and bubble teas at this South Street spot. Note: Vegan Tree will be closed through February 28, 2019. 742 South Street, (215) 454-2898, 742vegantree.com
Vegan In The Region:
- Arnold’s Way – This longtime health food store and vegetarian raw cafe in Montgomery County takes healthy eating to new heights with wraps made from nori, salads so finely chopped they require no dressing and banana whip sundaes. The store shelves are packed with food, vitamins, books and videos. 319 W. Main Street, Lansdale, (215) 361-0116, arnoldsway.com
- Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille – Vegetable lovers head to Bucks County, where chef Mike Jackson turns out creative, big-portioned vegetarian food (no meat substitutes) in a cozy, romantic atmosphere. 727 2nd Street Pike, Southampton, (215) 942-8888, bluesagevegetariangr
- Raw Can Roll Cafe – The Main Line has taken to this petite and vibrantly colorful vegan and raw spot, where pad thai, sprouted sunflower hummus, smoothies, acai bowls and more thoroughly fresh, completely plant-based and gluten-free goodies. 767 W. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, (484) 580-8454, rawcanrollcafe.com
- Mi Lah Vegetarian – Weekend brunch favorites—beer-battered seitan and waffles, tofu Benedict and oversized pumpkin pancakes with blueberry soy butter—draw vegans from all over the region to this globally influenced Montgomery County vegan and vegan-optional spot. The eclectic dinner menu features Indonesian rolls, pad kee mao (also known as drunken noodles) and African peanut stew. 40 W. Skippack Pike, Ambler, (215) 646-1808, milahvegetarian.com
- Sprig & Vine – New Hope’s premier vegan restaurant is a bring-your-bottle (BYOB) spot. The chef here serves Sunday brunch (blueberry flax seed pancakes and fried oyster mushrooms over black pepper-ramp biscuits), midweek lunch (tofu soft tacos, cauliflower bánh mi) and elegant dinners of delicacies such as miso-maple-mustard-glazed tempeh. 450 Union Square Drive, New Hope, (215) 693-1427, sprigandvine.com
- Animo – This juice bar serves organic kale and quinoa burritos, breakfast bowls and burritos, soups made from scratch, organic salads, fruit- and veggie-blended beverages, frozen-banana custard bowls and smoothies galore. 1701 Arch Street, (267) 519-0949, animojuice.com
- Sip-N-Glo Juicery – This trio of creative, cold-pressed juicery and smoothie shops sates hunger and thirst with dairy-free and vegan options made with blends of dandelion leaves, parsley, mint and mix-ins such as almond butter, hemp protein and chia seeds. It’s also where to go for cleanses. 1700 Sansom Street; 257 S. 20thStreet; 932 South Street, (267) 351-9300, sipnglo.com
- Soy Café – Vegan cheesesteak wraps and spicy dumpling soup complement an all-day, vegetarian- and vegan-friendly breakfast menu, along with an array of smoothies (black sesame and tofu, peanut butter and blueberry), coffee drinks and teas at this late-morning to mid-evening Northern Liberties shop. 630 N. 2ndStreet, (215) 922-1003, mysoycafe.com
- Stripp’d Juice – Khoran Horn’s Old City spot uses produce that’s organic, free from genetically modified organisms in cold-pressed juices and bowls, and serves up solid fare such as chipotle guacamole toast. 263 N. 3rd Street, (267) 550-7877, strippdjuice.com
- Yellow Juice – The natural, vitamin-packed drinks at this Rittenhouse-area spot includes sweet potato smoothies with ginger and cinnamon. 2046 Sansom Street, (267) 519-8296, yellowjuicebar.com
Gluten-Free Spots In Philadelphia:
- Lolita – Chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s Midtown Village Mexican hotspot offers a wholly gluten-free dinner menu (except for occasional dinner specials), from roasted chicken enchiladas to mahi mahi tacos—and mostly gluten-free lunch menu (except for the tortas). 106 S. 13th Street, (215) 546-7100, lolitaphilly.com
- Paesano’s – Gluten-free eaters rejoice at chef Peter McAndrews’ legendary Northern Liberties shop, where the signature beef brisket with fried egg or Sicilian chickpea pancake sandwiches can be served on gluten-free bread. 148 W. Girard Avenue, (267) 886-9556, paesanosphillystyle.
- Rex 1516 – During brunch and dinners at this Southern cuisine restaurant in Graduate Hospital, diners find separate gluten-free menus, with inclusions such as shrimp and grits, and mussels served with gluten-free toast. Note: The kitchen does not use a separate fryer for fried gluten-free fare. 1516 South Street, (267) 319-1366, rex1516.com
- Sweet Freedom – The region’s first allergen-free bakeries stock naturally sweetened, gluten-free, certified kosher and vegan sweets—from donuts to cupcakes and magic bars to whole cakes. Customers won’t find any corn, soy or peanuts in any recipe either, making it one of a kind in the area. 1424 South Street, (215) 545-1899; 1039 W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-7323, sweetfreedombakery.
- Taffets Bakery – With everything from baguettes, multigrain loafs, pretzels and sourdough boules to muffins, cookies, brownies, carrot cakes and cupcakes made in-house, this South 9th Street Italian Market bakery offers loads of gluten-free, kosher-certified goodness. 1024 S. 9th Street, (215) 551-5511, taffets.com
Gluten-Free Spots In The Region:
- Boston Style Pizza – The gluten-free menu at this Montgomery County spot includes fresh mozzarella, hummus platters and classic pizzas with homemade sauce on gluten-free crust. 447 N. Sumneytown Pike, North Wales, (215) 699-3977, pizzabostonstyle.com
- Jules Thin Crust – Locations across the suburbs help this family-owned spot corner the market on limited-diet delights. All Jules’ pizzas, including 15 different vegetarian options, can be made on gluten-free crust. 149 W. Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, (610) 896-6100; 78 S. Main Street, Doylestown, (215) 345-8565; 114 E. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, (484) 580-8003; 817 Old York Road, Jenkintown, (215) 886-5555; 300 N. Sycamore Street, Newtown, (215) 579-0111; 1460 Bethlehem Pike, North Wales, (484) 808-2223, julesthincrust.com
- Velvet Sky Bakery – The small, scratch-style boutique bakery located in Jenkintown specializes in custom cakes and cupcakes, as well as gluten-free and vegan choices. 307 Leedom Street, Jenkintown, (215) 884-0254, velvetskybakery.com
Casual, Healthful Eats For All Diets:
- Farmer’s Keep – This fast casual eatery emphasizes all things local, sustainable and fresh with sensitivity to allergies and eliminations. Patrons can build their lunch or dinner at a make-your-own-salad station and choose from hot and cold side dishes and a variety of rotating proteins. There’s also a 200-bottle craft beer shop onsite. 10 S. 20th Street, (215) 309-2928, farmerskeep.com
- Front Street Café – This all-day Fishtown spot accommodates any eater looking for nutritious but tasty sustenance. Morning açai bowls and vegan waffle bites, midday black bean burgers and grain bowls and evening spaghetti squash and lentil meatballs, match various preferences and predilections. 1253 N. Front Street, (215) 515-3073, frontstreetcafe.net
- Fuel – Owner Rocco Cima challenges the notion that fast food can’t be healthy with his menu of wraps, panini, salads, burgers and rice power bowls—all under 500 calories. Fuel also offers a juice and coffee bar, as well as desserts. 1225 Walnut Street, (215) 922-FUEL; 3200 Chestnut Street, (215) 608-FUEL; 1917 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 468-FUEL, fuelchargeyourself.
- Green Soul – Brothers Robert and Ben Bynum of SOUTH, Warmdaddy’s and Relish operate this healthful, soulful and chic comfort foodery (and drinkery) known for green smoothies, mango jerk salmon salads, turkey chili and black bean burgers. 1410 Mount Vernon Street, (215) 660-9600, greensoulliving.com
- Honeygrow – This casual build-your-own stir-fry and salads spot earns favor for its stylish Veg and non-veg, gluten-free and whole-food options abound, along with cold-pressed juices and a create-your-own-sweet-treat bar. Eight locations, honeygrow.com
- Puyero Venezuelan Flavor – South America’s answer to gluten-free bread comes in the form of deliciously doughy arepas that cradle fried sweet plantains, roast pork shoulder, avocado and more savory combinations all found at this petite Society Hill foodery. 524 S. 4th Street, (267) 928-4584, puyeroflavor.com
- P’unk Burger – The gourmet burgers need not go without buns at this casual, cash-only East Passyunk eatery, where the owners make sure to keep fresh, gluten-free options on hand. 1823 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 468-7865, punkburger.com
- Pure Fare – This stylish Rittenhouse spot serves 100% gluten-free food, including detox teas, delicious smoothies and veg dishes made with seasonal, organic ingredients. 119 S. 21st Street, (267) 318-7441, purefare.com
- SliCE – This popular mini chain of pizzerias doesn’t just offer deliciously crispy gluten-free crusts; it also bakes gluten-free pies separate from its standard brethren, as to avoid cross-contamination. Vegan cheese-and-meat-alternative toppings are available. 1180 S. 10th Street, (215) 463-0868; 431 E. Girard Avenue, (215) 425-1555, slicepa.com
Upscale Eats For All Diets:
- Garces Group – Even a chef known for his roast suckling pig can be flexible. From his Old City Spanish standard-setting Amada to 30th Street Station neighbor all-American JG Domestic, Jose Garces has trained his kitchens to accommodate all kinds of diets and demands. Various locations, garcesgroup.com
- Fork/High Street on Market/a.kitchen – Accepting culinary challenges has long been part of restaurateur Ellen Yin’s repertoire, and her Old City original American bistro Fork, along with casual next-door three-squares-a-day High Street on Market and a.kitchen on Rittenhouse Square gladly meet demands and needs. a.kitchen, 135 S. 18th Street, (215) 825-7030, akitchenandbar.com; Fork, 306 Market Street, (215) 625-9425; forkrestaurant.com; High Street, 308 Market Street, (215) 625-0988, highstreetonmarket.
- Lacroix – The Rittenhouse hotel’s elegant breakfast-through-dinner fine-dining destination accommodates all manner of dietary needs and will arrange for vegan breakfasts, gluten-free afternoon teas and more. The executive chef has an affinity for vegetable dishes, and the Sunday brunch here is legendary. 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, (215) 790-2533, lacroixrestaurant.
- Vetri Cucina – In his elegant Center City namesake, chef Marc Vetri is outspoken about his kitchen’s willingness to accommodate all manner of eaters—Kosher, nut-allergic, Celiac suffering, vegan, pescatarian. 1312 Spruce Street, (215) 732-3478, vetricucina.com
- Zahav – Owned by Chef Michael Solomonov, recipient of the 2017 James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef, and restaurateur Steven Cook, this Society Hill Israeli destination satisfies veg-lovers, carnivores and gluten-free diners alike with modern Israeli fare: hummus, vegetable salads, skewers and much, much more. 237 James Place, (215) 625-8800, zahavrestaurant.com
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