Fortunately, it’s pretty easy nowadays to find ample plant-based entrees in restaurants across the country. As more people begin to experience the health benefits of a meat and dairy-free diet, restaurants continue to add more vegan items to their menus. We all know Philadelphia is most well known for their iconic cheesesteaks. Surprisingly, Philly is also a hotspot for vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
In recent years, the number of vegetarian friendly restaurants has exploded. In fact, some of the cheesesteak places even offer a vegan version! From coffee shops offering vegan pastries, to vegan fast food, to vegan pizza, to naturally dairy-free international cuisine, there are more than enough interesting choices to consider during your time here.
Below are 10 great restaurants offering an abundance of vegan options.
1. Su Xing House
Highlight: 100% vegetarian menu
What to try: Veggie Fried Rice, Veggie Lo Mein, hot and sour soup, spring rolls
Right in the middle of Center City lies a wonderful 100% vegetarian Chinese restaurant. It’s difficult to find an all around great Chinese restaurant, let alone one that serves all vegetarian fare. Su Xing House combines excellent vegan fare, with attentive service and a winning ambiance. The entire menu is vegetarian, and most items are also vegan. There are lots of interesting choices here, including the most amazing appetizers. A few of the more enticing selections include fried seaweed rolls, fried tofu with cashew nuts, and potato croquettes.
Try the miso or hot and sour soup, treat yourself to some spring rolls, and then indulge in the veggie fried rice. Not only is it delicious, it’s also a bit healthier (and way more filling) than usual with a brown rice substitution available. The ambiance here is just perfect for date night (nice decor, great service, cozy and intimate). And the convenient central location easily puts you within walking distance of other city sights.
Highlight: 100% vegan menu, tasty fast food
What to try: The special which includes a falafel pita, french fries, and a tehina shake
Goldie, a trendy vegan Israeli restaurant, continually ranks as one of the top foodie spots in all of Philly. On any given day there can be a wait to get into this hot restaurant. The menu is pretty simple consisting of pitas, french fries, and the most delicious shakes. They offer a fantastic combo for just 15 bucks – a real steal. This is a rather unusual fast food place as the menu is entirely vegan! It’s vegan food even a carnivore will love! What a treat to have in a great city like Philly.
The falafel pita here is so tasty and satisfying – the best you will find anywhere in the city. However, everyone really comes here for the awesome shakes. Seriously, you will be back again for another before you leave. I’ve even found the imitation recipe online so I can make it at home! These naturally dairy-free shakes use a base of tahini, almond/soy milk, and dates/sugar. Optionally you can add Turkish Coffee or mint flavor. Tehnia shake are the perfect treat on a warm summer day.
3. Neighborhood Ramen
Highlight: Incredible vegan ramen bowl
What to try: Yasai Bowl, Sesame salad
The best place for a comforting bowl of ramen in Philly can be found at Neighborhood Ramen. The menu here is really simple consisting of a selection of various ramen bowls and a handful of sides. The Yasai bowl is a delicious choice for vegans and anyone else trying to eat healthier. The bowl includes a savory mix of Vegetable dashi, memma, roasted mushroom, shiso oil, and ajitama (note – you can omit the egg in the picture above).
Nothing tastes better than a warm bowl of ramen on a brisk afternoon. A steaming bowl of flavorful soup is just what the doctor ordered come wintertime. After exploring the city on a freezing winter day, pop by for a nice warm bowl of ramen – you will leave warmed up & satisfied.
Highlight: Exceptional cuisine, service, & ambiance
What to try: Lentil soup, Veggie Kabob, Bulgur Rice, Veggie Pita, Hot Hummus
Isot is a wonderful Turkish restaurant with plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. Mediterranean style dishes focus heavily on veggies, rice, and exotic spices, and thus, are a naturally perfect choice for vegetarians who do not want to hassle with substitutions. Consider visiting for lunch (M-F, 11-4) to take advantage of their amazing special.
The vegan option (priced at just 11 bucks) includes a Veggie Kabob served with 2 different types of salad, soup, 2 sides of your choice, and Turkish coffee. The salads are fresh and delicious, the lentil soup is the best soup in the city, and the Turkish coffee is beyond outstanding (the best i’ve tried to date). Side options include bulgur rice, french fries, sauteed veggies, hummus, and Russian salad. The exceptional service, combined with a modern & appealing atmosphere make Isot a perfect date destination.
5. Han Dynasty
Highlight: Beautiful ambiance
What to try: Tofu Veggie Soup, Fried Rice, Veggie Lo Mein, Homestyle Tofu
Han Dynasty is the most well regarded restaurant in Philly’s Chinatown neighborhood. Although it’s always great to visit the original, they now operate several locations including a prime spot in Old City. If you find yourself exploring America’s birthplace, you will want to swing by Han for a fantastic lunch. The restaurant is located in a beautiful old bank building and the architecture is just as mesmerizing as the food.
Their specialty is Szechuan style Chinese food which is popular for its boldness and spiciness. Their popular Dan Dan noodles can be made vegan by omitting the pork. The menu surprisingly offers quite a few choices for vegans. The Veggie Lo Mein is an outstanding dish loaded with fresh veggies. You may not find quite the same vegan friendliess as Su Xing House, however, Han does have the upper end in terms of atmosphere and location.
6. Old City Coffee
Highlight: Nice local ambiance with beautiful artwork
What to try: Any of the delicious muffins (vary by season) and their delicious coffee
The Old City neighborhood of Philly is loaded with all sorts of great independent coffee houses. One of the oldest and most popular is Old City Coffee. This is also one of the few that offers vegan pastries to go along with that great cup of joe. Every day Old City Coffee whips up a fresh assortment of homemade muffins. Flavors vary based on seasonal availability, so you can look forward to something new each time you visit.
They also serve a full menu of iced coffee drinks and espresso drinks. Their regular drip coffee is tasty enough to drink black. Sit back relax and enjoy the local ambiance before exploring the great historical attractions, which conveniently, are located just a short stroll away.
7. Waterfront Gourmet Cafe & Deli
Highlight: Located across the street from Dilworth Park (home to a wonderful winter ice rink)
What to try: Oatmeal with berries & granola, Oatmeal Peanut Butter smoothie
If you find yourself looking for a quick bite to eat in Center City, consider stopping by the Waterfront Gourmet Cafe. They offer all sorts of light vegan fare including fresh fruit filled smoothies, oatmeal, and a tofu hummus veggie wrap. Ordering the healthy oatmeal topped with vegan granola and fresh berries, is an excellent way to start your day, giving you long lasting energy to explore throughout the morning hours.
8. Couch Tomato Cafe
Highlight: Award winning vegan Kite Hill cheese used
What to try: Atomic Veggie Sandwich, Vegan Roasted Corn and Potato Salad
For the best vegan sandwiches and salads in the Philly metro area, plan for a stop at the Couch Tomato Cafe. Although they are most well-known for their delicious grilled cheese and tomato soup combo, they do offer vegan sandwiches, as well as salads and several appetizers including garlic knots.
The build your own sandwich option is the way to go as you can customize it with all the veggies and condiments of your choice. You have the option to add Kite Hill vegan cheese as well as a vegan pesto spread. The Atomic Veggie sandwich pictured above is a delicious choice which includes avocado, sundried tomato, kite hill vegan cheese, and spinach. Also all pizzas can be made vegan by substituting Kite Hill cheese.
9. Nirvana Indian Bistro
Highlights: An incredible affordable lunch buffet
What to try: Veggie Pakora, Veggie samosa, Chana Saag, Alu Gobi, Vegetable Jalfrezi, Yellow Dal, Chana Masala, Papadum
Nirvana is actually located in Lafayette Hill, a western Philly suburb located about 30 min outside of the city. Due to the incredible food offerings and exceptional service, this one is worth going out of your way for. Indian food is always a great choice for vegans as a number of entrees are naturally free of meat and dairy. As one of the most delicious Indian restaurants I’ve ever visited, Nirvana should be tops on your bucket list.
First off, they offer a number of vegan entrees which are all marked on their menu. Second, the buffet line is conveniently separated into a vegetarian/vegan and meat section. Third, the service is over the top fantastic. If you do order from the menu, be sure to try the vegetable pakoras, veggie samosa, Chana Saag, Yellow Dal, Aloo Gobi. Everything is wonderfully flavored here without being too spicy (although you can customize to your desired spice preference). At Nirvana, the spice does not overpower the powerful natural flavors.
10. Corropolese Italian Bakery and Deli
Highlight: Best tomato pie in Philly!
What to try: Plain tomato pie (minus the sprinkled cheese)
Philly is well-known for their delicious pizza, and Corropolese is known as the place to go for the best tomato pie. The long running family business offers several different types of tomato pie including a plain marinara version which is vegan as long as you omit the sprinkled cheese. If you have never tried tomato pie before, you are in for a real treat.
Tomato pie is a pretty simple dish consisting of thick focaccia bread topped with marinara, and cheese and toppings if desired. Unlike piping hot pizza, it is served at room temperature. It’s so filling, savory, and delicious, not to mention totally affordable. A quarter sheet will run you less than 5 dollars! They also make fresh homemade breads daily, a number of which do not contain eggs or dairy. Check with staff to verify suitable selections. This bakery is located about 30 min outside of Philly in Norristown, although the drive is well warranted for the best tomato pie in the city!
A few more great choices
Cafe Ole – Wonderful coffee shop with serves a unique vegan shakshuka, a traditional Middle Eastern dish consisting of eggs (tofu in the case of this vegan dish) in a delicious savory tomato based sauce.
Etka – Award winning Indian restaurant which serves top notch cuisine in an upscale setting. Offers vegan naan option plus a variety of great appetizers and entrees which are naturally free of dairy. The Alu Gobi is awesome.
Vedge – High end vegan restaurant which has won numerous prestigious awards including a coveted James Beard chef award.
Max Brenner – Serves a selection of amazingly rich hot cocoas which can be made using dairy-free soy milk.
Hip City Veg – Popular vegan fast food joint which serves comfort style foods including burgers, fries, and milkshakes.
Charlie was a Sinner – Trendy vegan cafe and bar with a nice swanky ambiance.
Dizengoff – Trendy cafe serving authentic hummus and pita.