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Philly vegetarian? other than Horizons?

we are headed to philly after thanksgiving in nj and looking for some good recommendations - we live in new hampshire and you can imagine what the dining options are like up here (in case you can't, they're limited).

Horizons sounds fantastic but seems a bit expensive since we've got to eat all meals out for the entire trip. is it worth it? if so we'll be needing recommendations for good cheap food.

where else would you reccommend for veg eating? we like most ethnic food (least crazy about Chinese but still like it). husband is telling me that he doesn't like americanized ethnic food, which someone must understand.

any other thoughts appreciated, we'll be there for three lunches, two dinners, two breakfasts, and one ween show!

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  1. Do the restaurants need to be completely vegetarian? The only I can think of are Chinese and Mama's Vegetarian.

    1 Reply
    1. re: saturninus

      vegetarian options are all we're looking for. a fully veg restaurant is a fun thing, but they are few and far between, it seems.

    2. There isn't much Indian food in NH, so you could try a buffet while you're here to get a wide selection. I think Sitar's buffet is the best within the city, partly because it's crowded at lunch and the food turnover is fast, but you might want to try to get out to the western suburbs if you can. I highly recommend the felafel platters at Saad's in West Philly - lots of salad and felafel (no credit cards). I wasn't blown away by Cafe de Laos in South Philly, but they do have a page of vegetarian selections. Divan Turkish Kitchen also has lots of vegetarian options but isn't cheap.

      1. Try Tiffin for Indian- they'll even deliver to you depending on your location. I think they're much better than the buffets. I personally prefer the buffet at Karma at Front & Chestnut. They actually bring out fresh naan instead of having them dry out on the buffet tables like the other restaurants.

        The ethiopian restaurants in West Philly have good veg options. My favorite is Abyssinian at 43 & Locust. They can be a little slow sometimes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bumble

          I'm pretty sure it's 45th and locust, but I agree, Abyssinia is fantastic. Be prepared to wait a long time for your food if you're there for dinner, though. Lunch is pretty empty and quick.

        2. Cafe de Laos is good. Also, you may want to check out the Royal Tavern. Great beer selection and they have some nice vegetarian dishes there.

          1. I think, if you can even halfway figure out a way to afford it, Horizons is worth going to once on your trip... it's like a vegetarian (vegan) paradise. I don't know of anywhere else like it, not even in NYC or San Francisco. Maybe share an appetizer or entree, skip drinks?

            For cheaper options try Govinda's, on the corner of South and Broad, and for Chinese Su Xing, 1500 block of Sansom.

            6 Replies
            1. re: pronek

              i'm feeling more and more like we should make a reservation at Horizons and eat as cheap as possible for the rest of our trip. it's not like we eat out much here at home in nh.

              1. re: frankie29

                The other really good places with good vegetarian options are in the same price range as Horizons, which really is a special place. Lolit is a great mexican restaurant in Center City, but it isn't any chaper.

                There is a great vegetarian restaurant outside of the city called the Blue Sage Grill. It is also fantastic and maybe a little cheaper than Horizons. Here's the website:


                That fact is that most decent places in the city are at least that expensive, unless you want to go for totally casual or small ethnic places. Other than the Chinatown places, Mama's Vegetarian has great falafel and is pretty cheap.


                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  Blue Sage is one of my favorite restaurants. It's worth the trip from Philly. It's tiny, so it's always best to make reservations. Another plus is that it's a BYO.

                2. re: frankie29

                  you could make up for your horizons splurge at mama's, previously mentioned... it's a little felafel joint on 20th just south of market... i love their hummus, tahini and felafel platter... very filling for i think around $7. the felafel pitas are even cheaper. everything i've had from them has been excellent. they have a location at 6th and south, too - that one's not strictly vegetarian, but you can get all the same things there.

                  also agreed with tiffin, for the best indian i've found in the city... the paneer tikka masala is to die for. also, they have an appetizer special for november only - i've had it twice now and am seriously going to miss it. it's a potato and cheese disc-shaped fried thing that is heavenly with the mint chutney.

                3. re: pronek

                  "For cheaper options try Govinda's" ... although it is less expensive than Horizons, the restaurant is still very upscale vegetarian, meaning not moderately priced for basic fare. (My preference is to spend under $6 for a decent vegetarian sandwich for lunch. Unless I am doing a sit down lunch with several dishes, I don't see any reason to have to spend more than $7 for a lunch serving basic food.) I may be wrong, but I don't think that can be done at places like Horizons or Govindas, whereas it is easy to do at one of the "ethnic" places I mentioned, and you are still getting fresh and healthy food.

                  Best value for vegetarian is at Chinese/Asian restaurants and other "ethnic" restaurants - or even some local cafes inside health food stores - like the one on Walnut and 20/21st? and the other one on 4th and bainbridge that offers a buffet, mostly macrobiotically oriented.

                  At one time, the original Govinda's on the 400/500 block of South had the best deal around for authentic Indian vegetarian food. It was not an upscale place - just a perfect bohemian type atmosphere fitting in to the environs of south st. The vegetarian place that replaced it was ok, too, until they moved and then disappeared.

                  It's nice to go to a place that is vegetarian, serves plain but healthy food, and is affordable.

                  The other post in this thread listed Mama's Vegetarian along with its website. What a unique website!! The design reminded me of the artwork of Piet Mondrian, with the box design. I was impressed with the simplicity of design and how the borderlines moved when various options are selected for viewing, such as the menu. Providing pictures of the restaurant and the food is very impressive, too. Imagine if all restuarants did this. (Gateway to India in Frazer, PA did this. No longer in business. No connection to the pictures!)

                  1. re: pronek

                    I agree, as a happy carnivore I was skeptical about upscale vegan (wife is vegetarian) but if you have never been Horizons is worth the splurge. Would include as one my 2 best gourmet dining experience (l'Arp├Ęge would be the other).

                    Much friendlier on the budget we really enjoy Dahlak on Baltimore Ave (http://www.dahlakrestaurant.com/). It is a favorite West Philly stop of our relatives who haven't found a good Ethiopian option in NH.

                  2. since you're eating out at every meal and thinking about price, the vegetarian burritos at el fuego are worth a try. Walnut, btwn 7th and 8th. Expensive for a burrito - $6? $7? - but it's really quite a bit of food. veggie burritos come w/guacomole in stead of meat, basically.

                    1. There are great vegetarian options in Reading Terminal, including the pizza at Pizza By George (they do a great whole wheat crust), the vegetarian platter at Noni's (Pakistani food), and a nice selection of stuff at 12th St Cantina. It's all cheap, good eats. There's a vegetarian stand (4 seasons or basic 4 or something) that's not so great. Thank you.

                      1. Sazon has a number of vegetarian options and it has pretty good Venezuelan cuisine. It is byo and cheap.

                        1. Yes yes yes on Horizon's. Definitely a must, even if you have to eat Taco Bell for the rest of your trip (but you won't -- others have hit on lots of great, inexpensive options around town). Some other thoughts...

                          I'll second Su Xing for veg Chinese -- they don't overdo it with the mock meats like some of the other veg'n Chinese places located in Chinatown.

                          A great spot in Chinatown, not completely veg but with plenty of options, is Rangoon. It's a Burmese restaurant, and Burmese cuisine (if you've never had it) is something of a mix between Thai, Indian, and Chinese.

                          A good thai restaurant at the top of South Street is Tamarind. Great mock duck dishes, and a BYO.

                          I haven't eaten there yet, but I think it's on the inexpensive side -- if you're in the Northern Liberties area, try Honey's Sit & Eat for breakfast. I've heard great things about it.

                          Might be out of your price range, but could be good for drinks / appetizers: El Vez and Amada. El Vez has different kinds of guacamoles, excellent blood orange margaritas, and a few side dishes that I dream about (the rice and corn, especially). Amada is an excellent tapas restaurant with tons of veg options; you could sit at the bar and have some sangria and a few small plates -- though the plates are indeed very small.

                          For dessert: treat yourself to Capogiro gelato, two locations on Sansom. Drool.

                          Oh, almost forgot -- spend some time wandering around the Italian Market in South Philly. Lots of great vegetarian treasures to be found there. Lots of sandwich options at Sarcone's, sample the cheeses at Claudio's and DiBruno Bros. if you're not vegan (on a weekday morning/afternoon if you can -- you'll get lots more attention), and fit in a breakfast at Sabrina's (get there when they first open or you'll be waiting). Isgro's bakery for cannolis.

                          Hope you'll post back and let us know what you found!

                          1. Go to Horizons. I can guarantee that although you may pay a moderate price, it will be the single best vegetarian dining experience you will EVER have.