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Mar 28, 2009 11:14 PM

Vegetarian NYCer in Philly for the weekend - need recs

I'm going to be in Philly this coming weekend - I'll be getting in Friday evening and am leaving Sunday evening. I'm staying at the Hyatt Regency at Penn's Landing (my fiance has a conference there) so I need recs for places that meet the following criteria:

1) Within the city center or can be reached fairly quickly by subway/light rail. I'll be doing a lot of walking around during the day so obviously am open to recs for places near the art museum and Center City West area. I'm only in town for a weekend so I don't want to spend too much time traveling to get to places to eat.
2) Vegetarian friendly. I'm going to try to eat at Horizons, but I don't need to go to places that are exclusively vegetarian - just places that have at least a few options for me.
3) Not too expensive (we're saving that for Horizons). Good, cheap (or just not really expensive) eats are what I want :)

We're trying for Horizons on Saturday night, but as a backup, any other nice (but not Vetri nice) dinner recs would be great, as would lunch and Sunday brunch suggestions.

Also really helpful would be someplace quick and cheap to eat (or pick up food) between the Liberty Bell (which is where I'll be dropped off by the bus on Friday) and the Hyatt because I will likely be starving and refuse to pay for room service or wander the streets carrying a duffel bag while in search of sustenance.


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  1. Gianna's Grille (near South Street, easily walkable from Center City/Penns Landing) has some great and affordable vegetarian sandwich options - probably your best bet for checking out a veg version of a Philly cheesesteak!

    Their vegan desserts are really tasty as well: - I have fond memories of the peanut butter bomb, and I'm not even vegan!

    1 Reply
    1. re: rovingfoodie

      I must agree with rovingfoodie - Gianna's Grille is pretty good. I loved their light, fresh, crisp,sparingly sauced bacon and tomato pizza (I am most definitely not a vegan) and their cakes are excellent! I succumbed to the PR on Gianna's website about how good their bakery was and gave them a chance this weekend - I was also desperate. I walked in off the street and bought half a 'cookie dough' cake. The cake was actually a lovely toasty gold color and had the moist, dense texture of a Lord Baltimore cake. It had a full rich flavor. I'm not sure what was in the frosting - it did not have the same same delicious butter flavor as a true buttercream, of course, but the flavor was good and it did have the same luscious mouthfeel as a true buttercream...whatever Gianna's used, I don't think it was shortening. The 'cookie dough' enhancements were minor - just some sweet crumbly stuff sprinkled across the top. If you find yourself in need of a vegan cake, you should be very pleased with Gianna's. I truly wish I had the recipe.

    2. you have to check out FarmiCia!
      It is local sustainable and vegan friendly. Best of all it is both BYOB and has a bar! so whether you want to enjoy a cocktail or your favorite bottle of vino you are covered.

      3 Replies
      1. re: marygwen

        Would you recommend Farmicia over Horizons? It's also on my list but from reading these boards I got the impression that Horizons is way better.

        1. re: scarlet starlet

          Your impression is correct, stick with Horizons, it's much better. I haven't been to Farmicia in a long time because it is not that good, but I haven't heard that it's improved much since then.

          The Hyatt at Penn's Landing is actually not all that convenient to center city, you are right next to Queen Village/Society Hill/South Street/Old City. If you don't mind walking a little though, practically the whole city is within reach.

          For your Friday night takeout, I'd suggest Alyan's, on 4th St. just south of South St. It's just slightly out of your way, but they make great falafel and hummus and other middle eastern fare. It would also be a good way for you to see some of South St. without making a special trip. If you'd rather sit down, The Latest Dish is right next door to Alyan's and they have a couple great vegetarian dishes there and good beers on draft. It's kind of small though, they may be too crowded on a Friday night. The mac and cheese is fantastic, I'm not sure if it's vegetarian or not though. If you'd rather make a beeline for the hotel, the only good place I can think of along the way that has good vegetarian options is Zahav. It's a fantastic restaurant, but may be too crowded depending on when you're arriving, and it may be more than you want to spend. The menu is mostly small plates, so how much you spend is up to you.

          For lunch on Saturday, I'd go to Kanella, 10th and Spruce. Great Cypriot Greek food with lots of vegetarian options.

        2. You should find lots of vegetarian options in Chinatown, vicinity of 10th and Arch sts.. If you are planning to visit PAFA (PA Academy of the Fine Arts) it would not be too far a walk.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rocknroll52

            My favorite of the vegetarian Chinese places in Chinatown is New Harmony. Also of interest is Kingdom of Vegetarians, because they have dim-sum sized portions you can order, so you can get a nice selection of different things (I like the tofu skin roll and the ribs). Charles Plaza does both vegetarian and non-veg. Thank you.

            1. re: Bride of the Juggler

              I'd second Kingdom of Vegetarians. Both my veg and non-veg friends enjoy the food there, and I agree that the tofu skin rolls are great and really different. The scallion pancakes are some of my favorites anywhere as well.

              My strictly vegetarian friend also loves Vietnam Palace, in Chinatown, because they have a lot of veg-only options as well as being accommodating to adjusting certain dishes.

          2. For an easy lunch or dinner I'd also try Mi Lah Vegetarian on 16th and just north of Locust. I think they have a fantastic portabello sandwich and always have some good daily soups as well. Have gone a few times with both vegetarians and non (I'm a big meat eater :) and all of us always leave happy!

            1. For sunday brunch (or Saturday) I would recommend Beau Monde at 6th and Bainbridge (About a half mile after you cross over the South Street Bridge from the waterfront). They serve mainly crepes, but you can choose the ingredients from a large list so vegetarians have lots of options. They also have traditional breakfast fare at brunch.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bigley9

                Second to New Harmony and Horizons. I haven't tried Gianna's, but Monks on 16th at Spruce has my favorite seitan cheesesteak and BEER. Tria (on 13ths or 18th) has plenty of delicious vegetarian options. Vietnam Restaurant on 11th in Chinatown has great veggie noodle soup and there are plenty of good thai places all around the city. Jose Garcia's places (Distrito, Amada, Tinto) have some delicious vegetarian options, but get kind of pricey kind of quickly (as does Tria). You'll be fine--I haven't had any trouble finding something vegetarian at any of the many delicious places I've been since moving to Philly.