David Chang Lover With Vegan Girlfriend Seeks Philly Restaurant
I am a first time poster and Brooklynite omnivore with a vegan partner looking for a few moderately priced restaurants downtown. We will be staying in Center City over Christmas for a couple days so we are looking for both vegan and non-vegan places to hit. For dinner, it would be ideal to hit something moderate to high-end enough that they can be trusted to be accommodating to the vegans. Italian. Ethiopian. Indian. Vietnamese. It all works.
Good suggestions so far... I dine frequently with one of my best friends who is vegan so I have a few thoughts, not all are high-end however...
The tofu vietnamese hoagie from Cafe Nhuy at 8th and Christian is awesome... I think you might need it without the spread on the bread for it to be fully vegan though.
Delicious bar food from Royal Tavern - Tempeh Club for her and an amazing burger, wings, etc for for you.
Lolita - "new" mexican byob at 13th and Sansom - the menu is not largely vegan but as I recall they can make most of the dishes vegetarian/vegan by subbing tofu or portabella mushrooms. They also offer byot - bring your own tequila, with great fresh mixers!
For indian, the owners of Lolita also have Bindi across the street, though offhand I don't know how vegan friendly it is there. Otherwise Tiffin in Fishtown on Girard Ave. has outstanding, more traditional, Indian fare.
Enjoy your visit!
Horizons, near 7th & South, is an excellent Vegan-only restaurant. It's ~$20/plate for entrees, so it may be the edge of moderately priced. For another higher-end type option consider Zahav (3nd & Walnut-ish), an Israeli small plates restaurant. The hummus, laffa, and salatim (selection of salads) should be all vegan and is amazing. Most of the rest of the menu would need to be modified for vegans, but you can have a great meal just with the hummus and salatim.
There are two good Vietnamese options in Chinatown, Vietnam and Vietnam Palace, but I have never had a great vegan Vietnamese dish (I'm assuming fish is no good) so maybe that is something to avoid in Philly or I don't know what to order. Similarly, I don't consider Italian to be a cuisine particularly well suited for high-quality vegan options, even though they are some very good options in the city. There are a few average Indian and Thai places sprinkled around downtown, but nothing outstanding.
For a quick and affordable lunch, try Mama's Vegetarian for awesome Israeli-style falafel (20th near Market St). If for some reason you are spoiled on good Israeli falafel (Azuri Cafe?), they have great homemade vegetable patties and eggplant you can try in your sandwich. Almaz Cafe, further down 20th near Walnut, is a good Ethiopian spot disguised as a coffee shop. It doesn't have good atmosphere for dinner, though. For the best Ethiopian you need to head out to West Philly.
You could also hit Primo's Hoagies (Center City) or Sarcone's Deli (Italian Market) to get killer hoagies. They both have plenty of excellent vegetarian options that could be made vegan without the cheese. Get yourself an Italian hoagie, though.
Also in the Italian Market is Bebe's BBQ, a great BBQ joint that has all vegetarian side dishes. You should double check but I remember at least the collard greens being vegan. For meat, the pulled pork sandwich is where it is at.
Good Dog (15th St near Locust) is a gastopub that is vegan-friendly though they are best known for their stuffed cheeseburger. Good beer selection. In Old City, National Mechanics (3rd St near Market) has an amazing house-made veggie burger (most of the time--my last experience was poor but I still recommend it) and an excellent beer selection.
If you are willing to venture out of Center City a little bit Royal Tavern, Cantina Los Caballitos (both South Philly) and Cantina Dos Segundos (Northern Liberties) have extensive vegan options (including vegan desserts) as well as good beer selections. Make sure to look on the chalkboard for specials. Standard Tap in Northern Liberties should also have good options for vegans. Also in Northern Liberties, El Camino Real has extensive vegan options but I won't vouch for the food because I only ate there once. In general, South Philly and Northern Liberties have more of the "Brooklyn Vegan" demographic going on so you will find most neighborhood pubs, brunch places (Sabrinia's, Honey's), etc. have decent vegan options.