It’s no secret that Philadelphia has been making a name for itself as one of the nation’s vegan capitals. In the past decade, the veg community has been steadily growing, and local restaurants are following suit.
With recognition building and many beloved Philly institutions earning well-deserved spots on vegan must-try lists around the country, The City of Brotherly Love’s pride and joy will always be the classic neighborhood haunts. Here’s how to stop in, pull up a chair, and eat like a local.
The top places for plant-based finds in Philadelphia, PA
1 Diners and smiles
Nothing hits the spot like classic diner food. And the biscuits and gravy, pancakes, omelets, and BLTs at The Tasty in South Philly are in a class of their own. Locals flock to this laidback neighborhood diner each weekend for warm smiles and cozy specials like the Mile High Tater Tot Pie: a mini pie made with a tater tot crust filled with tofu scramble, Chao cheese, diced ham, green peppers, and red onion, served with a side of green chili queso gravy.
Miss Rachel’s Pantry is a pillar of Philly’s fine-dining food scene, and it just happens to be unapologetically vegan. The menu changes daily, and there’s only one seating per night, making for a sweet, cozy, and intimate experience. An evening at Miss Rachel’s is perfect for date night or any night you want to feel like a special occasion, especially with dishes that balance haute cuisine with homestyle comfort like crispy risotto cakes with cantaloupe and beet prosciutto or crispy, black garlic-gochujang-glazed lion’s mane mushrooms.
3 Pastries for all
When you ask about health-focused vegan and gluten-free dining, surprisingly, Philadelphians will direct you to a restaurant with a pastry case lined with sky-high, decadent cakes—P.S. and Co. But it’s not just the wholesome cakes made with nuts and seeds, natural coloring, and without refined sugar or gluten that keep Philly vegans lining up. Their brunch is some of the city’s best. Fall in love with the organic waffle clubs with locally made tofu and raw vegan cheese, vibrant smoothies, and of course, the fully stocked sweets case lined with cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and scones. In Philly, healthy eating has never tasted so good.
4 A twist on tradition
What started as a roving food truck slinging burgers, breakfast sammies, and tacos has now led to a revered brick-and-mortar for Algorithm Vegan Grill. The food truck is still trucking, but make sure to stop by the restaurant for a frosty milkshake to cool off after a few bites of its notorious Calabrian Chili Whiz Fries. Ask any vegan in Philly, and they’ll tell you they’re at the top of any local gourmand’s bucket list. But beware: the spicy-sweet chili and melty cheese combo may ruin all other vegan cheese fries for you.
Swing by Luhv Vegan Deli in Philly’s bustling Reading Terminal Market or its newly opened location in Point Breeze, and get yourself a heaping Italian hoagie or a classic Reuben while also stocking up on corned beef for lunches and some coppa for a charcuterie board to share with friends. Luhv started as a husband-and-wife team with a simple goal: eat a bit healthier and a lot more joyfully. And you can taste it in their food—all their cold cuts and hoagies are handmade and packed with flavor for a vegan version of one of Philly’s oldest and proudest food traditions.
6Pop-tarts and brookies
There’s seemingly no limit to what the geniuses at woman-owned vegan bakery Crust can veganize. Get a dose of nostalgia with a rotating selection of vegan pop-tarts or tuck into one of their famous fluffy buns, but be prepared to make a tough choice: classic cinnamon, black sesame, or pistachio cardamom rose? No matter what your favorite pastry is—brownies, blondies, brookies, and everything in between—there’s something to make your mouth water at Crust.
7 Spooky sips and savory bites
Horror lovers, rejoice: Monster Vegan in Center City is your next obsession. If delectably creamy pastas (clams and linguine with beurre blanc and parmesan) and sumptuous, hot sandwiches (fried chicken bánh mì) aren’t enough to hook you, the excellent craft cocktails with spooky names will. Stop in for a classic horror film screening complete with a plate of Truffle Alfredo Florentine and an Elvira’s Movie Macabre (a frothy gin cocktail with elderflower liqueur, crème de violette, and vegan egg whites).
8 Dim sum dreams
Vegan dim sum can sometimes feel like a distant dream, but for plant-based dumpling lovers, a trip to Unit Su Vege is a dream come true thanks to an almost entirely vegan menu. Shareable plates include everything from savory fried taro cakes and sweet red bean buns to ham-shiitake shumai and notoriously difficult-to-veganize soup dumplings. So be warned, bring a friend to help conquer the menu, but don’t be surprised if you end up not wanting to share.
9 Globally local
Dinner at cozy eatery Primary Plant-Based only requires a trip to the Fishtown neighborhood, but menu-wise, it may as well be a culinary tour around the world. Choose from artful appetizers like Masa Ball Soup (a Mexican spin on the Jewish staple with corn masa dumplings in a chile-lime broth) or full mains such as Persimmon Glazed Koginut Squash (a silky-smooth butternut kabocha hybrid served with buckwheat risotto, green garbanzos, preserved lemon coconut yogurt, and dried cranberries)—no passport required.