There was a time when the Philadelphia restaurant scene consisted of Le Bec Fin — and nothing else. Then the Stephen Starr empire began, even spreading to New York.Now foodies, even vegetarian foodies – even picky eater vegetarian children – can eat quite well.
The retro Jones has comfort food, which often means meatloaf and chicken. These are here, as well as portobello burgers, vegetarian chili and the amazing ALT – avocado, lettuce and tomato, along with mozzarella and lemon aioli. For kids, there is a rich macaroni and cheese and hummus and pita.
But if it’s hummus you are craving, head to Zahav, with phenomenal Israeli cuisine, including the silky, smoky hummus. We were lucky enough to stay across the street from the restaurant, at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel.
Zahav has lots of small plates, so you can get a wide variety of dishes (see picky eater, above). Don’t miss the crispy haloumi, an Israeli cheese served with peas, or the fried cauliflower. Sadly, the grape leaves are not vegetarian, but there are so many other choices, you may not notice.
If you are traveling with children, you can walk over to The Franklin Fountain for dessert. This recreated old-fashioned soda shop has lines out the door for its homemade ice cream. There are soy and sugar free versions, and sorbets, depending on what allergen you are avoiding.
Cantina Dos Segundos, in the up and coming Northern Liberties neighborhood, has enormous portions of Mexican food. But rather than being limited to beans & rice, vegetarians can have burritos bursting with vegetables, or vegan beef. Wild mushroom fajitas can be bulked up with seitan or smoked tofu, for more protein.
The menu points out what is vegetarian (a lot) and what is vegan (also a lot). You won’t go hungry here, and you won’t spend a lot of money.
You can also pick up food to go at Fork:etc, a gourmet food shop and café next to the bistro Fork. We had a delicious breakfast here; breads and muffins are baked in house. An omelet loaded with goat cheese and wild mushrooms was a great way to start a day of sightseeing.
Sadly, we could not score a reservation at Vedge Restaurant, the vegan fine dining establishment that uses local ingredients for incredibly refined vegan food. We passed by the restaurant on our Mural Arts walking tour and thought of staging a sit-in until they offered us a few morsels. We will plan ahead next time.