8 Vegan cheat-food spots in Philly to help you indulge sustainably
Let me start off by saying that I'm actually not a vegan. I am, however, a semi-environmentally conscious human being, so I try my best to limit the amount of meat and dairy that I eat. To many people, this means that I have to add a lot of boring salads or rice bowls to my diet. You know, stuff that's healthy. Well, here's a little secret for you: you can not eat animal products and still eat a bunch of fun junk food.
That's right! Cutting back on meat and dairy doesn't mean saying goodbye to pizza, desserts and, of course, the cheesesteak. There are a lot of places in Philly that will happily cater to your cheat-food cravings without serving you animal products. When I get the urge to eat more sustainably while still getting my fill of junk food, here are my go-to spots.
Govinda's Chicken Cheesesteak
1408 South St
This may be my favorite cheesesteak in Philly, vegan or otherwise. While Govinda's offers a ton of vegan and vegetarian options, I always ignore them and go right for the chicken cheesesteak. Will it fool you into thinking you're eating real chicken? I honestly don't care, it's amazing in its own right. Make sure you ask for a side of ketchup and Sriracha to raise it to the next level.
Memphis Taproom's Smoked Coconut Club
2331 E Cumberland St
Maybe tofu wouldn't be your immediate choice for a club sandwich. But when that tofu is accompanied by smoked coconut "bacon," vegan aioli and a mound of fries, you may change your mind. This diner classic is reimagined for the vegan crowd, and honestly I'd take this over a turkey club any day of the week.
Joe's Steaks & Soda Shop's Vegan Cheesesteak
1 W Girard Ave
Joe's vegan cheesesteak has the distinction of being both my drunk AND hungover food of choice. It's gooey, it's a little greasy, it's topped with onions and mushrooms and pickles...basically, it's everything you want from a cheesesteak, sans meat. Best of all, it has the look and consistency of a real cheesesteak, and I'm willing to bet even a carnivore would enjoy it.
Goldie's Falafel, Fries and Shakes
1526 Sansom St
To be clear, everything here is delicious. The falafel is the perfect consistency, the fries are nicely seasoned and everything on the menu is vegan. But the real star here is the tahini shakes. They're enough to make you want to give up dairy-based shakes forever. I like the Turkish Coffee, but you do you.
Cantina Dos Segundos's Vegan Cheesesteak Burrito
931 N 2nd St
Cheesesteak. Burrito. What more could you want out of life? Seitan, daiya mozzarella, yucca, lettuce, chipotle onions and smoked mushroom ketchup give this monster burrito some Philly flare. Pity your friends who are eating their boring chicken tacos while you devour this guy.
Blackbird Pizzeria's Balboa Pizza
507 S 6th St
Vegan cheese can get weird real fast, but Blackbird actually manages to make tofu into a passable ricotta (don't tell my boyfriend's Italian grandmother I said that). I go for the Balboa, a pizza with cherry tomato, seitan sausage, baby arugula, pumpkin seed pesto, tofu ricotta, chili flakes and olive oil. The pizza has a nice crust and a good crunch to it (no soggy slices here), and the tofu ricotta and seitan sausage should (hopefully) fulfill your craving for meat and dairy.
Khyber Pass Pub's Grilled Vegan Sausage
56 S 2nd St
If you've never been to Khyber Pass for their vegan BBQ, you need to go immediately. Their vegan pulled pork is excellent, but my personal favorite is the vegan sausage sandwich: seitan sausage patties topped with lettuce, roasted poblanos, red onion, pickles, creole mustard and vegan mayo. Make sure to get a side of (also vegan!) collard greens.
509 South 6th Street
What would any junk food list be without dessert? Dottie's Donuts have been a vegan favorite for a while, and now with two storefronts it's easier than ever to get your hands on them. I'm usually leery of vegan baked goods thanks to some dense, gritty treats in the past, but Dottie's has changed my mind forever. Their donuts are massive, with an airy texture that would almost remind you of a slightly denser angel food cake. I got the chocolate pistachio, and I'll definitely be back for their Thai tea donut.