Adventures In Phillyfood

We survived our first month in Philly! A few bumps in the road, a lot of rearranging, and multiple trips to Target and the DMV have plagued...

We survived our first month in Philly! A few bumps in the road, a lot of rearranging, and multiple trips to Target and the DMV have plagued us, but ultimately we are getting a feel for this city and all it has to offer us in the way of vegan food, record stores, music scene and amazing people. 

Our neighborhood, Northern Liberties, is pretty great. Just a few blocks over from us there's a long strip of stuff to do. There a lots of shops, health food stores, bars, a specialty beer store, thrift shops, a record store and a juice bar, not to mention several coffee shops along the way.

This is 2nd street, where they often have festivals like they did on this day. There was tons of flea-market type stuff, but also lots of food. Pretty much every place serving savory food had a vegan option, and we were pretty blown away by that. We got some cauliflower asada and seitan wings with a few Yards each, because daydrinking in the summer at festivals is fun and I will be old someday.

We definitely hit the city hard trying out as many new places to eat as possible, but I have also been cooking when applicable. I want to make everything I haven't made from Isa Does It, and I still have about 30 recipes left somehow! My IG friend, @veganpastryschool inspired me to make everything from the book, as she is doing the same. She is better at making food look good in photos than me. Above is the Tempeh Orzilla, a recipe not new to me but I just really wanted to make it.

At the 2nd Street festival I got this pillow, because I really needed a new pillow and this one has Patti Smith on it and in the picture they are at Coney Island and I just had to have it. I am reading her book, M Train, now. Alex got it for me as an anniversary present <3.

I tried to eat healthy for a moment, and made this spiralized veggie salad with the peanut dressing from Isa Does It, but it didn't function quite like I'd hoped it would. I guess I just got the idea of rice noodles in my head while I was making this and then when it came time to eat the cold crisp veggie noodles, they didn't live up to my brain's anticipated rice noodle craving. At least there was avocado on it.

The internet says the best vegan cheesesteak in Philadelphia is at Blackbird Pizzeria. I got cheesesteaks at a few places and this was probably the best. I have a confession to make. As a non-vegan, I never would have liked a cheesesteak. I don't really like sandwiches... I hated anything I had to chew too much or that was too hard to bite through, and the idea of a steak sandwich would never have sounded good to me at any point in my life. I know there is no steak on this sandwich, and very thinly sliced homemade seitan, doused in a homemade vegan whiz sauce, and it was pretty good for what it was. But honestly, I just don't think cheesesteaks and me were ever meant to live happily together. I'm not actually from Philly, so hopefully they'll let me stay after having said that.

Bar Bombon, Great Glob in Heaven, this restaurant is out of control good. I ordered a fish taco and a buffalo cauliflower taco, which came with rice & beans. They were both so amazingly delicious and the best that I've ever had, respectively. The buffalo cauliflower was so crispy and soft in the middle, and it was paired with a few different sauces to make it shine. The little crunchy bits on top made it totally balanced and I am obsessed with it. The fish tacos were better than any fish tacos I ever had before becoming vegetarian and I'm glad seafood is finally becoming vegan because as far as meat I ate as a child, seafood is the only meat I ever enjoyed. I don't know what the fish was made out of besides rainbows and fairy dust, but it was amazing and authentic. I want to be eating there now.

Green Eggs Cafe has three locations in the city, and one happens to be in my neighborhood. In my opinion, they do a great job making a vegan perfectly comfortable there, offering lots of options and variations of items to make them vegan. I got the breakfast burrito that had tofu, corn, housemade vegan chorizo and pico de gallo. It came with these amazing refried black beans that had great smoky flavor and a proper amount of guac. I loved my dish, but Alex didn't love his. He got the veggie burger that is listed on the menu as vegan, but when he ordered he was told that the bun wasn't vegan, and they gave him an option to have it on toast instead. He went with it anyway and unfortunately the burger wasn't good, they had buttered (with Earth Balance I think) the toast, which he really didn't like and doused it with chipotle mayo. He was really disappointed with it, so if you go, get the breakfast burrito!! Be aware that the portions at this restaurant are huge. Some of the plates I saw coming out of this restaurant had enough on them to feed about four people.

What is a Philly-Style Bagel? Well, it's a bagel that is boiled in beer before being baked! To that I say, Alright! Philly Style Bagels in Fishtown has a line out the door, amazingly nice people, great coffee, and great vegan options. They have two types of vegan cream cheese, earth balance, jam, cashew butter and almond butter. With Philly Style Bagels within walking distance, I want for nothing.

Back to cooking from Isa Does It, I wanted to make this dish because it's summer and this dish looked so summery! This is Tempeh Giardino, and it's got yellow squash, basil, tomatoes and onions over mashed potatoes. Kind of hard to eat only the appropriate amount for your stomach's capacity.

Don't think we haven't been putting our patio table to good use. We have been doing some evening drinking of Yards with friends out on our patio and damn do we love it.

As weekly Champs patrons back in Brooklyn, we yearned for someone to fill their void. Good thing The Tasty exists in South Philly. We've already been twice and are pretty sold. The people working were so friendly and chatted us up. It made me realize how different people in New York really are from people here. To think that we visited Champs at least once a week for three years, and never once got a familiar nod from the staff, never a "hey how are you guys, we've seen you before" or anything acknowledging us as pretty much regulars, and the second time we go to The Tasty, having all the people working introduce themselves to us and talk with us about music and vegan food for about 20 minutes... It's a different world. I like it here. Plus, Rooster Mug!

The first visit, I ordered the Breakfast Burrito, because a restaurant is only as good as its breakfast burrito. This one was pretty standard, your tofu, cheeze, bacony bits and not much else. It was what you want from a breakfast burrito, and somehow I'm only just realizing now that I didn't douse it in guac, which is normal practice for me. Next time.

Alex, on both visits, got the chicken and waffles, as he is wont to do, and as he always did at Champs.

More from Isa Does It, this is the Trumpet Mushroom, Tofu and Asparagus Sauté over mashed potatoes. Okay, so I made a pretty giant vat of mashed potatoes and made four different dishes to go with them. This fit the bill, a veggie sauté with a fair amount of sauce to soak into the potatoes. I love mushrooms, y'all.

There's a Barcade within walking distance and they have 2 types of vegan tacos for $2 each and I'm unemployed so basically I have been here more than I care to admit this past month. The beer selection is great and on Fridays they have happy hour during which you can get 2 tacos, a beer and nachos (no cheese for vegans, but hey free chips) all for $10. Hipster Blue Plate Special.

West Philly seems pretty great. They are home to the only bodegas that I have seen in Philly and it pains me that I cannot walk two blocks and get bread, beer, vegan peanut butter cups and dish soap in one trip at 3am anymore. The institution of the Bodega is amazing, and I miss it. Check your boxes of pasta for maggots first, but besides that, I miss my bodega. I digress. This is what a Dottie's Donut looks like.

After Dottie's, we went to Philly Zine Fest. I picked up a few cute zines and got excited to make my own. I am currently in the process of making two!

Tonight  I made Chickpeas and Escarole in White Wine Broth from Isa Does It over mashed potatoes. They didn't have any escarole at Whole Foods (I miss my bodega) so I got a mixture of spinach and mustard greens instead. This dish was so amazing. It had lots of tang from the caper brine and a spicy hit of red pepper flakes. This read so authentically Italian for me. I want to make it for my father-in-law, who I always cook Italian food with. I think it want to marinate some tofu in roasted garlic and lemon, then grill it, and serve it over the top. Also, this was ready in 20 minutes. You can't beat that for Monday,

More Philly food and fun soon--

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  1. I am glad to see some vegan options at Philly Style Bagels. I follow an omni food photographer and he is always going and I've been oogling the options.

    I am in the same boat as you. I have never been a Philly Cheesesteak person. I tried it once before going vegan and just thinking it was very meh. Then I ate the one from Blackbird and was annoyed that now I have to choose between pizza OR cheesesteak each time we go. Life is hard.

    Yeah, Philly doesn't really have bodegas.... well the closest thing they've got are a few markets in center city. If you are looking for good produce try biking in center city to Jin's Produce, Sue's Produce Market, Maxx's Produce, or Reading Terminal Market (near the convention center/china town)

    1. Do you live here too? I've been to Reading Terminal Market which seems pretty good for produce, but it's not very close. I'll have to check out the other few you mentioned. Yeah the bodegas are essential, someone should get on that!

    2. Use to live there for college (in center city) but now I've been a suburb girl. I would love to move back in the city but seem unrealistic right now. : ( I feel like there should be some produce market in Northern Liberties, but I am not as familiar with that area.