Tag Archives: my vegan restaurant

I’ve always loved Asian culture as a kid. I always dreamed about visiting China or Japan. But as I get older, I would love visit many other places. But when I heard that Taiwan was one of the most vegan friendly countries to visit, I got pretty excited. So today I am making my dream vacation to Taiwan, including places to visit and restaurants I would love to eat at.

Yangmingshan National Park

I don’t think Jon and I can not go to some sort of park or nature reservation while on vacation. I like walking, and I like seeing how wildlife varies from place to place. Of coarse this national park seems to have lots of historical buildings and some man maintained gardens. It would be interesting thing to see how different cultures view national parks since the United States tries to keep them for hiking and tourism, but also to preserve land for wildlife. Aside from that, there seems to be lots of springs and a volcano in the park! This would be a super exciting thing to see since I haven’t seen any before.

Food Stalls

Part of the fun of going to Taiwan is that there are some naturally vegan foods in their cuisine. I’ve heard that there is a huge soy milk culture, mostly in drinks that are cold like boba teas. Even Happy Cow lists two vegan food stalls at their night markets. One vegan blogger wrote about all the great food they got from the Keelung Night Market. So this would be something fun that all tourists usually get to do. Things I know I want to try- Stinky Tofu, BaoBing, and Bubble Teas.

Loving Hut

Okay, I know there are Loving Huts all over the world, but let’s face it, there are so many different locations in Taiwan- many in Taipei. I would be fooling myself to think I wouldn’t stop by one of their many locations. Plus, I am 99% sure it would much more authentic Taiwanese cuisine compared to whatever I get in the United States. They also apparently have different products, which might be a nice thing to grab to eat in our hotel, hostel, or fictional Air BnB.

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Juifei Old Street

I mentioned how Jon and I love to just walk? Yeah, just walking around and absorbing culture is our thing. But Taipei is a pretty new city. Many buildings are newer and shopping just isn’t our thing. Many tour guides suggest checking out Juifei Old Street which features tight roads. The area is heavily influenced by Japan, as it was mostly built during their occupation. 

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Ooh Cha Cha

I usually like to keep things very traditional, and keep with only local cuisine. But I would be foolish to think that cuisines wouldn’t change and morph over time. So clearly we would need to keep with the newer restaurant trends. Ooh Cha Cha is a popular spot with vegans and it is organic and local food. Most people point out that it is more on the healthy end of the spectrum but I can imagine that there would be some twists to the foods that an American wouldn’t be use to.

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Temples

Oh man do I love historical buildings. And many of the historical buildings in Taiwan are their temples. I am sure I could spend one day alone admiring the woodwork of one temple alone. There are many different temples in Taipei, so I guess if I was being realistic I would have to make a map of restaurants I want to eat at and look up which temples are nearby. But what is wikipedia suggesting as notable temples? Dalongdong Baoan Temple, Lungshan Temple of Manka, and Taipei Confucius Temple.

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Plants

This is a more American styled restaurant, but let’s face it, mid-vacation I get take-out fatigue. Too many rich foods. So this would be a place to visit at the end of the trip. They serve gluten-free, raw, and very vegetable heavy dishes. By the end of the trip eating a large salad is just what we would need.

Chinese Culture and Movie Center

Jon and I are both big movie fans. So it would make sense to visit an old movie studio. It seems most of the attractions are of old reproduction sets. It would still be pretty cool to see all the different sets. We might have to brush up on our old school kung-fu films to make sure we can recognize some of the sets before the trip.

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Vege Creek

I am a sucker for a sleek design. This is a newer restaurant and seems to have gotten some great reviews on Happy Cow. Their food is a mix of Western and Eastern cuisine. So it really sparked my interest. Apparently you make your own dish, and pick your own veggies for your meal FROM THE WALLS. Yup, you can see all those yummy greens on that back wall. You pick your other food items like tofu, veggies, mushrooms, sauce, etc. Gimmicky? Hell yeah. But that won’t stop me from going ^__~

Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

This museum is suppose to feature exhibits from the various local tribes. Clearly we aren’t going to be traveling far into the mountains or in the rural areas since we really only speak English. So going to a museum highlighting the rural parts of Taiwan would be an easy way to get a better idea of what the island has to offer. Hell, up until today I didn’t even know of the term Taiwanese aborigines, just showing how little I know about cultures outside of my own. But it makes a lot of sense that there would be people living on the island before it became populated with Chinese immigrants.

Has any readers actually been to Taiwan? Any recommended places to check out?


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Animo

210 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
1701 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
website | facebook haddonfield | facebook philadelphia | instagram | twitter

I am actually a little surprised it took me so long to post this review. See I use to work at Animo I guess around 2 years ago. I worked there for quite sometime actually, and I really miss the food. Vegan MOFO has the prompt of “Where do you eat when you want someone else to cook for you?” and the answer is nowhere. I usually have enough leftovers in the fridge or freezer to hold us off. We tend to find take out too much of a burden to do. The closest we get is me making a pizza from store bought dough or possibly Chinese take out.

But then I thought about the days of when I worked at Animo. If I ended up closing I would take home some burritos for Jon and I to eat. When I first started to work there they had free food for employees, which meant I would have their fresh juices, smoothies, and salad whenever I wanted. It was pretty nice. I would even sometime suppliment some of the meals there. If I had some soy yogurt, I would toss in some fresh fruit.

So let’s start with the basics- there are two locations for Animo. They have their original location in Haddonfield, NJ, but they have expanded into Philadelphia. I would recommend checking out the Haddonfield location since the Philadelphia location is always packed and is usually visited by office workers grabbing their lunch. Both locations differ, as I think the Philadelphia location tends to have more on location baked goods and special events.

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The stores are not exclusively vegan. Sorry. But it is very easily customizable. The staff is usually pretty knowledgeable about what vegan means and will help you make your meal vegan. They don’t do fake vegan cheese or sour cream, but the flavors are really intense and you don’t need it.

The basic vegan ordering low down- the smoothies have yogurt in them. Ask for no yogurt or to sub with soy milk. The protein shakes are actually vegan by nature! They will probably ask what type of milk you want, cows, soy, or unsweetened almond. If they don’t, they defaulted to the soy. The protein powder is soy based unless you specifically ask for whey. They have acai bowls and special banana ice cream, both have no dairy in them. For the breakfast foods, you have a choice between their oatmeal or a peanut butter banana burrito.

Now for the burritos. My favorite thing about Animo is that they have two burrito sizes! You can get the full size burrito, or the ‘petito.’ A petito is about half the size of a normal burrito. So if you think Chipotle’s burritos are two meals, you’ll enjoy the petito. You can get their classic “mission” burrito, without cheese, and you have the “protein” option of veggies for extra. They also have the Bank Street (with veggies), Kale and Quinoa, and the Hummus and Veggie burritos which are all vegan as well.

And what is that beauty you see up above? That would be The Border Salad. It is lettuce greens topped with guac, blue corn chips, and pico de gallo. Since I’ve worked there I have my own little preferences. I skip the cilantro-lime dressing and go straight for their homemade hot sauce. I also like to get their salsa added, and it is totally worth it to get the roasted veggies added. Only thing is that you need to ask for no-cheese to make it vegan.


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b.good

26 Centerton Rd, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
500 Rte 73 S, The Promenade at Sagemore, Medford NJ 08053
More locations in MA, NH, NY, CT, ME, NC, RI, Canada & Switzerland
website | facebook | instagram | twitter | youtube

I don’t normally like giving updates on restaurants since I know they can change so much. Especially in this case- a chain. New places are going to open, often. But I kind-of felt like I needed an update. One I’ve tried so much more on the menu, and two I really like how this place tries to keep things local. Plus the new location is rather close to where I live, so I find it really nice.

Let’s start with their new locations. If you follow this blog because you like seeing restaurants in the NJ/Philadelphia area, there are two new locations to pay attention to. One is in/near the King of Prussia mall. I never go here, so I know nothing about this location. They have another location in Mount Laurel, which is right across from the new Virtua Health and Wellness Center. I like this since I swear most places surrounding hospitals are fast food joints. They also have started to expand to North Jersey and the NYC area. If you follow this blog for fun and aren’t even in the United States- good news! B.good is expanding out to Canada and Switzerland. Not sure how big the franchise will actually get in those areas though.

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What’s vegan? The options are pretty large. Salads, grain bowls, burgers, smoothies, and acai bowls. The grain bowls are their upgrade to the quinoa bowls, as reviewed in the older post. Pretty much you can get any of their bowls with quinoa or their super grains mix, which I thought was a little over cooked, but still tasty. If you aren’t quite full from their salad or grain bowl, you can add grilled tofu, chicken, or a hard boiled egg. What I like is that their tofu is supplied by Philadelphia brand Nature Soy, and is the same price as the chicken.

We tried their online ordering service, and it was pretty awesome. It is very easy to customize your food, we were able to order the Adopted Luke and Buffalo veganized. The food was ready when I got there, and if you want you can schedule when to pick up your food. The local New Jersey locations also does catering, which is great if your company needs some food for business meeting.

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The owners of b.good have expanded into the juice making market. They are debuting their fresh pressed juice under the name 4 Petal Fresh Pressed Juices. There aren’t any grand plans for the juice franchise yet. Their website was a pain to find, and very outdated. The Mount Laurel location had both juices and “agua frescas.” Though the juice is more expensive than what I would spend, they aren’t anymore than other slow press juices on the market.

As always I recommend checking out the website before going to the chain. Why? Each location can vary, since you know, it is suppose to be all local. The location near you might vary differently with the ingredients in the sauces. But below is a quick review of the food that my husband and I have tried to give a quick little sampler of what you can get

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  • ACAI BERRY SMOOTHIE – This was so-so. The smoothie was pretty icey and didn’t seem blended up all the way. The flavor didn’t come through all the way, which is a bummer.
  • LUCY BLUE – On the other hand this smoothie was full of flavor. It still didn’t get blended up enough, but I did see the guy blend it 1 1/2 cycles to try and get the dates all blended up. But I really liked it, just wished he left the second cycle run all the way
  • REAL FRIES – These were really thick fries. They brag on the bag that the fries have less fat than normal french fries, which can be great for some people.
  • SWEET POTATO FRIES – These were super tasty. Sadly we had them to go so they got a little soft and floppy but I think would of been perfect if we ate them there
  • CRISPY VEGGIES – That’s the description and I was envisioning various veggies cut into long strips and fried. Nope. Just steamed veggies.
  • SPICY AVOCADO & LIME QUINOA BOWL – I reviewed this my first visit and really loved it. You have to ask for no cheese to make it vegan. But the sauce was super yummy, and it tasted great with the quinoa (though it was the only option at the time)
  • TOASTED ALMOND & GINGER SUPER GRAIN BOWL – Another bowl with a great tasting sauce. The whole thing was massive and super filling (I think even more than when I got the Spicy Avocado Bowl.) I tried the super grains instead of the quinoa and some of the grains felt over cooked. I think I would stick with the quinoa.
  • WEST-SIDE VEGGIE BURGER – Wasn’t a fan of the patty, but my husband loved it. Very “chunky” with vegetables and not too many umami flavors. This burger you have to ask no cheese, but it works out well with the spicy sauce and guac.
  • ADOPTED LUKE VEGGIE BURGER – I think my husband and I agree this is our favorite burger. Since the burger lacks umami flavors, the onions make up for it. Ask for no cheese to make it vegan.
  • BUFFALO VEGGIE BURGER – I love everything “buffalo” flavored. Sadly, they either nixed the sauce or didn’t put enough! I had this burger to go, so I was home to added my own sauce. The veggies were nice on the burger, though I wish they cut the celery thinner. Ask for no dairy/cheese.

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Seed to Sprout

410 Main Street, Avon by the Sea NJ 07717
560 A River Road, Fair Haven NJ 07704
*Note: the Fair Haven location is in the ACME shopping center and isn’t visible from River Road*
website | facebook | instagram | youtube

Finally, I have been able to visit Seed to Sprout. This place has been on my radar for awhile. Back in the day, I had the cool vegan places to visit, while Alexa had slimmer pickings. I remember scoping Happy Cow to try and find new vegan and vegetarian restaurants to eat at near Alexa. Seed to Sprout was one of these places. Then as time went on, their popularity grew. They aren’t massive by all means, but still they are growing. Terry Hope Romero has mentioned them in her Protein Ninja Book, they opened a second location in my hometown, and they are now selling some of their food at local Whole Foods. 

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Alexa is a pretty big fan of this place since they have a location across from her work (their Fair Haven location), giving her a vegan and healthy option on the go. Seed to Sprout is a vegan restaurant that models around the trendy healthy vegan movement. The foods are very light and veggie heavy. The store made me think of P.S. & Co in Philadelphia and Heart Beet Kitchen in Haddon Township. There are some raw options, salads, bowls, and grilled sandwiches. They also have a large selection of desserts to choose from, and prepackaged meals to grab to take home or to the office. And like any “healthy” restaurant there are lots of liquid options- fresh juices, kombucha, hot drinks, smoothies and shots.

The restaurant keeps expanding their options. They do a Friday Pizza Night serving both traditional pizza and raw ones. Note that the regular pizza you order by 12 inch pie, raw pizza you order by the slice (at a steep $7/8 per slice.) They have two featured pizzas each week, so you can always switch it up. They also do brunch Saturday and Sunday, where you can try their banana bacon pancakes that Terry Hope Romero talks about in her book. They also offer catering services for parties, and it seems their cakes are popular item.

So what did WE get?

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Jen: Well I got the cashew collard wrap because I figured I could use the veggies (but didn’t want a massive salad.) Even though I always see collard wraps and think about how small they look, this was rather filling. I can only assume it has most of it’s calories are from the cashew pate. What I like about this wrap is that it is super healthy but eat to grab on the go. It won’t get soggy, but still something I wouldn’t make at home. Instead of getting a smoothie I got their Live Soda Kombucha, because I love that stuff. They had my favorite flavor- root beer.

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Alexa: I ordered the Mexican Omelet breakfast sandwich! I love the millet & flax bread as well as Seed to Sprout’s tofu scramble. The scramble is always packed with flavor and the Mexican omelet version had added coconut bacon and fresh chopped tomato. It was delicious and the perfect amount of food for a light meal during the summer. It’s been so hot out that the idea of eating anything more than this has made me feel like forgoing food altogether. 

asksalexaAlexa’s note: I normally enjoy getting the salads from Seed to Sprout as they are HUGE and for a pretty decent price. While they normally range around $11-$12, I find that I usually have enough salad to split between two meals whereas every other place in Fair Haven has way smaller salads for about $9-$10.

While it is right across the street from work and only about a 10 minute drive from my house I try not to eat here too often because it is a bit pricey. I understand I am getting good food that is environmentally conscious and animal friendly but it’s a bit much on my wallet if I venture in more than once a week.

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asksalexaAlexa’s note: I did get to go and have breakfast with my friend and fellow vegan from out of town and I tried their daily special breakfast sandwich as well as one of their kombucha mojitos.

I have been craving this kombucha drink pretty much all summer but stayed away from it because it’s $5. I figured that since I was on a lovely breakfast date I would break and give it a try. My only gripe is that it isn’t in a bigger glass because it is SO refreshing and delicious (and definitely non-alcoholic). The breakfast special I got was a fig melt which included spinach, figs, cashew cheese and caramelized onions. I got this specifically because I’ve never had anything like it and I’m always intrigued by the endless options in vegan dishes. It did not disappoint!

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The biggest competition with Seed to Sprout is Good Karma. Sure Good Karma has some hippie-granola crunching decor, but both places offer an all vegan menu, raw food, gluten free options, and brunch. As Alexa mentioned, Seed to Sprout can be a little pricey, especially when compared to the portions to Good Karma. It is worth noting that Seed to Sprout is all organic, Good Karma is not (probably the cause for price differences.) Overall Good Karma is more stick to your ribs good, but Seed to Sprout has the best carry out options out there. 

Do yourself a favor- go to Seed to Sprout and grab their salad or raw burrito to go. Maybe add in a baked good or drink. Then drive out to Sandy Hook. It’ll be bliss- eating something tasty on the beach.


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Greenplate

202 route 130 N unit 5A, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

So Greenplate has been on my radar ever since I saw a flyer for it in one of those coupon books. It said vegan selections, and it is rare that a place that offers vegan food would have discounts and coupons- even when they are brand new. But the restaurant is a little out of my way, so I always skipped it. But one Monday I was running errands and thought- why not check it out? It was only an 8 minute drive away. Sadly, I think this is the one time I have a bad review of a restaurant on this site.

Let me start with the good things about this place. The store was VERY clean and pretty easy to get to. I kind-of like how it is in a strip mall since it comes off as more approachable for some people. The store has a tablet ordering system similar to Honeygrow. I love this type of system because it makes it easy to know what you are ordering, or there isn’t any miscommunication with the staff, which I remember happening often when working in the restaurant industry. Plus it is easy to see what you are being charged extra for.

The staff was really helpful. I ordered a smoothie and asked for no honey, not noticing they were pre-mixed in a slushie machine (which is becoming more and more popular for healthy fast food places.) Someone came up to me and pointed out they couldn’t take it out, and refunded me the money. They knew what was in everything.

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Now for the bad stuff- the food. The food was super underwhelming. I am excited there is a place that has vegan options. Any of the stir fry or salad dishes you could sub the chicken with tofu or tempeh. Annoyingly the tofu was an extra 50 cents, which seems odd that soy beans would be expensive than organic chicken. The tempeh was a dollar extra, which seems about right knowing the current price for tempeh in the states. 

I ordered the Dragon Ginger noodles. You had the option for brown rice, wheat noodles, or gluten free noodles. I got the wheat noodles, which tasted like linguini pasta- which doesn’t work in a stir fry. The sauce was really thin, and sank to the bottom of the bowl. The veggies were pretty cheap, but at least fresh. It was just some green bell pepper, red onion, and shaved carrot. The tofu was NOT worth the extra 50 cents. It was raw, which being pregnant isn’t the greatest as it should be fully heated to kill any bacteria. Nor was it pressed or seared or had anything done to help with flavor. I don’t think the staff knows how to cook tofu properly, which made me extra happy that I didn’t bother getting the tempeh which probably was very bitter. 

I really want to like this place because I like how they are trying to encourage a vegan diet. But overall the place has a similar format and goals as other restaurants with much better food and personality like Honeygrow or b.good. If I was trying out vegan food and I got this dish I would of been really disappointed. I would probably assume tofu sucked, and there was something lacking from vegan food.

Even though everything was great- fast service, spotless kitchen, helpful staff, I can’t find myself coming back based on the food. If the food isn’t good, why would I come? I can easily make this dish at home, and it seemed pretty overpriced for what I got.


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Cookman Creamery

711 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
website | instagram | twitter

I’ve been dreaming about coming here. I am a little more inclined to visit Alexa and the “shore” during the off seasons- Fall, Winter, and Spring. I don’t like summer, and I don’t like traffic. But I do like Alexa and I do love food (Alexa’s Note: I’m so pleased to see that as much as Jen may “like” me she “LOVES” food. I’m feelin’ it.), so it is very frustrating when places are closed for the off season. This is one of those places. I’ve been wanting to check it out, but during the colder season the store doesn’t have as many hours.

Cookman Creamery isn’t 100% vegan. They carry regular old ice cream and vegan ice cream. And not just vanilla and chocolate, like good flavors. As you can see from the photo above, they have many flavors, and when we went there was a little more than usual. Heck they even have vegan soft serve in vanilla OR cookies and cream. Is this a vegan’s dream ice cream shop or what?

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Our favorites? Well, Alexa got the Twisted Tree ice cream, which used ginger cookies from another local vegetarian/vegan cafe and restaurant Twisted Tree. We also tried the pistachio ice cream, which was yummy and super natural tasting. I am sure some people have had the problem where the pistachio flavor becomes so intense that it doesn’t quite taste, well, like pistachios. Alexa and I really loved the Blue Lavender ice cream, but I recently made purple basil ice cream, so I passed on it. I went for the balsamic strawberry ice cream (another favorite of Alexa’s). The balsamic flavor is very subtle, which I personally like a lot. 

Their website says their ice cream base is coconut cream, which makes them super creamy and rich. Truthfully that is what I want in my ice cream when eating out. I don’t think I picked up on ANY coconut flavors in the ones we ate. But I am sure other ice creams like the Almond Joy and Pina Colada they will play up the coconut flavor. My only complaint, is that the vegan ice cream is a whole dollar extra compared to the normal ice cream. A little bit of a bummer, but still worth the price I think.

asksalexaAlexa Here! I also love this place and luckily have been able to visit it somewhat regularly this season as opposed to last summer when I too dreamed of the establishment. Something I noted on when I went for the first time was all of the different flavors, like Jen mentioned. I expected some cookie-based flavors, but never thought of seeing something like the Blue Lavender or Strawberry Balsamic. I’m always adventurous when trying ice cream but honestly a little naive when it comes to the massive amount of (good) flavors there could possibly be. I also think Cookman Creamery tries to switch out different flavors depending on the week – I know that at one point they had a vegan matcha flavor but I haven’t come across it when I’ve visited so far and it honestly makes me cry inside. That being said, everything I’ve had so far is amazing. 

Jen also mentioned the coconut cream base for all of their vegan flavors, and I think this is a huge benefit for their ice cream versus something you’d buy in a store. While the new vegan Ben & Jerry’s is very good they’re all almond milk based and you can definitely tell. As someone who is a connoisseur of vegan – and sometimes – non-vegan ice cream I can usually tell when it’s not a milk or cream based flavor, but with Cookman Creamery you wouldn’t even notice. I only say this because I could even convince someone who is a non-vegan to try some of these and they wouldn’t even have an excuse not to! 

I think my only gripe about Cookman is that the prices are a bit high. I understand when you’re using vegan and ‘organic’ products that it’ll hike the cost up a bit more, but I almost can’t justify buying one of the pints of vegan ice cream from them because the pints run around $8.50, whereas I can go and buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or *insert vegan ice cream that can be found in Whole Foods/Wegman’s* for $3-$4 less. However, if that’s my only complaint then I would still consider it an amazing experience! The staff are all really nice and are very knowledgeable of the product, I recommend making the trip if you are in Asbury!


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Dizengoff

1625 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011
website | PA: facebook | PA: instagram | NYC: instagram | PA: twitter | NYC: twitter

There has been a growing movement in Philly that it is a vegan friendly city. The funny thing about that statement is that there aren’t THAT many 100% vegan restaurants. Or rather, I am quick to point out there is a polar divide between culinary styles. You have high end places like Charlie Was a Sinner, V Street, Vedge, and Bar Bonbon (high end tapas bars), but then you have more punk/take out style restaurants like Dottie’s Donuts, Blackbird Pizzeria, Grindcore House, Govindas, HipCityVeg, and the like. And if the cuisine isn’t very American, you tend to get more a fast food places that are owned by Asian owners like Su Xing House, Lee How Fook, Veggie Lovers, New Harmony, and Vegan Tree.

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What makes Philadelphia shine is that almost all independently owned restaurants have lots of vegan options. So many, that I know I would never be able to feature all the restaurants that I have been to that I think are worth mentioning (although, maybe I should try?!) Khyber? My husband loved it. Was some dosas? Go to Philadelphia Chutney Company. Gym Rat? There are options at Fuel. Yes, vegan food seems pretty normal in the city of Philadelphia. So if you have a stubborn friend who doesn’t want an all vegan menu, you can pretty much select anything in the city and get something very good.

Dizengoff falls into this category. Not vegan, but super trendy and very vegan friendly. I first heard about the place from photographer Ted Nghiem (who’s photos are much better than mine) And when meeting up with my friend Chrissy, she wanted to try the place out.

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Dizengoff features seasonal food in a middle eastern style. Naturally hummus and pitas are on the menu year round, but aside from that the menu has never been the same each time I have been. When I first went, Chrissy and I pretty much got the two vegan options (out of 4-5 options) which was a fava bean hummus and a hummus topped with beets. It was hard to choose which was better. The fava bean dip was amazing, but the it was nice to scoop chunks of beets from the second dish.

The second time coming I went with my husband. We were originally planning on eating at The Philadelphia Chutney Company, but we got there too early. We noticed Dizengoff was opened and thought it would be a good place to eat. We got Spicy Cauliflower dish, which was a bowl of hummus with tender cauliflower covered in a spicy sauce. The meal was really filling, and we both filled up by just sharing the plate. All of their hummus dishes comes with a side of pickles, a cucumber salad, and a pita. You can buy an extra pita for $1, which I recommend especially when sharing.

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Things to know about the place? Well, the store in Philadelphia is VERY small. It is a hole in the wall and finding a spot to eat might be hard depending on the time you come. They do take out and you can eat in Rittenhouse Square. Just keep in mind that if you take out and eat in the park that you can’t grab a beer to go. No drinking booze in public in Philly. They have a second location in New York City, thstaffough I have never been. I can only assume it is equally as small.

Don’t be afraid to ask which dishes are vegan, since the menu is so small the staff is well aware of what is vegan, vegetarian, or not. I love how small the menu is, because it sometimes forces you to take a chance. I don’t think I would of ever picked out that fava bean dish if there was a huge selection to choose from. And the food is fresh and top quality.

 


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Home Grown Cafe

126 East Main Street, Newark, DE 19711
website | facebook | twitter

When my parents first moved to Delaware one of the first things I did was scope out restaurants in the area that I could visit (and review). It turns out that downtown Newark has a lot of vegan friendly options, Chipotle, Bahn Mi Boy, Honeygrow, Brew Ha Ha (carried Dottie’s Donuts), and Home Grown Cafe. In fact after looking at the menu, I almost immediately wanted to eat at Home Grown Cafe.

They have a VERY vegan friendly menu, in fact you can almost get anything off of their menu. How? They have a bunch of different options and you have the choice of “protein.” They have different price points, most expensive beef, mid range are fish and shrimp, a little cheaper are options like chicken, pork, lamb, and burger. The cheapest? The vegan options my friends! *insert shocked face emoji* And you don’t get stuck with whimpy veggies, you get a choice of portobello mushrooms, falafels, veggie burger, seitan, or tofu. To make it even easier, there are *’s indicating vegetarian options and **’s indicating vegan or vegan modified options. 

When I went with my Mother is ordered their deep fried cauliflower with their Korean gochujang sauce. There were the two little stars so I mentioned I was vegan so to not include the sauce. The waiter made a note on our menu and assured that they could make the sauce vegan. I didn’t touch it since I like my food spicy but my Mother thought it was pretty tasty. As for the cauliflower? It was pretty amazing. I loved how they were too mushy and perfectly fried. I wish they did a better job coating the cauliflower with sauce. If I got it again I would ask that they make sure everything is well coated, and I probably would order the double order of both the Korean style AND buffalo wing style.

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The main dish? I got their bibimbap, which I totally regret. I should of known better to order something so distinctly Korean from a restaurant that serves so many different things. The seitan was amazing, and so was the sauce. But there wasn’t enough sauce for my taste, and the rice was long grain. I know that the restaurant probably makes only one kind-of rice for all their dishes, but something about getting that type of rice in a bibimbap seems wrong. 

I would love to come back and try one of their other meals to redeem them from the bibimbap. But it might be a long time till I go again. Overall I like this place as they try and serve bar food but have everything be fresh. My only complaint is the lack of sauce, that was being used. This is a place I probably would go with another vegan since there are so many options to choose from. Finger foods, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, main courses, the works. There are  lots drinks available, and there are occasionally live performances as well!


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Champs Diner

197 Meserole Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206
website | facebook | instagram

These photos have been sitting on my computer for over a month? Oh gosh, maybe two months now. I have been crazily eyeing up Champs ever since I first heard of it. I went to Champs when visiting my sister in Brooklyn, and I got to meet her boyfriend, who actually comes to Champs often with his vegan and vegetarian friends. Although being vegan doesn’t mean you only have to eat healthy foods, when eating out it seems that the vegan option is almost always a salad. Sure restaurants are starting to give other vegan options, which pretty much means you can choose between a salad and a veggie burger. Sometimes all a vegan wants is some good old fashion greasy diner food. Well, this is the place to go.

I didn’t take any outdoor shots, the place isn’t glamourous, and it shouldn’t be. It’s a diner. It keeps the interior with traditional diner decor, note the mirrors and sparkly seats. If you aren’t familiar with diners here is a basic outline. If you are American, a diner means a specific style of restaurant that is mostly popular in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York area. Originally diners were similar to trailer homes, they were prebuilt models that could be purchased. They were long an narrow for transportation purposes, but it meant it was fairly cheap to build a completely new restaurant. Because they were prebuilt, there was a very specific style (think art deco, metallic, and kind-of looking like a trailer). As the diners became more popular they became bigger. Some places sold prebuilt models that could put together on premises in order to “expand” the restaurant. Now most surviving diners are massive monsters. If you want a comparison, here is an original styled diner compared to a later monster diner.

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So as the size of a diner has changed, the decor and food is what seems to define a diner. Stereotypically diners have checkered floors, vinyl booths, a bar area, and neon signs. But overall the decor must be humble, if it is too polished it clearly isn’t family owned. The food menus are traditionally huge, with portions to match. Depending on the location of the diner, you’ll get a different menu. If you are in the south you’ll probably get grits and biscuits, but in New Jersey you probably will find lots of Italian food. I know that is the appeal for most people is that you can go in a group and if one person wants Italian and the other wants a burger, you pretty much will please everyone… well except the vegan. Sadly most diners are not very vegan friendly unless you want french fries and a salad. Enter Champs.

Clearly Champs isn’t using a traditional diner cart, but they try and replicate the interior. They have the classic paneled mirrors, checkered floors, and funky lighting. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the decor is originally from some other diner. They have some macabre touches here and there, like I remember there being a skeleton near the cashier. Probably due to the fun interior and the great food, there was a huge wait. 

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Whenever I go to an all vegan restaurant I have such a hard time choosing. I am so use to only one to five options and then deciding if I want something light or not (ie do I want a salad or a veggie burger?) Even the non-vegans had a hard time deciding what to get. I figured I would go for food items I had never seen vegan before- the poutine fries ($9) and the cubano sandwich ($11). For anyone who isn’t familiar poutine are french fries that are covered in gravy and cheese curds. I never would of thought they would of been so addictive! I gave my sister a bite, and she deemed them authentic… or authentic enough (the cheese curds weren’t quite right, but I think we all suspected that.) The cubano is a vegan version of the cuban sandwich, which is a hot pressed sandwich with pork, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. This sandwich was yummy and the “ham” was bizarrely close to what I remembered of ham. Mostly it was the way the “meat” shredded. I was pretty full from the poutine so I took half of the sandwich home, which kind-of stunk up the train. Oops.

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What did everyone else get? My sister, Lindsay, got the Buffalo Chik’n ($11), a faux chicken sandwich that has lots of hot sauce, ranch, and veggie toppings on a roll. I took a bite and thought it was pretty good, and was pretty close to an omni-style sandwich. I’ve eaten plenty of faux buffalo wing foods and vegan versions tend to only have hot sauce flavor, which I like, but not everyone’s cup of tea. Her boyfriend ended up getting the Blue Plate Special, which was only available that day. It was a mix of mac and cheese, a fried chicken drumstick, corn, and biscuits (maybe cornbread?). Lindsay seemed to like the mac and cheese, which is saying something since she is a BIG cheese fan (note: if Lindsay is reading this, I am sure she would want me to point out it didn’t taste JUST like cheese, but we all know that) The chicken drumstick was full of seitan goodness, and even had a wooden stick in it so you could eat it just like a normal drumstick.

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Jon and I were both eyeing up the same sandwich- the Country Fried Seitan ($13), but he “claimed” it before I did. The recipe features seitan made from Blackbird, breaded, fried, and served on texas toast with bacon, cheese, ranch dressing, tomato and greens. Funny thing is that I’ve never had texas toast before going vegan, and I am in love with it. More proof that going vegan only expands your options. 

Great thing about Champs? It is fairly cheap. We got an appetizer and an entree for everyone and meal was cheaper than our lunch… and there was 4 people for dinner and 3 for lunch! Yikes! It probably helps that there isn’t any booze being served at Champs, so that kept the bill small. Also the plates are pretty big, which makes it so you only need the main meal. Even still, these are great prices if you are dining out in New York City, so if you are visiting Manhattan island, it would probably be worth the trip out to Brooklyn.


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Cardinal Provisions

514 Bangs Ave Asbury Park, NJ 07712
website | facebook | instagram

I remember when I first started the blog, Alexa usually came to me because I had more vegan options in my area. Flash forward to today, now it seems like Alexa is sitting in the suburban vegan mecca. There are so many places I want to visit near her, but they are usually closed on the day I come to visit- Mondays. So Alexa suggested Cardinal Provisions, a brunch and lunch based restaurant. She had went before and thought I would dig it.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: Visiting Cardinal with Jen wasn’t the first time I had been there. I had actually gone on Valentine’s day with Mr. Ian, and on that day I had one of THE BEST waffles I have ever had. It’s definitely on my list of Top 5…because apparently I have that sort of list now. I believe it was a special for that weekend, but hopefully it will pop up again. The waffle was covered in caramelized bananas and thin mint crumbs. 

That’s right…THIN MINT CRUMBS. 

I loved the dish because 1) it was vegan and 2) it’s not something that I have see anywhere else yet almost resembled something that I might make for myself (and think “Alexa, you are cray cray.”) I was slightly hesitant about the mixture of banana and mint flavor, but it was fantastic. I had also had the nitro infused coffee with my food that morning and it made everything even more delicious.

She was right, I loved the place. If you have ever been into New York City for brunch and enjoyed it, you will love this place. The store is very small but has a lot of personality. I am not sure how common this style of restaurant is, but you are seated, and waited on, but you pay at the end at the cashier. There are some baked goods and juices that you can grab and take with you, making it a spot to actually get a breakfast “on the go”. There are adorable vintage tiled floors, cute metal backed seats, and vintage salt and pepper shakers at all the tables. Yup, they pretty much nailed the setting.

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Just wanted to point out that Alexa wore the exact same shirt when we went to MOGO– GET YOUR BLOGGING SHIT TOGETHER!

So is the place vegan? Uh… no. But the menu is very vegan friendly. There are only about two dishes listed as vegan on their breakfast/lunch menu, and three from their brunch menu but they have little Vs next to items that can be made vegan. This is a dream come true for vegans who love breakfast foods. It even looks like about half of the kids menu is vegan as well (mostly nut butter or jam sandwich combos and some veggies) If you are looking to grab a quick breakfast, you can get their vegan croissants and some fresh juice up at the counter. Oh you heard me correctly. Vegan croissants at a non-vegan restaurant. Although this might not happen every day, when we went they actually have a daily special that was vegan. Let’s face it, how often does that happen?

A word of caution. If you want to do the traditional brunch thing and do some day drinking, you might have to bring your own booze. Cardinal Provisions does not have a liquor license, so call ahead of time to see if it is okay if you bring your own champagne for mimosas. They also have nitro infused coffee and I fucked up and missed by chance to try freshly tapped nitro coffee. Also on the menu that would quench your cocktail thirst? Kombucha, bitters and soda, green, grapefruit, and orange juices.

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So what did we get? Well, the day we went they have a special- a vegan burger on a either a roll or vegan croissant. It originally came with fries, but we were both in the mood for a side salad. The burger was topped with a pickled carrot slice, cauliflower, and artichoke. Let me tell you, it has been a long time since I’ve had a croissant, and this was much better than the ones I had in the past. The croissant was super flakey and buttery. The burger was also the best vegan burger I’ve gotten in a non-vegan restaurant. The burger was very solid, and didn’t smoosh out like most vegan burgers. The outside was charred beautifully giving a nice contrast to the flaky croissant.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: Since I love the place so much, I visited again without Jenny. The other dish that I’ve gotten here also involved waffles (I’m not sure if anyone else is picking up on a theme here or if it’s just me?), but it was the vegan version of Chicken and Waffles. In place of chicken they subbed in a mushroom that they were calling “Hen of the Woods”, which I believe is just a fried maitake mushroom. I loved the texture and taste of it, and as a vegetarian I can get pretty tired of mushroom consistency and flavor. It came with a jalapeƱo cashew remoulade layered on top and then syrup to go on top of all of that. Again, it was another dish where I could have been a mad scientist playing in my kitchen but it magically tasted fantastic once on the plate. This dish is (luckily) on the menu all of the time. I highly recommend it. 

I also love the atmosphere like Jen pointed out. Not only is the decor really adorable, but the employees are super nice and are always willing to help you find a way to make whatever you want into a vegan friendly version of itself if it isn’t already. I haven’t had a bad meal there yet and I don’t expect I ever will.

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If you check out their website you might notice that they have both the restaurant and catering services. If you are looking to do a wedding shower, work event, wedding, baby shower, etc, they will work with all your requirements. I’ve been following their instagram account and have seen some photos of some all vegan catering jobs. Thinking about when Jon and I were planning out wedding, this would of been a great options. At the time he wasn’t vegan and I was trying to be. Cardinal Provisions would of given us a nice 50/50 menu of vegan and non-vegan options.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: Last note! If you are in the market for a birthday (or any celebratory) cake, they do that as well! A friend of mine ordered a cake from Cardinal for her birthday and it was actually the best cake I’ve ever had. And it was vegan!! The cake was moist, the frosting was delicious and didn’t taste overly sugary…it was sublime. 

So we would both recommend this place if you want a fancy lunch out. It isn’t a 4 star restaurant, but not quite the place to go for a cheap meal either. If I was staying for vacation in Asbury Park I would recommend checking this place out at least once for lunch or brunch. That being said, for the price range for a lot of the nicer restaurants in this area it isn’t that much more.