Tag Archives: Tour PA

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Honeygrow

1588 Kings Hwy N, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
More locations in Radmor, Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, PA
Upcoming Locations: Hoboken NJ, Newark & Wilmington DE
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Working at a restaurant, I know the frustrations between customer and cashier. There is a lot of space for confusion. Sometimes the person ordering is misinformed, sometimes it is the cashier. You wouldn’t believe how many times people order the wrong thing and blame the cashier, or have the situation totally opposite. Which is why I am totally in love with this new emerging chain named Honeygrow.

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I knew of the name Honeygrow because it was on my list of potential places to check out in Philly. At the time it was a cool idea since my husband was still fairly omnivorous, and I was always seeking very veg-friendly restaurants. But on my way to work I noticed how a local shopping center had totally turned around once Whole Foods opened up. One of the shops was a new branch from Honeygrow. I eagerly watched for the shop to open since it would be a great stop for dinner on late nights. Once the store was opened, I excitedly went in, not know really what it would be like.

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What makes Honeygrow so different is how automated it is. Basically they cut out the cashier, so there is no confusion if I said “egg noodles” or “rice noodles.” And it is pretty easy to navigate, stir-fry, salad or other. Then the menu gives you options all along the way, giving some premade options, or letting you choose veggies, protein, sauce, and noodle. This means that you have full control of your dietary restriction. All items are labeled clearly if they are vegan or gluten-free and there are lots of workers around to help with questions.

What else is really cool is that while waiting I could make out a general system that was going on with the line chefs. It looked like there was one guy who would prep the veggies, then got passed to a person who did the grains, then to someone who did the proteins and frying. This down the line system really makes it fairly fool proof to mess up what you ordered. And since there is such a large volume of custom orders you have less mess-up from habit. For example if you order a veggie burger with no cheese, sometimes you will get it with cheese on top not because the chef is trying to be an asshole. Sometimes it is just one of those things where if you are making 50 veggies burgers in a day, you just get accustomed to adding the cheese. Having a checklist of ingredients instead of set menu items minimizes forming bad habits like that.

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So for the first day I tried to keep it simple. I got my husband and I the vegan set menu item, the red coconut curry. It has tofu, red onion, red bell pepper, carrots, and rice noodles tossed in their red coconut curry. The item is listed as “spicy” but that is deceiving. It has a light kick, so if you like spicy, grab some sriracha. But the dish was delicious, and both my husband and I were wanting more.

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We went back a second time for take out, this time we tried to make custom orders. We stuck to the veggies, tofu, and rice noodles option, but switched around the sauces. I got my husband the sour cherry BBQ, which wasn’t vegan (I think because it has honey, but I forgot to ask a worker) which he said was pretty tasty, but wished it was spicier. I got the sesame garlic topping, which was delicious. It made the dish taste like chinese takeout only not as greasy and with fresher ingredients.

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When Alexa came to visit I knew we had to check the place out in person, see what it would be like to eat there. The second trip I tried their lemon-miso-tahini with rice, which was amazing. The rice is a mix of black and brown rice, which gave a nice chewy texture. I think the rice probably would of paired better with sesame garlic sauce in the end though. Alexa tried out the egg noodles (as a vegetarian friendly option) with the coconut curry and got her seal of approval.

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Pros:

  • Easy to customize orders and hard to mess up. Making it ideal for dietary restrictions.
  • I also find that the wait isn’t very long regardless how busy it is, and probably have to do with their line system. 
  • Ingredients are super fresh, so fresh you can taste it
  • Everything is pretty much well cooked, tofu firm, spinach not over cooked etc.
  • Multiple locations, so you have more chances to give the place a try
  • The Kitchen is peanut free, making it great for people with allergies.

Cons:

  • It is always busy. I mean ALWAYS. I keep trying to come during off hours and they are still packed.
  • Seating is alright, since it is so busy you might find yourself eating at the stool and bench, which isn’t very comfy. This complaint may be exclusive the the Cherry Hill location.
  • Cross contamination is a big possibility. It doesn’t seem to be any special woks just for meat, gluten, etc. Some people might be freaked out by this. The company contacted me about cross contamination and wrote this back: “We use a separate wok and equipment for rice noodle requests and the wok is thoroughly cleaned/burned between each stir fry to avoid cross contamination for vegetarians and vegans – we also change gloves when noted vegetarian or vegan. When a guest states that they are gluten free, we make a point to change gloves, aprons, clean and sanitize the ladles, and burn the wok. Lastly, there is a separate wok that is used whenever an allergy is extremely sever and it is needed.”

Pro OR Con: It isn’t vegan exclusive. This can make it great for eating out with stubborn relatives, but stinks that you can’t expose people to delicious vegan options. But because they have so many vegan options means it gives a friendly enviroment for people who are interested in cutting back on animal products. Take what you will from this concept.


storefront

Grindcore House

1515 S 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
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Grindcore House is a coffee shop that is off the beaten path in Philadelphia. It is located in South Philadelphia and take about 30 to 60 minutes to walk from Center City to the coffee shop. So why the long trek? Well, Grindcore House is Philadelphia’s only all vegan coffee shop. They are known for serving coffee, vegan food that’s savory and sweet, and playing grindcore music. 

The atmosphere is pretty laid back, and made me feel like I was getting coffee with all the visual arts major from my school (I went to the Philadelphia’s University of the Arts). There is a small area where you can order, and a small hallway leads you to a sitting area. In the sitting area features plenty of seats and couch to sit on. There is also a big bookshelf filled with various reading materials, including fiction, non-fiction, and even Marvel comic books. Despite the name, they don’t just play grindcore music, there is a wide range of metal and indie music.

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I came to Grindcore for two reasons, coffee and donuts. You can find your average selection of coffee at the shop, drip or espresso. But unlike most coffee shops you have more milk choices. You can pick between soy, almond, or coconut milk. I tried a coconut milk latte, and it was alright. I think it was mostly based on my choice of coconut milk over soy. But the actual coffee was pretty good, I would recommend sticking with soy when having a hot latte.

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The donuts on the other hand are amazing. I can safely say that no one would be able to tell the difference between a regular and these vegan donuts. They are yeasty and fluffy, and covered in a yummy glaze. Who makes these donuts? Dottie’s Donuts. 

The company was started by two guys who worked at Blackbird Pizzeria, another all vegan eatery in Philadelphia. The two started to make donuts and ship them to other coffee shops, Grindcore House being one of them. They are thinking about opening a storefront in West Philly, making a second all vegan coffee shop in Philly. I picked the elderflower and matcha donuts (the elderflower donut is pictured) Both were amazing, and will make vegans and omnivores salvate.

donut

Positives:
Dottie’s Donuts: I think the trip to Grindcore House is worth it just for the donuts. There are donuts available in other locations closer to center city. But Grindcore House is one of the original locations to get these goodies.

The Coffee’s Pretty Good: Despite my very “meh” description of the coffee, it is still pretty good. I would rank it higher than the local coffee shops I go to, which I have four to choose from in less than a mile radius. As mentioned I would stick to soy milk for hot drinks. There is something about steamed coconut and almond milk that never seems to work. 

Environment is Nice: If hardcore music isn’t your thing, you’ll be surprised how much you will still like this place. The music is never too loud. The store is on a corner so there is lots of natural light in the store. There was always a certain amount of traffic flow, so it isn’t awkwardly quiet.

Unlimited Selection: Okay they only have SO much food, but it was the first time walking into a coffee shop and not thinking what I can’t eat. There is plenty to choose from including sandwiches, pastries, and chocolates from other vegan companies. This is the reason why I plan on coming back over and over again.

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Negatives
It’s Off the Beaten Path: No, this store isn’t in the middle of nowhere, but if you aren’t from the area, you have to go out of YOUR way to get there. If your visiting in Philadelphia, you’ll have walk at least 10 minutes past South Street, the closest tourist site I can think of. Most of the people in the shop looked like they probably lived near the area.

Wobbly Tables: This seems silly, but I didn’t feel too great sitting at some of the tables. They swayed a little more than I liked. And probably need to be replaced. Anytime I shifted I could feel the chair joints move.

Grindcore Music: I like some heavy and intricate music, but sometimes this music tested me. It was less distracting in the sense I could of wrote, researched, studies, talked, or searched the internet all perfectly fine. But read? No way. I can’t really pinpoint why it was so distracting to read a book, but it was.

Getting There
Remember how I said Grindcore House is off the beaten path? Well, it is neighborhood that is more residential, and google maps can take you down some not so hot neighborhoods. So here is my recommendation to walk or bike all the way down 4th Street, until you hit the coffee shop. By going down 4th Street you will go down Fabric Row, pass some newly built housing, a church, and an abandoned hospital. Plus it is very easy to cross Washington, a major street in Philadelphia, from 4th Street. If you choose to drive, there should be fairly easy parking to be found.


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Last week I thought it would be a good idea to take the train into Philadelphia. I live close to the Patco (or speedline for any South Jersey/Philadelphia readers) so going into Philadelphia only takes 15 minutes. Once I paid for my ticket, went through the gates, I overheard that the trains were delayed. Someone was hit by a train at 8th and Market, and trains were delayed. I was then “blessed” with hearing 40-somethings bitch and moan about “these things don’t happen in other cities.” I even heard (this was my favorite) that “we were all pawns in someone else’s big vendetta.”

And for the record, people being hit by trains is a much more common than what people might think. I am constantly hearing about this from my Mother-In-Law who has a very lengthy 3-hour commute (each way) into New York City. There have been some nights she unable to come home because someone jumped in front a train and delayed trains during rush hour. It was a little insulting hearing some passengers compare delays due to rail-wor to delays due to suicide. 

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But moving on. My train was delayed and I was starving by the time I went into the city. I had plans to stop in the city and grab something from HipCityVeg. There are lots of rave reviews and online hype for the mini-chain. Truthfully, when my friend first told me about it, I remember being frustrated that nothing on the menu clarified what was vegan or vegetarian. It was so hard for me to believe that there would be an all vegan restaurant at the time.

Man things have changed. I remember not believing people that there was an all vegan pizzeria when I was living in Philadelphia. I also didn’t think I could ever get my husband to go to it. Now he told me he is going to have a hard time choosing between Blackbird Pizzeria or HipCityVeg when going into Philadelphia. Little does he know about the many other vegan venues we have yet to go to!

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By the time I made it to HipCityVeg (the Center City location) I was so hungry I couldn’t wait for my food. So I grabbed their seasonal shake, Apple Pie flavored. It tasted a little too “appley” in an artificial way, but I was so hungry it tasted awesome anyways. I also grabbed their Udon Noodle Salad. I wasn’t really reading the item so I was surprised by the faux chicken bits on top. I have to say, they were VERY chicken-y. Actually more chicken-like than some of the cheap chicken that is available.

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Dress: Urban Renewal | Necklace: Flair | Shoes: Nature Breeze

I haven’t done a fashion post in almost a month! So when my husband and I went into Philadelphia this weekend I knew I had to take a photo. Plus, the side streets are always great scenery! I was able to wear this dress my sister handed down to me. It is super soft and quick to put on. We went to go see Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one our favorite Miyazaki films. My husband says he can’t pick between Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro as his favorite, but I can easily say Spirited Away is my favorite. 

I love how the main character is a female but the end of the story is not about how she fell in love. She saves her parents (spoiler alert her parents don’t get eaten… which is pretty obvious considering it is a kids movie) and helps many people around her. His visuals are amazing, and he uses animation in creative and beautiful ways.

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 My birthday and 1st Anniversary happened last weekend and Jon and I celebrated by hiking. Our honeymoon we were planning on a lot of hikes, but it rained so much we really didn’t get a chance. It made sense to walk up a mountain a year later to make up for it. Sadly there aren’t too many mountains in South Jersey. We had to drive up two hours to climb Mount Minsi in Pennsylvania.

I first heard of the trail from a list of best hikes in New Jersey. Although the mountain in Pennsylvania, it is only a 3-5 minute drive to trail once you cross the border. When you reach the top you get a beautiful view of New Jersey. Yeah that lump in the photo on top- it’s New Jersey.

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