Philly's best Chinese restaurant is actually the best Chinese restaurant in the country. Important and wise critics actually say that, not just me, and everyone I know who has eaten at Han Dynasty agrees. Offering an authentic, super-spicy Szechuan-based cuisine, it's so far from your usual Chinese restaurant that you probably won't know where to begin. Luckily, I'm here to help. The menu is a favorite of omnivores but there is so much insane food for vegans to eat that I consider this one of my top vegan recommendations for Philly and the surrounding area (they have several outputs in the burbs and in NYC now, so famous).
Before we get into the important food-related stuff, let's acknowledge how difficult it is for me to leave the title like that. But that's actually what this new amazing restaurant is named and how it is written: Charlie was a sinner. With the period. I love it! But even more, I love the place. It's the new all-vegan bar from one of Philly's favorite young restaurateurs, Nicole Marquis of HipCityVeg fame and general wonderingment. Charlie is a swanky, dimly lit, old-Hollywood inspired bar with a creative, upscale menu both for drinks and for small plates. Even early in the run, almost everything I tried was wonderful.
Philadelphia gets more and more vegan-friendly by the day, it seems. In the past year, we've gotten a second outpost of the consistent & incredible HipCityVeg, a new all-vegan bar with upscale small plates called Charlie was a sinner. (review to come tomorrow, and yes, the period is in the name), a new bar from the Landaus of Vedge fame (to open any day now), and much more just in Center City! It's sometimes hard to get out of the center because it seems there's no real need to, with so much delicious vegan food within a few blocks of Rittenhouse. However, South Philly is veganizing as fast as it's gentrifying, and if you can get someone to drive you (not it!), the vegan scene there is unmissable. My favorite new place there? Vegan Commissary! I think it's the best brunch in town. It's only open during lunch hours, but call it brunch so you can also order the cinnabuns.
When traveling, your best bet for finding good food is to listen to locals, letting them dictate which path your food tourism follows. In Berlin, we were lucky to have two friends there who planned an epic buffet brunch for us all at Kopps. Buffet brunch is like the big hip thing to do in Berlin, and I can't imagine any other place's offerings being as awesome as the all-vegan, never-ending spread at Kopps. The restaurant itself featured modern, Ikea-inspired decor (which I loved), and really great enormous picture windows (which let the sun bake my back and add a level of intrigue/sweat to the whole thing). It just seemed like such a chic place, you'd never guess it was an all-vegan establishment - there was no wicker furniture or patchouli smells (joking). Also, it was freaking packed! Reservations are required!
Another fantastic restaurant in Berlin is Viasko, ostensibly a bar or pub depending on what country you live in (I will call them bubs now) but with really interesting and delicious - and all vegan - food. You'd assume such bar food would be fried shit and what nots, but the menu is a tad nicer and more upscale than the usual bar fare of fried shit and what nots (or just plain gross salads for vegans). I've heard you have to go for the buffet brunch (buffet brunch is HUGE in Berlin - we'll look at one this weekend), but I can recommend going for a really fun dinner with the ambiance of a chill bub. We sat in the basement, which was dimly lit with candles among the all wooden plank furniture. It had a very pirate ship vibe, which is totally fitting because today is apparently Talk Like a Pirate day, the celebration of which will probably get you smacked.
To celebrate our engagement, husband and I decided to treat ourselves to a fancypants dinner at Lucky Leek, an upscale all-vegan restaurant in Berlin. The food was stellar, but there were a few issues that prevent me from completely raving about it. However, based on the food alone I would definitely have to recommend Lucky Leek if you are looking for something lavish and delicious.
Berlin is the home of Europe's first all-vegan grocery store, Veganz, and it is definitely a must on any vegan's to-do list. While it is chock full of really fun, and some hard-to-find, products, the stock is not necessarily rare or unique. But, the fact that you don't have to check labels on anything makes this the fun stop it is. Also, all your favorite junk foods are in the same place!
Several people, both vegan and omnivorous, told us about Feelings, saying it was a great dinner spot for vegans and omnivores to go together. They have a traditional and very exciting main menu, along with an entire separate vegan menu! It's pretty much the restaurant equivalent of when both parties in Congress sit together at the State of the Union.
Seed, the wonderful vegan restaurant in New Orleans, uses a tag line that goes "Garden Based. NOLA Taste." If you can get past this, you will undoubtedly love any meal here, unless you only get the mac & cheese.
Honestly, I have to thank the universe again. We ended up at my favorite restaurant in NOLA by pure dumb luck - and what we first considered misfortune. At about 8:30pm (not late in NOLA!) we decided to head out for dinner. Our three choices were 1) crazy hot dogs at Dreamy Weenies, 2) Killer Po’ Boys at the Erin Rose Pub, and 3) the restaurant I’ve heard nothing but raves about, Green Goddess. Well: 1) Dreamy Weenies closes at 9pm, 2) Killer Po’ Boys doesn’t operate at the pub on Tuesdays (the day it was), and 3) worst of all, we went to Green Goddess and saw this awful terrible no good sign:
I go out to eat often, in many different cities. I'm usually with a crowd of omnivores, so look here for tips on how to eat vegan at many non-vegan places. But primarily this section of the blog is a shrine to the fantastic and ever-increasing vegan restaurants in the world.