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vybe Guide: Meatless Moments for Vegetarians in East Passyunk

A guest blog by Gavin McKay, Founder of Unite Fitness, Health Freak, Meatless Dining Enthusiast


South Philly isn’t exactly known for its plant-based food options. Cheesesteaks, anyone?

People like me seeking meatless, vegan, or plant-based meals often end up with limited menu selections like salads, pasta, or a risotto dish. Plant as a main course has not quite gotten through to the mainstream and chefs. Yet.

But times are changing fast as the environmental and health impacts of factory farming are coming to light. In-depth reporting has now shown us how unnatural and unsustainable the factory farming of animals is, and how the overconsumption of beef specifically is having a negative impact on the health of our nation. I, for one, have heard enough to make the decision to change my diet and invest in more plant-based meals.

So back to South Philly – fine dining for folks like us can be tough. But you’ll be happy to hear that there are some forward-thinking chefs in the East Passyunk restaurant row with us vegtastic peeps in mind.

If you are hoping to celebrate East Passyunk Restaurant Week with some healthy veggie noshes, don’t worry. There are plenty options around town for you to enjoy without breaking your diet, and all in the neighborhood of vybe urgent care’s South Philly location.

Let’s start with one you might not think of as a healthy fare. Sate Kampar is a local Malaysian restaurant. In typical Malaysian cuisine, it is customary to use coconut cream instead of butter and rice noodles instead of wheat for a healthier form of sumptuous drunken noodles dishes. I recommend trying their Kerabu Hee Moon – a rice vermicelli salad tossed with Southeast Asian herbs, julienned cucumbers, carrots, and ginger flower, dressed with lime and toasted coconut. Delicious, meatless, and affordable!

Triangle Tavern is a self-proclaimed South Philly restaurant where you’d expect to find bar food, but it’s actually an undercover hotspot for local vegetarians, albeit with a comfort edge. Triangle Tavern is one of the few places anywhere that boosts a vegetarian dish to match every meat-eater dish such as seitan wings, vegan meatballs, vegan crab cake, eggplant parm, etc.

Another highlight was more surprising: Bing Bing Dim Sum. If you are willing to take in the carbs from the Chinese dumpling, you can get a delicious veggie surprise inside from garlic tofu, to cucumber and watercress. And their Mapo Tofu Rice Cakes are like nothing we’ve ever tasted!

Another strategy for eating healthy – beyond just going meatless – is going for quality over quantity. A great place to practice this is at Laurel, the jewel of East Passyunk. This high-end restaurant uses amazing ingredients as flavor bombs, instead of dousing your stomach in heaps of carbs and butter. Halibut in fermented strawberry (for my pescatarian friends), paw paw and parsnip, celery root and quinoa. Need I go on?

My final meatless moment is a full-on vegan restaurant in the form of classic looking diner, called The Tasty. On the less healthy side, it serves up traditional breakfast like pancakes and baked goods. But for the health-conscious eater like myself, they have a nice assortment of tofu, scrambles, and omelets to make you feel healthy and right at home.

Happy eating, East Passyunk! And remember: if you think you might have eaten the wrong thing, vybe urgent care’s South Philly location is on Broad Street, just below Federal. They’ll have you feeling better as soon as you walk in.