Vegan cuisine that's as tasty as the original.
With the ever–increasing trendiness of animal rights activism, things have gotten pretty sweet for today’s urban vegan. On campus, one is rarely a stone’s throw away from a good vegan meal.
For the most part, however, in the Philadelphia culinary scene the egg–and–dairy–free offerings tend to be concentrated among ethnic restaurants. Though eating vegan is relatively easy if one sticks to the Asian, Indian or Mediterranean venues, things get a bit trickier when one starts craving pub fare and Super Bowl snacks.
Thankfully, with the development of Daiya, a new soy–based cheese substitute that melts and stretches like the real deal, vegan iterations of the classic college staple, pizza, taste just as good as a slice from Allegro. While local favorites like Ed’s and Dock Street Brewing Co. have vegan pies on the menu, toppings are limited to the vegetables in the stockroom; meat substitutes are nowhere to be found.
Blackbird Pizzeria, though a bit of a hike from campus, goes the extra mile to craft artisan ‘za with a multitude of creative accoutrements. Having just opened in September, the new joint nonetheless has a devoted clientele, many of whom are converts from the recently–closed Gianna’s.
The South Philly ($3.75 per slice), for instance, combines flavorful seitan sausage with fennel, fried eggplant and broccoli rabe over a base of Daiya and sauce. The true curiosity behind the glass casing, however, is the Yukon ($2.50 per slice), an intricate landscape of thin–sliced Yukon Gold potatoes smothered in rosemary and olive oil. Slightly unattractive at first glace, with odd greenish brown hues where the potatoes have taken a bit too enthusiastically to the oil, the unorthodox pizza is surprisingly delicious, full of flavor and ideal in texture.
The pizzeria isn’t a one trick pony; Horizons Restaurant veteran and owner Mark Bebus constructs mouthwatering sandwiches with all the dexterity of Philadelphia’s famous cheesesteak joints.
Blackbird’s version of the native fare ($8) might just be the best sandwich I’ve eaten in months, even including my pre–vegan samplings. The seitan is chewy but not too rubbery, the exact consistency of a perfect steak. Oozing with the juices of crimini mushrooms, onions, peppers and a smattering of Daiya, the grinder an excellent antidote to grease–withdrawal.
Similarly, the giant Marinated Tofu Cubano ($8), while less meat emulating, packs a creamy punch with a mélange of Dijon aioli, seitan pepperoni, caramelized onions and pickles. For those seeking a greener option, veggie–filled salads are available. Go for the Caesar, because the creamy dressing is almost indistinguishable from the mayo–based original. And don’t worry about the trek. The best thing about Blackbird is that with a $15 minimum on delivery, you can enjoy all the vegan goodness without ever leaving the house.
507 S. 6th St.
Don’t Miss: Seitan cheesesteak
Skip: French fries