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Where to get vegan cheesesteaks in Philadelphia

From soy to seitan to mushrooms, here are the city’s best vegan Philly cheesesteaks. Don’t forget the “Whiz”

Nourish adds portobello mushrooms to its jerk-seasoned seitan to create an even meatier filling for its vegan cheesesteak.
Nourish adds portobello mushrooms to its jerk-seasoned seitan to create an even meatier filling for its vegan cheesesteak.Read moreCourtesy Nourish

In a city that’s known for its cheesesteaks, naturally there’s no lack of options to try. And just asfood/inq2/best-philly-cheesesteak-winner-dalessandros-20230404.html"> Pat’s and Geno’s (Jim’s, Dalessandro’s, and beyond) vie to make the best version of the iconic Philly sandwich (the , there are restaurants looking to do the same — only without the meat.

But what makes a memorable plant-based version? The secrets, chefs say, aren’t all that different from their meatier counterparts.

What makes a good vegan cheesesteak?

“Whether it’s meat[-based] or vegan, there are a few things that make a cheesesteak either really good or kind of blah, and that’s good bread, meaning bread that has substance but isn’t overly chewy, quality protein, fried onions, and a gooey cheese,” said Ryan Pasquale, the menu director at Tattooed Mom.

The protein that’s stuffed in a vegan cheesesteak can range from soy-based “beef” to mushrooms to Beyond Meat crumbles. But the most common ingredient is seitan, made from gluten, the protein in wheat. It has a chewy texture that mimics steak. But to make it a convincing substitute it must be sliced very thin, said Pasquale.

“You want to put it on the flattop, and then sear and chopuntil it reaches that right consistency with those nice crispy bits.”

Attention to texture must also be coupled with attention to flavor. Seitan on its own is bland and contains very little fat. Many chefs add herbs and/or spices, like at Triangle Tavern, where every batch of seitan gets tossed with a classic Montreal steak seasoning.

“Seitan doesn’t render out like animal protein does, so adding fat and seasoning becomes really important,” said Triangle Tavern chef Mike Schwartz.

A cheesesteak done right, whether meat-filled or not, can easily garner a cult following. Vegan cheesesteaks rank among the top menu items and both Tattooed Mom and Triangle Tavern, a fact echoed by many of the restaurants on this list.

Here’s where to find them:

Price: $12.50

Local seitan from Blackbird Foods and fried onions are at the heart of this popular cheesesteak, along with fresh baked rolls from South Philly’s Carangi Baking Company. Layered on top and bottom is a house whiz, made of Daiya vegan cheddar cheese, Tofutti cream cheese, miso, nutritional yeast, and seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce. “I really, really love Cheez Whiz, so it was important to me to emulate that creaminess and tang,” Schwartz said.

📍1338 S. 10th St., Philadelphia, PA 19147, 📞 215-800-1992, 🌐 triangletavernphilly.com, 📷 @triangletavern

Price: $12

At the base, the cheesesteak at Tattooed Mom is thinly sliced seitan from Levittown-based Temple Foods, fried onions, and Follow Your Heart smoked “gouda.” It all gets sandwiched between vegan long rolls from Merzbacher’s of Germantown. “To me, the key to a great vegan cheesesteak is to keep it simple and not get weird with it, so we keep ours very traditional,” said owner Robert Perry.

📍530 South St., Philadelphia, PA 19147, 📞 215-238-9880, 🌐 tattooedmomphilly.com, 📷 @tmoms, 🚗 Caviar, DoorDash

Nourish Philly

Price: $15

Nourish gives its cheesesteak a Caribbean-inspired flare, using a signature jerk seasoning to flavor its Portobello mushroom plant-based gluten steak that’s sautéed with onions, peppers, and oregano. It comes slathered with Daiya “mozzarella cheese,” served on a whole wheat roll. “I wanted it to be a traditional Philly cheesesteak, but at the same time I want to stand true to our purpose of providing healthier options, and I’m not trying to use white flour for anything,” said owner Sarah Scandone. But, she says, it’s still pure comfort food.

📍177 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19123, 📞 267-761-9242, 🌐 letsgetnourished.com, 📷 @nourishphilly, 🚗 DoorDash, GrubHub, Seamless, UberEats

Price: $14 ($14.50 to “make it BBQ”)

This South Philly vegan diner makes its own seitan, which gets thinly sliced on a meat slicer, grilled to order on a flattop, and paired with caramelized onions and melted Teese “mozzarella.” It’s all packaged inside steak rolls from nearby Sarcone’s Bakery, with an option to “make it BBQ.”

“The BBQ cheesesteak is for all the saucy people out there,” said co-owner Sofia Baltopoulos. “It’s our classic cheesesteak filling, doused in BBQ sauce on the grill and topped with more BBQ sauce.”

📍 1401 S. 12th St., Philadelphia, PA 19147, 📞 267-457-5670, 🌐 thetastyphilly.com 📷 @thetastyphilly

Price: $13.95

Equally as popular as its plant-based burgers, HipCityVeg’s vegan cheesesteak uses a soy-and-grain-based “beef” seasoned with fresh garlic and herbs, and sautéed with mushrooms and onions. Layered throughout is a potato-based “cheese,” creating a hearty filling that’s served on a toasted long roll with ketchup. “Cheesesteaks are made to be big, indulgent, and a little sloppy, and that’s what we’ve created,” said owner Nicole Marquis. “I think ketchup is essential to the real cheesesteak experience.”

📍Multiple locations, 🌐 hipcityveg.com, 📷 @hipcityveg, 🚗 Caviar, GrubHub, Postmates, Seamless, UberEats

Price: $12.95

Algorithm’s cheesesteak gets a signature spicy twist thanks to its secret Calabrian Chili Whiz sauce. The hearty sandwich starts with a filling of local Blackbird Foods seitan, seasoned with black pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic, and onion, and added to a mix of portobello and shiitake mushrooms from Berks County’s Primordia Farms. Order it as is, or opt for the Wake and Steak, an all-day-breakfast version that adds a layer of tofu-based “eggs” and hash browns.

📍 (Food truck locations vary, check schedule online), 📞 267-827-2022, 🌐 algorithm-restaurants.com, 📷 @algorithmvegangrill, 🚗UberEats

Price: $15 (plus $2 for “cheese”)

Sink your teeth into the roll stuffed with garlic and turmeric-stained cauliflower, sweet and banana peppers. The Cajun remoulade soaks the veggies for a saucy, tangy cheesesteak. Make it vegan for $2 extra for vegan cheese. Brotherly Grub is the food truck operation, while Jacobs Northwest is the brick-and-mortar location in West Oak Lane.

📍 7152 Ogontz Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19138, 📞 215-420-2255, 🌐 brotherlygrub.biz, jacobsnorthwestphl.com, 📷 @brotherlygrubfoodtruck, @jacobsnorthwest, 🚗 Call 215-420-2255 for pick-up or delivery

Price: $15-$18

In the Gayborhood, there’s a baguette stuffed with Impossible beef, lettuce, tomato, sauteed onions, and slathered with garlic aioli, cheddar beer “cheese” sauce. Switch up the protein with shaved seitan or vegan ribeye steak. If this sandwich is calling to you, order the cheesesteak hoagie.

📍 1229 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19107, 📞 215-790-9494, 🌐 themonstervegan.com, 📷 @monsterveganphilly, 🚗 UberEats, Postmates

Price: $7.50-$15

Sometimes, simple is the way to go. On Girard Avenue, you can pick up an onion and mushroom vegan cheesesteak. Order it small for $7.50 or large for $15. And get the sandwich with a gluten free roll for an extra $3.25 (small) or $4.25 (large). Note: Even with a gluten free roll, the sandwich itself isn’t gluten free.

📍 1 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19123, 📞 215-423-5637, 🌐 joessteaks.com, 📷 @joessteaks, 🚗 Grubhub, UberEats, DoorDash, Caviar

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