Note: Please see UPDATE below on 3/16 ballot close.
With VisitPhilly and VegNews touting our city's veggie-friendliness and even Craig LaBan declaring it "Vegan-delphia," (and with even Senator Cory Booker on board) it's now beyond question that Philadelphia's increasingly tasty vegan scene is bigger and better than ever. As is this year's Daily News / Philly.com "Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly" contest.
In 2014, at Grindcore House Cafe, Blackbird Pizzeria won a unanimous 4-judge decision. But last year at Weaver's Way Chestnut Hill, the challenger Royal Tavern managed to take the crown - with a cheesesteak employeed Blackbird seitan. This year there are again more vegan cheesesteaks out there than last year. Will one of them break from the pack to topple Royal Tavern? Or will Blackbird claw its way back on top?
Here is where we will be updating the tally of votes for the 2016 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly contest. Online ballot votes and twitter votes will be added and calculated once a day and updated here during the noon hour.
Then, on March 20 at 4:00 p.m. at Union Transfer, our 4-judge panel of expert vegan cheesesteak tasters will judge the finalist sandwiches and name a 2016 winner for Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly. The owner of Pat's King of Steaks, Frank Olivieri, Jr., will emcee the event and will be ready to step in if necessary to perform a tie-breaking taste-test.
With Philadelphia now drawing tourists for its vegan offerings in addition to its rich history, the vegan cheesesteak contest celebrates great Philly food traditions in all their textures and flavors but without getting an animal involved. And it's fast on the way to becoming a tradition itself.
So try a new sandwich or two, get out and vote, spread the word, and may the best vegan cheesesteak win!
UPDATE 3:30 3/18/16:
One lucky Philly-area voter was chosen at random to win dinner for two at Miss Rachel's Pantry, a trendsetting yet homey favorite of vegans and other lovers of fine food who join for weekend dinners at the farmhouse table. Big congratulations to our 2016 sweepstakes winner, Susie Adams!
UPDATE Noon 3/16/16:
Folks: Technical difficulties in philly.com voting require us to close the balloting today. Thanks to the hundreds of people who've cast their votes for in the 3rd annual Philly.com/V for Veg Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly contest.
Three venues have been the clear frontrunners: Blackbird Pizzeria, Frankie's on Fairview and Triangle Tavern. They are the official finalists, to participate in final judging at Union Transfer March 20. The event starts at 3 p.m.; judging is at 4 p.m.
The remaining top 10 vote getters, listed below, had been invited to showcase their vegan cheesesteaks at the March 20 event. Because of the technical issues with voting, however, we've decided that ALL nominees are welcome to bring their vegan cheesesteaks to the event. If you'd like to participate, contact VforVeg@phillynews.com by Friday.