THE PEOPLE have spoken in this year's contest to name the Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly, with more than 1,800 votes cast by more than 1,500 interested voters since the contest began on Feb. 26.
It was a hard-fought race for the finals in the last few days, as Royal Tavern staked out the top spot, while Blackbird, Vegan Commissary and Jerry's Kitchen wrestled back and forth over second and third places, with Blackbird nailing second and Jerry's Kitchen finally squeezing by Vegan Commissary for third.
These three venues will deliver sample vegan cheesesteaks to our esteemed judges panel - Frank Olivieri Jr., proprietor of Pat's King of Steaks and grandson of cheesesteak co-originator Harry Olivieri; City Councilwoman Cindy Bass; Ana M. Negron, M.D., author of the upcoming Nourishing the Body and Recovering Health; and Ed Coffin, registered dietitian and owner of Natural & Organic Marketing.
Together, they will choose the city's best vegan cheesesteak at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Weavers Way Chestnut Hill. The judging is part of the store's celebration of FARM's Great American Meatout, a day when everyone is encouraged to eat vegan. Also on the schedule is an appearance by Freya Dinshah, president of the American Vegan Society.
These events are free and open to the public, so come on out to watch our judges taste and evaluate the finalists for flavor, texture and overall "cheesesteaky" quality. Judges will receive parting gifts, including samples of a new line of vegan cookies from Christina Pirello.
By getting the most votes, Royal Tavern has already nailed the People's Choice Sandwich award, and, as a new entry this year, also wins Best Newcomer.
Our sweepstakes winner, randomly selected from the registered voters, is Ariel Baumet, of Philadelphia. She and a guest get dinner for two at Flora, in Jenkintown, a new vegan restaurant that "V for Veg" wrote about in January.
Here are the top 10 nominees, according to most votes received. (Note: It's always best to confirm with a restaurant that what you're ordering is vegan.)
1. Royal Tavern
2. Blackbird Pizzeria
3. Jerry's Kitchen
4. Vegan Commissary
5. Govinda's to Go
7. The Abbaye
9. Carmen's Pizza in Milmont
10. El Camino Real
writer, musician and 12-year vegan.
@V4Veg on Twitter.