VEGAN TREE 742 South St., Philadelphia, PA 19147 (215) 454-2898
CUISINE: Simply put, Vegan Tree is a nice place to eat. They definitely score points for the 100% vegan guarantee and the gluten free designations on the menu and all of the quirky extras like bubble tea, milkshakes and smoothies make the whole experience worthwhile. Vegan Tree runs the risk of paling in comparison to some of the other local vegan/vegetarian restaurants that make up my usual dining rotation and it often gets skipped over for some of the other restaurants that I obsessively crave but whenever I go, I am pleasantly reminded of how much I like it there and end up cooing over some forgotten entrée. In a sense, Vegan Tree is something like a distant relative, I love seeing them but I don’t visit nearly enough.
VIBE: The bright, hand painted designs on the windows of Vegan Tree make it look a bit peculiar from the street and the interior is just downright crazy looking. Decked out with giant, gold pillars from floor to ceiling, wildly mismatched artwork and unexplainable sculptures, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the dining room at all. It is not exactly lacking in atmosphere, just one that makes sense. Anyway, who says pictures of animals riding motorcycles, sculptures of flamingos and random abstract painting can’t all live in harmony?
PRICE RANGE: $7 sandwiches, $6 apps, two people can eat a light meal at Vegan Tree for around $20 which is a huge plus. If you are being price conscious you have to steer clear of all of the very tempting extras like specialty drinks and desserts. Also, check out the lunch specials, I might stop in for the $9 burger, sweet potato fries and drink option. In all honesty, the low prices are the biggest draw for me, it’s a cheap date.
MENU HIGHLIGHTS: The menu at Vegan Tree offers a number of excellent choices, my motto there is to stick to entrees and extras because that seems to be were the really exciting options reside. I would highly recommend starting your meal off with a sugar rush and ordering a bubble tea. I ordered a mango, smoothie style tea and was more than surprised by this unparalleled flavor extravaganza. It tastes like slightly liquefied mango water ice with a splash of vanilla ice cream, sweet, creamy and amazing. How they actually prepare this concoction, I have no idea, but I did find out, fun fact, that it is safe to eat the balls at the bottom of the glass. The bubble tea alone is worth a visit to Vegan Tree.
The self-titled, “Vegan Tree Sandwich” is one of my favorite treats, with fresh bread, crunchy lettuce, cilantro and soy protein coated in a sauce that is described as “yellow mustard sauce” which gives the sandwich a signature flavor. They seem to use this “yellow mustard sauce” in a lot of sandwiches and it is honestly a lot more like a sweetened steak sauce than anything else, definitely one of those things you wish you could bottle and take home with you. The “eggplant and tofu burger” is one of the menu frontrunners and I am tempted to call it my favorite thing at Vegan Tree. It is a close tie between that and their version of the cheesesteak. This burger is exactly what it sounds like, a great combination of tofu and vegetables, once again, tied together with that unique, secret sauce.
MENU LOWLIGHTS: Nothing at vegan tree is really horrendous or disappointing, it is just that some of the menu options, such as apps like the “Golden Nuggets” are less than exciting in both taste and portion size.
DINING EXPERIENCE: Vegan Tree is not a place to eat if you are someone who has ever sent a dish back to the kitchen or complained that your server delivered your food from the right rather than the left (or vice versa, who really knows). The zany décor is accompanied by similarly zany service. It always seems like one or two people are running the entire floor, yet all the food still comes out extremely quickly, just not exactly smoothly. The app may show up at the same time as the entrée or you may find yourself staring at the table in bewilderment, wondering how you are supposed to eat with no utensils. As an ex-server, none of this really bothers me as I tend to notice things like the 13 top in the back of the dining room that has everyone in the weeds or the rude two top with zero sympathy for the slight language barrier. I find myself being overly kind and forgiving when a stressed server apologetically delivers my missing fork or neglected sauce but if you are a stickler for this sort of thing then steer clear.