LOCATION: Broad and South.
CUISINE: So Philly it’s silly.
VIBE: Improbably enough for a vegetarian restaurant, Govinda’s is emblematic of the city it calls home, serving classic Philly food (albeit meatlessly), in a classic Philly location, being made by classic Philly people. With all of its greasy, deep fried food smells, open view of the cooking area and the overabundance of baked goods lining the shelves it is something like a junk food junkie’s paradise.The menu options are so extensive that I actually had to take two trips in order to perform a fair assessment of their food. With all of the variations of sandwiches, wraps, burritos, soups, salads, finger foods and desserts, I feel like I could eat there for a month and never eat the same thing. They offer three dining areas, each with a completely different atmosphere, including outdoor, sidewalk café style tables, a classy-ish dining room and a tiny, bar and stools sitting area in front of the grill. I recommend sitting in front of the line because you get to watch people awkwardly order from the curt and sometimes annoyed staff (always good for a laugh) and gawk as the chefs masterfully prepare food at Mach ten speeds.
HIGHLIGHTS: During my in depth investigation of Govinda’s menu, I sampled six sandwiches and several sides. While I feel certain items definitely stood out among the rest, nothing I tried was even remotely disappointing and I was not able to uncover one flop. The consistent deliciousness of Govinda’s food revealed that they have some seriously dedicated chefs with a real dedication to quality, which made my research a real pleasure to conduct.
However, out of everything I tried, three options really blew me away. The famed Philly chicken cheese steak- somewhat predictably- topped my chart. Paired with a fresh sesame roll, soy cheese and, as suggested by the staff, a hint of vegan mayo, this not-so-classic classic was love at first bite. The juicy vegetarian chicken burst with meaty sweetness, brought forth in full effect by the soy cheese accompaniment and the subtle zest of finely chopped green peppers and a light spread of mayo.
The shockingly amazing “Chicken Queasily” is definitely a close contender to the chicken cheesesteak as far as my Govinda’s favorites go. This super creamy, super cheesy, softly textured, ‘chicken’ and pepper stuffed wrap will seriously fire up your taste buds. There’s definitely no chance of saving any of this wrap for later (I tried) as you almost slurp down this melty, gooey dream of a wrap.
I’ve never been a fan of fish (or anything resembling seafood), so it is somewhat surprising that their fish sandwich became one of my favorites. The fried soy mackerel has an authentic fish taste, with a juicy, succulent texture and a flavor-enhancing, deep fried surface. The mackerel flavor is highlighted by the fresh tomatoes, greens and pickles in a manner that I totally was not expecting, creating an impressively satisfying sandwich.
Honorable mention goes out to the Philly pepper steak sandwich, the Chimichanga, the Sloppy Joe (just like mom used to make), the tuna wrap and the fried shrimp.
LOWLIGHTS: The fries. I’m not saying Govinda’s fries are bad because they are really not, I just feel like unless you are some sort of French fry enthusiast, your money is better spent on something a little more unique. Instead, I recommend a side of the chicken salsa soup to add a little more zing to your meal.
PRICE: Eight dollar sandwiches, sides around four or five, and excellent combo offers.