Fast food doesn’t have to be bad food. Hip City Veg opened its second restaurant, located on 40th Street across from Hamilton Village, on Oct. 11. The vegan restaurant serves plant-based dishes in the form of familiar foods, such as wraps, cheesesteaks, burgers and fries.
HipCityVeg opened its flagship Rittenhouse store in April 2012.
“I realized that what I eat not only affects my health but it’s so much bigger than that,” said founder Nicole Marquis. “It affects the environment in a big way and other living beings, and that realization drove me to want to affect change in the world.”
Marquis decided to make it her goal to provide a plant-based menu to millions of people, after seeing firsthand how her parents’ health drastically improved when they switched to meat free diets, she said.
Common meat substitutes on Hip City Veg’s menu are chick’n and tempeh, two soy-based proteins often made with wheat protein or seasonings. The menu also includes soups, salads, smoothies and desserts.
Hip City Veg also aims to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. All of the restaurants’ packaging and utensils are compostable or recyclable and they offer delivery via bicycle.
According to Marquis, a Temple alumna and Philadelphia native, opening a restaurant in Spruce Hill was logical considering the traffic and high volume of people who could be willing to trying vegan alternatives to traditionally meat-based foods.
The new restaurant is already busy serving residents and students in the area.
Shen Yi and Yira Chen, students at the University of Pennsylvania, were surprised by how filling the plant-based food was.
“It’s good,” Shen said. “I heard from my friends saying this place is kind of, like, expensive and the portions not a lot.”
Hip City Veg’s entrées range from $7 to $9. Shen ordered a burger and sweet potato fries.
“So I came and I was like, ‘Oh, I have to order a lot ‘cause I’m not gonna be full,’” Shen said. “Now I’m already, like, half-full. It’s actually kind of surprising.”
Brigitte Desnoes is a third-time customer at Hip City Veg.
“Sweet potato fries are good,” she said.
Her friends Oli Gurley and Hilary Dubin recommend the pumpkin milkshake and arugula taco salad.
“Obviously, the crowd that we’re working with in Rittenhouse is going be a different crowd than we’re working with on Penn’s campus,” said Chris Dinuzzo, the general manager. “We’re kind of a pretty aggressive business from the standpoint of we have lofty goals.”