Monday, April 23, 2012
Hip City Veg. First Bites.
I had my first taste of Hip City Veg, Philly's newest all veg eatery, today. I've gotta say, I'm totally smitten with what owner Nicole Marquis and chef Lauren Hooks have done with the space, concept, packaging and food. Clean, smart design gives off a modern gleam, and the "fast food" satisfies on all levels, offering up the salty/fatty/sweet flavors that the human body craves, with a leaner and greener take. This is fast food with some serious sex appeal.
Hip City's sweet potato fries with black bean dip make a major case for themselves as the superior tater. The compostable fry pouch stands so that you don't have to worry about spillage, they are crisp and perfectly portioned, and the SAUCE. The cilantro-black bean dip could arguably make cardboard taste good, and I can't quite figure out what else is in it, but, really, really wonderful stuff it must be.
The Crispy HipCity Ranch is not to be missed. Mr. Vedge and I could not decide between this sandwich and the Ziggy, a classic veggie burger with tempeh and special sauce, so we attempted to split both. We each took a bite or two and then passed the sandwiches back and forth, still undecided, and then we both realized we were lingering over the Crispy Ranch, and called it king.
Being the loving wife that I am, I lied and told him that I preferred the Ziggy, and let him finish the Ranch. Well, the Ziggy was pretty wonderful, too, and one of the better veggie burgers that I have had in my life. I've had thousands and I mean that. The patty itself seemed like the basic veggie patty, but it was the seedy, wholesome bun, dripping sauce, tempeh and pickles that gave this burger its personality. It held my attention for every bite.
Back on the Ranch sandwich, it was made from a crispy vegan "chik'n" patty. Say what you will about vegan meat substitutes, this one is highly delicious and this is that one sandwich that will convince people to eat vegan more often. It's like the more educated, not-as-bad-for-you, cleaner-tasting crispy chicken sandwich of your youth (yes, I used to love these as a kid) slathered in ranch sauce. And you know that even faux chicken is less processed than the real (barely) chicken that goes in those fast food sandwiches. All the more reason to sate that craving at Hip City Veg.
We sipped on a Green Lemonade (tart, not too sweet), nibbled on a Side Caesar (jicama, plantains, well-dressed), and left thinking about the Crispy HipCity Ranch. Chef Lauren said it was the most popular, and I think it just found a few new friends.