Monday, April 30, 2012

Hip City Veg

127 S. 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 278-7605

HipCityVeg, one word or three? I'm not sure, but either way, I've decided to call it TimeMoneyCalories, because that's what I wasted on a cool, windy day during my lunch hour on this recent visit to the new Rittenhouse eatery.

In case the title leaves you guessing, it's a strictly vegetarian joint that opened a few weeks ago in what used to be Pad Thai Shack – talk about quick turn-over. It's "fast food" for health nuts, vegetarians, etc. with a pretty comprehensive menu that offers a range of plant-based salads, sandwiches, wraps and sides.

The inside is small, but clean and modern with an open kitchen – the line runs the length of the space, its only separation being a chest-high counter. It's nice to see what's going on in there, and while I took a late lunch, even at 2pm, this place was packed with a steady flow of customers so I didn't get the opportunity to really sneak a good peak.

After little deliberation, I decided to order the Crispy Hipcity Ranch and a side of sweet potato fries (they don't offer regular ones). After nearly 10 minutes, my name was called and I retrieved my bag.

Not surprising that the packaging was, dare I say it, "hip." It was clean and really driving home the whole, "we recycle" thing, but I found myself having trouble breaking the sandwich out of its little tightly pleated shell. There was sauce everywhere to begin with.

The Hipcity Ranch came with battered chick'n, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles & peppercorn ranch on some sort of large, really bread-y, dense brioche roll. I took one bite and realized that I'd have to deconstruct this thing to even try and enjoy it. The bread was 5/6ths of the sandwich, and it was d-r-y. The ranch wasn't ranch, it was like a bland soy-based mayo that offered moisture, but really no flavor.

I pulled the chick'n out and ate it first. It WAS crispy, and pretty delicious. With a well-seasoned batter with the punch of coarse ground black pepper, it reminded me of a sassy McDonald's crispy chicken, only 3 times the price, for (most likely) the same (soy-based) ingredients. All of the bread and its 'ranch' dressing sat idly nearby, waiting to join the paper bag in the can.

The sweet potato fries were good. Not crispy, but still good, likely because their mate, a cilantro-black bean dip, was the highlight of the meal. My chick'n patty definitely saw a few dunks in this stuff as well. It was flavor-packed with bits of cilantro and tasted like a fresh Tex-Mex ranch.

Sadly, I can't say another visit will be in order, especially when a $14 price tag leaves me mostly with food waste. Next time I'll go around the corner to McD's when a crispy chicken sandwich is what I'm craving.

-posted by gabulous


olga said...

If a HipCityVedge sandwich reminded you of REAL chicken, then this place must be REALLY awesome!!! Given that I can't find vegan options that are quick, I am willing to pay the extra $$$ to avoid eating meat : )

Anonymous said...

Cant wait to try this place out. What I saw in the pictures did not look healthy at all. I would go for the plant based menu items! Makes a person feel better about themselves and look better too!!! Eating McDonalds may "taste" good for the moment...but just give a thought to what it is doing to your insides......

Anonymous said...

This place is 100% vegan not vegetarian.

I'm thinking if you're a meat eater, it'll take a moment to appreciate something like this, this sandwich is wonderful, including the mock ranch.

If this was the worse for you I mos def say stay away, it took me a minute to find out this was the sandwich to order. I did have the bread experience with the "burger" I ordered but yeah the chick'n sandwich is just what I need when I want something like this.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing. If you're a meat eater, please don't criticize by saying something like, "well next time I'll just go to McDonalds and get a chicken sandwich for less..." because for those of us who are vegetarian, we can't do that. So restaurants like this which offer "alternatives" for us should be judged differently, and not compared to McDonalds. If you don't get this, perhaps you should avoid reviewing restaurants of this nature.

G.Delluomo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ridiculous review. Absolutely moronic all things considered. Do i really even need to explain why?

Anonymous said...

I am a vegan, and personally feel that although Hip City Veg may provide those with specific dietary choices/needs a good replacement, one should not sustain themselves off of fried soy isolates, and spun-down wheat gluten.

sinistercookiemuncher said...

best brownie ever. takes works to chew it up. its super chewy fudgey, crisp on the edges and super chocolatey. take your time chewing up this beast and the flavor will engulf you.

Anonymous said...

This place was awesome! I eat meat and I stopped in there not knowing it was all vegan. I figured the veg just meant heathy and/or they offered a lot of veggies lol I got a wrap and I can honestly say I thought I was eating chicken and it was so good! I could not tell the difference and I am still so surprised finding out that it wasn't actually chicken. A place like this would inspire me to stop eating meat. I would recommend it 100%

Doc AC said...

For vegetarians--I recently tried this chick'n sandwich and was immediately addicted. There was too much bread for me (an issue I have with most sandwiches); I just took half the roll off and ate it open-faced.I went back the next day for more and got the same sandwich as a wrap. Perfect! Also, the banana cupcake was sinful. I also tried the Kale lemonade which was also fresh and delicious. You really need to be a vegan/vegetarian to understand the struggle of getting quick, delicious, and filling food on the go. Also, it takes meat-eaters a while to get adjusted to the different textures and subtle flavors. I get the reviewers angle, but after more than a decade as a vegan, I gave this place two thumbs up.