Johanna M. of Media writes: I’m a frustrated recent transplant (from Southern California). Is there such thing as a real health foods or vegan restaurant in the suburbs? If so, I can’t seem to find one.
I feel your stomach pain. We certainly don’t have the same nourishing bounty of earthy/crunchy alternatives as you did on the Left Coast—nor in nearby Philly, for that matter. Around the metro area, “healthy” on most menus usually means a soggy wrap filled with condiments and wilted lettuce.
I’m not a full-on vegetarian—I’d say 85-percent, though, and almost always at lunchtime. Having searched our suburban landscape high and low, I’ve garnered the following finds. Try each of them in good health, Johanna.
Oasis Living Cuisine
134 W. Lancaster Ave., Frazer; (610) 647-9797, oasislivingcuisine.com
This all-raw lunch café and market is a perennial favorite of mine. You’ll find me here two to three lunch breaks a week, munching on my wheat wrap stuffed with avocado, hummus, shredded carrots, cucumbers, collard lettuce and tomatoes—sounds good doesn’t it? Owner Tiffany Wade offers a bounty of salads, wraps, smoothies, and all-organic handmade chocolates (they’re quite amazing) at this life-sustaining storefront.
Great Valley Shopping Center, Routes 401 and 30, Malvern; (610) 651-8886, sutaocafe.com
“Benefit from the purity” is the wisdom bestowed at this 100-percent vegan restaurant specializing in Chinese cuisine. The all-you-can-eat buffet offers a nutritious bounty. American-Chinese classics like pepper steak and General Tso’s chicken are notable meatless mimics of the real thing.
Devi Indian Restaurant
151 W. Lincoln Highway, Exton, (610) 594-9250
The buffet’s the thing at Devi, where the dosas (crispy pancakes) are divine, the sambar (a large Asian deer) is sensational, and not one sacred cow (or other sentient being) is in any of the chafers. The owner has a loyal following, many of whom are recent Asian transplants who enjoy his quality southern Indian fare.
2140 Kimberton Road, Phoenixville; (610) 935-1444, kimbertonwholefoods.com
Local, organic, mostly biodynamic and wholly solar powered, this cozy adjunct to Kimberton’s famed whole-foods market is a relaxing and peaceful place, a community hub, and a sojourn for a vita-mineral-filled lunch. It’s also the perfect spot for a nice, hot cup of something revitalizing.
Healthy Beings Café
309 Gordon Drive, Lionville; (610) 363-6932, healthybeingscafe.com
This take-out counter is a comforting change of pace in northern Chesco, offering herbal teas, fair-trade coffees, muffins, tasty smoothies, delicious soups, wraps and salads—all from locally producing farms and purveyors.
Various locations, wegmans.com
I really enjoy Wegmans’ verdant vegetarian bar—great grains, delicious hummus and tasty veggie “meatloaf”—even more now that it’s so close to all those ales and lagers in the café portion of the pub. (Beer’s vegan, right?)
Whole Foods Market
Various locations, wholefoodsmarket.com
Pound for pound, the salad bar at Whole Foods is my pick for “Healthiest Meal on the Main Line.” From crispy kale and crunchy quinoa to balsamic-glazed tofu and beans and more beans, this is the place for your über-nutritional fix. And it’s all flavorful.
Dig in, Johanna, and you’ll feel like a million bucks—or more.
Share your favorite vegetarian or vegan restaurants by leaving a comment below.