MARAC in Philadelphia: Restricted Diet Eating – and Eating Well!

by Katy Rawdon, Local Arrangements Committee

Much has been made about Philadelphia being a foodie paradise, and it is true that for those of us who love to eat, and eat well, Philadelphia is heaven in quantity, quality, and variety of restaurants. Many people, however, are on restricted diets, and this can cut largely into the joy that eating around a new city should bring. As someone who has been on an increasingly restricted diet during my fourteen-plus years in this city, I can reassure you limited-ingredient folks that Philadelphia is an excellent place to visit and eat regardless of your dietary inclinations.

Listed below are recommendations for vegetarian and vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and halal friendly eats. I have included the distance from the conference hotel, street address, and web site for each restaurant. Many of the restaurants fit into more than one category, so please read the whole post for all of the recommendations. If anyone has additional recommendations for any sort of diet-restricted eats, please add them to the comments!

Vegetarian and Vegan

Ramen at Vedge by aetchells

Zahav (0.3 miles, 237 St. James Place,
Zahav is a fabulous, delicious, fascinating, and pricy place to eat. Serving middle eastern and Israeli food in small plates and larger dishes, it is not solely vegetarian but offers plenty of veggie options. It is also good for the gluten-free among us.

Khyber Pass Pub (0.4 miles, 56 S. 3nd Street,
A bar that has vegan pulled pork, vegan sausage, and vegan fried chicken? Yes.

Vedge (1.2 miles, 1221 Locust Street,
Eating at Vedge is both expensive and glorious. Located in the former townhouse home of my all-time favorite restaurant, Deux Chimnees, Vedge very nearly makes up for the loss of that now-closed restaurant. This is vegan dining that even the most meat-oriented person will enjoy. Great cocktails complement the mostly small plates food, and they offer good happy hour specials. Vedge can also cater to gluten-free eating and other food allergies. Make reservations as far in advance as possible!

Sweet Freedom (1.6 miles, 1424 South Street,
Sweet Freedom is a vegan bakery on South Street near Broad. They are also kosher, and have gluten-free options. Oh, and also soy-free, corn-free, peanut-free, and sugar-free options. Seriously.

Sweet Freedom by alexabboud

Gluten Free

Ristorante Panorama (0.3 miles, Front and Market Streets,
I haven’t tried this restaurant located in the Penn’s View Hotel, but I know as a gluten-free foodie, sometimes I just want pasta. And nothing else will do. This Italian restaurant carries pasta made from quinoa and brown rice, and most of their non-pasta entrees are gluten-free, as well. Plus, it’s very close to the conference hotel.

Lite Choice (0.5 miles, 135 South Street, and 1.5 miles, 1528 Walnut Street,
I’m not sure exactly what gluten-free ice cream is, but apparently they have it. It’s kosher, too.

Taffets (1.4 miles, 1024 S. 9th Street,
This little bakery is a hike from the hotel, but worth it if you are gluten-free and craving real bread or other baked goods. These people know what they’re doing. Also, you can check out the Italian market while you’re there – reason enough to make the trip!


Homemade Goodies by Roz (0.7 miles, 510 S. 5th Street,
A kosher and non-dairy bakery, they carry cookies, cakes, challah, muffins, scones and more.

Pomegranates Cafe (0.7 miles, 101 S. Independence Mall East, Cafe at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Kosher options.

Hamifgash (0.8 miles, 811-13 Sansom Street,
Hamifgash is a BYOB Turkish, glatt kosher, and vegetarian restaurant serving a variety of dishes including sandwiches, grilled entrees, fish, falafel, and salads.

Blackbird Pizzeria (0.8 miles, 507 S. 6th Street, Blackbird is vegan as well as kosher! (1.8 miles, 1901 Chestnut Street, A glatt kosher burger place, offering beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, fish, and veggie burgers, as well as fries, salads, platters, and soup.

Za [at Blackbird Pizzeria] by williumbillium


Ariana Restaurant (0.4 miles, 134 Chestnut Street,
Very close to the hotel is this BYOB Halal Afghan restaurant. Plus: Hookah lounge.

Halal Gyro King (1.2 miles, 12th and Chestnut Streets)
A little lunch cart with a big following. Many Halal food trucks can be found throughout the city!

Quetta Halal Market (2.2 miles, 500 S. 23rd Street)
Alas, most Halal places aren’t near the conference hotel, and this is no exception – however, it’s the closest halal market that I know of.

Saad’s Halal Restaurant (3.9 miles, 4500 Walnut Street,
For the adventurous and urban-terrain savvy archivist, West Philadelphia is the best bet for Halal options. Saad’s is reported to be one of the best Halal restaurants in Philly.

Kabobeesh (3.7 miles, 4201 Chestnut Street,
In the same neighborhood as Saad’s is another popular option, Kabobeesh. Kabobs, Indian dishes, meats, vegetarian, you name it! A second location is opening on South Street in November – maybe by the conference, maybe not.


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