It isn’t always easy to find places to eat that offer vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options, but the cafés around Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia offer plenty of choices. Although some may not expect this neighborhood to offer such varied cuisine, both locals and tourists will be surprised to see what they find when they take a closer look in Cedar Park and Spruce Hill.
Located at 4907 Catharine St., Hibiscus (above) is a quaint vegan joint with an extensive menu.
“We have juices and smoothies, vegan and vegetarian food, gluten-free options and some fish,” store manager Jessica Matluck said. “One of our signature items is our vegan cheesesteak. Ours was named the second-best vegan cheesesteak in Philadelphia.”
The menu also includes pizza, quesadillas, wraps, produce and baked goods.
As for the atmosphere?
“Our customers are mostly local people and UPenn students,” Matluck said.
Everything on the menu is between $3 and $13.
The Gold Standard Café
The Gold Standard Café (above) at 4800 Baltimore Ave. opened about eight years ago. The eye-catching spot won a historical award for its renovations, manager Naomi Fiordimondo said. The location has both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a full service coffee bar. It also offers teas, juices, Italian sodas and vegan and gluten-free food options on separate café and brunch menus.
“We get a really nice mix of customers because the atmosphere is great,” Fiordimondo said. “It’s like being at home for people. It’s a great hub for Cedar Park’s neighbors.”
The food is freshly prepared and the average price per order is around $10.
Cedar Park Café
The Cedar Park Café (above) at 4912 Baltimore Ave. has vegetarian options in addition to traditional brunch foods.
“We serve local customers fresh breakfast and lunch seven days a week,” owner Nicole Elle said.
While more local students visit the café on weekends, there is usually a mix of younger and older people throughout the week. Elle said sandwiches run anywhere between $3 and $8.
The Green Line Café
At the corner of 34th Street and Baltimore Avenue sits the Green Line Café (above). Brothers-in-law Daniel Thut and Douglas Witmer own the Green Line, which offers sandwiches, bagels, muffins, scones and vegan cupcakes, as well as an assortment of beverages.
At 4630 Baltimore Ave., Aksum (above) is a modern Mediterranean kitchen led by chef Wayne Whiteside. The menu includes soups, salads, tapas, lamb, sea bass and tofu. Many options are vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten-free. The BYOB eatery also offers various flavors of hookah.
– Text and images by Courtney Burrell and Shauna Cottle