Has Hell Frozen Over? Vegetarian Cheesesteak Gets The Seal of Approval?

My mission to Govindas’s Vegetarian To- Go may have been motivated by a carnivore’s smugness, an assumption that fake meat is categorically lame. My expectations were low, to say the least. I didn’t care how many hippies penned odes of love for Govinda.

But when I walked in (to the informal take out area, as opposed to the dining room which has a separate menu), I didn’t hate it. There were no wheatgrass lined windows, no ironic posters, not even a menu written on a chalkboard with cutsey handwriting and drawings.  I didn’t feel like the people behind the counter would detect last night’s pork on me and scorn me for it. It was just about getting the food; I appreciated that.

At the stark counter, with no judgments passed on either side, I ordered my fake meat.

I went for the combo meal, a half sandwich and soup for $7. Govinda’s classic “Philly Chicken Cheese Stake” sandwich with soy chicken and peppers was recommended. First off, the half sandwich is really big. This was not the case where you get a sad triangle of sandwich bread, it was a real hefty, fully loaded halfie.

As I munched my mock meat, my very first thought was, “oh, snap, I really like this.” The “chicken” pieces had a really soft, pleasant texture like a combo of what chicken feels like when you chew it and what a softer cheese feels like when you chew it. Soy chicken must be absorbent, it completely picked up the spices and grilled flavor.  And it looked like chicken. To be honest, if you fed this to me while I was drunk and told me it was chicken, I would not question you. I didn’t go full vegan, I got my milked cow cheese, and that helped bring the sandwich components all together.

I wonder if other sandwich offerings are as good; the zucchini melt and golden tofu wrap sound particularly tempting.

My little container of soup ended up being enjoyable too. I ordered the “chicken” salsa soup, it had a fresh taste of tomatoes and spices. The bits of fake chicken in it were different from those in my sandwich, but I liked them too. It came with a bit of the same sesame seed bread that the sandwich was also served on.

So,  hunters and gatherers unite! Pull up a stool and share a meal together.  Govinda’s certainly put my carnivore ass in its place.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Vegetarian goodness for everyone
  • I like a no frills setting, just give me the goods
  • $7 healthy lunch combo includes a sizable half sandwich

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I am a firm believe that if there is no meat, it isn’t a real meal
  • I prefer a more decorated setting

Govinda’s Vegetarian To Go, Broad and South St, 215-545-5452



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