Even though my trip to Philadelphia was several months ago, I am still sifting through the memories in order to bring some international flavour to this blog. This particular jaunt down memory lane takes us to Essene Market & Cafe in South Philly.
Essene is somewhat of an institution in South Philadelphia. This organic grocer, bakery, delicatessen and cafe has been a part of the city landscape since 1969 (their original store was just around the corner from their current South Fourth Street location). Ask any local for a natural food store and you will surely be told to head to Essene. Even the arrival of a Whole Foods on South Street has failed to dampen the love people feel for this retail stalwart.
The store stocks everything a vegan would need or want. Vegan cheeses, shoes, cosmetics, dairy milk alternatives, cleaning products, ice cream, soy products and anything you would likely find in a grocery store. It isn’t a completely vegan outlet, but rest assured a huge chunk of the goods being sold are cruelty-free.
The cafe located at the back of the store is where Essene truly comes into its own. A long, enticing bain marie is always brimming with delicious vegan dishes. I make sure I visit their cafe whenever I am in town and my last trip was no exception. My friend John (of Kindertrauma) and I piled our plates up with goodness, paid by weight at the counter and got stuck in.
My meal was healthy, satisfying and value for money. I enjoyed a tofu scramble, steamed greens, eggplant, brown rice and a glorious seitan skewer. Honestly I would marry the seitan, which will probably become legal before same-sex marriage does in Pennsylvania.
Snide politcal witticisms aside, Essene is a fantastic place to stock up on vegan groceries and fill up on tasty, wholesome food. Just keep your hands off the seitan. It is spoken for.
Essene, 719 South Fourth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147