A few days ago I picked up a rental car in preparation for my trip back home to NYC to visit la familia, and had a major craving for dessert. This is the first time I haven’t had a car of my own since sophomore year of college (which was a good little while ago), and while Philly is easy to navigate transportation wise, there is nothing like the freedom you have with your own vehicle. That being said, when I picked up my rental on Thursday, I felt excitement bubbling through my bones! Immediately, I scanned my brain thinking of all the places and things I wanted to do now that I had some wheels. That’s when my sweet tooth kicked in and I remembered the gluten free, vegan friendly, bakery I had found online (see my review of Sweet Freedom Bakery). So, I called my friend Niya and twenty minutes later we were heading down to South Philly. On the way, we passed one of Niya’s favorite eateries and because food is one of the many things that unites us as friends, there was no need for her to ask if I was hungry. “Stop here Mish. We’ve gotta get something from here before we go anywhere else.”
The signs outside read Gourmet To Go Vegetarian, but once you enter, there’s a big huge chalkboard menu behind the cashier that says Govinda’s Vegetarian. Niya went on to tell me that she’s been coming to this place for years and can’t pass it without coming in and ordering something. All dishes are vegetarian with vegan options like soy cheese and vegan mayo. They don’t have gluten free breads or desserts but all desserts are vegan. Also, if you are looking for a gluten free meal, it can be found here in the form of a soup and salad or their veggie meatballs.
I must admit, I was pretty overwhelmed with the menu and while I try to go gluten free as much as possible, I am not totally off the bread bandwagon yet, so I knew I was getting a sandwich. I opted for half of a Kofta Sub (veggie meatballs, marinara, and soy cheese) and a small Yellow Split Pea soup. Niya got the same soup but ordered the Golden Tofu wrap (soft tofu in a ginger tamarind & tahini sauce, rice, peppers, cheese in a red chili flour tortilla), and the Tuna Salad Wrap (peppers, celery, lettuce, mayo in a spinach flour tortilla). The portions are nice and big and the staff is very friendly.
The soup was different from any Yellow Split Pea soup that I’d ever had. It was pretty good, but whatever extra spice they threw in there gave it a bit of a bitter taste that I wasn’t crazy about. The Kofta Sub was quite tasty (and messy), but after tasting Niya’s wraps, I kinda wished I had opted for a burrito or wrap instead. Her tuna wrap tasted so much like the real thing, that we actually went back to the chef to verify that it was really a vegan dish! I didn’t try any desserts, but they looked absolutely delicious. They will definitely serve as my excuse to go back, and boy, am I looking forward to it!
Govinda’s Gourmet Vegetarian
1400 South St.,
Philadelphia, PA 19146