Founder Nicole Marquis said her goal is to make plant-based food that appeals to everyone, regardless of whether they eat meat or not. To do that, her small chain, which she started in Philadelphia in 2012, features vegan riffs on fast-food standard-bearers. "We really don't cater to vegans per se," Marquis said. "Vegans come to us regularly, but the masses, that's who we're really trying to reach." That intention is perhaps best represented by HipCityVeg's second-most-popular item, its Crispy HipCity Ranch, which consists of the company's own battered and fried chick'n (made of grains and soy) along with lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and peppercorn ranch dressing. The chick'n also stars in a fajita wrap and Disco Chick'n sandwich, as well as in nugget form. And here, the fries are made of sweet potatoes.
Other items include a Philly steak sandwich and Ziggy burger with smoked tempeh. More sandwiches and wraps star tofu and grilled or fried mushrooms. You'll also find a variety of salads, such a Jerk Chick'n Caesar and Asian-inspired bowl with udon noodles.
The Groothie, a green smoothie with apples, greens, bananas and other fruit, is HipCityVeg's top seller. (And many customers, do in fact, pair this virtuous-sounding sip with a fried chick'n sandwich.) You can also quench your thirst with kale or carrot-ginger lemonade. On the frozen side, banana whips and soy ice cream milkshakes will keep you cool.
Light, white and airy. There are about 12 seats in the relatively small space -- but fear not, because if you're waiting in line out the door, your order will be taken by an iPad-toting employee so that your food will be waiting for you by the time you reach the counter to pay.