Summer’s gone and so are the backyard barbecues where slabs of meat grilled to perfection were hailed as mealtime superstars.
Nature has begun its spectacular display of color-changing foliage as the temperature dips a bit and the days get shorter. Seasonal changes are taking place not only outdoors but indoors as well, namely the kitchen. Our palates start craving heartier, more substantial meals and typically those meals include lots of protein in the form of meat. Rarely are vegetables the star of the show—they tend to find themselves taking a culinary backseat as mere side dishes especially at the holiday table.
Thankfully, in recent years, scores of talented chefs have cropped up and made it their mission to change that mindset.
Any vegetable-loving foodie can tell you that there are myriad ways to transform ingredients like vegetables, legumes, and grains into meals so hearty, meat won’t even be missed. The greater Wilmington area is home to a slew of restaurants that shine a well-deserved light on veggies and all things non-meat. Here are 5 places around town where you can totally veg out:
- Drop Squad Kitchen – Tucked away on the backside of what is, essentially, a strip mall on the Wilmington Riverfront is a veritable vegan nirvana. It must be said—this isn’t your mama’s veggie restaurant. In fact, the crew behind this little gem proudly proclaim that they’re “unapologetically vegan”. No boring salads or uninspired dishes here and kale isn’t a dirty 4-letter word. The chef excels at converting traditionally meat-centric dishes into vegan versions—think healthy wraps, comfort food classics, and desserts. (You’d be wise to save room for one of the to-die-for nut milk-based milkshakes—it’s a sweet and healthy way to cap off a great meal.)
- Home Grown Café – This funky little hotspot has been a Newark staple for almost 20 years and it’s easy to see why. You could call the popular café hipster/hippie-chic (relax—in a good way) and you’d be right. From the eclectic décor and artwork that lines the walls to the host of varied suitable-for-everyone menus (yes, meat is served here), Home Grown is the kind of cozy that feeds your soul and your belly. Globally-inspired dishes like the tofu banh mi and the chimichurri seitan mac & cheese are downright delish.
- V-Trap Kitchen and Lounge – You’ve got to appreciate a place whose mission is to create a “nude food” revolution. Keep your clothes on—V-Trap’s food philosophy is based on one that is centered around serving wholesome, “clean” vegan dishes. The restaurant’s menu is an eclectic mash-up of a variety of cuisines and traditions that span the globe. A classic sloppy Joe gets transformed into a sloppy Jack here, with an innovative substitution of pulled jackfruit; and simple roasted potatoes get a Spanish patatas bravas-like makeover with smoked paprika and a creamy chipotle. In addition to the restaurant, the lounge hosts a variety of social events and happy hours that truly make V-Trap a jack(fruit)-of-all-trades.
- Daily Veg – This 100% plant-based restaurant serves up casual comfort food—burgers, wraps, and sandwiches—from its Hockessin location. Jumping on one of the plant-based world’s latest culinary trends, the sandwich shop even has the much-lauded “Impossible Burger” on its menu. Just when you think Daily Veg isn’t reinventing the wheel with its classic offerings, surprise menu items like coconut “bacon” make an appearance. Organic, cold-pressed juices, milkshakes, smoothies and smoothie bowls round out the vegetarian-friendly roster.
- Eat Clean – Any healthy eatery is a welcomed addition to downtown Wilmington’s dining scene and this juice bar doesn’t disappoint. Sure, the house specialty is a varied lineup of fresh-pressed juices, but if you’re not inclined to drink your meal, there’s a concise but delicious menu of salads, wraps, smoothies, and smoothie bowls to fuel you up. Although the restaurant does serve meat, the real stars here are the plant-based ones. The Mediterranean-inspired vegan quinoa wrap with quinoa, red onions, cucumbers and tomatoes get tossed with dairy-free cheese and tucked into a tomato-basil wrap—arguably one of the best items on the menu.
For meat-eaters and non-meat eaters alike, it’s heartening to see what local chefs and restaurants are doing to accommodate the growing demand for plant-based dining. Though perhaps not as famously as the Midwest, Delaware is a meat-and-potatoes kind of state, but it just may be time to give veggies their time in the spotlight. This list is certainly not exhaustive; the greater Wilmington area and Brandywine Valley are full of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly dining options. Browse our restaurant directory for more information.