Inspired by the many Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs, we took the our main logo and transformed it into a new Hex Sign that will be used as this year’s award.
The year of 2014 has been blessed with vegan food almost being mainstream reflected by many central Pennsylvania’s restaurant menus. This year’s winners are all local, limited to the counties that are touched by the keystone center of our state (illustrated at the bottom of this page.) The 2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards recognize the year’s best vegetarian foods available by highlighting a few menu items from restaurants we have been able to visit. The annual Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards and past winners are described in further detail at this link.
This year, the categories include region’s best Appetizer, Chili, Veggie Burger, Portobello, Soup, Specials, and Vegetarian Restaurant. Extra focus is put on those restaurants that use local ingredients and create as much as possible in-house.
Happy Valley Brewing Company
State College, PA
Just celebrating it’s first anniversary, Happy Valley Brewing Company takes the award for Best Appetizer for the second year in a row. The Mason Jar again takes this award for the perfect veggie appetizer. Appropriately priced and presented with thematic class, The Mason Jar’s “House Pickled Seasonal Vegetables” are served with a side of locally baked Gemelli crackers. The sweet yet sour brine and the the lightly pickled veggies come out in a short mason jar and frequently reflect the season. Thinly sliced root vegetables are mixed in with a green beans, a couple baby onions and sweet pepper slices that enhance seasoning. The toothsome cracker on the side are great on their own or dipped directly into the pickle juice. It stands exactly as I described in 2013, what an appetizer should be, not a meal on its own but something to get your ready for the quality of the entrees that you can expect. The Mason Jar is great to nibble on with a great beverage but sets you up for wanting to taste more on the menu.
Unbeaten from 2013 is Bullfrog Brewery for Best Chili this year. Their Habanero Veggie Chili is house made and has enough spice to call it a chili. Another outstanding brew pub in Pennsyltucky, the recipe uses it’s flavorful beer to add a pleasant depth of flavor. I love wandering through the lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans and enjoy the tomato chunks, onions, celery and carrot shreds that balance out the best vegetarian chili in our region. I love it piled on their nachos, sitting atop their Veggie Chili Salad or a nice bowl topped with soy cheese.
BEST VEGGIE BURGER
Yorkholo Brewing Co.
It is rare to enter a pub or even diner that now doesn’t have some version of a veggie burger. Many brew pubs are using their spent grain and have really stepped up their house made burgers. This made me have to return for second tastings to at least 3 restaurant. Third year consecutive, Yorkholo Brewing Co. is the best. Their Black Bean and Spent Grain Veggie Burger beat the close second offered by Gamble Mill in Bellefonte. Yorkholo’s burger of black beans, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and onions blended with spent grain, peppers & bread crumbs is still best in all of central Pennsylvania. Congratulations Yorkholo Brewing Co. for streaking this annual award!
Happy Valley Brewing Company
State College, PA
I blanched when I saw that Happy Valley Brewing Company had changed the name of their award winning sandwich. ‘Shroom with a View looked the same on it’s grilled sourdough bread. It is a huge sammich decorated with awesome sprouts and frisée but would the sliced mushrooms still steal the show? I was thrilled, they are still brightly marinated then pleasantly complicated by oregano and grilling with a grounded smokiness. Juicy and firm with grilled tomatoes and with or without the blue cheese aioli, these mushrooms are winners. Again, the Best Portobello I have ever eaten.
The Green Harvest Co.
This was a difficult year to compare soups because the days I chose to visit certain restaurants they were out of their vegetarian options. I can’t judge what I can’t eat and I do love soup. Pretty consistent in offering vegetarian and frequently vegan soups, The Green Harvest Co. has had many outstanding soups this year. Creamed Butternut Squash was a warm autumn puree, the Asian Soup was a clear broth with mushrooms and great spicing and they had a super Gazpacho this past summer. Knowing just how to get the best out of blending seasonings, grains, beans and veggies in a simple broth can be tricky but The Green Harvest Co. has done it consistently this year.
Otto’s Pub & Brewery
State College, PA
Nothing sets my tummy grumbling in anticipation like Wednesday Specials at Otto’s Pub & Brewery. Thier regualr menu has pleanty to offer every day but the vegetarian and vegan specials have stepped up even from years past. The well plated and perfectly prepared Crunchy Vegan Tacos are represented in this photo but it is every single week they have different delights to look forward to. Vegetarian specials of this caliber are found regularly in Philly or New York but that is quite a drive from central PA. I feel really blessed to live close enough to enjoy Wednesday specials at Otto’s Pub & Brewery.
BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
For the second year running, The Seed again wins the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in central PA!
This worker owned collective is thriving in Lancaster with Pizza and Games night, monthly sandwich specials, live music and progressive cause support. It is a spot where everyone feels welcome, cared for and can get a great, meat-free, meal.
The food is always fresh and well thought out. The sides are always a real treat and the Bahn Mi Chay was wonderful. (I wasn’t able to get photos this year but am representing from the ones I took last year and a couple from their Facebook page.)
The Seed has grown into a solid haven for vegetarians and those who love great food. The truly deserve the Best Vegetarian Restaurant in the central PA.
Congratulations to all 2014 Pennsyltucky Veggie Award winners! See links below map if you want to be considered for 2015.
Do you know of a Pennsyltucky restaurant or menu item that you think should be considered in 2015? If it’s in central PA (see map above) and is a regular vegetarian menu item, PLEASE let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment on any of the awards pages!