The Best of 2020 According to The Vegan Experimentalist

 To mark the end of a weird year, I thought I'd do something fun by creating a 'best of' list with categories chosen by yours truly. It's a way to highlight the best things I ate (all vegan, of course) in 2020. Cheers to a New Year filled with delicious vegan food!

Best Overall

Veggie combo @ Kaffa Crossing in Philadelphia, PA

All 5 samplers in the veggie combo are absolute stunners. My favorite is the cabbage. They give two large pieces of injera to scoop it all up with. For $11, I will never say no to Kaffa Crossing, and you shouldn't either.

Best Feast

Salatim and Skewers @ Laser Wolf in Philadelphia, PA

Your palette will explode from all the unique flavors of the salatim from Laser Wolf. You can't get get this variety anywhere else. While the menu is ever-changing, there are always a few vegan proteins. On your next special occasion, grab your pita, and go all in.

Best Salad

Raw Earth salad @ Drop Squad Kitchen in Wilmington, DE

Nestled in a small space along Wilmington's Riverwalk, this black-owned business is serving up spectacular plant-based food. Your next salad should definitely come from Drop Squad Kitchen, they pack so much flavor into everything on the menu. It's very fresh and undeniably good!

Best Wings

Spicy sweet seitan wings @ Blackbird Pizza in Philadelphia, PA

I've loved Blackbird Pizza since they took over the space formerly occupied by Gianna's off of South Street. Now in their NoLib home for a few years, they are still slinging the best pies and wings in Philly. The wings are so crispy and the sauce is so sticky. It is really out of this world. 

Best Pastry

Potato Leek Börek @ Yufka Bakery in Washington, DC

When you try a new food for the first time and realize you've been missing out all these years, it's a hard pill to swallow. However, I'm grateful to have learned about the deliciousness that is Turkish Börek, a phyllo dough filled with sweet or savory delights. The owner, Dejan, handmakes all his phyllo and puts a lot of love into each pie (and labels the vegan flavors, so you know what's up!).

Best Donuts

Lovebirds in Kittery, ME

Philly Pholks, don't come for me. We love Dottie's. However, Lovebirds has me under their spell. Part of what makes it special is that a bomb vegan donut shop is located in Maine in a town with a population of less than 10,000. Everything was exquisite, I'm crying just thinking about it.

Best Chocolate

Divine Treasures in Manchester, CT

You could easily miss this European chocolatier hidden in a strip mall east of Hartford. But don't. Divine Treasures has cases of handmade specialty chocolate. A favorite is the harvest apple caramel. In-store they also have baked goods, soft serve, nut cheezes, and other savory take-and-bake items.

Best Sandwich

Tofu Banh Mi @ The Stand in Fairfield, CT

I think I was particularly fond of this sandwich because I had it for breakfast. Sometimes finding something more than a dry bagel for breakfast as a vegan is difficult, and I appreciate somewhere that serves their menu all-day so I can get something hearty 'round the clock. I really like pickled veg on this sandwich to bring a crisp sour and sweetness.  

Best Vegan Bakery

Papa Ganache in Matawan and Cranford, NJ

I first had Papa Ganache after finishing some work this summer in North Jersey. After a long day I appreciated cooling off with a cold creamy drink and a pastry. They've recently opened a second location (conveniently) off the Garden State Parkway in Cranford. Make sure to check out their almond croissant and the savory section.

Best Wraps

Wildflower Vegan in Millville, NJ

We're giving South Jersey some love on this countdown. Wildflower Vegan in Millville is something special. They have a great selection of wraps like buffalo tofu and rosemary seitan with your choice of dressing. I like to get the ranch on the side to dip, dip, dip. Their bakery case is outstanding, you will definitely grabbing a slice of cheesecake.

Best Use of Garlic

Garlic knots @ Slice Pizza in Washington Township, NJ

The picture does not show how huge these garlic knots are. They're oily, and so garlicky (and labeled vegan!). A trip to slide is the ultimate indulgence (especially if you get some thin cut fries on the side). Slice has two locations in Philly and one in Jersey for your pizza pleasure.  

Best Use of Potatoes

Potato salad @ Vegan Ahava in New Haven, CT

While she's famous for her plates, I must have said 'wow' between each and every bite of this potato salad side from Vegan Ahava. I love a good potato salad, especially with some fresh herbs and good seasoning. If you're in New Haven check out this black-owned food truck when it's parked along the Green several times a week.

Best Transformation of Eggplant

Garlic Eggplant @ Unit Su Vege in Philadelphia, PA

Sometimes eggplant is yuck to me—it can be bitter and foamy. We have all been there, pretending to like it. So, when an eggplant dish really wows me, it must be remarked upon. Unit Su Vege turned up the heat on their eggplant and tofu in garlic sauce dish. I will order this again and again.