When you envision a diner, images of piles of eggs, bacon, fries and pancakes come to mind. At Ithaca’s first vegan diner, Angelhearts, very similar items can be found on the menu. The Engelharts, who have long craved starting a family-owned restaurant, opened Angelhearts Diner in August of 2019. According to an Ithaca Journal article, Kim named the diner “Angelhearts” because by eating vegan, “you are choosing compassion in your food.” The family makes every dish from scratch, aside from Susie’s Seitan, which is made locally in Ithaca. They create vegan cheeses out of cashews and soy, offer many gluten-free and wheat-free options and focus on fresh ingredients. Their decor, as well as their menu options, recreates the classic diner atmosphere with brightly colored booths and a tiled floor. The staff are friendly and provided helpful suggestions on what to order. Angelhearts offers a wide selection of breakfast and lunch options, as well as desserts, so it is best to arrive hungry.
The spread | My parents and I visited Angelhearts for brunch served on Sunday mornings. As we are all vegan, a new vegan restaurant was too exciting to pass up. We ordered the Tofu Benedict (12 dollars), The Full Plate (12 dollars), the Beet Burger Salad (8 dollars), a cup of drip coffee (3 dollars) and a slice of Chocolate Dream pie (6 dollars).
Tofu Benedict | The Tofu Benedict is a freshly-made biscuit topped with veggies, seasoned tofu patties and smoked coconut bacon, with hollandaise sauce spread on top. The tofu was spiced just right and had a thick, yet crumbly, texture. The hollandaise sauce was flavorful and enhanced by the tomato and spinach on top. The biscuit was moist and had a great mouth feel, similar to the pleasant experience of the tofu “eggs.” My dad thought the Tofu Benedict was “excellent” — a rare review.
Full Plate | The Full Plate consisted of a seasoned tofu scramble with veggies, homefries, sausage and a biscuit. The tofu scramble was a nice texture, although a bit too oily for my liking. The home fries were delicious; the potatoes were slightly mashed and moist, yet still somewhat crispy without being overly fried. The sausage had the consistency of scrapple, great spicing and an authentic crumbly texture.
Beet Burger Salad | The Beet Burger Salad was filling, but not heavy. It contained a handmade beet patty on a bed or organic greens, sprouts, veggies and smoked coconut bacon sprinkled on top. The beet burger was chewy, moist and had a unique texture, unlike a store-bought burger. The coconut bacon, made from fresh coconut, was flavorful and not greasy at all. My mom ordered a side of multigrain toast and commented that the addition of grain was a necessity to the dish.
Mocha Pie | The coffee, whose beans are roasted by Oak & Crow, was decent, but made better by the free refills. The Chocolate Dream pie was excellent; you would never know it’s non dairy. The creamy filling was complemented well by the chocolate graham cracker crust. The pie was rich, chocolatey, firm and left no heavy aftertaste. It was a perfect end to the meal.
Although many Ithaca residents seem to be open to a more plant-based diet, Angelhearts Diner is only the second fully vegan restaurant currently open in Ithaca. Even Moosewood, well-known around the country as a landmark vegetarian eatery, offers seafood. I hope that the Ithaca community patronizes Angelhearts Diner and encourages other vegan eateries to open. Not only does Angelhearts provide delicious food and a nostalgic atmosphere, but they have created a place for vegans and non-vegans alike to experience how classic American dishes can be deliciously plant-based.
Melanie Metz is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.