Since it opened in 2012, Hibiscus Cafe has been serving up veganism, Jamaican–style. Their menu includes foods and beverages with substitutes like almond milk, coconut milk, vegan cheese, turkey substitute, tuna substitute, and more. 

We tried some of their à la carte items to start, which included a vegetable patty and sweet potato bread. The vegetable patty had a crisp, warm, and flaky crust filled with peas, carrots, corn, and beans. It was more like chicken pot pie minus the chicken than a traditional Jamaican patty because it lacked the spice the meat typically adds. But it definitely makes a good comfort food. 

The sweet potato bread was so bland I couldn't see the point in finishing it—you could tell it was vegan by its consistency and lack of flavor. They also offer a banana bread which might be a safer bet, considering bananas offer a bit more sweetness.

Photo: Emma Boey

For drinks, we picked two smoothies, though they also offer a variety of juices and what they call “super food smoothies,” although those are $7.50. The peanut punch smoothie tasted like it was made with peanuts rather than store–bought peanut butter. It also had banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, Irish moss, agave, and almond milk. All the ingredients came together well and made it super flavorful. The island mix smoothie is more traditional in its fruity ingredients. It contains pineapple, mango, kiwi, and coconut milk. I was surprised how well you could detect the kiwi, which gave it a sweet and refreshing tropical vibe.

Photo: Emma Boey

For our entrees, we had the garden wrap with fake turkey added (+$2) and the vegan Philly cheesesteak. The garden wrap was very fresh and I love how colorful the inside looked. There was lettuce, tomato, peppers, onion, and the “turkey.” The surprise ingredient was apples, which ended up being my favorite part, adding a sweetness and a crunch to the wrap. 

If I got it again, I’d skip the up–charge for the fake turkey. I was flavorless and really only added the consistency of meat, but it's still a good option for those who don't eat poultry. As for the Philly cheesesteak, it was made with seitan (wheat gluten meat substitute), vegan cheese, onions, peppers, and ketchup on multigrain bread. The seitan was rather chewy and not the most flavorful, but still pretty tasty. This was mostly due to the vegan cheese, which was the best part. 

Photo: Emma Boey

The overall vibe of the place was alright, but it isn’t really the kind of place where you hang around. There are only five two–person tables and all the food is packaged to–go. Jamaican music played from the radio. Surprisingly, it was from a Drexel University radio station. 

The walls have really pretty murals of florals designs and bright colors and plants sit by the front window. I would definitely hop on the Septa and go again, and maybe take a few more vegetable patties to go!