The 2015 Vegan Cheesesteak Contest

The 2014 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly winner, from Blackbird Pizzeria.

In 2014, with the help of many food-loving Philadelphians, after 1000 votes, an online poll and a nail-biting blind tasting event, we named the Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly. It was Blackbird Pizzeria.

But is it still? Since that time, Blackbird has changed its recipe - and owner Mark Mebus claims this year's edition is even better. Meanwhile, we saw 23 venues nominated last year, but even that wasn't all the places that offer a meatless, cheeseless version of the iconic Philly sandwich. If you know of one, let them know, as we open the 2nd Annual Daily News / V for Veg Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly Contest - not just a fun event, it's a Philadelphia tradition!

Voting is now open here at philly.com. This year, no Twitter votes or email votes, but at that link you can vote one time each day up until noon on March 18. One voter chosen at random will win dinner for 2 at Flora Restaurant in Jenkintown.

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UPDATE - 12:30 p.m. - March 18th

The race to determine finalists persisted into the last hours among the top four spots, with the lineup finally emerging as below. Our finalists are:

* Royal Tavern
* Blackbird Pizzeria
* Jerry's Kitchen

These three venues will compete in the taste test this Friday, March 20 at 4 p.m. at Weavers Way Chestnut Hill to determine the 2015 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philadelphia.

Here is the final top-10 vote-getters among all nominees. Royal Tavern, at the top, wins People's Choice Sandwich, and as a newcomer this year also takes the award for Best Newcomer. The full top 10 will be printed in Thursday's Daily News.

1. Royal Tavern
2. Blackbird Pizzeria
3. Jerry's Kitchen
4. Vegan Commissary
5. Govinda's to Go
6. HipCityVeg
7. The Abbaye
8. Sabrina's
9. Carmen's Pizza in Milmont
10. El Camino Real

Here are the top 10 spots for those who qualified for finals. The distinction did not wind up altering the finalists' selection as everyone from position 8 and above was a qualifier.

1. Royal Tavern
2. Blackbird Pizzeria
3. Jerry's Kitchen
4. Vegan Commissary
5. Govinda's to Go
6. HipCityVeg
7. The Abbaye
8. Sabrina's
9. (Tie:)
Sumo Steaks /
Vegan Tree
10. (Tie:)
Citi Marketplace /
Hibiscus Juice Bar /
Lee's Deli /
Vge Cafe

ALSO:  See who will be tasting and judging the top finalists on March 20.

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PREVIOUSLY:

All venues that were contestants last year have been notified and nearly all are nominated this year. But you may know of more, so voters can use the bottom of the page to write in new venues that will be confirmed and added to the voting system. If you're reading this and you're in charge of such a venue, you can nominate yourself.

Nominated venues are entitled to a colorful flyer they can post that alerts patrons to vote for them in the contest. These will be delivered to all venues that requested them by the end of this week. New nominees requesting flyers thereafter will receive them promptly.

All meatless sandwiches at commercial venues in the Daily News coverage area may enter the general contest and garner votes. The sandwich with the most votes at the end of the voting period will be awarded "People's Choice Sandwich." The top vote-getting venue that was not in the 2014 contest will win "Best Newcomer."

Additionally, some will qualify for the finals: These sandwiches must be in a long-roll cheesesteak format, and must be served on a 100% vegan roll (no animal-derived stabilizers/conditioners etc.). The top 3 vote-getters among those that have qualified will move on to the finals.

On March 20 at Weavers Way Co-op in Chestnut Hill, as part of a day-long vegan celebration in conjunction with the Great American Meatout, we will convene our esteemed panel of judges to taste and rank these 3 sandwiches and determine the 2015 winner of the title Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly.

This post will be updated with developments throughout the contest, so check back tomorrow and let the world know who you've said has the best animal-free cheesesteak in town

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