FINALISTS in 2017 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly contest

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Split-screen image shows portions of each of the 2017 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly finalists' vegan cheesesteaks: (L to R) Wiz Kid, Blackbird Pizzeria and Frankie's on Fairview.

VOTE RANK UPDATE : MARCH 20 - 12:30 p.m.

CONGRATULATIONS to our 2017 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly finalists!

  • Blackbird Pizzeria
  • Frankies on Fairview 
  • Wiz Kid

What a nail-biter! An across-the-board last-minute vote surge helped carry Blackbird back over the top and past yesterday's number-one, Frankie's on Fairview, in the Philly vote - and also eked out a squeaker of a win as Fan Favorite over Wiz Kid in the Vegan Cheesesteak Fans Everywhere category. Wiz Kid is the winner of Top Newcomer. Fan winners will be announced in an update tomorrow. Our top ten vote-getters (below) are all invited to submit their vegan cheesesteak pics (at least 600px wide) for the official 2017 image gallery.

Blackbird now has a strong game going into the finals as a judges' tie between Blackbird and another venue would be decided in 'Fan Favorite' Blackbird's favor. But of course, on Thursday, it will all come down the to the vegan cheesesteaks themselves. Hope you can make it to the Final Judging Event and do your own vegan-cheesesteak judging!

PRIZE UPDATE - MARCH 22:

Our two voter prizes have now been revealed: The Sweepstakes Winner, chosen at random from all those who voted, is Nadyne Zander, who will be treated to dinner for 2 at Miss Rachel's Pantry and also gets in free to Thursday's Final Judging Event. Our social-media Superfan is twitter user @juliepfeif, who hammered away day after day at tweets urging votes for Frankie's on Fairview, and even got a few RTs to put her above the rest of the Frankie's-tweeting crowd. Julie will receive a custom-created cheesesteak from chef Christina Martin and Michael Cassady of Michael's Seitan, as well as a vegan-themed T-shirt from Wear Bare Bones, plus a copy of Eating Vegan in Philly.

FINAL 2017  VOTE RANK

Philly:

  1. Blackbird Pizzeria
  2. Frankies on Fairview
  3. Wiz Kid
  4. Royal Tavern
  5. The Tasty
  6. HipCityVeg
  7. Triangle Tavern
  8. Tattooed Mom
  9. The Abbaye
  10. Govinda's

Everywhere:

Blackbird Pizzeria
Wiz Kid
Frankies on Fairview

EARLIER:

With vegan cheesesteaks showing up at more places than ever in Philly (and everywhere), we want to identify - and eat - the best vegan cheesesteaks around. And at noon on March 10, with the help of Frank Olivieri, Jr. and Christina Pirello, the fourth annual 2017 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly contest launched with the opening of online voting.

Thanks to our esteemed judges for agreeing to help us determine the Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly on March 23rd at The Ethical Society. Here are our 2017 judges:

* JENICE ARMSTRONG

Jenice Armstrong is an award-winning columnist who writes about local and national news for the Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com. She's also worked at the Washington Post and the Associated Press. Jenice created and continues to produce the Daily News' popular "Sexy Singles" feature as well as the Oprah-style “My Favorite Things” Holiday Gift Guide/Giveaway. A longtime self-professed "V for Veg" fan and supporter, Armstrong also helped advise on the original creation of the Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly contest.

* FRAN COSTIGAN

Fran Costigan the “Queen of Vegan Desserts,” is Director of Vegan Pastry and Baking at Rouxbe online cooking school and lead instructor of the Essential Vegan Desserts Course. Her first vegan-dessert cookbooks, Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally (2000) and More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally (2006), set the standard for the hundreds that followed. Her 2012 book Vegan Chocolate was published by Philadelphia's Running Press. Costigan brings her international culinary expertise in animal-free fun foods to Philly from her base in NYC.

* KENYATTA JOHNSON

Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson represents the 2nd district. He previously served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives representing the 186th District. In addition to his significant legislative work, he's also known for his veg-friendly eating habits. In a 2015 GRID profile entitled 'Celebrity Vegetarian,' Johnson said “I know I would have less energy and would be less healthy if my diet wasn’t plant-based,” and in closing mentioned one of the city's favorite vegan cheesesteaks.

* JOEL SPIVAK

Architect, artist, author and community activist, Joel Spivak helped lead the renaissance of South Street in the 1970s and early 1980s, coordinating with artists and builders and opening his own specialty toy store, Rocketships & Accessories. In 1992 he co-founded the artists' collective the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers, where he is known as the "Trolley Lama" for his expertise in Philadelphia public-transit history. He also originated Philadelphia’s National Hot Dog Month celebration, which spotlights both nonvegan and vegan sandwiches.


As vegan cheesesteak lovers know, this is an exciting time, with 2016 champion (and first-year winner) Blackbird Pizzeria defending the crown against dozens of fine vegan cheesesteaks including several newcomers this year. Philly voters are encouraged to try the sandwiches at as many venues as possible to assure the highest-quality decision-making in the 'Philly' category. Everyone can vote in the 'Everywhere' category, which will serve to break a tie in the final judging.

Voting results and ranking will be updated on this page every day from March 11 to March 20, when the voting period ends. The top three vote-getters with qualifying sandwiches will advance on to the final round. One voter chosen at random will win a deluxe dinner for 2 at Miss Rachel's Pantry. One twitter voter will be named '2017 Vegan Cheesesteak Superfan' (see rules) and will win a prize package including a custom-cooked cheesesteak and more.

The Final Judging event will occur on March 23rd at 6:00 p.m. at The Ethical Society (1906 Rittenhouse Square) and will be emceed by Frank Olivieri, Jr, owner of Pat's Steaks, the originator of the cheesesteak sandwich. The March 23rd event will feature vegan cheesesteak sampling by at least five venues. (Yes, we know the 2016 event had just two, and the logistical issues behind that have been dealt with to assure a diversity of sampling options this year.)

This event will also feature appetizers by Lenka Zivcovic of The Plough and The Stars, plus special surprises. Advance tickets are $5, or $7 at the door.

The top three finalists will have their sandwiches tasted and judged by a panel of 4 esteemed judges who will be named on Monday, March 13. The winner will become the 2017 champion holding the title of Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly!

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