When heading to the Orlando area, there were a few restaurants that we were certain to revisit from our last trip in 2013. At the top of that list: Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park. The menu at Ethos is full of comfort foods and homestyle sandwiches. It looks like so many other American restaurants with one big difference – all of the food is vegan. The food isn’t too expensive with sandwiches in the $8 dollar range, appetizers around $4 and $5, and entrees coming in around $12.
The restaurant is spacious with a long bar and plenty of seating, and yet one of the nights we went, there was a 20 minute wait. Coming from a place with one vegan restaurant, it’s always a novelty when we have to wait at a restaurant. Most of the places we frequent in small town Iowa, we walk right in and sit down. However, it makes my heart happy that they are doing such good business at Ethos that the place requires a wait on a Friday or Saturday night. So that night we grabbed a seat at the bar once one became available.
Another cool thing about Ethos is the mix of customers. It brings in a diverse crowd and a mix of young to old. I don’t know the percentage of their customers that are vegan, but it felt like Ethos was a place that people just liked, regardless of how they ate at other meals.
On our last trip to Florida, I’d skipped one of their most well-known sandwiches, and I’d been kicking myself ever since. So this time I knew I wouldn’t leave Orlando without trying their What’s the Dilly, Philly? The Philly is made with big chunks of seitan, sautéed peppers and onions, and melted Daiya on a long hoagie bun. It was served with a mango-tomato salsa that tasted fresh and popping with flavor and reminded me of the mango salsa I make in the summer. The Philly had a great chew to it and was filling and hearty.
David ordered the pizza with his choice of toppings. He went with mushrooms, onions, garlic, and sausage. The sausage was sliced Italian sausage from Tofurky. Having a taste of it really took me back to my early vegan days when we’d buy that sausage regularly.
Speaking of David, the appetizer that was his obsession to repeat again were the garlic knots with melted vegan butter for dipping. So on another trip we ordered them to start the meal, and they were just as heavenly as remembered. The light knots almost melt in your mouth, so hot and soft. They are brushed with vegan butter and a smattering of parmesan-style cheese.
For that meal, I went with the BBQ Chickun plate, which came with sautéed collard greens, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and gravy. I believe that the chickun they use is Gardein. The barbecue sauce was a little sweeter than I prefer and the coleslaw on the bland side, but everything else was tasty.
David ordered the Chickun Marsala with button mushrooms and a chickun that I believe was Gardein in a Marsala wine sauce on top of spaghetti. He enjoyed it, but barely put a dent in it because the serving size was so large. This is definitely not a place where you’re leaving hungry.
We hadn’t planned on going to Ethos a third time on our trip, but a failed attempt at going to another restaurant took us back to a sure thing. As luck would have it, it was a Monday, which is the day they have their reuben special. As a huge reuben-fan, that was a major bonus. Their reubens are made with Tofurky slices, a layering of sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing.
The reuben was reminiscent of the one at Follow Your Heart, because the sauerkraut and dressing take center stage (unlike the reuben at Chicago Diner, say, where the focus is all about the pickled seitan). I paid a little extra for a side of sautéed asparagus, which came in a generous serving amount. I seriously could have split my plate with someone else, and there would have been plenty for two.
David ordered the All American burger, which I believe was the Gardein beefless burger, David’s favorite veggie burger. It was stacked with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions on a Kaiser roll and served with chips and mango-tomato salsa.
So what’s my plan for next time? I’m not going to miss getting one of their sundaes. The night we were seated at the bar, we saw the bartender making them all night with vegan ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped topping, and a maraschino cherry on top. We had big hopes that we wouldn’t be so full after dinner, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Next time!
Heading to the Orlando area? See more things to see and do in Winter Park in this recent post.