The landscape of vegan restaurants in Pittsburgh is pretty solid. With a few heavy hitters all over town, if you’re vegan or just interested in diet, you have a pretty good list to choose from. Viridis, a cafe on the South Side, opened in 2020 and has been serving vegetarian food ever since.
Like many other businesses in the neighborhood, Viridis is located right on the busy East Carson Street. The facade is clean and simple, white paint with Viridis sign in bright white neon. If you look too fast, you may miss it, but this place is worth your attention.
After following Viridis and admiring them on Instagram, I decided it was time to give it a try.
I went to a restaurant for breakfast with a friend. The place is usually open from Thursday to Sunday and they sell out quickly, so we decided to come earlier.
I ordered a burrito for breakfast and my friend got a “sausage, egg and cheese” for the biscuit. We both finished our dishes with chocolate chip cookies and Americana.
First we got cookies, which the coffee shop kindly warmed up for us. It was the most beautiful chocolate chip cookie I’ve seen lately, and it, like everything on the menu, was completely vegan, so I had to try them. The cookies are huge and marbled, flat but dense, as the baker uses a lot of butter or butter substitute for baking. The edges were perfectly browned and crispy, all sprinkled with scaly salt.
The first bite of the cookies was very divine. Salt adds the necessary slicing to the density of the saturated chocolate and cookie sweets. The outside of the cookie has a delicious crunch and crunch, and the inside is almost melted with chocolate and sugar.
The stars of the day were breakfast burritos and cookies. A post on Instagram on the Viridis account describes that the cookie sandwich comes with a “homemade cutlet with tofu egg” and a slice of vegan cheddar, as well as a textured vegetable protein sausage at a “secret recipe” restaurant. I was pretty simple, with no sauce or anything to add, but we got a side of the spicy Cholula sauce.
Burritos usually come with hash browns, but they weren’t available, so this time it was with french fries. The rest of the ingredients are vegetable sausage, tofu egg, tofu bacon, avocado, tomato, cheddar cheese and spicy aioli.
The first bite of burrito was filled with a smoky aftertaste of bacon tofu sliced with sweet potatoes. The potatoes are heavily flavored and crunchy, so I assumed it would be fried or baked with lots of oil. Spinach, tomato and avocado give the mixture much-needed freshness and creaminess. The tofu egg provides a new texture and tastes like an egg. Many vegan chefs use black salt and condiments such as edible yeast to achieve this effect.
Normally I’m not a big fan of vegan cheeses, but this one was heavy on the savory flavor and creamy, greasy, uncharacteristic of most vegan cheeses I’ve tried. The sausage was a highlight sprinkled with fennel seeds. Its aroma is very similar to the sausage for breakfast that I remember from my days when eating meat.
A friend of mine said the biscuit was dense but pliable and delicious, which is hard to achieve with vegan cookies. With a little spicy sauce the density was reduced and the added spices also improved the experience.
All in all, the food at Viridis is worth a return, especially on a cold snowy day.
Viridis. 1506 E. Carson St., South Side. viridispgh.square.site