ABOVE PHOTO: Xylina from Harrisburg (on the left) with her brother Trey (right front) who is a regular Linda’s Vegetarian Village regular. (Photo by Monica Peters)
By Monica Peters
The place for veggie lovers and meat eaters is Linda’s Vegetarian Village in Mt. Airy.
Located on the corner of Germantown and Johnson streets in Northwest Philadelphia, folks travel from afar to enjoy Linda’s comfort food offerings which range from raw vegan and vegetarian dishes, sandwiches, raw desserts and smoothies.
For 26-year-old Xylina from Harrisburg this is her first time eating at Linda’s. Although she is not a vegetarian she is thoroughly enjoying her vegetable stir fry. “It’s good!”
The beautiful cozy sit down eatery is owned by Linda Smith and her husband Leo. Customers are always greeted with a smile and heart-felt welcome as soon as they enter the door.
In the midst of the busy day watching Linda take orders and tend to customers, I asked what is her favorite meal or dessert at the restaurant. “All of them,” she replied.
Rightfully so, Linda and her husband prepare all the meals from scratch including their delectable raw cheesecakes which come in blueberry, strawberry and mango. The raw ice creams are also made from scratch.
Smith started cooking vegetarian meals over 25 years ago when her mother became ill.
Fast forward, after retiring from her long-time day job in the government sector, Smith and her husband opened the village over a year ago.
While cooking and tending to customers, Linda and Leo check on diners to be certain they are comfortable and enjoying their meal.
The menu options are very diverse at Linda’s Vegetarian Village. Folks come in and out purchasing their raw avocado and seaweed wraps, vegan carrot tuna salad wraps, kale salads and more. Speaking with customers, Linda’s vegetarian chicken salad wrap is a customer favorite.
One diner admits it’s hard for him to choose his favorite meal at the restaurant, a nod to the Smith’s exemplary vegetarian chef skills.
Twenty-seven-year-old Trey, a Village regular and pescatarian from Germantown, weighs in on the difficult decision to determine his favorite meal.
“It’s hard for me to decide which dish is my favorite, but I like the chicken salad wrap,” said Trey who moved to Mt. Airy in August of last year.
Fellow diners in the restaurant agreed as they ate various platters from Linda’s succulent menu. In addition to their eat-in meal, all ended up ordering a vegetarian chicken salad wrap to go for later.
Trey also noted the at-home feeling of the restaurant that boasts beautiful sunlight and décor.
“The service is nice and always very friendly. You feel appreciated as a customer.”
Another popular favorite is Smith’s husband Leo’s World Famous Southern Style Beans.
“It is family recipe from down south,” said Leo who is from North Carolina noting that he seasons the beans with herbs and spices. He is careful not to share the secret ingredients.
The Smiths are also passionate about empowering the community to take charge of their health.
Every second Monday of the month from 10 AM to noon, Linda hosts a free health and wellness workshop called “Linda’s Herbal Connection,” where she teaches persons to take care of their body through diet, exercise, positive thinking and herbs. Her efforts were recognized when she was honored earlier this year with the Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise’s Community Impact Award. Smith also received a citation from Councilwoman Cindy Bass.
The restaurant which has ample health books for customers to read while dining (and also sells herbs) motto is “Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.” Health books are also available for purchase at the restaurant.
When asking Linda for some quick health tips she noted that blueberries are good for the brain and “four apples a day keeps the doctor away.”
Linda’s Vegetarian Village, 6381 Germantown Avenue. Hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays 10 AM to 6 PM. Restaurant is also open on the second Monday of every month from noon to 5 PM following the monthly herbal connection workshop from 10 AM to noon (workshop is free). Restaurant number and information: 215-438-2500.