Angelhearts Diner features a throwback environment aesthetically while catering to a more modern-thinking diet. (Photo by Casey Martin)

Angelhearts Diner features a throwback environment aesthetically while catering to a more modern-thinking diet. 

 

Based on impressions formed when I was growing up, my idea of a diner is a long and narrow railroad-car-shaped-space featuring a dominant counter and booths, each with its own jukebox and napkin dispenser. In my memory, diners served breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week with lots of comfort food offerings for omnivores, e.g. eggs with sausage and bacon for breakfast and meatloaf or mac and cheese later in the day. However, you can forget about the sausage, bacon, meatloaf and cheese here as Angelhearts serves exclusively vegan fare—although management does hope that it’s all comfort food. 

Angelhearts opened on Sept. 28 and the interior, which is not long and narrow, is the same rectangular shape as the previous occupant of the space, Napoli Pizzeria. Each booth along the wall is lit by a pendant light and the floor is an eye-catching black and white checkerboard pattern.

The words that occur to me each time I enter Angelhearts Diner are “clean and pretty” and the bright, light-hearted feeling is enhanced by the servers, and even the cook in the open kitchen, who wear aqua accented shirts to match the aqua theme found on the upholstery located throughout the restaurant.

There is background music playing which is rarely my taste, and sometimes a bit loud. Speaking of loud, the restaurant has a low ceiling, and bare walls and flooring, which can lead to a noisy ambience when there are lots of customers. And often there do seem to be lots of customers because it’s a delight for us Ithacans to have an establishment totally devoted to vegan food. So often, vegans and vegetarians have to pick and choose between items on traditional restaurant menus to come up with a total meal to fit their needs. At Angelhearts, vegans can relax and choose anything they find appealing on the menu which features many appetizing choices. It should be noted that it can also be a good choice for carnivores and omnivores who care to try it.

Breakfast is served all day and thus accounts for a significant percentage of their total business. The two most popular breakfast items are Good Morning Ithaca and The Full Plate. The former comes in the form of a filled burrito. The Full Plate features “scrambled eggs,” “sausage patty,” home fried potatoes and a biscuit. But since Angelhearts only serves vegan food, the eggs are actually scrambled tofu mixed with seasonal vegetables like onions and peppers, and the sausage patty is a combination of oat flour, wheat flour, soy protein and spices. I liked the spice combination…just enough to keep the patty from being bland and not enough to be overpowering. I was disappointed, however, in the texture of the patty.. 

Recently, at lunch, I chose the soup of the day special which was curried butternut squash, a delicious puree with a perfect hint of heat that should have made everyone happy. 

I’ve ordered one of their most popular dishes, Susie’s Seitan Burger. (Seitan is a chewy protein-rich meat substitute made from wheat gluten). It arrived looking like an open-faced hamburger with two large tomato slices on a Kaiser bun. The topping included a mix of spinach and mushrooms and some smoked, shredded coconut. Besides being attractively presented, as is everything here, it was delicious. I was happy that I chose to add a side salad with a homemade lemon tahini dressing to make the whole dish only $12. The Philly which is chick wheat shreds with mushrooms, onions, and peppers, and The Beets Me Burger are two other popular choices.

I ordered a homemade “plain” glazed donut to end the meal. Delicious, however it set me back a whole $2 but, what the heck!

So after enjoying several meals at Angelhearts Diner, I could sum up the experience this way: Omnivore restaurant reviewer tries vegan restaurant and not only, survives, thrives.

Tidbits

Two individual all-gender restrooms are located a short distance down a corridor outside the restaurant. These rest rooms are shared with other retail establishments and accessed by a key from the wait staff.

When the restaurant is busy, customers are asked to obtain a table, check the menu, and proceed to a counter to order, and later pay.

There is no liquor license and there are no plans to apply for one. It is not permissible to bring your own (BYOB).

The restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekends, so evening dinner is not available.

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