I’m lucky, in that food insecurity for me, for months has been defined by just two points of scarcity: 1) Those long lines at Popeyes and 2) The vast stretch of highway between Void HQ and the veggie-based eats at Southern Roots in Riverside. 

And so it was, with the opening of the vegan cafe’s second location on Seminole Road in Atlantic Beach that both of my food-scarcity birds were killed with one stone. That stone? Why it’s Southern Roots take on (see: alternative to) the chicken biscuit, a long sought after dish at Chick-fil-A and (more recently) Popeyes. 

Southern Roots’s version–simply called the Roots Biscuit–swaps out the fried chicken tender for a sweet-potato-quinoa patty. While certainly healthier, the concoction is no staid, lifeless meat substitute. While the quinoa lends some texture, firmness, and sustenance (it’s a complete protein), the tater provides a distinctive sweetness, a saccharine note that plays well with the rustic, herby homemade biscuit and smokey seed spread, the sour of the housemade pickles, and refreshing crunch of the sprouts. 

The brainchild of Southern Roots cofounder and chef, Mariah Salvat, the Roots Biscuit is representative of the values the restaurant tries to impart through its offerings. 

“Part of the inspiration behind the food at Southern Roots is to show people that eating plant-based doesn’t mean bland tofu or raw vegetables,” says Salvat. “When you choose fresh, and especially local ingredients, it doesn’t take much to make something delicious. Not only do I love supporting other small businesses and farms, but the produce tastes better and is grown in a healthy environment–not picked by an exploited labor market and trucked across the country using fossil fuels.”

This story originally appeared as part of the feature “The Best Thing I’ve Ever Eaten (Recently)” in Void Magazine’s February 2020 issue.

More From our “The Best Thing I’ve Ever Eaten (Recently)” feature
Part I (From duck quesadillas to sourdough pancakes to street food esquites and more)
Part II (Dim Sum, enchiladas, brownies, etcetera)
Anticuchos from Llama Restaurant