Rock on. Onion Maiden, the popular Pittsburgh vegan pop-up, has officially opened the doors to its new brick and mortar location in Allentown.
Over the last few years, the Onion Maiden owner trio of Diana “Dingo” Ngo, Elyse Hoffman, and Brooks Criswell have become well known in the city, hosting pop-ups all over town, serving their vegetable-based comfort food and baked goods.
While the menu is eclectic, Criswell says that at its core, Onion Maiden is simply “a heavy metal, punk rock restaurant that specializes in comfort food with an Asian-American twist.”
One of Onion Maiden’s signatures are the unique names of each dish, which all contain musical references.
“Onion Maiden itself, and the names of all of our menu items, are based off of a band or a song. For example, we have a Vietnamese noodle salad called ‘Straight to Hell,’ named after the Clash song about Vietnam War,” Criswell says. “We are all big music fans. When we come up with a new menu item, we all sit around with a few beers and throw ideas at each other. We are laughing, and having fun. That is how we name everything.”
Other menu items include “Scone Thugs ‘n Harmony” berry scones, “Headbanger Balls,” (Croquettes with ‘Cole Slaughter’), “The Ripper” (Jackfruit tacos) and “Papaya Don’t Preach,
a green papaya salad.
Although fans have been clamoring for months for Onion Maiden to open a storefront, it was never really the intention when the business first started.
“We are all vegan, and we don’t have any formal cooking training, but we basically started cooking out of necessity. Elyse’s husband asked to do food at one of his shows, and from there, it just grew. More people reached out to us, and we started doing more events. It wasn’t until our success at the Pittsburgh Vegan Festival that we realized it could be more than hobby,” says Criswell.
The trio was actually in the process of purchasing a food truck to renovate when they received a call offering them the space in Allentown. Though it wasn’t what they planned, they decided to go for it.
“We have been really fortunate, things have really just naturally progressed,” Criswell says. “Allentown is great, and they couldn’t make us feel more welcome. The business district works really hard, and is very supportive, drawing people in and helping them open their own storefronts.”
While the food is all plant-based and vegan-friendly, Criswell says that they’ve worked hard to make sure it’s accessible for everyone.
“Our goal the whole time has been not to market ourselves as vegan,” he says. “We truly just happen to be vegan. There are a lot of things that are naturally vegan, like loaded tater tots with kimchi, vegetable tacos, egg rolls with eggless paper, and our house-made fresh rolls. Those are things that are just natural, tasty, and happen to have no animal product. We just want to use good ingredients.”
Onion Maiden is open Wednesday through Saturday, 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., with additional hours on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Onion Maiden (635 E Warrington Avenue)