Hungry Pants

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Hungry Pants interior

I have no idea why it’s called Hungry Pants. It could just as easily have been named Famished Footwear or Starving Sweater.

I also can’t say what it is that makes these particular pants so peckish. That will just have to remain a mystery.

Hungry Pants is the project of Joey Conicella and Alex Marin who were the original owners of the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, one of the early entries in Orlando’s food truck scene. They describe Hungry Pants as offering “a plant-curious menu in a fast-fine setting.”

Plant-based foods were a trend in 2019 and are bound to be a thing in 2020, as well. As the term implies, plant-based foods are edibles that are not made with animals. So, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts. Vegans essentially follow a plant-based diet, but not all people who try to adhere to a plant-based diet consider themselves vegans. They might, for instance, wear a leather belt or deign to put honey in their tea (tea qualifies as plant based). Plant-based dieters tend to eat that way for health reasons rather than in the name of animal rights.

Conicella and Marin say their menu is for the plant curious, those people who are interested in eating less meat but not necessarily eliminating it all together.

Hey, maybe the name of the restaurant is just a typo and they meant to call it Hungry Plants.

According to the two owners, the restaurant is 100 percent plant based 80 percent of the time, perhaps said with tongue in cheek (tongue not being plant based). In other words, meat is also available. So even if you opt for one of the menu items that is completely meat free, you may add supplemental meat protein. That way you don’t have to give up meat cold turkey, so to speak.

Hungry Pants sandwich

Speaking of turkey, I had the Turkey Reuben, which featured a generous serving of thinly sliced breast meat with purple sauerkraut and melted swiss cheese on toasted pumpernickel bread. A nice sandwich, and the turkey wasn’t the least bit cold.

To balance the meat, I had a side of the Saucy Brussels, roasted sprouts tossed with a sweet and spicy chili sauce that gave them a little kick.

Hungry Pants soba

My lunch companion chose the Shiitake Soba Noodz, chilled noodles, not as thick as traditional soba, with bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and bacon fashioned from shiitakes. All perfectly plant based and then, boom, she added a poached egg, which sort of made the whole dish. (And no, it wasn’t poached eggplant.) The noodles were a bit too chilled for my taste but were better as they warmed a bit.

Hungry Pants wonton

We had started with the BBSP Wontons, pot stickers filled with black beans (BB) and sweet potato (SP). The dumplings had a nice charred outside from the pot to which they had been stuck. The filling was ample and was seasoned with garlic, lemongrass and a touch of ginger. The sweet and spicy chili dipping sauce wasn’t really necessary.

Hungry Pants took over the space in SoDo that used to be the diner Carol’s Place. The dining room isn’t as big as I remembered it, but it is brightly lit and nicely decorated. There are even some framed pantaloons on the walls.

That reference to “fast-fine” is the same as fast casual – you order and pay for your food at the counter and someone brings it to you when it’s ready.

Our food came out fairly quickly but that could change if the place gets busy. If that happens, just keep your pants on.

Hungry Pants is at 3421 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-412-6300.