The bright pink floor is just the beginning of whimsical decor at Hungry Pants in Orlando. Color spans the restaurant from the vibrant images of pants dancing across the walls to the plant-based plates. For Alex Marin, owner and co-founder of Hungry Pants, getting “plant curious” was a natural progression, and encouraging patrons to seek out a brighter, healthier side of life quickly became his mission.
Alex Marin and Joey Conicella began their journey in Orlando’s budding food truck scene by launching Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, known for its bow-tie-clad cupcakes. This adventure provided the foundation and community backing for their creativity to later find roots at Hungry Pants: a concept now run by Marin dedicated to clean eating without judgment.
Hungry Pants houses a steady stream of regular customers and tourists alike. Marin often jokes that “people come with their luggage and we ‘check their bags’ while they sit down for a meal.” With its close proximity to the Orlando airport and the parks, people are often starved for green, fresh fare that is comforting and nourishing to their bodies. Marin is particularly proud of the diverse yet communally minded hive that Hungry Pants has curated. On each of his arms, he tattooed “intention” and “integrity,” and these remain pillars for the brand and how the staff greets anyone who walks through their doors.
Marin grew up following a strict macrobiotic diet, a highly disciplined way of life aimed to align gut health, so venturing into plant based cuisine was never too far from his personal journey. However, while Hungry Pants is dedicated to a healthier diet, Marin laughs, “We’re not preachy about it.”
Hungry Pants instead focuses on rebuilding the plate. Rather than beginning with a protein and subsequent sides, every dish is built with vegetables first, then all else follows. This reprioritization doesn’t neglect flavor, but simply re-centers the meal on whole foods. “Who says plant-based food is just lettuce? Lettuce can only be consumed so much. It gets boring, and I like to eat. That’s why I incorporate starches and other powerful flavors,” Marin says.
Marin envisioned a space where people can feel comfortable listening to their bodies and “everyone can eat.” A woman undergoing chemo treatment, for example, can feel confident her meal meets her dietary needs, and her husband can still grab a juicy burger.
The interior of Hungry Pants is a deeply personal reflection of both its owner and patrons. The lights are the same ones in Marin’s own kitchen, the beach-inspired decor nods to classic Floridian culture, and the pants hanging along the walls are $5 pants living in $400 frames. Marin muses that these pants are an accurate representation of the space in general: people of all shapes and sizes gathering for good food in an inviting and authentic space. He describes the name “Hungry Pants” as a whole mood: and he’s not wrong. Anyone that has been called “hungry pants” knows it’s both a sassy label and a term of endearment. And that is exactly what the space provides: an inclusive, vibrant embrace of anyone who walks through its doors and a commitment to let them be themselves.
For Marin, “every day is pride”, and this is a mantra he instills into his business and the open arms that Hungry Pants has. Creating a business that is inclusive and safe is something that can only be done authentically, and this is what culturally thrives within their walls. Less than a mile from the Pulse Nightclub Memorial, the pride flag outside Hungry Pants flies with a little more resilience. Marin reflects that he’s “never been a pride flag-flier” previously, but in owning Hungry Pants, he recognizes the need to publicly express the values and solidarity their space provides.
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