By Beth Mack
July 6, 2021
From soul food ghost kitchens to French bistro fine dining, Charlotte has seen an eruption of new restaurants that offer only vegetarian and vegan menus, and they encompass nearly every type of cuisine. The culinary world has been abuzz with everything plant-forward and plant-based, but vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are not a new phenomenon. Some cultures and religions, ranging from Rastafarian to Jainism, have been practicing or encouraging vegetarian or vegan lifestyles for centuries. In addition, people have chosen to adopt vegetarian and vegan lifestyles for a host of reasons, with some of the most popular being animal rights, health, environment, and the ethicality of our current food system.
Vegetarian and vegan food isn’t just for vegetarians and vegans, but for everyone to enjoy. Recent innovations in the food science industry have birthed an onslaught of convincing plant-based meat alternatives, allowing restaurants to offer more than salads, tofu, and black bean burgers.
Here are some of our favorite Charlotte area restaurants that are solely vegetarian or vegan establishments.
Ma Ma Wok
Tucked away in Ballantyne not far off of Rea Road is Charlotte’s only completely vegetarian and vegan Chinese restaurant. Ma Ma Wok started off as a typical Chinese restaurant, but transitioned to a vegetarian restaurant in 2017. Ma Ma Wok has crafted an expansive menu offering meat alternatives to recreate everything ranging from chicken wings, ribs, fish, shrimp, and even duck. With a plethora of Chinese dishes, persuasive meat alternatives, and spot-on flavors, Ma Ma Wok’s may just become your new favorite Chinese takeout place for vegans and non-vegans alike.
11914 Elm Ln, Charlotte, NC 28277
Veltree has been serving up vegan soul food in the University area since 2018. The take-out restaurant offers menu items such as chicken and waffles, shrimp po boys, krabcakes, fried chicken drumsticks, and the un-Popeye’s chicken sandwich. With the overwhelming success of Veltree, Chef Velvet Jacobs recently opened up a sister restaurant, The Vtree, in Hollywood bringing a taste of vegan soul food to the west coast. For their complete menu and chef specials, check out their Instagram.
7945 North Tryon St, Site #110, Charlotte, NC 28262
Fern, Flavors from the Garden
Fern has been one of Charlotte’s premier vegetarian restaurants offering gourmet vegetarian food since 2011. Located in Dilworth, Fern has an inviting atmosphere with a cozy dining room, outdoor patio, and a full bar with signature cocktails making it the perfect spot for brunch, lunch, or dinner. While the meticulously crafted menu may be smaller than other places, the flavor is not, and has gained recognition from both meat eaters and non-meat eaters. Stay updated on their social media platforms to catch their specials and new seasonal menu items.
1419 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28203
Oh My Soul
In a spunky bright blue house located on North Davidson Street in NoDa is the fast-casual, purely vegan restaurant, Oh My Soul. With limited indoor seating, they have transformed the fenced-in backyard into a pet-friendly patio outfitted with picnic and bistro tables, fire pits, and bar. Their menu features everything from ribs, burgers, loaded waffles, and even some South African dishes in homage to owner Tallulah Duffin’s homeland. If you don’t have time for a meal, drop in to visit their coffee bar and pastry counter featuring fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, and milkshakes.
3046 North Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205
Camp North End’s newest food stall is a vegan concept, Plant Joy. Plant Joy is the newest venture from Julia Simon and Erik Berns, owners of Nourish Charlotte, a vegan meal delivery company. Christened in November 2020, Plant Joy offers a vibrant Mediterranean-inspired menu featuring items such as falafel mountain (falafel nachos), rainbow platter (flavored hummus on toasted Verdant sourdough bread), and socca and salad (chickpea and kale crepe). Check them out for a fresh, flavorful meal or snack as you eat your way through Camp North End.
1801 North Graham St., Charlotte, NC 28206
In March 2020, Charlotte welcomed its first vegan fine dining restaurant, Sanctuary Bistro. Located in south Charlotte, the intimate bistro offers brunch, lunch, and dinner (reservations required). Sanctuary Bistro has everything you would expect to find in a fine dining restaurant such as charcuterie, scallops and bacon-wrapped filet mignon, just without the use of animal products. With a well-curated ambiance, dining in is ideal but Sanctuary Bistro also provides carry out and frozen meals to accommodate guests. Connect with them on social media to stay up to date on menu specials.
6414 Rea Road, Charlotte, NC 28277
Eastside Local Eatery
Eastside Local Eatery is a quaint cafe located in a strip mall on the corner of Eastway Drive and Central Avenue, they offer locally roasted coffee, tea, juices, smoothies, soups, salads, and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. With a charming garden patio, Eastside Local Eatery is the perfect oasis for a vegetarian and vegan cuisine in the heart of Charlotte.
3102 Eastway Dr, Charlotte, NC 28205
Bean Vegan Cuisine
Located in an unassuming building off Independence is one of Charlotte’s oldest vegan restaurants. Bean boasts an extensive menu of 100% vegan comfort foods ranging from BBQ, cheesesteaks, bratwurst, reubens, meatloaf, crab cakes, and even pimento cheese. Complete your meal with one of their delectable desserts, like a vegan milkshake. If you are craving breakfast, stop by on Saturday or Sunday to check out their breakfast offerings. Bean also offers a selection of vegan grocery items for a one-stop shop of all things vegan.
3001 E Independence Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28205
Noting a lack of vegan spots, owner Juliana Luna opened the doors to Living Kitchen in 2011. Located in South End’s Atherton Mill, the casual eatery’s 100% scratch-made, organic menu features plant-based versions of dishes such as pizza, burgers, BBQ, and even pad thai, in addition to a variety of sandwiches, salads, and cold-pressed juices. With breakfast served all day and outdoor patio seating, it is the perfect spot to grab a bite or stop in to pick up some of their grab-and-go grocery items.
2000 South Blvd. Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28203
Jyoti’s World Cuisine
In the space formerly occupied by Woodlands, Joyti’s World Cuisine has expanded the menu to include vegetarian and vegan dishes from all over the world. You can find everything from Korean bibimbap and bulgogi and Ethiopian sauté, to creole jambalaya and Spanish paella. They even offer a robust variety of desserts, all of which are worth checking out on your next visit to southeast Charlotte.
7128 Albemarle Rd, Charlotte, NC 28277
Vegan Eats CLT
The City Kitch in Wesley Heights is home to another vegan ghost kitchen, Vegan Eats CLT. Chef Cherry offers her take on vegan soul food with a menu of loaded nachos, wings, mac and cheese, collards, and fries. It’s also frequently supplemented with specials such as Cajun fried fish and seafood boils. Give them a follow on Instagram to check out their current menu offerings.
2200 Thrift Road, Charlotte, NC 28208
Dee’s Vegan To-Go
Originally a vendor at the Charlotte Regional Farmers market, Dee’s recently opened as a brick-and-mortar restaurant in late 2020 in west Charlotte. Focusing on vegan comfort food, you can expect to find chicken and waffles, burgers, jambalaya, stir fry, salads, soups, and sandwiches. In addition to the delectable homemade dessert offerings that Dee herself creates, they also offer a selection of Luther Dryer’s vegan ice cream and lemonade.
1540 West Blvd, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28208
Best of Both Souls
New to the vegan restaurant scene is Best of Both Souls. This ghost kitchen opened in 2020 inside The City Kitch West End with a tantalizing selection of vegan soul food. With menu highlights of Beyond Meat smash burgers, fried Chick’n sandwiches and tenders, cauliflower wings, smokey mac and cheese, and a gooey chocolate chunk cookie, your soul and taste buds will undoubtedly be satisfied. Be sure to follow Best of Both Souls on Facebook as Chef Nelly reveals their alluring weekly specials.
2200 Thrift Road, Charlotte, NC 28208
Boss of Vegan
Boss of Vegan opened its third ghost kitchen in west Charlotte in 2020. Boasting a menu of “boss” vegan burgers, sloppy joes, BLTs, and chicken salad sandwiches, you can round out your meal with their house-made seasoned chips, fresh lemonade, and vegan chocolate chip cookies
4431 Brookshire Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28216
With a focus on organic and local, Exposed Vegan is yet another vegan restaurant that popped up on Charlotte’s west side in 2020. Menu items include juices, smoothies, acai bowls, soups, grain bowls, loaded sweet potatoes, and cookies.
1540 West Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28208
Chaat ‘N’ Dosa
Located in Ballantyne, Chaat ‘N’ Dosa offers solely vegetarian South Indian street food. With an extensive menu and affordable prices, you can truly get a taste for the flavor explosion that is South Indian cuisine. Opened in 2019, Chaat ‘N’ Dosa has a fast casual setting where you order items a la carte or in combo sizes via a kiosk. While their dosas and chaats are an obvious choice, Chaat ‘N’ Dosa offers everything from vadas and puris to thalis.
8624 Camfield Street, Charlotte, NC 28277
Vegans and vegetarians may be familiar with Barvecue (BVQ), the wood smoked, plant-based barbecue product featured as a vegan option in many restaurants, and available for purchase in select grocery stores. Barvecue also has a small storefront and take-out only restaurant located in Cornelius offering pulled BVQ or burnt ends BVQ served with a side of coleslaw. Currently, they are only open 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
10308 Bailey Road Unit 427, Cornelius, NC 28031