I live in Charleston, SC, and I love eating out as a vegan.
I’ve received many a request for a list of my favorite vegan-friendly restaurants in the Holy City, sooooo….here I list the places I go frequently and what I usually order!
These are just my recommendations based on my personal experiences.
It’s not hard to eat out as a vegan (check out my blog post all about that), especially if you pick out a restaurant ahead of time. I bet you can find something vegan on (or off!) almost any menu with the help of your server or chef.
But hopefully this big ‘ol handy list will help you when dining out in this culinary town.
I add to and update this list all the time based on my new experiences. Check back soon!
And, be sure to check out photos of my meals at a lot of the following places on my Facebook page.
My Absolute Faves:
Dell’z Deli, a hole-in-the-wall place with a tiny eat-in counter, is a gem of a find and the first of the Dell’z family of restaurants. It even says “Vegan, Vegetarians, Welcome” on the front door. Oh yeah! The black bean bowl, no cheese, is to die for! Also, the Jazzy Pizza (ask for it vegan-style) is a huge, filling, and finger-licking meal. Dellz Vibez is a delightful smoothie and juice place around the corner, and Dellz Uptown is a sit-in restaurant with a super fun vibe. Read my Ode to Dell’z here.
Motobar – Downtown
This is an all-veg, motorcycle-themed restaurant and bar with an R-rated bathroom. Yes, you read that right. They serve breakfast, lunch, “share plates” in the evening, and some really fabulous cocktails (try the Tunnel of Trees). Do yourself a favor and go there for breakfast (fresh juices, Counter Culture coffee, awesome food), then go again for an evening nosh. Make sure to get the poutine – french fries with pepper gravy and vegan cheese!
Black Bean Company – Downtown and James Island
This “energy food” restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner is super vegan-friendly and even has a drive-thru at the JI location (perfect to grab on your way out to Folly Beach!)! They have a whole list of vegan wraps, but my favorite is the Super Asian with Asian tofu (fair warning: their hoisin sauce is addictive!). Going for dinner? I love the vegan Pad Thai.
Mex 1 Coastal Cantina – West Ashley
This place draws a crowd late on weekends, so hit it up early if you don’t want to wait (which isn’t so bad with a salty marg from the bar). I get the Shrooms Bowl with no cheese, add grilled onions and peppers, which is way tasty, especially with a dash or two of hot sauce from their huge hot sauce bar. The shrooms tacos minus the cheese also cause spontaneous “olés!”
Basil – Downtown and Mt. Pleasant locations
I love curry, and all their curries are vegan if you get them with tofu. The green curry is so spicy it makes me tear up, but it hurts so good, and their red curry and masaman are delightful! For an appetizer, I always go for the Fresh Basil Rolls (just ask for tofu instead of shrimp). Ask your server about other vegan options (there are a few). Downtown can get crowded fast (it’s relatively small) but the Mt. P location is huge with really nice ambiance (and a good happy hour!).
Diggity Doughnuts – Food Truck and Downtown Storefront
Vegan doughnuts, what, what?! All of their doughnuts are vegan unless otherwise noted. They’re a food truck so they go all over Charleston (follow them on FB and Twitter to find out where they are from day to day). I do a happy dance every time I spot that big turquoise truck (and I’ve ruined multiple suppers by eating them beforehand). They also opened a storefront in December 2014. Find them Thursday through Sunday at 616 Meeting Street!
CO – Downtown
CO means “feast” in Vietnamese, and that’s what this vegan got there! They have a whole separate vegan menu, so make sure to ask for it. This bahn mi & noodle bar has a minimalist yet sophisticated atmosphere (with more than a few community tables). I got the amazingly fresh lemongrass tofu spring rolls as an appetizer, and the tasty com chien (fried rice w/tofu, carrots, edamame, in scallion soy sauce) for my entree. I’m definitely going back for dinner sometime so I can try their fun-sounding cocktails! Bloody ginger tequila (ginger infused tequila, blood orange, ginger syrup)?! How do I say “yes, please” in Vietnamese?
Other Veg-Friendly Places I Go and Love!
These are listed in alphabetical order with their area of town.
Alluette’s – Downtown
Off the beaten path, this place has several already-vegan options on the menu. My fave is the organic brown rice and tofu stir fry with fresh, seasonal veggies.
Blossom – Downtown
This is a great place for a fancy night out with friends. I told them I’m vegan when I made our reservation, and the server immediately acknowledged that when we got there and told me the options they have available. There weren’t a ton, but what they did have was great. They have wood-fired pizza that can be made without the cheese, several salads, and many sides that can be made vegan-style. I got the special salad of the night with heirloom tomatoes, celery, shallots, baby basil and olive oil, and then sides of sauteed Brussels sprouts and mushrooms. They even have sorbet for dessert!
Brown Dog Deli – Downtown
Most delis aren’t super vegan friendly, but this one has a whole separate veg and vegan menu! I got the Sloppy Vegan Chili-Cheese Dog, without the cheese. Just make sure to say you want the vegan version of whatever menu item you choose because even though some of the items have the word vegan in the name, it might not be vegan as is (thus, the sloppy vegan chili-cheese dog without cheese!), so just be careful. It’s uber fun getting to order a chili dog out, and you’ll love the vintage, music-inspired art on the walls!
Butcher & Bee – Downtown
Despite the un-vegan-sounding name, this place always has one vegan option on their rotating menu. If they have the pulled squash sandwich, get it for sure! Otherwise, just ask what’s vegan; they’ll hook you up. I did a blog post all about their food.
Chipotle – North Charleston
Fresh, flavorful ingredients (and lots of locations on the road convenient for traveling) make this one of my faves. I get the Burrito Bowl with brown rice, black beans, guac, grilled veggies, salsa, and lettuce. It’s supah tasty.
Cupcake – Downtown, Mt. Pleasant
On WEDNESDAYS only, this cute little cupcake shop serves a vegan flavor of the week at both locations! Last time I went, it was their vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting, and it was lick-your-fingers good! If you go on any other day of the week, know that their chocolate cupcake is actually vegan all the time without the icing (the cake is the best part to me anyway)!
Earthfare – West Ashley
This is a grocery store, but they have a hot bar and deli with vegan options. I love their mock “chicken” salad.
Eli’s Table – Downtown
The menu has changed a bit since I was last there, but they have a symbol that marks all the vegan items on their menu, and they’ll make you a lovely vegan plate if you ask! Go here for a fancy night out.
Fast and French – Downtown
Technically its name is Gaulart & Maliclet, but no one can pronounce that, so we call it Fast and French. I LOVE the Vegan Provencal that’s on the menu with a tossed salad and side of fresh fruit. You’ll feel trés European eating there at the big community tables. Go all out and wear a beret!
FIG – Downtown
This is a special occasion restaurant. Tell them you’re vegan when you make your reservation and they will wow you with their wide variety of fresh veggies, prepared with care. Their creative cocktails are also fabulous!
Five Loaves Cafe – Downtown and Mt. Pleasant
Five Loaves Cafe bills themselves as veg-friendly and sensitive to special dietary needs, so work with your server to veganize anything that hits your fancy. They usually have at least one vegan soup, a lot of salads (I love the arugula salad minus the goat cheese), and for an entree, veggie stir fry with tofu hits the spot.
Fuel Cantina – Downtown
This Caribbean restaurant has a huge outdoor patio out back, perfect for enjoying the Charleston breeze. I’ve gotten the black bean soup (minus the creme fraiche and bacon), the Fried Goat Cheese Salad (minus the goat cheese, which lets the delish fresh greens with roasted cashews, mandarin oranges, and orange balsamic vinaigrette shine!), the Black Bean Burger (minus cheese and mayo-based spread), fried plantains, and the spicy boiled peanuts.
HoM – Downtown
Their menu changes seasonally, but they always have vegan-friendly items; just ask your server. I’ve gotten a General Tso’s Tofu dish there and tons of yummy sides, including fried pickles, watermelon salad, quinoa salad, and more. Note: their bread is not vegan. P.S. They are also a ping pong lounge and purveyor of fab cocktails.
Hot Links Homemade Sausage – Food Cart (Downtown)
Their sign says “Hot Links Homemade Sausage, Vegan & Carnivore.” I was intrigued! They’re a food cart at the Charleston Farmer’s Market in Marion Square, open every Saturday from April to December. This food cart has specials that rotate all the time, but I got the vegan chorizo burger with fried potato strings, and my hubby got their carrot dog special, a whole, marinated and cooked carrot in a hot dog bun with apple slaw and pickled green beans. Wow!
Ladles Soups – Downtown, Johns Island, Mt. Pleasant, North Charleston, Summerville, West Ashley
Serving up steaming soups, creative sandwiches, and salads, this local chain with convenient locations all over the Charleston area offers several vegan options. The downtown location on Calhoun even has VEGAN FRIDAYS! Each Friday, their specials are all vegan. I got the lentil burger with vegan aioli (Veganaise, garlic, pepper, basil), topped with sprouts, cucumbers, and spring mix, plus the Mediterranean Minestrone. Mmmm, mmm, good!
Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen – Downtown
This super cute eat-in Chinese restaurant on President Street (hellooo, easy street parking!) has lots of vegan options on its menu. I tried and loved the flavorful Kung Pao Tofu, Salt & Pepper Tofu, and the Veggie Spring Rolls. Their family-style plates also star vegetables: Sichuan-Style Green Beans, Sichuan Eggplant. and Kale salad look tasty! They don’t take reservations, so if all the tables are full when you go, cozy up to the bar for a creative specialty cocktail.
Leyla – Downtown
This elegant restaurant on King Street serving “Fine Lebanese Cuisine” has lots of fine vegan options! I recommend the “vegetarian plate” (all of it is vegan) and the muhammara (my favorite!). If you’re not too full, try the moussaka (braised eggplant with seasoned onion, tomatoes, and chickpeas) too!
The Lot – James Island
Though meat-heavy at first glance, this place can make a killer vegan plate with local veggies upon request! Just make sure to call ahead to give them a heads up. Stay late and catch a show at the Pour House, in the same building.
Mellow Mushroom – Downtown, Mt. Pleasant, and West Ashley
Fun, funky Mellow. I just love each restaurant’s unique decor, and West Ashley’s location, an old theater, is especially cool. Any of their pizzas can be made with Daiya cheese; just make sure to ask for no butter or parmesan on the crust. I love the mega veggie!
Moe’s Southwest Grill – Downtown, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, West Ashley
I go to Moe’s pretty often, and their food is incredibly easy to veganize because you can specify what toppings you want! I love their vegetarian burrito with rice, black beans, guac, salsa, and lettuce. Or get their veg nachos and ask for no queso. They even have tofu! Plus, they just make you feel so welcome when they call “Welcome to Moe’s!” as you walk in the door. Makes me want to curtsy.
Monza Pizza – Downtown
Want a cool, local vibe with your pizza downtown? Hit up Monza. You can ‘make your own’ pie without the cheese, and they have a really delicious butter bean salad that’s vegan! They even have vegan sorbet for dessert sometimes in seasonal flavors like spiced cider.
The Park Cafe – Downtown
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and weekend brunch!), this clean, cozy cafe is a perfect neighborhood spot. They offer soy milk for their beverages (I had a gorgeous chai tea latte), and AVOCADO TOAST is on their breakfast menu! I haven’t been there for lunch or dinner yet, but they apparently have vegan-friendly dishes throughout the day. I will be going back!
P.F. Chang’s – Mt. Pleasant
I don’t love to go to chain restaurants when there are so many great local places in Charleston, but I went to P.F. Chang’s recently and was delighted with my vegan meal of Coconut Curry Veggies and spicy Ma Po Tofu. A great dining out option!
The Pickled Palate – Mt. Pleasant
Right off of Coleman Blvd. is another little world: a whimsical garden full of fresh herbs, veggies, and crafts. The Pickled Palate is a magical little spot you just want to spend time in. They have a vegan sandwich on the menu, and it features pickles, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, red onions, arugula, sprouts, sunflower seeds and Vegenaise on 9 grain bread. They also have fresh salads with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, and they even have PB&J for the little ones. Enjoy your meal with some wine (they have a great selection), and make sure to take a picture in front of the fruit and veggie train!
The Rarebit – Downtown
A hip spot, especially late at night, they have a vegan burger on their menu (note: it does not come on a bun and ask for it without the lemon-honey sauce) and salty, perfect shoestring fries! Get the Moscow Mule cocktail by all means too.
Red Orchids – West Ashley
This restaurant is situated incognito in a semi-sketchy shopping center, but trust me; you’ll love it. You can get almost any dish with tofu, and my absolute favorite thing is the spicy yet sweet General Tofu.
Sesame Burgers & Beer – Mt. Pleasant, North Charleston, West Ashley
Once again, the name isn’t super vegan-friendly, but the menu is on our side! I love to build my own “black bean burger in a bowl,” and add beets, avocado, and caramelized onion. They have all sorts of toppings so you can make it to your own tastes. I get fries on the side (if you go with sweet potato fries, ask for no cheese; they come with parmesan).
The Sprout – Mt. Pleasant
This is an entirely organic, vegan cafe, where everything is “made with love!” I went there right after a yoga class (at Jivamukti yoga), and they serve the kind of healthy, satisfying food that you feel good about eating, especially right after a workout! I had the tasty black bean and avocado burrito, filled with quinoa, tahini, Mexican braised cabbage and Daiya vegan cheese. Don’t miss the specialty soups (watermelon lavender?!) or their desserts (they carry Diggity Donuts and unbaked. raw vegan cheesecakes)!
Sweet Radish Bakeshop – Downtown
This entirely gluten-free bakery on the corner of Spring and St. Philip always has clearly-marked vegan options. I tried the coconut rice pudding with Asian pear butter (how creative!) and a banana chocolate cake the day I went. It’s a cozy, cute space too – perfect for meeting a friend for tea and sweets!
Tabbuli – Downtown
This Mediterranean restaurant with spacious outdoor seating has lots of vegan options. Their hummus or masabacha as an appetizer is yummy, their Jerusalem, Tahini, or Tabbuli salads are great, and their falafel platter (minus the tzatziki sauce) is delish. Try their famous Pain Killer drink for a frozen treat.
Taco Bell – um, everywhere.
Taco Bell? I know, I know. But still, I go there sometimes for a late night snack or emergency dinner (and the Vegan Police don’t arrest me). They have lots of vegan options. I like the black bean burrito, no cheese, or the Crunch Wrap Supreme, no beef, add beans, no cheese, no sour cream (just check that they got it right before you drive away!).
Taco Boy – Downtown, Folly Beach
This place has a fun atmosphere and several vegan options. I usually get one each of the portobello taco and the obrero taco, both minus the cheese. Their Taco Boy salad is also great minus the cheese, add portobello mushrooms and/or black beans.
TCBY – James Island, Mt. Pleasant, North Charleston, West Ashley
This ubiquitous frozen yogurt chain with locations all over the Charleston area has vegan options now! Get vegan chocolate or vanilla almond frozen yogurt, or try the vegan coconut! Top it with some Oreos or fruit, and you have yourself a cruelty-free treat!
Three Little Birds Cafe – West Ashley
This place is open for breakfast/brunch and lunch. I like to get their smoothies (ask for soy milk and soy yogurt), tofu and veggie scramble (minus the eggs), and their BBQ tempeh melt sandwich (ask for vegan cheese).
Verde – Downtown and Mt. Pleasant
This quick, healthy option offers build-your-own salads with tons of vegan choices for toppings. Only a few of the dressings are vegan, and they seem to rotate, so ask what the options are that day. I love the agave mustard if they have it!
Wasabi D.I. – Daniel Island
This Japanese restaurant is elegant and vegan friendly. Garlic edamame and seaweed salad to start are always good. Then I get avocado maki and vegetable maki sushi. They also have hibachi with grilled veggies, and you could add tofu. And their martini list is not to be missed!
Whole Foods – Mt. Pleasant
Also a grocery store, but it has a huge selection of vegan options at their hot bar, salad bar, soup station, and deli. It changes all the time, but if they have the vegan crab cakes available, GET THEM!!
Xiao Bao Biscuit – Downtown
This hip little joint on the corner of Spring and Rutledge serves “Asian soul food” from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. They have vegan options (designated by an asterisk on the menu) for three ‘to-be-shared’ small plates and one vegan main item: the mapo dofou, a very spicy tofu dish in a super tasty broth with greens. You will NOT want to miss the okonomiyaki (cabbage pancake); the vegan version even comes with Veganaise! And their creative cocktails, especially the Borneo Sunrise, are delightful.
Yo Burrito! – Downtown and West Ashley
The California Burrito is already vegan, or you can get the Santa Fe minus the cheese and ranch dressing. You can also add grilled tofu! Their smaller version, Yo Bo, in West Ashley has the same vegan-friendly menu.
Zen Asian Fusion – West Ashley
Almost any dish can be made with tofu instead of chicken or shrimp (even though it doesn’t say so on the menu). I get the Thai Basil dish with tofu and brown rice. They have yummy veggie sushi too, and I love the seaweed salad.
Special Note: Menus and recipes can change frequently. It’s always a good idea to double-check the vegan status of a dish before ordering. OK, done with my disclaimer-ish talk!