The 12 Best Places to Eat Plant-Based and Vegan in Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte is North Carolina’s hidden secret: The Queen City is home to a thriving music scene, beautiful architecture, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The capital city stands as one of the biggest cultural centers for the South, so it’s no surprise that its food scene is thriving. Although some would think it’s unlikely, the home of NASCAR also houses a lively plant-based food scene. Charlotte offers a wide selection of vegan eats from classic Southern soul food to plant-heavy Mediterranean cuisine.
The Queen City’s culinary scene is earning a reputation as one of the most exciting plant-based cities in the United States. For anyone living in Charlotte or visiting the capital city, the plant-based options provide plenty of exciting, mouthwatering dishes. The city received praise from the James Beard Association multiple times for its plant-based culinary expertise. But with so many options, where to start?
Whether you’re looking for a romantic spot or a quick bite, Charlotte is ready to nourish your every desire. And no matter what, vegan eats will find you. The city is home to several plant-based food trucks that traverse the entire city. So, regardless of whether you eat vegan or flexitarian, the plant-based food scene is built to impress. The Beet compiled a list of the best plant-based restaurants across The Queen City, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Take Note: While soul food is easy to come by across North Carolina, it takes a talented chef to create a fully-vegan soul food menu. VelTree’s kitchen is preparing some of the most mouthwatering vegan eats that can either be piled on top of each other or prepared to share. From vegan mac and cheese to black-eyed pea fritters, VelTree brings southern food into a new, innovative culinary space.
Plant Yourself: Beyond the delicious sides, VelTree’s entrees do most of the heavy lifting. VelTree stands apart from its competitor, because of its signature plant-based meats. The delicious fried “chicken” and Fried Krab Cakes provide customers with a meat alternative to some signature soul food classics. No matter what, any customer will walk out with a full stomach, but still be hungry for more.
Don’t Miss: While the plant-based comfort food steals the spotlight, VelTree is also known for its smoothies and juices. The soul food restaurant set out to give customers the vegan experience regardless of dietary preference. Don’t forget to check VelTree’s breakfast and brunch specialties as well to get fully vegan french toast, waffles, and pancakes.
Address: 14825 Ballantyne Village Way, #150, Charlotte, NC 28277
2. Romeo’s Vegan Burgers
Don’t Miss: Starting out as a neighborhood food truck, this Black-owned establishment has pumped plant-based life into Charlotte’s fast food. Even though plenty of fast-food giants have converted some menu items into meatless editions, Romeo’s Vegan Burgers gives plant-based customers the combo of their dreams. Now, the plant-based burgers and loaded fries can be found at either their food truck or brick-and-mortar location.
Take Note: Everything you could possibly desire from a fast-food menu is here and completely vegan. From milkshakes to chili cheese fries, there is no better plant-based comfort than fast food. The restaurant aims to bring plant-based foods to Charlotte by making them accessible. By creating exciting and delicious versions of people’s favorite guilty pleasures, Romeo’s Vegan Burgers is breaking ground.
Address: 5518 South Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28217
3. Fern, Flavors From the Garden
Plant Yourself: This local history serves up some of the most delectable plant-based dishes that someone can find in Charlotte. Founded in 2011, the award-winning kitchen is continuously developing its extensive plant-based menu that currently features mouthwatering buffalo cauliflower, jackfruit enchiladas, and kimchi fried rice. No matter how many times you visit the cozy bistro, there is something else that will catch your eye on the menu.
Don’t Miss: Beyond the food, Fern is one of the most beautiful restaurants to visit in the entire Queen City. Covered in greenery and lit by restaurant-wide sunlight, the vegan bistro is one of the most comfortable spaces to eat brunch, lunch, or dinner. Make sure that you stay awhile, grab some dessert (like the Carrot Cake with Chai Icing), and enjoy the ambiance.
Address: 1419 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28208
4. Oh My Soul
Take Note: Oh My Soul brings something absolutely new to the Charlotte dining scene. The local plant-based eatery is bringing a twist on traditional South African food that people will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Paired with South African wine and specialty cocktails, Oh My Soul looks to introduce its customers to a style of South African cuisine that caters to anyone.
Plant Yourself: The South African vegan eatery provides customers with an exciting selection of traditional dishes. There is plenty to choose from on this spice-heavy, mouthwatering menu, but we suggest starting with the Shibobo–plant-based sweet chili chicken strips wrapped with butter lettuce, pickled cucumber, secret sauce, and diced tomato.
Order for a Crowd: Oh My Soul will no doubt make you a repeat customer, so when you bring friends and family to try this vegan South African cuisine, there is plenty to share. The signature shared bites include Zinalings made with sweet and spicy seitan and coated with a peri-peri buffalo sauce. But if you can’t handle the spice, try the Crumbled Mushroom, fried and served with a creamy tartar sauce.
Address: 3046 North Davidson St., Charlotte, NC 28205
5. Plant Joy
Don’t Miss: Plant Joy is located in Charlotte’s famous Camp North End – a shopping complex built into a retired 76-acre industrial site. The vegan concept restaurant is nestled into the complex among a variety of exciting shops and creative spaces, but Plant Joy is making sure to put plant-based food on the table as well. The small menu is being served Wednesdays through Sundays every day.
Plant Yourself: Once you find yourself at the adorable vegan concept booth, it won’t take long to get hooked on the drool-worthy menu. From brunch classics to savory Mediterranean dishes, the Plant Joy menu is designed to show the delicious potential that is possible from small vegan kitchens. Current highlights from the ever-changing menu include a Gnocchi Picatta made from cauliflower, a Yam and Cheese sandwich, and the food stand’s iconic Nice Caesar Salad topped with veggies, shiitakes, and grilled cabbage.
Address: 1801 North Graham St., Charlotte, NC 28206
6. Sanctuary Bistro
Plant Yourself: Jennifer Jones Horton opened Sanctuary Bistro as a sustainable hideaway for all of Charlotte’s citizens, and any visitor that finds themselves looking for some innovative takes on some familiar favorites. The menu includes plant-based fare across almost every cuisine imaginable with new items being introduced to keep the flavor fresh. From Butternut Squash Fried Ravioli to a Seared Lions Mane Steak, this plant-based eatery is the perfect spot for a decadent dinner.
Take Note: Regardless of whether it is dinner, lunch, brunch, or a special prix fixe menu, Sanctuary Bistro’s dine-in experience is designed to impress. But the plant-based fare is not exclusive to the bistro’s storefront. The Sanctuary Bistro offers a specialty cookbook that shines a loving light on the breadth of vegan and gluten-free food. For plant-based beginners to vegan die-hard, Horton truly facilitates a sanctuary for all who search for healthy, tasty foods.
Address: 6416 Rea Road, Charlotte, NC 28277
7. Eastside Local Eatery
Plant Yourself: When looking for some classic diner food, it can be difficult to find a fully plant-based menu, uncompromised by eggs, butter, or even milk. The Eastside Local Eatery features a full-scale breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu that can be enjoyed all day. This cozy cafe is perfect for any day. Customers can visit for a light meal on a sunny day and listen to music on the patio, or visit on a gloomy day for some real southern comfort food.
Don’t Miss: Eastside Local Eatery reinvents the classic diner food including, a BLT, Biscuits & Gravy, Potatoes au Gratin, and Mac & Cheese. But beyond the full-scale comfort food selection, the local diner also provides take and bake pre-orders. Customers can call in special orders of vegan desserts as well as pint-size portions of Mac and Cheese, Chili, Soup, and more. It is impossible to overlook the bakery case because on your way out, it is likely the fresh doughnuts and apple fritters will catch your attention.
Address: 3102 Eastway Dr., Charlotte NC 28205
8. Bean Vegan Cuisine
Order for a Crowd: Bean Vegan Cuisine’s mission statement claims that it aims to cook food that they love to eat. Specializing in Southern Comfort foods, Bean Vegan Cuisine successfully produces a menu meant to fill up anyone who walks in the door. From Fried Pickles to Fried Tofu Fingers coated in a variety of wing sauces, there is plenty to share. The restaurant also specializes in dairy-free alternatives including a Pimento Cheesish Dip that mirrors the traditional southern classic.
Plant Yourself: While plant-based foods can feel intimidating to customers, Bean Vegan Cuisines makes sure to create a menu that is easily accessible for Charlotte’s most staunch meat-eaters. Serving Charlotte since 2012, the plant-based eatery develop vegan alternatives for several types of meat including chicken, beef, and even crab. While it might be easy to get stuck on the signature burgers including the Cowboy Burger with seitan meat, onion rings, pickles, BBQ sauce, Ranch dressing, and Daiya cheddar, the entire catalog of inventive sandwiches will keep you coming back.
Address: 3001 E Independence Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28205
9. Living Kitchen
Don’t Miss: The Living Kitchen has been keeping Charlotte’s vegan scene alive and well since 2011. Driving the plant-based development within the city, the Living Kitchen’s menu serves to show how sustainable food can truly and aptly replace some familiar favorites. Ranging across several cuisines and cooking styles, the Living Kitchen’s dynamic menu is not one to overlook. Try the Yellow Curry, protein-packed with curried lentils quinoa, kale, roasted cauliflower, pickled cabbage, cherry tomatoes, and a chimichurri sauce.
Take Note: Instead of using typical plant-based alternatives served on store shelves, the Living Kitchen makes sure to provide something special for its customers. For example, the plant-based BLT features a signature eggplant bacon that gives the same crispiness as traditional bacon. Complete with a chipotle cashew aioli, the vegan BLT stands as one of the best sandwiches in town.
Plant Yourself: While the Living Kitchen is known for its dinner selection of burgers, sandwiches, and creative entrees including a Chipotle Quesadilla, make sure you return for the brunch menu on Sundays. The Carb Cake Benedict made with a lion’s mane mushroom base ranks as one of the most inventive plant-based dishes in all of Charlotte. The savory breakfast item will be difficult to stray away from, but the Waffle and Vanilla Chia Bowl offer a sweet treat.
Address: 2000 South Blvd. Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28203
10. Ma Ma Wok
Take Note: Ma Ma Wok distinguishes itself from the rest of the plant-based scene in Charlotte because this restaurant did not start out as a vegan establishment. The Chinese restaurant went vegan in 2017, transitioning all of its Chinese classics into plant-based renditions.
Plant Yourself: This plant-based gem is a vegan dream. For an expansive menu to go fully plant-based is extremely real, but now, Charlotte citizens and take-out diners can get all their favorite Chinese food dishes as vegan entrees. The restaurant also features a wide range of plant-based meat alternatives including chicken wings, ribs, fish, and duck. The expansive menu is perfect for a fast dinner or a family movie night. Make sure to put this vegan gem on the map.
Address: 11914 Elm Lane, Charlotte, North Carolina
11. Best of Both Souls
Take Note: The Charlotte food scene certainly has no scarcity when it comes to soul food, but Best of Both Souls is cooking up some of the best soul food in the Southeast. From a ghost kitchen inside the City Kitch West End, Chef Chenelle – or some people call her Nelly – is cooking up soulful classic and drool-worthy burgers. Chef Nelly is working with more than 10 years of soul food experience, but she recently adopted a plant-based diet.
Don't Miss: The ghost kitchen is serving up an exciting variety of plant-based eats. Open since 2020, customers have been able to get smash burgers made from Beyond Meat, crispy chicken sandwiches, birria tacos, and more. But whatever you do, do not glaze over the Gochujang coated Cauliflower Wangz.
Address: 2200 Thrift Rd., Charlotte, NC 28208
12. Vegan Eats.CLT
Plant Yourself: Neighboring Best of Both Souls, Vegan Eat.CLT has a lot to live up to. The southern vegan restaurant is blending a plant-based diet with spices and flavors that will deliver a kick to whoever stops by this ghost kitchen. There is nothing on the menu that is not drool-worthy. The popular Birria Tacos, Wangz & Thangs, and Bussin Mac will make any customer forget there is a difference between plant-based foods and not.
Don't Miss: The plant-based concept restaurant prepares a variety of southern classics in a rotating menu. The soul food ghost kitchen serves up a variety of food, so take note of the kitchen's Instagram or website to know the latest. From seafood boils to loaded nachos, there is so much to expect. And since this establishment is carry-out only, make sure that you bring enough hands to carry out all the delicious food you are bound to buy.
Address: 2200 Thrift Rd., Charlotte, NC 28208