The 6 Best Places to Eat Plant-Based in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is nestled in North Carolina’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, glowing with a vibrant art scene and historic architecture. From hiking to visiting the museums in the city’s multiple art districts, any visitor will be thrilled at the endless possibilities during a trip to visit.
Asheville houses several colleges bringing an influx of young people to the city with many of the schools encouraging the students to immerse themselves within the community. The mountainous, scenic city offers a relaxing and cool atmosphere, lined with exciting restaurants, breweries, bars, and most importantly, food. The city’s burgeoning plant-based food scene is a product of experimental restaurants and chefs and Asheville’s young population. Asheville’s plant-based food scene is an oasis in the mountains and a delicious surprise to those who have yet to visit.
1. Trashy Vegan, Food Truck, Various Locations
Plant Yourself: Even though you can only get Trashy Vegan on the weekends, this mobile food stop is a top contender for vegan eaters in the city. The food truck offers one of the best plant-based burgers in the Southeast. With a streamlined menu, the burger station on the move provides its staple items stocked with vegan cheese, lettuce, pickles, onion, ketchup, veganaise, mustard, on a sesame seed bun.
Calling All: Alongside the staple burger, The Trashy Vegan spotlights a changing burger special almost every week. From a Carolina-style chili & slaw burger to a special mushroom burger, you will never be dissatisfied with the food or the service. Even though the mobile burger joint receives its fame from its burgers, the owners make sure to spice up the menu for the die-hard customers.
Don’t Miss: The recurring special (executed in different variations) is a Taco Bell-inspired beefy supreme quesadilla. A favorite variation comes with homemade queso sauce, Impossible Foods ground beef, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cilantro, and green onions. If you make it to Asheville for the weekend, it might be necessary to give the truck more than one visit to make sure that you try everything that it has to offer.
2. Plant,165 Merriman Ave
Plant Yourself: Whatever the special occasion, Plant should be the first restaurant on the list during a visit to North Carolina. The experimental fine-dining restaurant prides itself on its menu that aims to redefine what customers can expect from vegan food. With fine dining still relatively untapped in the vegan market, Plant’s menu provides a uniquely created, freshly sourced selection of foods.
Take Note: Plant is the dream project for Chef Jason Sellers that emphasizes the importance of freshness in food and in the kitchen, Seller launched Plant in 2011 and champions his restaurant as being both organic, eclectic, and fully driven by the chefs in the kitchen. The menu constantly changes, providing this freshness even in the experience.
Don’t Miss: Beyond its fully vegan and mostly local food menu, Plant offers an eccentric and delicious cocktail menu. The bourbon-based Bitter Fox or the herb-infused gin Sageminded pair perfectly with the menu. Located just north of downtown Asheville, I highly recommend scheduling a dinner at Plant to enjoy an exciting array of vegan dishes, and soon after you will be recommending it to other people.
3. Green Sage Cafe, Four Locations
Take Note: A cross-Asheville staple is the Green Sage Cafe. With four locations across the city, this small restaurant chain is the perfect stop for any plant-based diners. The restaurant champions itself on its organically sourced food and company philosophy that's based solely on sustainability and health. Founder Randy Talley set out to create a restaurant that uses 95 percent organic produce to enhance the nutrition of its customers while providing an expansive menu to cater to any guest’s preference.
Don’t Miss: Although the restaurant’s menu is not completely plant-based, the dedication to organic and nutritional food presents some of the best vegan options available in the city. The vegan breakfast burrito is absolutely the best bang for your buck. By adding sprouted tofu scramble and avocado to the wrap, it becomes a filling, savory breakfast item that will satisfy anyone who buys it, and it’s likely you’ll end up with leftovers. A perfect lunch option is the Kimchi Reuben. The vegan sandwich consists of golden fried tempeh, kimchi slaw, avocado, and a vegan Russian dressing all stacked within a locally baked ciabatta bread.
Be Sure to Order: The breakfast and lunch items may draw attention, but what will keep you coming back are the smoothies and seasonal specials. Green Sage Cafe features a variety of vegan smoothies ranging from the banana, chocolate Love Shack to the berry-filled Deep Purple options.
Plant Yourself: You can stop in the cafe for just a smoothie drink or if you decide to stay, check out the specials to be blown away by creative and nutritional options for lunch or dinner. The greatest part is that no matter where you are in Asheville, there’s a Green Sage Cafe nearby.
4. Sunflower Diner, 771 Haywood Rd.
Plant Yourself: Located inside of the West Village Market and Deli, the Sunflower Diner is the perfect vegan diner-style cafe. When you walk inside the market, directly to the left there’s a diner bar where all the food is cooked fresh to order. It is often difficult to find a fully plant-based brunch, but the diner provides the perfect vegan comfort for anybody. From vegan biscuits and gravy to the Frisco Melt, Sunflower Diner’s menu is full of mouthwatering items. All it takes is one visit and the Sunflower Diner quickly becomes a regular stop for anyone who eats there.
Take Note: The Sunflower Diner is unique from all its competitors because it brings a quick, classically hearty diner breakfast without overdoing it. The vegan options give any customer the experience of a classic diner experience, making its food accessible for anyone regardless of their personal diet.
Don’t Miss: Although the spot may mostly attract locals shopping for their weekly groceries, it’s a great stop for anyone staying in West Asheville. Once you sit down you will have trouble deciding between a Carrot Cake Waffle covered in a cream cheese glaze or the Mock Philly Cheesesteak served on a delicious pretzel hoagie. Grab some groceries for your stay and grab a meal at the Sunflower Diner with a guarantee that you will leave with a full stomach.
5. Element’s Real Food, 233 S Liberty St.
Plant Yourself: Element’s is a great morning and afternoon spot to grab refreshments. The juice bar cafe prides itself on its organic ingredients that produce high-quality foods and cold-pressed juices. The menu consists of a selection of smoothies, smoothie bowls, juices, broths, and plant-based fare. The health food store is perfect for anyone in Asheville looking for a boost in the middle of the day or during an exhausting vacation.
Order for a Crowd: The thing that will really make you start coming back are the desserts. Element’s Real Food creates some of the most delicious vegan pastries in town. Between the Cinnamon & Apple Crumb Cake topped with a cream cheese frosting and the Golden Milk & Strawberry Beet Cheesecake, it’s impossible to rank the sweets. You might walk into Element’s Real Food to grab a juice, but you’ll walk out with an Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato sandwich, a slice of cake, and juices for a group (or to stash in your fridge at home).
6. Laughing Seed, 40 Wall St.
Don’t Miss: Starting as a small lunch counter in 1991, the Laughing Seed spearheaded vegetarian cuisine in Asheville. Since then Laughing Seed Cafe has remained a cornerstone for plant-based eaters in the city and extended a great deal of influence to other vegan and vegetarian restaurants around the Southeast.
Take Note: The cafe continues to innovate its menu to fit a growing and changing vegan interest, providing a fully accommodating and exciting menu. The restaurant’s vegan Midnight Mushroom pizza, Buffalo Tacos, Spinach Pesto Manicotti, and Massaman Curry bring a diverse and delicious selection of foods for any customer.
Plant Yourself: If you visit Asheville, the Laughing Seed is a must for dinner. Accompanied by a full wine, cocktail, and beer list, the menu spans across a number of cuisines presenting vegan alternatives to so many favorite dishes. This is one of the restaurants where you can always come back, get something different, and leave satisfied with your meal. The crown jewel of Asheville’s plant-based cuisine established 30 years ago and sparked a full plant-based shift for Asheville. With a nice patio and summer around the corner, it’s a perfect stop for any plant-based visitors to grad a drink and a bite to eat.