The 18 Best Vegan & Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Asheville
Becoming a vegan at many times in history and places in the United States was daunting. Choosing to get all your protein and other key nutrients from plant sources was always possible but not always highly varied.
This is why it is so great to be an Asheville resident or visitor. Here, you can sample the best vegan food in town, whether you’re a vegan or not, because the vegan food in Asheville is so great that everyone wants to eat it!
The options are great, too, since many of the best restaurants in Asheville that serve meat also include vegan, vegetarian, and other options, like gluten-free food. When choosing where to eat in Asheville, you’ll be able to find places for any palate, but if your crew specifically would like to eat in a place that serves exclusively vegetarian or vegan cuisine, consider these options.
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The Best Vegan Restaurants in Asheville
1. Plan Your Special Night Out at Plant
Fine dining has a reputation for being very carnivore focused, with so much of the attention in a dish being focused on the main meat protein. Plant has successfully bucked that trend, creating an incredibly detail-oriented, flavor-focused fine dining experience that is scratch-made, all focused on vegan ingredients. When it comes to the best vegan restaurants in Asheville for a refined meal, it’s tough to beat Plant!
They pool multicultural influences to create dishes like Pecan Crusted Tempeh, Total Ramen with tofu, cabbage, shiitake, and smoked tamari broth, or their delicious Masala Uttapam, flavored with channa masala and covered in cucumber, onion, and avocado.
This is the place to go when you want to taste complexity in every mouthful, all while having a special experience. Also important to note: their desserts are exquisite! Think Saffron Crème Brulée, Peanut Butter Cheesecake, and so much more, all made completely vegan.
2. Feel Right at Home at Rosetta’s Kitchen and Buchi Bar
Rosetta’s Kitchen is located on a bustling block in downtown, with big windows and a general comfy air about it. The food ranges from a variety of incredible french-fry-based appetizers to the coconut curry plate, various tasty bowls, and their Delicious Organic Tofu & Avocado Sandwich.
A bowl of Hearty Chili or a Sea Veggie Salad round out a meal that can be both very healthy and packed with veggies and very comforting, like a basket of fried potatoes. A very cool feature is their craft kombucha bar, stocked with various flavors by local producer Buchi.
The downstairs bar features traditional alcoholic drinks as well as mocktails and cocktails made with kombucha, making it an unusual and fun place to grab a drink alongside your eats.
3. Get a Perfect Burger Without the Meat at The Trashy Vegan
This simple “burger joint” atmosphere is a perfect spot for vegans who want to get their fix of a little “fast food” that is still entirely plant-based. Their Cheeseburger features an Impossible patty with all the fixins, including vegan cheddar cheese.
You can add tater tots to your burger for that signature crunch, and there’s even the Donut Burger variation, where the bun is a vanilla glazed donut! The Chickpea Sandwich will satisfy your umami tooth, and the Loaded Fries covered in fried soy curls and jalapeños are a feast for the senses too.
If you or your vegan buddy have been eating just a little bit too many salads and veggie stir fries, this is the place to unwind with an absolutely delicious plate of comfort food.
4. Have Juice and Much More at Pulp & Sprout
Learning to eat vegan food can involve some re-education if you grew up with the idea of a starch, a veggie, and a meat for most meals. Pulp & Sprout offers a variety of incredibly healthy, nutrition-packed dishes, with the heart of their menu being a collection of tasty cold-pressed juices.
The Breathe juice, for instance, features carrots, oranges, apples, lemon, turmeric, and parsley, while the Go Forth Green features kale, pear, cucumber, lemon, and ginger. The juices are just the start though: bowls that feature delicious acai and lots of fruits, seeds, and nuts are popular, as are wraps and sandwiches that keep veggies and plant-based protein front and center.
Pulp & Sprout is one of the best and most flavorful healthy restaurants in Asheville!
5. Take Your Adventurous Spirit to Gallivant
The atmosphere and calm at Gallivant, an all-vegan coffee shop, is one of my favorite small nooks in the Asheville area. Technically it’s over the northern border in Woodfin, but this spot feels quintessentially Asheville.
The baristas are obsessively knowledgeable about coffee and generally find ways to use woods-foraged ingredients like pine in their house syrups while selling all-vegan pastries of all kinds. They scour their suppliers to find the most special and exciting microlots of coffee to roast into a variety of whimsically-named whole-bean coffees available for purchase.
Settle in for a Lox, Stalk, and Barrel, made with carrot lox, green olive and caper vegan cream cheese, and pea shoots on a toasted bagel, or sample a beautiful shortbread cookie with edible flowers on top. No matter what you choose to snack and drink, you’ll be contributing to a sustainable, vegan business that works hard to source everything ethically for their shop.
6. Sample Plant-Based Eats Out and About with The Smokin’ Onion Food Truck
In 2021, a couple, Chef Parker Schultz and his wife Keems started their food truck using their experiences in vegetarian restaurants. They did so with a passion for creating as much from scratch as they could, meaning pita and buns, seitan and burgers, as well as many of the dressings, sauces, and more.
The result is a flavorful menu that you can sample at a variety of locations around town, including Ginger’s Revenge, New Belgium Brewery, Cellarrest Beer Project, and some UNCA events. Fried treats like Fried Pickles and Brussels Sprouts with sweet, smoky mustard are a great start.
Then sample a Buffalo Cauliflower Wrap, a big pile of nachos, or a Kai Smash Burger for your main course. A Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar or Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie is a great dessert, or for the fruit-inclined, sample a Fresh-Squeezed Berry Lemonade. Yum!
7. Sample International Flavors at Laughing Seed Cafe
Laughing Seed is, first and foremost, a vegetarian cafe, so be aware that any vegans eating here will need to steer around dishes containing dairy and eggs, but there are so many good options available that you needn’t worry about a lack of options here.
For vegans, start your meal with a Toasted Baguette with vegan butter, an Oyster Mushroom Grit Cake topped with crispy onions, or a pile of Crispy Brussels sprouts in a ponzu marinade. Try a Tostada Ensalada with crispy corn tortillas and vegan cashew queso, a pile of Buffalo Tacos, or a tasty slice of Farmer’s Pie or Butternut Squash Risotto.
This cafe, located on fun and festive Wall Street, is steps from all kinds of shopping and features a cute little patio for outdoor eating on warm days. You’ll be smiling as much as the Laughing Seed itself!
8. Sip and Savor at Dobra Tea (West Asheville)
While Dobra Tea does serve some pastries that contain egg and dairy, the vast majority of their cafe menu is vegan. Try the Fresh Spring Rolls, a mixture of carrots, beets, and daikon wrapped in rice paper with mung bean noodles, as well as fresh mint, cilantro, and peanut sauce.
Their Immunity Sipping Broth is made with ginger and miso as well as medicinal mushrooms, and the Carrot Lox Toast features local vegan carrot-based Faux Lox, as well as capers, vegan cheese, sliced cucumber, red onion, and za’atar.
The many delicious options here are only made more lovely by the fact that the space is both restaurant and tea house, meaning you have access to comfortable tea lounge areas and a wide variety of delicious teas.
The Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Asheville
When choosing where to eat in Asheville, you aren’t always looking for the best all-vegan restaurants only. You might also need to feed friends and family who are looking for other options, and the following restaurants all offer robust options for vegan eaters while also serving vegetarians and carnivores. If you’re looking for vegan food in Asheville but need to please the non-vegans in your crew, opt for these great places!
9. Try the ‘Slow Food Right Quick’ Movement at Homegrown
While Homegrown serves plenty of meat, this spot offers both tofu and locally produced tempeh (a fermented protein typically made with soybeans). They also serve an incredible fried nugget known as a “falentil,” a falafel-like cake that is made with lentils and is incredibly flavorful.
While many items on the menu will typically contain egg or dairy, just ask if a particular item can be made fully vegan, and they’re happy to accommodate. For fully vegan from the start, I recommend the BBQ Tofu with Sprouts and Asian Slaw on a local bun. And don’t miss their sides: sautéed sesame greens, molasses sweet potatoes, and garlic parsnips are all top choices.
10. Savor the Healthy Way at Green Sage Cafe
Some days you want tasty comfort food, but some days, a light and clean feeling meal is perfect, and on those days, I’m glad that Green Sage has three different locations in Asheville. The cooks at this cafe pack as many flavorful veggies as they can into various items on their menu.
Despite serving meat, you’ll find a wide variety of vegan food on the menu. From the breakfast sprouted tofu scrambled with veggies to the Sage House Salad with lemon tahini dressing, all the way to the Kimchi Tempeh Burger and Golden Buddha Bowls, every dish has found a way to use spicing and the natural bounty of the earth to fill you right up.
I leave full and happy after eating my favorite bowl, the Tigris bowl: think falafel fritters, hummus, cherry tomatoes, lemon-dressed kale, brown rice, tabbouleh, avocado, toasted sunflower seeds, and a few more veggies – every bite is an adventure.
11. It’s Pizza Time at Mellow Mushroom
A variety of pizza shops have embraced the arrival of high-quality vegan cheese, and Mellow Mushroom in the heart of downtown Asheville is happy to make you a pie that is just as delicious, chewy, and flavorful as their non-vegan pies, all without dairy, eggs, or meat.
Their build-your-own vegan pie is a great canvas for your vegan crew to work from. It starts with pizza crust (minus parmesan and butter), red sauce, and Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, though you can also opt for an oil and garlic base if red sauce isn’t your thing.
Then add tempeh for protein, mushrooms for umami (and to stick with the restaurant theme!), and veggies like onions and jalapeños for pops of flavor – you can even be the one to add pineapple to your pizza! Other dishes like the tempeh hoagie and some of the salads can also be customized to be vegan. Just talk to your server, and they’ll be happy to make it happen.
12. Explore the Flavors of Ethiopia at Addissae Ethiopian Restaurant
If you’ve never tried Ethiopian cuisine, you’re in for a vegan-friendly treat. Their menu is rich in options that bring unique spice combinations to some of your familiar vegan proteins, including Ater Kik W’at, a stew of yellow split peas seasoned with onions, garlic, ginger, and turmeric.
Or order the Tempeh Tibs, a marinated tempeh dish sautéed with onion, garlic, ginger, and green pepper. A variety of sides, like cabbage, carrots, and potatoes, beets and carrots, or brown lentil stew, are available vegan, and one of the platters lets you try seven different vegan sides as a magnificent vegan feast.
The menu itself also has vegetarian and meat options, making it a great place to take people with a variety of food preferences.
13. Step Into Spice at Blue Dream Curry House
This multi-faceted curry house pulls Thai, South Indian, and UK-style flavorings to offer a truly international take on curry dishes. Locally made Smiling Hara Tempeh or organic tofu can be added to the Panang, Kerala Meen, or Yellow curries, giving you a variety of flavor options for a hearty and savory meal.
For a snack or appetizer, try a “Naan Mi,” a naan bread-based take on a banh mi. Because the menu does change occasionally and the restaurant does use milk, eggs, and meat, double-check that your favorite curry or appetizer is vegan, and if it isn’t, ask if there is an option to prepare it that way. This request isn’t rare in Asheville, and the pleasant team at Blue Dream is more than happy to make your vegan Blue Dream come true.
Note: at the time of writing, Blue Dream had closed its downtown location. We are hoping they find a new space and reopen in the near future!
14. Nosh on Street Food Favorites at Chai Pani
Chai Pani celebrates all things flavorful with their menu packed with crispy and well-spiced favorites from Indian street food carts.
You’ll find incredible snacks and meals here, from Bhel Puri, a puffed rice and flour crisp with chickpea noodles, roasted chana lentils, cilantro, and onions, all tossed with tamarind, green, and garlic chutneys, or Mixed Vegetable Uttapam, a kind of savory crepe made from rice and lentil and covered in corn, peas, onion, cilantro, curry leaf, ginger, and chilies.
It’s served with both sambar and coconut chutneys that will make you want to slurp down any leftovers. Lastly, if you’ve never had their Matchstick Okra Fries, you’ve gotta try them – they’ll make nearly anyone into a lover of okra!
15. Gobble Savory Southern Favorites at Early Girl Eatery
I’m the first person to tell you that Early Girl Eatery isn’t a vegan restaurant, but the few vegan options they have are truly a chef’s kiss for the community.
If you arrive for breakfast, their signature meal, I recommend the Organic Tofu Scramble Breakfast, where curry-marinated tofu is scrambled with red onions, mushrooms, red peppers, tomato, and spinach. It’s then served with grits or home fries and vegan toast.
Then there’s my go-to every time, the Heirloom Organic Grit Cake Stack. Start with crispy vegan grit cakes that are covered in veggies of all kinds and a Southern tomato gravy – this is top-notch stuff.
An honorable mention goes to the Shroomie Garden Sandwich, a marinated and grilled portabella mushroom on local rye bread and (again) piled high with delicious veggies. Beyond Burgers are available as swaps for the cheeseburger at lunchtime too.
16. Get Some Mediterranean Grub at Baba Nahm
When shopping for vegan restaurants in Asheville where you can get flavorful food to go or for sitting down, Baba Nahm has some incredible options. Their lunch menu is framed as a “build-your-own” adventure, and a vegan option would be to start with the Crispy Baba Falafel, chickpea patties made with coriander, sesame, cumin, onion, and a tahini-avocado guacamole.
Then you pick how you want it served, be it in a bowl with pita and lots of tasty veggies (feta optional), as a salad, with hummus, or as a platter. Try a Harira Soup full of chickpeas and lentils or any of the many other options available as daily specials.
17. Sample Tasty Thai at Bun Intended
S&W Market is a food hall in downtown Asheville that offers an excellent array of vendors to satisfy any palate, and if your crew is eating vegan, you should absolutely peruse the Bun Intended menu of Thai street food.
From crispy fried Tofu Bites served over Asian slaw with sweet chili garlic sauce to the Seasonal Veggie Bao, a steamed bun full of veggies, green goddess dressing, and hoisin sauce, you’ll find many items that either are vegan or can be made so.
Some salads and the Spicy Curry Bowl are either vegan or vegetarian – just check to make sure that egg and dairy aren’t used in any of the sauces that are on offer that day.
18. Savor Smokey Mexican Flavors at Mountain Madre
While much traditional Mexican food does include cheese or milk products, Mountain Madre’s craft approach to Mexican food offers some delicious vegan options, particularly if your crew is dead-set on Mexican food and you’re not sure where to get the best vegan options.
Their Vegan Enchiladas, for example, are full of black bean and potato and smothered in poblano sauce, while their Vegan Tacos include refried beans, jicama slaw, seared avocado, corn salsa, and roasted tomatillo verde sauce on flour tortillas.
Try scratch-made guacamole and chips or one of the house salsas, ranging from mild pico de gallo to spicy chipotle. Or, get a sampler of three and dig in with house-cut and fried tortilla chips.