Though Charleston may not boast as many all-vegan restaurants and cafes as bigger cities, there are plenty of places downtown and in the Charleston area with veg-friendly dishes. Check out this list of places in Charleston for vegetarians and vegans:
Neon Tiger (654 King St., Downtown)
All-vegan King Street restaurant Neon Tiger — the City Paper’s 2021 Best New Restaurant — is the latest project from restaurateur and vegan activist John Adamson. Look for vegan pizzas and riffs on fried shrimp, fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, reubens and more along with an impressive drink menu with kegged cocktails and house-made vegan substitutes.
Gnome Cafe (109 President St., Downtown)
One of the longest standing vegan eateries in downtown Charleston, Gnome Cafe delivers a 100% plant-based daytime menu, with options like Southern grit bowls, veggie burgers, Korean rice bowls, chickpea “tuna” salad and more. There’s also coffee, tea and baked goods like Gnome’s maple and coffee glazed cinnamon roll, a local favorite.
The Harbinger Cafe and Bakery (1107 King St., Downtown) Harken Cafe (62 Queen St., Downtown)
The Harbinger Cafe and Bakery owners Cameron Neal and Greer Gilchrist have been serving a menu filled with vegan and vegetarian daytime options since 2017, later adding a Queen Street outpost with a similar offering called Harkin Cafe. At both cafes, there’s an assortment of vegan baked goods — like The Harbinger’s cinnamon, ginger and apricot spiced Cha Cha Cha Chia oat bar — plus daily changing toasts, sandwiches, quiche and salads.
Vined The Vegan Experience (5117 Dorchester Road, North Charleston)
Vined The Vegan Experience owner Christian Keith — the cousin of 2019 City Paper “DJ of the Year” DJ SCrib — is bringing plant-based plates to North Charleston after leaving a career in finance. Keith starting Vined as a pop-up, but later secured a brick-and-mortar space at 5117 Dorchester Road, where she serves plant-based burgers, fried cauliflower “vings,” mushroom steak with asparagus and mashed potatoes, vegan riffs on shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles, breakfast burritos and more.
Basic Kitchen (82 Wentworth St., Downtown)
Executive chef Charlie Layton serves an assortment of vegan and vegetarian options at this bright Wentworth Street restaurant. Basic Kitchen is known for its tempura fried cauliflower wings, vegan Caesar salad and namesake “Basic Bowl,” a combination of roasted sweet potato, broccoli with herbs, kale, curried chickpeas and grains.
Bangin’ Vegan Eats (various locations)
A relative newcomer to the pop-up scene, Bangin’ Vegan Eats serves plant-based burgers, tacos, “cheez” steaks and more at local spots like Estuary Beans & Barley, Westbrook Brewing, Recovery Room and the MUSC Greenway.
High Pie (various locations)
Former Rosalie’s owners Leah Highfield and Jeremy Williams are back to slinging wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas with their High Pie pop-up. All of the dough is naturally leavened, and the duo makes vegan mozzarella in-house. High Pie specializes in vegetarian toppings like what’s found on the “Freak on a Yeast,” a corn, mozzarella, sweet pepper and chana masala spiced pie that singer/actress Mandy Moore and her husband Taylor Goldsmith ordered at a recent pop-up.
DellzVille (1617 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley)
The latest iteration of Maudell Grayson’s vegan-forward eatery DellzVille, previously known as Dell’z Deli and Dell’z Uptown, has changed locations again and swapped ownership with Grayson’s son Michael Bonds taking the reins. The menu features vegetarian and vegan options including classic Dell’z offerings like vegan nachos, jazzy pizza, vegan queso and meatless wraps as well as new additions like vegan deviled eggs.
Jack of Cups (34 Center St., Folly Beach)
Though not a strictly veg-only restaurant, Jack of Cups definitely keeps its vegetarian and vegan diners happy with plenty of meatless dishes. Co-owner and chef Lesley Carroll changes the menu often, so check out Instagram or its website for the newest additions. But, some standouts from past and current menus include peanut ginger soup, a variety of curries, a white bean patty veggie burger, Impossible beef sliders, veggie spring rolls and more.
The Gathering Cafe (1125 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., West Ashley)
Billed as “health food for a health community,” West Ashley’s Gathering Cafe provides ample non-meat, non-dairy options. You’ll find this menu to be almost the opposite of typical restaurant offerings with almost entirely vegetarian options and just three meat-centric wraps. The rest of the menu includes salads, rice and noodle bowls, marinated beets, Sea Island peas and greens and kale slaw.
BKeDSHoP (99 Westedge St., Suite 1950, Downtown)
Vegans have a sweet tooth too, which is why BKeDSHoP offers vegan doughnuts with all the delicious goodness of a regular doughnut minus the eggs, butter and milk. But BKeDSHoP believes in standing out not only with its vegan offerings but also with untraditionally shaped rectangular doughnuts available in apple fritter, vanilla bean, strawberry chocolate, cinnamon bun, mocha coconut, strawberry jelly and PB&J. You can also substitute regular milk for non-dairy products like almond or coconut milk. After you order, browse the adjacent plant shop.
The Junction Kitchen & Provisions (4438 Spruill Ave., North Charleston)
One of Park Circle’s most popular brunch spots welcomes vegetarians and vegans alike with plenty of meatless dishes and meat substitutes. The Junction’s shiitake bacon is the perfect replacement for real bacon in a BLT, breakfast sandwich or simply by itself. Vegan versions of egg dishes are available, and portobello mushrooms take the place of pork in the tacos and Mexican hash. The menu also includes other more traditional veggie dishes like avocado toast, the “Veg Out” wrap and the “energy” salad.
Huriyali (401 Huger St., Downtown)
After expanding from a juice business selling products at local markets to a full-blown juice bar/vegetarian cafe in 2015, Huriyali has become one of the top vegetarian spots downtown. Though the menu does include some meat options now, owners Tom McFall and Ruchi Mistry try to keep the menu fruit and veggie forward with acai bowls, organic smoothies, a chickpea patty breakfast sandwich, vegan BBQ sandwich, burrito with tempeh and more.
Three Little Birds (65 Windermere Blvd., West Ashley)
Serving breakfast and lunch, Three Little Birds is a vegan-friendly restaurant tucked in the South Windemere Plaza on Folly Road. Its breakfast menu features favorites like benedicts, burritos, omelets and French toast, among other items. Vegetarians will discover sweet potato and black bean benedicts while vegans may gravitate more towards the lunch menu with fresh salads, healthy sandwiches and wraps. Vegan cheese is available upon request.
Sorghum and Salt (186 Coming St., Downtown)
Veg diners at Sorghum and Salt will discover many vegetable-focused small plates on the regular seasonal menu, but if you’re looking to go all out, the restaurant focused on shareable plates also offers a vegan tasting menu. The dishes rotate frequently, but for summer 2021, the vegan menu has eight courses consisting of Vertical Roots wedge salad, bread and butter beets, S.C. peaches, watermelon, rainbow carrots, delicata squash, house-made pasta and white chocolate mousse for dessert.