Central Coffee is easily one of my favorite coffee spots in the Queen City. They offer both soy and almond milk for your coffee enjoyment as well as some delicious treats. Their best-selling zucchini bread, which just so happens to be vegan, is a must every time we go.
They also serve a vegan chocolate espresso cake and sell Espresso bites from Sweet B Unrefined using Central Coffee espresso beans. For the record, the seasonal Pumpkin Latte is made with a homemade vegan organic pumpkin syrup (an organic pumpkin puree, raw agave, ginger root and spices). With the colder temperatures creeping in, it’s a good time to check them out.
Having recently moved to the South End area, I’m attempting to locate all the vegan options at non-vegan restaurants just to expand our pool of restaurants we can eat at without having to worry if the server actually understood what we were trying to avoid when ordering. After an email correspondence with 300 East, then eating there twice in the last week, they are definitely going to be a part of our regular restaurant rotation. It turns out that 300 East is actually a delicious option for vegan food in South End. While they don’t have a ton of options, they do have a better-than-average selection and we left very satisfied after both trips. In a recent email to the restaurant, they responded by highlighting the menu items that can be made vegan.
For starters, both the hummus and guacamole appetizers are vegan. The Grilled Portobello Sandwich, Veggie Burger, Black Bean Tortilla, Black-Eyed-Pea Falafel Sandwich and Seasonal Farro Saute can all be made vegan simply by ordering them “no dairy.” Many of their salads include cheese (clearly stated in the description) or a dairy-containing dressing, but can be made without either. Vegan salad dressings include Balsamic Vinaigrette, Sherry Vinaigrette, French Vinaigrette, and Sesame Dressing. Unfortunately, the cornbread muffin does contain dairy and eggs. The email also recommended checking for dairy and eggs in the daily soup, side or vegetable plate of the day.
Just a heads up, the lunch menu is a little more vegan-limited than the dinner menu, but you can still find a satisfying meal. They do have some outdoor seating and a nice little bar inside as well. Enjoy.
Fourth Ward Bread Company, a new business opened Uptown the other week and although not a vegan restaurant, they did reach out to let us know that they were offering vegan soups at their opening. After a follow-up email, they provided a list of everything they have that is vegan or can be made vegan.
So here it goes….
- They do have soy milk, but you have to ask for it (it is not kept out on the condiment table).
- All of their soups use vegetable stock and all entree salads can be made vegan.
- All biancas except the turkey can be made vegan. However, since most of their bianca variations have mozzarella on top, if called ahead (336-946-2072) they can be made without cheese. They top them with veggies from a local farm on North Tryon (Opportunity Farms). According to the good folks at Fourth Ward (who have been really good at responding to my inquiries), a bianca is a soft Italian bread used as the base of various sandwiches and flatbread meals.
- Unfortunately, their bagels are made with eggs, but all of their ciabattas, baguettes, and sourdough breads are vegan.
- Their crostinis are vegan and can be served with both bruschetta and hummus.
- Their coleslaw is vinegar based and vegan.
If you’re around uptown, stop in and check them out at 312 North Graham Street. Haven’t had a chance to get in there yet, but based on the pictures of the place and the food I’ve seen, it looks very promising.
Tuesday-Saturday 8 am – 7 pm or Sunday 8 am -3 pm.
“Would we continue to raise and eat animals in such staggering numbers if a delicious and perfect plant-based replication of meat existed?”
Found this question on the website of the latest and quite possibly greatest chicken substitute now available, Beyond Meat. This product looks enough like chicken and overall has a good chewiness and mouth feel that make it a great alternative to chicken. Beyond Meat is intended to replace chicken in any recipe and goes great in wraps and salads. I’ve even eaten it just as snack dipping it into some spicy hummus. Beyond Meat is packed with 20 grams of protein per 3 oz serving and is cholesterol and gluten free. It is comprised of soy and pea protein isolates (non-GMO), flour, and fiber. For more information on their ingredients, visit the FAQ.
So where can you find it in Charlotte? The only place that currently sells retail packs for home use is Whole Foods in Southpark. While other Whole Foods I’ve been to stock Beyond Meat near the Daiya and tofu refrigerated section, the Southpark Whole Foods hides it in the freezer section. They also supposedly offer Beyond Meat in their prepared foods department although I’ve never seen it when I’m there. The other place to find Beyond Meat is at all Tropical Smoothie locations. Unfortunately, there are no Charlotte locations, but there is one just 20-25 minutes away in Tega Cay. It’s a great thing to see a chain restaurant offering a meat-free, vegan option. So, if you’re in the area or don’t mind a short drive, go check them out.
Here is a list of Tropical Smoothie’s vegan offerings according to a Compassion Over Killing article: vegan bread, sauces and toppings include: flour/garlic tortillas, flatbread, ciabatta, jerk sauce, Thai peanut dressing, buffalo sauce, guacamole, hummus, salsa, wontons/wonton strips, and southwestern rice.
According to the official Blackfish movie website, screenings will begin in Charlotte at the Manor Theatre on August 23rd. This movie has already received outstanding reviews since its release in January. It is a documentary about a killer whale that has killed several people while in captivity and explores the unintended consequences of keeping these animals in captivity through interviews with former trainers and other shocking footage.
If you can’t catch it in the theater, CNN will air it as part of their CNN Films on October 24 at 9 pm.
View the Trailer
While it is great to have dedicated vegan restaurants, it’s not always feasible to dine at one given the location you’re in or the company you’re dining with. That’s why whenever I see a new restaurant opening up, my first thought is to find out if they have any vegan options. Ideally every restaurant would at the very least mark items that are vegan or that could be made vegan. A pipe dream goal of mine is to work with local restaurants and identify all the vegan choices and either have them identified on their menu or produce a special menu or two for them to have on hand when vegans inquire about their options. But for now, the plan is to communicate with restaurants and relay the information here, so you can be prepared to eat out and about in Charlotte.
Just last month, Chuy’s opened up their first North Carolina location next to The Cowfish in Southpark. Chuy’s is a tex-mex chain restaurant that originated in Texas and seems to be spreading far and wide, recently opening up in Greenville, South Carolina as well. According to their website, their goal is “to bring you the best, healthiest Mexican food on the entire planet” which to me translates into a completely vegan menu. Sadly, Chuy’s is not a vegan restaurant, but they do a nice job of marking “meatless plates” on their menu. After not finding a list of vegan options on their website, I sent them an email and they replied with a special menu featuring everything on their menu available for vegetarians and vegans. The menu may or may not be available at each restaurant, but you can find it here anytime.
Special Menu – Vegetarian & Vegan – Chuy’s
Per the email response from Chuy, “The guacamole tacos are awesome and our rice and beans are completely vegetarian so there are some great options for you! You’ll also be happy to hear we don’t use lard in any items so you can enjoy a delicious flour tortilla with any meal.” Since all of the spicy sauces contain a chicken or beef stock as part of their base, he recommended adding a side of green chiles to the Ranchero sauce for some added heat.
It’s not an extensive list of options and they don’t offer vegan cheese or anything special specifically catering to vegans, but it’s nice to know your options without having to rely entirely on a server that may or may not actually care about what you’re requesting. Plus, you now have at least one Mexican restaurant you can visit knowing their is no lard or animal juice hiding in the beans or rice.