South End Staples

Here are 3 of my vegan staples in South End. All three are easy to get to along the light rail or rail trail through South End.

Common Market – We seriously eat here at least twice a week. While not a vegan or vegetarian establishment, they are extremely vegan friendly. I’m not sure why they don’t just name my order after me to save us both time. Straight Jacket soy (Tofu-lin sliced tofu, baby spinach, tomato, onion, carrot, cucumber and red pepper) on a tomato basil wrap, add vegan thousand island, add sriracha, add banana peppers. If that doesn’t sound good, they have hummus and vegan cheese as well with an option to make your own wrap. Salad is another option and they always seem to have at least one vegan soup. Plus, they have a refrigerated section that is always stocked with some good vegan sides like curried chickpea salad or chicken-less chicken salad. For dessert, they have vegan cupcakes in the fridge or vegan cookies and other treats out on the shelves. 

Phat Burrito - Chipotle is taking their sweet time getting sofritas into the Charlotte market, so we’re lucky to have a good burrito option in the area already. I had written off Phat Burrito after a few bad experiences at the now-closed location in Elizabeth, but I am glad we gave the original South End spot another shot. They offer a tofu or veggie burrito (squash, zucchini, mushrooms). I usually get the tofu burrito and add the veggies and guac, then some salsa from the salsa bar. It can be quite filling, so if you are looking for something lighter, try Luna’s.

Luna’s Living Kitchen - Don’t really need to say a whole lot about Luna’s. Totally vegan, mostly raw, everyone loves it…according to Yelp. My one warning is just remember that it is raw before you order the Lunasanga expecting an old fashioned lasagna.


The Tin Kitchen

I have yet to partake in a Food Truck Friday, aside from walking through and hoping a vegan food truck has arrived without me knowing. Sadly, Charlotte is still waiting on our first vegan food truck. Maybe The Masa Casa will upgrade from cart to truck someday? In the meantime, we’re left with trying to piece together a meal without animal flesh or secretions hiding inside. I’ve started reaching out to food trucks in search of vegan options.

Here’s what I’ve heard so far…which isn’t much, so let us know if you find anything.

From The Tin Kitchen:

Thanks for reaching out.  Our vegan options are:
 Chana Masala Tacos without the Goat Cheese,
Buffalo Cauliflower Salad without Slaw or Bleu Cheese (we have a nice Smoked Tomato Vin for this)
Soup of the day (depending on the day – Today we ran Gazpacho for example).
Sides:  Charro Beans, Chips & Salsa Pickled Veggies (Green Rice is not vegan, as it has small amounts of butter)
We also occasionally do veggie specials (which can typically be made vegan).  Like with the soup, this typically depends on the day – and at FTF, we advertise, so have your followers follow our twitter/FB feeds for more info.
 We always do our best to meet dietary preferences or restrictions, so if a guest sees something we haven’t thought of, we will happily try to accommodate!  Just ask at the truck!


From Auto Burger and Fry Guys:

The black bean is vegan friendly but the aioli is mayo based . Fries are and oil are good

Vegan Happenings

  • New vegan offering
     Charlotte has a vegan food cart and it is delicious! The Masa Casa first showed up at Vegfest this year and has been popping up on Fridays and Sundays ever since. They serve up two different tamales that change regularly. Be sure to get some of their two available sauces for peak satisfaction. They don’t seem to have set locations, although Friday nights outside Eco-Licious seems to be a safe bet. Be sure to get there on the earlier side because they tend to sell out before the night is over. Definitely check them out and like them on Facebook to find out where exactly they will be.
  • The Luna’s Move
    In case you missed it, one of the vegan staples of Charlotte relocated all the way across the parking lot into a bigger, better space. The inside space is clean, bright and totally inviting. Don’t worry, they have an improved patio space. The menu looks pretty much the same, but I think they added two sandwiches that I don’t remember previously. I tried the mock tuna and was very satisfied, however the kale salad for the side was even more amazing.

Charlotte Vegfest 2014

The annual Charlotte Vegfest 2014 will be held on Saturday May 17, 2014 from 2-7 pm in Plaza Midwood. This years speakers include Gene Baur and Howard Jacobson. Baur is the co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary and Jacobson is a contributing author to Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition with T. Colin Campbell. There will also be plenty of vegan food and local vendors, so put it on your calendar now.

Beer is Vegan (for the most part)

“God made the majority of beers vegan because he loves us and wants us to be happy.” -me

I often wonder how long my vegan journey would have lasted if someone would have told me that beer was not vegan. Fortunately, the majority of beers are vegan. Water, yeast, malt and hops are the four main ingredients used to brew beer. The easy exceptions to spot are those beers made with milk or honey. It’s much harder to identify beers that use animal parts (isinglass, gelatin) in the filtering process. For example, Guiness and Oskar Blues Ten Fidy.  The only way to know for sure is to ask the brewery or check Barnivore is an excellent online resource to find out which alcohols (beer, wine, liquor) are vegan friendly. It is a collection of inquiries made to the companies directly by the site’s creators and sent in from users (like me).

After contacting all of the Charlotte breweries to verify their vegan-friendly status, we are good to go.

Four Friends, Olde Mecklenburg, Unknown, Birdsong, Triple C and Noda are all vegan-friendly as far as their regular offerings go with just two exceptions…Birdsong does currently have the Honey Pie Double IPA that obviously contains honey and both versions of Triple C’s Up All Night (bourbon barrel and regular) contain honey. Many of the breweries do small batch beers that may occasionally contain milk or honey, but they should be easy to spot. When in doubt, just ask.

The Charlotte Vegan and Vegetarian Social Club is having the first Vegan Drinks in Charlotte on February 20th, 2014 at Heist Brewery located in NoDa. (Ironically, Heist is the only brewery that I have not received confirmation that their beers are vegan.) Heist recently updated their dinner menu and has taken the guess work out of whether or not an item is vegan by clearly identifying vegetarian and vegan items on their menu. While it looks like there are only two vegan options, they both sound delicious. I’m looking forward to trying both the fire roasted tofu steak and “Faux”BQ tacos. I know that they know what their doing with tofu because I tried their marinated tofu steak on the lunch menu and it was probably the most well prepared tofu I’ve had in Charlotte. Sadly, I found out later that the marinade does indeed contain honey, so it is technically not vegan. If you’re okay with consuming honey, then have at it.


Central Coffee

vegan chocolate cake

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.