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.
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.