You probably think of Nashville for its music and the old southern character, so you might be surprised to find that it’s a great place for vegan dining too. With choices ranging from the international to the totally local, anyone looking for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and even raw choices will be thrilled to see what Nashville’s got to offer. Check out our guide to the 10 best vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants in Nashville.
Owned by a vegan chef who’s worked her way up through the industry, Khan’s Desserts is a dream come true for a vegan, an oasis of complete safety in a dessert of restaurants where vegans have to tread very carefully. Despite the name, they have a breakfast and lunch menu and a juice bar in addition to the desserts, and the meals are chock full of tasty veggies and proteins, all vegan, and most with the potential to be gluten free. Unsurprisingly, though, the desserts are the real stars of the show. Even the pickiest eaters will be impressed by the colorful cupcakes, the ‘cheezcakes’, and the cookies.
Much of the Wild Cow’s philosophy reveals itself in the fact that they own neither a freezer nor a microwave. Most of their food is locally sourced and organic, and much of it is naturally gluten-free. Vegetarians and vegans who are used to having only a few choices on any given menu will be floored with the sheer number of choices here – between the tacos, soups, wraps, salads, sandwiches, and entree bowls, the decision might take quite a while. This is another great place to get vegan baked goods, or, if your preferences run on the raw side, they’ve got all-raw cakes as well on their rotating selection.
Sunflower Cafe’s got something for everyone, but perhaps particularly for the protein-seeking vegan. Their selection of burgers (either veggie burgers or portabello mushrooms) and wraps is chock full of delicious choices that have flavors representing countries all over the world. How about a Vietnamese banh-mi style burger, or a curried chick-pea wrap?
Indian food is often vegetarian in its most authentic form, so vegetarian Indian restaurants like Woodlands don’t have to make any changes or modifications to cater to those who want to avoid meat. Woodlands, which was voted by a Nashville magazine as the best ethnic vegetarian restaurant, has an entirely vegetarian menu with numerous vegan and gluten-free options. They even have vegan-optional dosas, delicious pakoras with all sorts of vegetables, and enough other options that even the most hardcore meat lovers won’t know what to pick. For those new to the exciting flavors of Indian cuisine, the staff at Woodlands are renowned for their ability and willingness to explain their extensive menu.
Vegan Vee has you covered for all your vegan and gluten free baked-good needs. They have a substantial raw-food selection as well, using raw agave and other fresh and organic ingredients. You can get anything from breakfast treats like muffins and doughnuts to more celebratory desserts, like cakes, cupcakes, truffles, and brownies. This is a take-out bakery, so you can get all prepared for your next big event with the great options at Vegan Vee or just stop by for a quick bite. This is yet more proof that baked goods don’t need eggs and milk to be as enticing as ever.
This student-oriented vegetarian cafe on the Vanderbilt campus is a perfect mid-day break to keep you feeling refreshed and satisfied all day. Most of Grins‘ menu is entirely vegan, and many of the options that include cheese are also available with vegan cheese instead. They have plenty of sweet treats that change daily, so you never know what you’ll get. If you’re looking for a little Mexican spice, try the breakfast tacos, with scrambled tofu, veggie chorizo, pico de gallo, salsa verde, and cashew-lime crema. Grins is located in Vanderbilt’s Schulman Center for Jewish Life – not only is everything vegetarian, it’s kosher-certified as well.
Is Fido a restaurant, a coffeehouse, or an innovative mixture of both? Everything on the menu, including the daily specials, is full of locally-grown produce. While this is a vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurant as opposed to one that is strictly veggie-oriented, there are still plenty of great choices. Definitely have a look at their specialty drinks menu, where the chefs get to play around every season with coffee as a basis and come up with delicious combinations that you never would have thought of yourself. For example, the Pepperton is a winter drink with peppermint, cayenne, espresso, and milk. If you’re not afraid of a spicy drink, this is something you must try.
Ethiopian food, like Indian food, is largely vegetarian without any changes or substitutions necessary, so you know Gojo is going to be a vegetarian go-to. There are lots of good options scattered across various sections of the menu, but then they have a separate vegetarian part as well. Start with an appetizer like the Yemiser Sambussa, a pastry shell packed with flavorful veggies and spices, and then fill out the meal with some of their delicious salads and entrees. Ethiopian food also contains a lot of protein, so except things like lentils and beans – you definitely won’t leave hungry. Plus, injera, the typical Ethiopian bread, is usually made with naturally gluten-free flour.
My Veggie Chef isn’t technically a restaurant – it’s almost better, because you get restaurant quality food straight to your own doorstep, then you can make it yourself and impress your friends. You order whichever of the meals you’d like by week, and they’ll bring everything directly to your doorstep frozen so that you can assemble and cook everything whenever you want it. Everything they make is completely free of animal products, and you have the option of ordering them gluten-free or not. They’ll include exactly what you need plus detailed instructions for a completely foolproof cooking experience. Never thought you’d be one to make black bean and quinoa tacos with pineapple salsa from scratch? Now, you can be.
A local ethnic favorite, The Smiling Elephant serves some great Thai food in an intimate location. While you’ll see some meat on the menu, Thai cuisine has any number of authentic vegetarian dishes for you to enjoy. Some of the classics, including the Pad Thai, are even gluten-free, thanks to those rice noodles. The chefs are very accommodating, so they’ll be careful with your order once you tell them your preferences.