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When it comes to Nashville’s food scene, the Southern staples that the city is most known for (think hot chicken or meat and three) might not exactly be vegetarian friendly. But this does not mean that those on vegan and vegetarian diets are destined for disappointing dry salads; in fact, Nashville contains a plethora of vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants serving a myriad of cuisines. Read on for a guide to the best plant-based (and plant-friendly) restaurants offering dishes that are just as inventive, filling, and satisfying as any meat-based meal.
A few of the best restaurants in town offering exclusively vegetarian and vegan fare.
This bright-yellow restaurant, tucked away in Berry Hill, offers some of the best vegan food in the city. In fact, with the exception of its bread and its option of adding dairy cheese to your dish, all of its menu items are vegan, in addition to being prepared with primarily fresh, local, and organic ingredients. While the entire menu is delicious, their house-made veggie burgers and their vegan BBQ sandwiches are particularly mouth-watering. Bonus: while finding quality vegetarian food can often require you to shell out a few more dollars per meal, Sunflower Cafe manages to be remarkably affordable.
Not only is every single item on the menu at AVO — a relentlessly hip and relatively new player in the Nashville vegetarian food scene — vegan, but many of its menu offerings are also raw, meaning that they are not heated above 118 degrees. Unlike The Wild Cow and Sunflower, AVO is a bit more upscale, and its small menu may not satisfy diehard meat-eaters, but in terms of inventiveness and dedication to using only the freshest and most sustainable ingredients possible, it is certainly worth a visit. Particular standouts are the zucchini pasta verde and the AVO Margarita (which is made with avocado — and, yes, is way better than it sounds).
Around the corner from The Wild Cow — and founded by Wild Cow owners Melanie and John Cochran — sits Graze, one of the newest plant-based eateries to hurtle its way onto the Nashville vegetarian food scene. While it has been open for only a handful of months, Graze has already attained an impressive reputation among locals for its wide range of vegan goods: from breakfast to small plates to lunch, dinner, and even drinks, Graze offers an elevated-but-still-casual (not to mention delicious) take on plant-based eating. Try the Seitan Bahn Mi or the Hot Tempeh for a vegan spin on your favorite sandwich, or, if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, try the Mac & Chorizo — a dish Nashville Scene recently voted the ‘best vegan junk food‘ in Nashville.
While not entirely vegetarian, these restaurants offer a wide array of standout plant-based options.
Jamaicaway has cultivated a robust local following among both omnivores and vegetarians for its fantastically authentic Jamaican cuisine (in fact, Nashville Scene recently named the joint ‘the best place to be a vegetarian dining with meat-eaters). Meat-eaters will love the jerk chicken, oxtail stew, and curried goat; vegetarians will be similarly pleased by the substantially sized vegetarian section of the menu, which in addition to numerous vegetarian twists on classic Jamaican dishes, also includes two vegan dishes, including a curried tofu dish so good that even picky omnivores won’t miss the meat. And be sure not to pass over the extras on the menu, as their sides (especially the fried plantains), beverages, and desserts are also standouts.
Known for its menu of delicious, healthy, and hearty Cuban-inspired meals, Calypso Cafe is one of the best options in town for good-for-you food that won’t wreak havoc on your budget. Each of the cafe’s three Nashville locations boasts a relaxed, no-frills atmosphere in addition to menu offerings adaptable to nearly every diet. While meat-eaters will likely be fond of the fantastic rotisserie chicken, plant-based eaters will be equally delighted by offerings such as the veggie burger, Cuban black beans, and the bioja muffins (think sweet, coconut-topped corn bread). Oh, and be sure to try the fruit tea, because this joint offers one of the best renditions of this Southern staple in town.
The following restaurants offer vegetarian/vegan spins on classic meat dishes that are, perhaps, even better (or at least just as good) as the original.
Even hot dogs can be made vegetarian-friendly! I Dream of Weenie, in East Nashville, serves up one of the best veggie hot dogs you can find.