What do you do if you’re a vegetarian and traveling down South? Can you find vegan or vegetarian food? Yes, you can like I did when I stopped in at Bean Vegan Cuisine in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I had a challenge on my my recent trip to see my friend, Melissa, and her husband, Greg, in North Carolina. Love them both but I was certain that finding good vegetarian or vegan food was going to be difficult, if not impossible. That was until I read about Bean Vegan Cuisine in Charlotte.
Once we picked up our rental car, we drove straight to Bean Vegan Cuisine, located about 20 minutes from Charlotte International Airport (CLT). They’ve been serving up 100% Southern-style vegan comfort food in Charlotte since 2012. They also have another restaurant in Asheville, too. .
The restaurant, located directly off a busy road, is a throwback to the old school vegan restaurants of the past. The restaurant is dark on the inside and has a kitschy kind of vibe with random decorations on the walls, including branded t-shirts for sale.
Bean Vegan Cuisine restaurant serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Our lunch menu had an abundance of options, which may seem strange to say, but hear me out. I usually get one or two possible options on a menu when I dine out so to see an entire menu that I can choose from is both amazing and overwhelming. The menu was definitely burger and sandwich centric and they don’t hide that they use Harmony Valley pre-made burger mix to make their burgers and meatloaf.
We skipped appetizers and headed right into our entrées as we were starving. Since food is made to order in a small kitchen, expect a longer than normal wait while they prepare your food.
Mr. TSG decided on the Reuben Sandwich (A classic Reuben, vegan-style with housemade seitan lunchmeat sliced and sautéed with Daiya Mozzarella, sauerkraut, and 1000 Island on grilled rye bread). You can see how much he liked it because half was gone before I could snap a picture. Normally, he’d order french fries, but he’s training for another marathon next month so he ordered braised cabbage instead.
I was all about a salad and the menu read, “Salad served in a bowl on top of mixed greens with fresh vegetables with one of the following,” and that’s where I chose the Fried Tofu Fingers with Teriyaki Sauce. Other options included Crabbie Salad (jackfruit, veggies, veganaise, and spices); Cold Braised Tofu; Soy Curls (Spicy BBQ or Sweet Mustard); or other styles of the Fried Tofu Fingers (Southern Style, Buffalo, or BBQ). Salads are served with your choice of dressing, which include Vegan Ranch, Blue Cheesish, Agave Mustard, 1000 Island, or Sesame Ginger, which I chose.
When my salad arrived, I dove into the Fried Tofu Fingers, which were spectacular. Yes, they’re fried and covered in sauce, but don’t hate. I dare anyone who hasn’t tried tofu to eat some and say they don’t like it. The salad, however, was disappointing. Remember how the menu said “mixed greens with fresh vegetables?” Yes, there was a bowl of mixed greens, but on top was about a cup of 80’s-style bean salad and black olives. My “fresh vegetables” were four cherry tomato halves, carrots, and onion, not really my idea of a fresh salad. They should update the menu with what’s really in the “Bean Salad,” like it states on the receipt.
We ordered a few items to take with us (Fried Tofu Fingers appetizer and a Crabbie Patty Sandwich with braised cabbage) and the bill came to all of $36.81. I don’t know how it is where you live, but for four total meals, that’s ridiculously inexpensive.
TSG Tip: Before you leave, check out the attached market, which is billed as Charlotte’s first full-scale, all-vegan grocery store. I was kind of surprised because I can get almost everything they sell at Star Market or Stop ‘n Shop in the Boston area, not just Whole Foods. I guess these type of products don’t have a huge following in the South.
My first experience wasn’t enough of a deterrent to keep my away from Bean Vegan Cuisine. On the way back to the airport, we stopped in for lunch. One of the specials that day was a fried cauliflower appetizer. We chose the Buffalo and Teriyaki and found the cauliflower to be crunchy on the outside, well cooked on the inside, and so tasty.
My choice was easy as I had the Fried Tofu Fingers with Teriyaki sauce on my brain and somehow it was even better the second time. I almost forgot to take a picture, but snapped one just in time. Yum!
Overall, I’m glad we stopped off twice at Bean Vegan Cuisine as there were so few options available in the area and it was maybe not what I expected, but satisfying. Don’t go expecting fresh or light options as this is all about Southern-style vegan comfort food (read as fried, burgers, etc.). I’m glad that they’re introducing vegan food to the South, but I really do hope they’ll consider adding fresher and less fried options, but that’s just me. You kind of have to like a place like Bean Vegan Cuisine that says they serves vegetables right over their front door.
Have you visited Bean Vegan Cuisine in Charlotte or know of other vegan or vegetarian restaurants in the area?
Bean Vegan Cuisine
3001 East Independence Boulevard
Charlotte, North Carolina 28205
Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.