I went vegan in July 2017, and eating out has been the most challenging aspect of my vegan lifestyle. Making time-efficient and delicious vegan recipes at home is easy. When friends want to go out to lunch or dinner at their favorite restaurants though, it’s hard to eat vegan.
It’s possible to customize dishes at restaurants around Knoxville. However, make it easy on yourself and your vegan friends by checking out the restaurants below. My favorite restaurants around Knoxville let you enjoy a flavorful, vegan feast.
Monday in Maryville – Southland Café
Southland Café not only offers delicious vegan options, but has a coffee bar and book shop, too. For lunch, I recommend trying the Isaac Newton, a vegan hummus wrap that comes with a side of veggie straws. Or, try a modified Dalai Lama, a hummus wrap that’s vegan if you hold the feta. They also offer an excellent veggie burger called the Tesla. The burger is very filling.
The best part about Southland Café is that the lady who runs the café side develops her own recipes. She told me once that she always keeps a vegan dessert on hand. That means you might get to try Southland’s decadent, vegan chocolate cake with cookies and cream frosting. It will melt in your mouth.
Taco Tuesday – Babalu Tapas & Tacos
There is a lot of delicious taco joints around Knoxville (Chivo, Senor Taco, Chapulines, the list goes on). However, I’ve found it’s easiest to grab a vegan option at Babalu, conveniently located right on Gay Street. Their “Vegetal” tacos have a nice kick; make it vegan and ask them to hold the cheese. If you go during happy hour, the tacos are $2 each.
The Congri Burger is also a great way to go, but you’ll have to let your waiter know you’d like it on a lettuce bun and to make it vegan. The cooks can modify how they fry and bread the black bean cake to accommodate.
And don’t forget to get fresh guacamole and chips with your meal. Babalu makes your guac tableside with as many jalapenos and veggies as you want.
Wine Wednesday – Sunspot
The great 1/2 priced bottle deal at Sunspot means it’s packed on Wednesdays. And many of the diners will be local UT students. However, you can enjoy your wine with a vegan dinner just as much as they can.
Choose your wine and one of Sunspot’s vegan specials, such as the curried chickpea rice bowl or the Foragers Pie. You can also try a variety of delicious sides such as brussel sprouts, spiced sweet potato fries, and roasted fingerling potatoes. Unlike Babalu, Sunspot offers a black bean patty that needs no modifications; hold the bun on this one, too.
R&R Thursday – Nourish by Vive
Try ordering in a family meal from Nourish by Vive to make for a relaxing Thursday. Nourish by Vive delivers fresh meals made from mostly natural and organic ingredients. Order a whole week’s worth of family meals and on Wednesday, Nourish by Vive will deliver your Thursday and Friday dinners.
Each week’s menu varies, but all meals are plant-based and delicious. You might get to enjoy seitan steak, mushroom lentil ragu, a chickpea chicken salad, tempeh meatballs, an umami burger or a vegan penne pasta!
Of course, you get to enjoy weekly dessert specials. Nourish may send you a vegan strawberry cupcake with vegan buttercream icing or a vegan brownie cupcake.
Kick off the Weekend – The Tomato Head
Enjoy plenty of vegan options at the Tomato Head, either in Market Square or in West Knoxville near West Town Mall. While the Vegan sandwich on the menu is tasty, The Roger Roger sandwich with dairy-free cheese is my personal go-to. You have an abundance of options.
Try a personalized pizza made with non-dairy cheese, a variety of fresh vegetable toppings and dairy-free sauces. Or check out the fresh spinach and black bean pizza made with baked tofu. I also recommend a tofu version of the Cheddar Head made with dairy-free cheese.
Saturday Snacks – Java Juice Box
I love taking relaxing break from a day of errands by enjoying a snack at Java Juice Box. Service is friendly and you feel like you’re walking into a calm, hippie café.
You can top an acai or pitaya bowl with berries, chia seeds, flax seeds, peanut butter, banana, nuts and more. I love to try a different combination of toppings each time.
You can also grab a raw smoothie if you’re looking for an on-the-go snack. If you want a shot of energy, the Beetbox Juice tastes better than it sounds and packs a nutritional punch. And since Java Juice Box carries coffee from the Artistic Bean in Maryville, I love to grab a cup of Joe with my Saturday snack.
Sunday Brunch – Sanctuary Vegan Café
Located near The Home Depot in West Knoxville, Sanctuary Vegan Café seems a little out of the way in its strip mall location. However, this vegan comfort food makes for a killer brunch.
I recommend ordering the Big Breakfast with a pancake on the side to split with a friend. Enjoy the scrambled tofu, delicious seitan meats, crispy hash browns and vegetables that perfectly complement the meal. The vegan biscuit holds together better than you’d think, and the pancake is perfect with berries. I haven’t tried the seitan bacon, but the seitan sausage was satisfying and strikingly tastes like real sausage.
Sanctuary Vegan Café also offers tons of vegan lunch and dinner options you can enjoy through the week. Check out lentil meatloaf, a non-dairy grilled cheese, a veggie slaw dog and more.