In 2019, what constitutes a satisfying vegan option?
In Greensboro, North Carolina, we put this simple question to the test.
When we first arrived at our 2 month house sit in Greensboro, we asked local vegans via Facebook groups for dining recommendations.
Many recommended a lot of the places that we’ll describe and share with you in this vegan Greensboro guide. However, a significant minority chimed in with their go-to spots that might be nice for a resident looking for a quick meal, but hardly anything to recommend to a visitor.
To this we say:
Do you want to send visitors to a Mexican restaurant that can offer a burrito minus meat and dairy without any replacement? Or a Chinese takeout spot for vegetable lo mein?
Instead, wouldn’t you want a vegan Greensboro visitor trying the best intentional and satisfying vegan food the city has to offer?
We don’t care about the far flung spot that offers a black bean burger without dressings or cheese. That’s why in this guide, we’re listing the places with the best vegan food in Greensboro.
If trying the best is a priority for you, continue reading. If you’re just looking for something conveniently located to your location and offers something technically vegan and edible – check out Happy Cow.
Vegan restaurants in Greensboro NC
Unfortunately, there are no outright vegan restaurants in Greensboro NC… yet.
Veganism is snowballing in Greensboro and it’s only a matter of time. For those looking for a vegan restaurant in Greensboro, you’ll have to give the vegetarian restaurants in Greensboro a fighting chance.
We write this disclaimer because even at a vegetarian restaurant, we all know too well the mistake of thinking we order something vegan and it turns out it’s not. The pleasure of a 100% vegan restaurant is feeling like you’re normal and don’t have to think twice about what you order. One time we got so excited about a faux chicken pot pie at a vegetarian spot, we forgot to check if it was actually vegan – to our gastrointestinal detriment (we forget that vegetarians might like fake chicken smothered in dairy and eggs).
So outright, our top picks for vegan food? Crafted: The Art of the Taco, Boba House, Indu Chaat, Jerusalem Market – see below.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Greensboro
Greensboro has a couple of old school vegetarian restaurants with ample vegan choices.
Still, it’s a bummer when there are tasty sounding items on the menu with no vegan version available. For us, meals are at their best with full participation in the food.
Boba House has been a regular Greensboro staple since 2003, serving Vietnamese and Thai “inspired” food.
Emphasis on inspired and this is not a bad thing! It’s important to note because veterans of these cuisines will notice the flavor difference.
This is really good food – it’s not a knock on them at all. It’s just important to point out. For example, the Pad Thai was good, but definitely missing that sweet snap (tamarind and palm sugar provide this), or even just a little bit of chili pepper.
Yes, all cuisines have variations, but these are consistently present in Thai made Pad Thais we’ve tried from East to West coast. Here they used what appears to be a bit of turmeric to give it some color and flavor.
Try the lunch special on weekdays – it comes with soup or salad, spring rolls, and a choice of entree. We also “Bobalized” our lunch: for 2 bucks more you get soup or salad and fountain beverage (opt for their house brewed tea).
We went for the lunch specials, a nice selection of staple dishes from the main menu (which is also still available). They have daily specials too, like a date night on Fridays that offers 5 items for $29.99 for two.
Spring rolls come with the lunch special, and these are exactly what you expect – fried perfectly.
The broth soup with diced tofu, scallions, and fried crispy things (soft in the soup) was super savory.
I had the basil with “rib” meat over white rice, which was delicious as well. We preferred the rib meat over the chicken, as this had a chewier texture and better flavor drenched in brown sauce.
They also have vegan desserts from Spring Garden Bakery – try the excellently rich, moist, and indulgent carrot cake.
It was tasty, but not exactly what we were expecting (also could’ve used more veggies). The chicken meat was a bit strange. It’s almost too soft and not chewy enough. We gotta say, places like Green Zenphony in Queens, NYC have spoiled us!
Read more: Vegan Guide to Queens
We suspect that a vegetarian place that’s been around as long as this may not have updated their mock meats in a while.
Indu Chaat House
This vegetarian lunch counter in an Indian supermarket offers a plethora of vegan options. They are well versed in veganism, so feel confident asking for what’s available.
We opted to share a big thali plate: a sampler platter of various items of the day. One could easily share it with someone else or if you’re solo, opt for a smaller plate. You’ll get your usual mix of curries and sauteed veggies, lentil stews, and pickled veggies. Also, you can’t go without trying a samosa or two, and a paratha (flatbread).
It’s a great cheap spot and ideal if you plan to do some quick food shopping after.
Restaurants with Vegan Options
These spots offer a selection of satisfying vegan options that rely on solid substitutes – not subtractions.
Crafted: Art of the Taco – gluten free options
Crafted was easily our favorite vegan Greensboro spot. They put time, energy, and creativity into making deliciously satisfying vegan options.
The restaurant has a huge open space with tons of tables, a large mural, outdoor seating, and a mini army of staff running to and from the open air kitchen. It’s almost always busy and is very popular with locals. (Come at an off time, like between lunch and dinner, to get the place to yourself). Tables are spaced out nicely so you don’t feel on top of each other.
A first glance at the menu might have you thinking that there are barely any vegan options here. Luckily, there’s more to the story. One corner of the menu explicitly states that most of the menu can be made vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free upon request.
Just ask for vegan options and they will happily guide you!
All of the servers happily recommended their favorite vegan combos. It’s always a good sign when non-vegans readily eat vegan food! Once, one of the chefs personally recommended to us her favorite vegan versions – she (obviously) knew her stuff.
They have great housemade vegan substitutes like chofu (tofu based chorizo), crispy seitan, battered tofu, cheese sauce, and crema style sauce. Apparently there’s a sous chef here that is “basically vegan” and continually refines the vegan substitutes.
There’s a lot to recommend here. The Bowtie and Po’Boy, normally fish and shrimp tacos, work great with the battered tofu. The Baja style and ‘Mericanized work great with the crispy seitan, and chofu respectively. While there are other vegan proteins options, these three excited us more than potato and falafel. We’d suggest saving the chofu experience for when you try the nachos – they come omnivore approved by our visiting family and friends.
The impressive chofu is chewy and greasy, like chorizo, crumbly in texture, and well seasoned. It really did remind me of ground beef (I know it should be like pork, but it was too good for me to care), and wasn’t too spicy.
The seitan is super crispy, meant to work like deep fried pork. And of course, the fresh cut fries are top notch and come with four dipping sauces (salsa verde, hot salsa, smoky ketchup, and chipotle aioli).
Many of the creamy sauces are vegan by default, unbeknownst to many omnivorous customers. It just makes veganizing that much easier. Other establishments need to take a cue from Crafted.
The top notch nachos are a must try: freshly fried corn chips, slathered in the housemade cheese sauce and crema, topped with black beans, jalepeños, and pico de gallo salsa. They were so loaded we actually wished we had more chips. We usually have the opposite problem – too many chips.
Crafted also has a veggie burger, but the only vegan bun is gluten-free and the chef didn’t quite sell us on the quality of it.
Crafted: Art of the Taco is one of our top picks and must-tries for vegan food in Greensboro, NC. We came back here a few times and even brought friends!
Jerusalem Market – gluten free options
Apparently, they have the best hummus in the world (I swear every hummus purveyor claims this). They are very vegan friendly and if you catch the brother’s proprietor, Easa Hanhan, he will gladly help you figure out the vegan options as there are many.
To be fair, their hummus is pretty damn good.
It’s creamy and not too oily, with the lemon cutting through the rich tahini for a top-notch hummus experience. (For the uninitiated, hummus has three key ingredients: chickpeas, tahini, and lemon, though seasonings and other additions will vary).
We’ve tried every vegan item here. Babaganouj, hummus, house cut fries, falafel, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), spinach pies, pita, tabbouleh and vegan baklava. Everything is fresh, well seasoned, and delicious. Try washing it all down with the refreshing housemade iced tea.
The Jerusalem plate will give you a very well rounded experience. You get to try tabbouleh, hummus, falafel, spinach pie, and fried pita chips.
The babaganouj was rich and creamy and you could tell the eggplant was truly roasted thanks to the smokiness. Like hummus, babaganouj has tahini and lemon, but instead of chickpeas, roasted eggplant. This gives it the smoky flavor that should cut through the tahini AND lemon.
Fries (more like thick wedges) are cut and fried in-house and are from my fav commercial potato, Yukon Gold. (“There’s gold in them there hills!”) The fries are crispy outside and moist on the inside, with the perfect amount of salt.
Originally we wrote that the pita chips were fried – they’re not! Actually, they are baked with olive oil which makes them crispy, rich and quite great for dipping. You can always request fresh plain wheat pita, or even sliced cucumber for a gluten-free alternative. Thanks Easa Hanhan for the clarification. We always hope that the restaurants read our guides and give us feedback when needed.
We returned to try the dolmathes and vegan baklava (baklava will usually have honey, and sometimes butter). It was totally worth it.
Dolmathes are rolled grape leaves stuffed with rice and seasonings. It’s rare to find these freshly made as most places just serve something from a can. I’m a big fan of stuffed grape leaves, and I couldn’t pass up a chance to try them. Canned ones, while still delicious, tend to have a uniform texture and flavor. Not these fresh handmade ones. The rice was tender, not mushy, and the seasoning was oh-so aromatic.
Don’t miss the vegan baklava if they have it! It’s super flakey and so nutty (this one is all pistachio – some places do walnuts), and soaked in sweet syrupy goodness.
While Mediterranean food in this manner usually has vegan options, Jerusalem Market goes above and beyond to provide satisfying vegan versions, and vegan plates of food. For this they make one of our top picks for vegan food in Greensboro.
Noma Food & Co – gluten-free options
Apparently, the proprietor behind Boba House is on this team as well, which makes sense as it’s similarly “Asian inspired” food.
Every section of the menu has deliberate vegan options.
The pho was rich and flavorful, with lots of veggies and noodles. The banh mi was good – the rib meat was very chewy, sweet and tangy, but I missed some vegan mayo (they just sub more hoisin sauce).
Noma is a fast-casual spot, with food designed to be eaten on a lunch hour or grabbed on the way home from work. They serve everything in disposable bowls, regardless of if you stayed in or not. It felt like Noma is trying to emulate a chain or franchise in both experience and decor. And that’s fine – if that’s what you’re looking for. If so, Noma is a decent option with solid vegan food.
We had a pleasant experience and the staff was super friendly. But Noma was not really our scene. Many people had been raving about Noma, but for us, Vietnamese food is very common in NYC. An okay place just isn’t going to cut it!
With more time, we would have likely checked out Pho Hien Vuong, a more traditional Vietnamese restaurant that is vegan friendly. They have a vegetarian section on the menu and offer veggie broth and tofu as substitutes in many dishes.
There are two intentionally vegan options, a black bean burger and a tofu reuben.
Unfortunately, while these weren’t bad, they weren’t particularly good either. The black bean burger was dry and hardly seasoned. It looked as if they literally took canned black beans and smashed them into a patty shape. The tofu reuben was a similar effort – just a tofu block that tasted sour, with sauerkraut on toasted bread. They could’ve at least sliced it in several thinner pieces, instead of just planting a block in the middle that was a third the size of my bread. Neither sandwich had the supposedly vegan aioli.
I made sure to ask without cheese, and the server assured me the staff knew how to make it vegan, only to have to send it back once she realized the cook had put cheese on it. I heard her later explaining to kitchen staff what is and isn’t vegan.
We’d like to see some updates to these tired, cliché vegan options. Iceberg lettuce salads and french fries aren’t real vegan options, and black bean burgers may be joining that list.
We suggest giving this place a pass unless you have no other choice. We have heard that their brunch is much better but we never felt like taking the risk.
Honorable Vegan Option Mentions:
McCoul’s Pub: They’ve got a vegan fish n chips using banana blossoms. It’s strangely the only vegan item on their menu.
Coffeeology: Coffeeshop near UNC Greensboro with a very sterile vibe but way more vegan-friendly food than nearby Tate Street Coffee Shop (though we much prefer the latter’s vibe). They’ve got vegan cream cheese (Daiya), a vegan breakfast plate, vegan sausages, pita sandwiches, and a bunch of other options.
Vegan Burgers in Greensboro NC
You’ll have quite a few options for getting a vegan burger. Greensboro has the spectrum from very veggie to mock meat.
We’ll be honest – we’ve been spoiled by vegan burgers. So something real special has to be going on, like a house made veggie patty that everyone raves about, to get our attention and a visit. The best burgers we’ve ever had are in NYC and Madrid, Spain.
Look no further for unique homemade veggie burgers!
They have two veggie patties: a cauliflower mushroom combo and a “nutty” patty made of sunflower seeds, walnuts, and beans. Both were tasty, but we thought they’d be better combined as one patty.
The cauliflower has a nice chewy texture, but it isn’t as rich as the nutty patty. Also, both of them fall apart easily. Expect some patty to squeeze out after every bite. By the time you’re halfway through, the other half of the burger is on the plate.
We appreciate the effort, and intentional vegan options are always a warm welcome, but these could definitely use some improvement. Also, other than bbq sauce and mustard, there are no other vegan condiments. The fries are okay (basically top tier frozen fries).
Iron Hen has a black bean burger but we wouldn’t recommend it.
Crafted: Art of the Taco has a veggie burger but the only vegan bun is gluten free and the chef’s expression didn’t make us excited to try it.
Looking to try the Impossible and Beyond burgers?
We can honestly say that it all depends on who’s cooking it. These are great products, but they can be overcooked. The beyond burger didn’t impress us the first time – because I made it. Once I tried it elsewhere, it blew us away.
Fishbone: According to Happy Cow, they offer a Beyond Burger with vegan cheese, though this is not stated on their menu.
Bites n Pints: menu explicitly offers an Impossible Burger patty.
Vegan Pizza in Greensboro
There are quite a few places that offer vegan cheese and know how to use it.
Mellow Mushroom is a Southeast based franchise, but don’t let that turn you off. Each location is different and offers local dishes in a uniquely designed interior.
Servers are happy to discuss and recommend the vegan options. Make it clear that you’re vegan, as they do add butter glaze to the pizza crust and pretzels (but you won’t miss it).
This is peak American style pizza, but all house made with a winning formula. The dough is ridiculously chewy and soft, the tomato sauce is super mellow, and the assortment of veggies and vegan proteins are well seasoned and prepared.
For toppings, go for the tempeh, tossed in either the jerk (a bit spicy) or the barbecue. The texture is fantastic, tender and crumbly, and the BBQ compliments it really well. While we do enjoy tofu, it doesn’t work as well here as a topping because the sauce doesn’t adhere to the tofu like it does on the tempeh.
Although primarily a pizza spot, Mellow Mushroom also offers quite a few non-pizza options in the form of appetizers like hummus and pretzels, salads, and hoagies.
They can also sub any protein and cheese with tempeh or tofu, or Follow Your Heart brand vegan cheese, respectively. We tried this with a hoagie and thoroughly enjoyed it.
They also offer, when possible, locally sourced desserts and craft beers.
This cozy corner pizza spot specializes in Neapolitan style pizza. This means really thin, crispy crust that is lighter with the amount of toppings. They locally source every ingredient when possible and slow ferment their dough.
They use Daiya vegan cheese and offer breaded “chick’n” chunks as a topping. These both worked and tasted great, but with pizza dough of this quality, very chewy, and more depth of flavor, these basic toppings don’t compliment it as well. Using something like Miyoko’s mozzarella would match up more equally. We wouldn’t mind the markup, as it would do the top-notch crust more justice, better align with their ethos of sourcing high-quality ingredients, and overall provide a better dining experience.
Boxcar is a huge arcade with tons of space, murals, classic arcade games, and even past generations of consoles (these are free to play while you pay for arcade games). They have an equally huge selection of craft beers and ciders (we recommend the tumeric ginger).
For the best bang for your buck, go for one of their daily specials or during happy hour. Tuesday and Wednesday are the best nights to get a great deal. We went on a Tuesday and got two pizzas, 12 bucks of tokens, and 4 drinks for 40 bucks. Not bad as pizzas were basically half off during this deal. Also on Sundays, they offer buy-one-get-one-free pizza!
The pizza is made in a food truck outside the patio. I believe they use Daiya, as it’s the only vegan cheese other than Teese that has heft and stretchiness. Before you hate on Daiya, y’all need to try the latest recipes. In stores it’s in the new packaging. Here it works great on the pizza, and while there are a variety of pizzas, only a few can be made vegan as they don’t offer much in veggies, nor protein substitutes.
This is damn good arcade style pizza (Mellow Mushroom and Sticks and Stones are better but they’re also priced accordingly). The pizzas are handmade per order and are better than any fast food pizza chain. It’s a system designed to knock out a pizza in seven minutes, so they can fend off the drunken collegiate hordes on the weekend.
Boxcar’s pizza is super chewy with plenty of sauce and the cheese melted just right (cooked too much and it’s dry or too little and it’s not melted). So if you want some cheap but solid pizza with some arcade nostalgia while you sip on craft brews, Boxcar is your jam.
Vegan Bakery in Greensboro
Spring Garden Bakery – omni with vegan options
This bakery is a regular fixture in Greensboro, providing vegan baked goods to many cafes and coffee shops. We had the pleasure of meeting one of the lovely owners at their location.
Many cafes, like Tates and Green Bean, carry their products. Also, if you want to try an excellent vegan carrot cake, they specially make one for Boba House (see above).
Green Bean Coffee – omni with vegan options
They get an honorable mention for being such a cool spot and being Sam’s go-to coffee shop to work in.
Green Bean offers some damn delicious housemade vegan banana bread as well as oat and macadamia nut milk. Get there in the morning to try the banana bread, as it sells out quick.
Common Grounds – omni with vegan options
Now this spot does not offer the best coffee in Greensboro. The dozens of flavor shots should be a warning. Here you come for the punky vibe, which they have in loads.
Come for the great vegan muffins that are only available at this coffee shop. The muffins are super moist and not too sweet. They’re more cakey and fluffy than Spring Garden’s. Try the vegan coconut lemon: zesty and a hint of tartness, with a thick layer of shredded coconut and icing on top!
Wallflour Bakery (vegan and gluten free) in Lindley Park
Supposedly this vegan + gluten-free vendor sells at the Saturday Lindley Park Market. The farmer’s market website confirmed it was part of the regular line up. I messaged the vendor to confirm, but never received a response. We showed up the market and there was no Wallflour vendor. I messaged Wallflour on Facebook again, and no response.
We really do want to support local vegan endeavors, as they are major contributors to growth in local veganism. We were definitely a bit disappointed by the lack of response on this search.
Vegan Grocery in Greensboro
You have ample options – provided you have access to car. There’s not much near the downtown with the exception of Deep Roots.
Deep Roots is one of our favorite co-ops ever (and we’ve been to a fair few). They carry many vegan items and specialty products, have a hot and salad bar, and seating inside. We were staying close to this and quickly became regulars.
While they have great sales, Deep Roots also keeps staple items affordably low. So if you’re interested in upping your organic game but can’t afford to be picky, go for the stuff marked with the Co-Op Basics symbol. Seriously, they are trying to make natural foods accessible. Give them your support.
They have vegan options at the hot bar and deli counter that vary wildly. Some days there are several vegan options while other days it’s only tired tofu. But we have seen vegan quesadillas (with cheese!) and vegan fresh baked cookies (you can also buy the raw dough). They also carry Spring Garden Bakery and Camino Bakery (in Winston-Salem) vegan goodies.
This grocery store offers Indian groceries and specialties and houses the Indu Chaat Vegetarian counter. Getting produce here will be much cheaper than at most supermarkets, but with a smaller selection and items you may be unfamiliar with, like bitter melon. Huge frozen section if you’re looking for convenient food to heat up wherever you’re staying. We recommend the organic paratha dough that’s ready for baking or frying.
Also, for our fellow smoothie lovers, they don’t toss away ripe bananas like most American markets do. Load up on those sweet ripe bananas here!
Now this is an international store!
There’s an insane selection of grocery and produce that you just generally don’t find in American supermarkets, like the several banana varieties shown above. We spent over an hour just perusing and viewing all the products.
Chain Grocery Stores
If you’re staying in Greensboro a while and looking to do some shopping, check out these major grocery chains:
Earth Fare: some bulk liquids (organic tamari!) we couldn’t find elsewhere, but overall they’re too expensive for us to shop at regularly.
Whole Foods: many vegan and specialty products. They have a big bulk section and a bakery that makes vegan pies, cakes, and cookies. They do use palm oil in most of their in house vegan products.
Harris Teeter: offers cheap prices on canned chickpeas, certain organic produce, and vegan items like Chao or Follow Your Heart cheese.
Vegan Greensboro Events
Vegans of the NC Triad Meetup: vegans holds a monthly potluck in the triad: Greensboro, Winston-Salem, or High Point. All are within easy driving distance. We went to one and it was lovely!
NC Triad Vegans Facebook group: Looking for events, to connect with other local vegans, or need more info not included in this guide? This group is for you!
Also, a shout out to Dharma Animal Refuge, a micro sanctuary in High Point that hosts many events, including a weekly Sunday vegan brunch. We went to one and it was absolutely delicious. They detail the themes and offerings for each brunch (suggested donation of $15).
Deep Roots Co-op also lists and hosts events.
That’s a wrap! Overall we were quite pleased with growing vegan Greensboro scene, and would absolutely return for another long term house sit!
Shout out to Kathy and Bobby for giving us the opportunity to house sit for them in their beautiful home in a historic neighborhood with extremely helpful neighbors, and for being such kind, generous and lovely people. We miss them dearly and their feline counterparts, Elegant Emma and Cantankerous Callie.