New and Improved Nashville Dining List

New and Improved Nashville Dining List

Posted on 02. Jul, 2008 by Yvonne Smith in Blog, Nashville, Reviews, Travel

I get asked all the time, “Where do you eat as a vegan/vegetarian in Nashville?”  Well, here is a list of some veggie-friendly spots around town.  Hope it helps!

We actually have three vegetarian restaurants, with more on the way.  The Wild Cow just opened and not only is the food great, the owners are awesome as well.  I absolutely love The Wild Cow!   Grins (“Pronounced like the color, spelled like the smile”) is on the Vanderbilt campus.  It is kosher and all vegetarian and is only open when school is in, which is kind of a bummer, but I’m still glad they exist.  They have some pretty good stuff, including fabulous vegan cookies!  Woodlands on West End is a vegetarian Indian food restaurant that is quite good.  They can tell you which of their entrees are dairy-free too, which is always helpful.

Those are the only true vegetarian places we have here, but there are some other restaurants around town with decent veggie selections:


Fiddle Cakes
Sam & Zoe’s
Frothy Monkey
Baja Burrito
Blue Coast Burrito
Calypso Cafe

Tin Angel
Whole Foods
Cafe Coco
Provence (cheese-heavy soups and sandwiches, so be careful if you’re vegan)
Fido (their veggie sausage isn’t vegan, but at least they have a tofu scramble.  Let them know they should carry Soysage!  It’s locally made and vegan.)
Cha Chah

Ok, I know veggie burgers can get really boring, but some good ones can be found around town.  Not all are vegan, so be sure to ask!

Blackstone (they also have a bean and rice plate)

Zola‘s menu says that they can alter many of their dishes for vegans and vegetarians.  I went recently and was given basically a medley of their vegetable side-dishes, which was really disappointing.  They are always voted one of the best restaurants in town and I have been told several times that they are very vegan-friendly.  I was so bummed that they didn’t at least include some kind of grain or legume!  Vegetables are great and all, but for $17.50, I expected something a lot more creative.  If I wanted a salad, I would have ordered one.  To their credit though, I wrote to the chef about my experience and she was horrified.  I look forward to giving them another chance.

ETA:  I did give Zola another chance.  Last time I was there they had a separate vegetarian menu with six items, three of which wcould be made vegan.  Yay!  I wasn’t overwhelmed with my selection, but maybe some of the other stuff on the menu is better and more flavorful.  If you have something great there that’s vegan, please let me know.

On a recent call to Flyte to make reservations, I was asked if anyone in my party was vegetarian or vegan, which I really appreciated.  Even though my dish was also just vegetables and no grains or legumes, it was at least beautiful and tasty.  All the veggies were seasonal and they were served with some lovely reductions.  I’d definitely go there again to see what the chef comes up with.

There are a lot of restaurants that have changing menus, which means sometimes they’ll have something veg-friendly, sometimes not.  Usually these types of restaurants are pretty flexible and will make something to order for you, but you might want to call first.  Germantown Cafe has a “green plate” and a pasta-of-the-day.  Check for ingredients. I have had mixed experiences with  City House in the past, but lately all my food there has been delicious and the chefs are creative and receptive.  Bound’ry continues to provide creative, delicious vegan fare.  I have been thrilled with my last few experiences there.  Don’t worry about what the menu says.  Call ahead and they’ll definitely take care of you.

Broadway Brewhouse and South Street have a few vegetarian menu items, especially for lacto-ovo vegetarians.  Mellow Mushroom is very lacto-ovo friendly and even though our locations don’t carry soy cheese, you can apparently bring it with you and they’ll make you a vegan pizza.  Of course you can always get a cheeseless pizza as well.  Yummy!  I haven’t had a cheeseless pizza at Da Vinci‘s, but they have a nice list of toppings and they do have soy cheese (although since it has casein in it, it’s not vegan).  The servers at Mafiaoza’s always think I’m nuts when I order cheeseless pizzas, but to their credit they always come loaded with veggies, which is more than I can say for their pizzas with cheese on them.  Oh, and a side note:  Mafiaoza’s hummus is NOT vegan.  Neither is the hummus at Cabana.  Why do they need to put dairy in their hummus?  You got me.  Let’s start asking!

Chain restaurants are pretty easy for lacto-ovo vegetarians (except O’Charley’s, which in my opinion has nothing worth eating as a veg), but a little more challenging for vegans.  Olive Garden is pretty easy and Ruby Tuesday is decent.  P.F. Chang’s has lots of vegetarian options.  Don’t even bother with Sambuca as they have pretty much nothing unless you’re there to drink only.  Chili’s has a few things and TGIFriday’s and Applebee’s have Gardenburgers (not the vegan ones, but it’s a start).  I wish CPK would add whole wheat pasta and soy cheese to their menu, but they have a few things we can eat.  Baja Fresh has burritos, salads and a bean and rice plate.

Side dishes can be a life saver, but be careful of rice cooked in chicken broth.  You can usually find a baked potato and order it plain with a side of salsa.  Very low-fat and filling.  Of course most restaurants will always have vegetable side dishes, but be careful about what they’re cooked in if you want to avoid hidden animal products.  I always ask for no butter and no cheese, but some of the Southern cooking places around here cook their veggies with chicken, pork, etc.

Be careful with Chinese food.  I have ordered tofu a few times only to find pieces of dead pig in it.  Ew!  If I wanted pork, wouldn’t I have ordered pork and not tofu?  Best to stay with steamed veggies and rice, or ask the chefs about their ingredients before ordering.

Thai food can be great for vegetarians.  Jasmine in Cool Springs is one of my favorite places.  Nice atmosphere and lots of veggie selections.

Japanese restaurants usually have a tofu dish or two and sometimes you can almost always find vegetarian sushi.  Mmmmm.

We lost my favorite Ethiopian place here in town, but I’ve been to Gojo and Abay, and both were quite good.  Lentils, cracked wheat, greens, injera, etc. should all be veggie friendly… And delicious!

Mexican places usually have a small lacto-ovo vegetarian section to their menu.  Some have vegetable burritos, which you can order without cheese.  You can always get beans and rice, but be careful as a lot of places use lard, chicken broth, etc.  Be sure to ask your server.  Rosepepper Cantina no longer uses chicken broth in their rice (yay!), and the black beans are vegan. They have a nice vegan burrito that has steamed veggies, avocado and black beans and they have a vegan tamale.

Other Indian places in Nashville that are good are Sitar, Cuisine of India and Shalimar.  Try the lunch buffets at Sitar and Cuisine of India.  Most dishes are vegetarian and really delicious and if you go for lunch you’ll save a ton of money and be able to try more things.

Mediterranean food can be very veggie-friendly.  Lentils and rice, hummus, falafel, etc. I haven’t been in years, but  Mediterranean Cuisine was a favorite of mine for lunch when I worked on Music Row.  Tabouli’s is ok too.

I hope this helps Nashvillians or those traveling through Music City.  I know there are probably several places I didn’t list, so feel free to let me know if I forgot your favorite spot.  There is one restaurant in particular that has an inventive, really great sounding vegetarian entree, but I can’t get around the fact that they also serve foie gras and frog legs.  It’s bad enough that I have to patronize places that serve meat at all, but I can only handle so much, you know?

I really wish restaurants in general would get more inventive!  I truly hope that restauranteurs in Nashville will start realizing that a lot of folks out there care about their health, the planet and the animals.  Nashville currently tops the list for heart UNhealthy cities for women!  Please give us something more than a veggie burger, a salad, a pasta dish or a portabella mushroom.  We want real food, and as you can see from the restaurants I feature in my show, there is SO MUCH out there.  Bring it to Nashville!  We can make a difference by requesting things that aren’t on the menu.  If enough people ask, the chefs will start adding things to regular rotation.

As Jason Sellers, chef at Laughing Seed in Asheville, NC says, “Plant-based food is necessary; vegan cuisine is sexy.”  Damn straight.

Special thanks to every restaurant that has a website with a current menu.  Mad props to the chefs who put some creativity into their vegan and vegetarian dishes.

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9 Responses to “New and Improved Nashville Dining List”

  1. Jane

    02. Jul, 2008

    I’d like to also point out that Sunset Grill has a Vegetarian special of the day – in addition to several other vegetarian options on the menu. I’m not as familiar with their vegan options – but I do believe they offer at least one.

  2. Yvonne Smith

    03. Jul, 2008

    Yeah, I’ve never been wowed by the selection at Sunset Grill as it was always just pastas for vegetarians, but it looks like they have a veggie stir-fry now. Guess I’ll have to go try it!

  3. Mandy

    16. Jul, 2008

    wow! I’m so excited. This is a wonderfully extensive list. I know where my next mid day date will be!

  4. Joe Shedlock

    21. Jul, 2008

    EarthSave Nashville (now defunct) had a list of vegetarian dining opportunities in Nashville that is dated but that may still be useful (or not). At any rate, you can still view it at:

    I would certainly appreciate any comments or updates of the information therein.



  5. Peartree

    14. Aug, 2008

    Grins while vegetarian, often uses commercial white bleached flour,white sugar, standard unnatural peanut butter and Giardhelli brownie mixes.

  6. Yvonne Smith

    15. Aug, 2008

    Good to know, thanks!

  7. Beth Miner

    15. Jul, 2009

    My husband & I are moving to Nashville next year and we sooo appreciated all of this info! Thank you!

  8. Amy

    19. Oct, 2014

    New Juice bar and Vegan Restaurant to try in Nashville

    Hi there, just wanted to tell you about our restaurant. We opened over a year ago with a juice and smoothie bar focusing on bases with alkaline water, coconut water, almond milk and raw/vegan add in’s from health force and other healthy (seriously healthy) options. We expanded into a cafe early this year. We now offer 100% vegan, and mostly gluten free appetizers, soups, sandwiches, wraps and more! Please check us out. We are located in Center of Symmetry which is a local health local health spa and market (they have massage, colonics, infrared sauna.. ) and sell products such as yoga gear, massage and bodywork tools, alkaline water fill up store, organic skincare.. and of course more! I hope you’ll check us out and let us know what you think. We are open 7 days a week!

    Full Juice and Smoothie Bar, Vegan and Gluten free food, appetizers, soups, sandwiches, wraps, desserts made in house

  9. Andrea Erdman

    25. Jan, 2015

    Thank you for taking the time to make this list! I’ve been vegetarian for a year and a half, and as I am alone in my circle of family and friends, going out to eat and finding something meatless can be a challenge. And enjoying it is even less likely.

    Brick’s Cafe, with 3 locations: Antioch, Brentwood and Franklin, has a few vegetarian options. I don’t know if it was also vegan. I enjoyed my meal and will return to try another if I’m in the area again.

    I know Columbia is an hour south, but if in the area, try the Square Market Cafe. Several vegetarian options. My sister in law and I really enjoyed the eggplant and the portobello mushroom sandwiches, (we gave each other half of our sandwich to try both, her fav:eggplant, my fav:portobello) as well as the bruschetta appetizer.

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