Known as the ‘City of Oaks’, due to the oak trees thought to be hundreds of years old that fill the streets in the middle of the city, Raleigh is a city becoming more health and planet-conscious as every day passes.
You can expect all kinds of popular southern dishes to be found in the restaurants of the area, including BBQ dishes, southern fried meats and indulgent chicken and waffles. Yet despite its famed meat dishes, more and more restaurants are catering to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles than ever before, and you can get some of these beloved favourites guilt-free and meat-free from the establishments listed below.
So if you’re after some delicious vegetarian food in Raleigh, look no further! Below you’ll find six of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Six Best Vegetarian Restaurants In Raleigh, NC: Food Worth Waiting For!
1. The Fiction Kitchen
Veganised Southern dishes in an intimate setting
Those on the hunt for vegan comfort food will find much to be enjoyed at The Fiction Kitchen. Situated in the Triangle you’ll find you’re close to all the downtown necessities and benefit from parking right across the street.
The indoor dining area seats 50 people, and you can also sit at the well-stocked bar, as you enjoy the seasonal locally sourced options served here. Enjoy dining amongst bold colours, art on the walls and highlighted dishes on traditional blackboards. The atmosphere is welcoming and the staff are great with answering any questions you might have.
The menu at The Fiction Kitchen serves everything from generous sharing plates to indulgent main dishes. One of the best dishes is what locals have considered the best Chicken and Waffles in town! Marinated, herb seasoned, handed dredged and fried mock chicken is served on a Belgian waffle, dressed with arugula, maple and seasonal fruit to create a vegan twist on a classic so good you won’t believe it’s not real chicken!
There have been some great gluten-free options too including the Tinga Tacos. These include three mock chicken tinga-style tacos served on corn tortillas with salsa verde, coleslaw, radishes and lime.
Everyone with an adventurous palate, young to old will enjoy The Fiction Kitchen and if you have room for dessert you won’t be disappointed by the options. A past favourite is the Videri Chocolate Brownie Tart, this brownie tart with pretzel crust comes with chocolate-peanut butter-coconut ice cream and salted caramel for a truly sensational experience for your tastebuds. Even more amazing than something so indulgent being vegan, it’s gluten-free too!
For one of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina be sure to stop at The Fiction Kitchen.
Opening Times: Wed-Sat 16:30-21:00
Address: 428 S Dawson St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA
2. Element Gastropub
Gastropub vegan eatery perfect for a social gathering
Nearby in the Triangle you’ll find Element Gastropub which combines 24 years of hospitality experience and 40 years of experience in vegan cooking to create an environment where anyone can dine on delicious vegan gastropub food.
This casual setting with nearby street parking welcomes you with shades of green and plenty of places to sit. Perfect for a large group, you can find long tables here, or if you prefer, take a seat at the bar. Outside plenty of seating can be found with parasols for warmer seasons. Share good food and drink with loved ones in this social space where the staff will be happy to accommodate you.
Element’s menu offers a range of casual foods including starters, salads, fried mock chicken, burgers and desserts. In the past locals have raved about a few choice favourites including the Fried Chik’n Sandwich, which consists of a smothered buffalo chik’n, lettuce, tomato, pickles, neomonde kaiser, and a choice of housemade ranch or housemade bleu chz. This delicious combination is rivalled by the Smash Burger, which offers two 2oz smashed patties, nacho cheese, shredduce, tomato, onion, burger sauce, and pickles on a brioche bun. All plant-based.
There are gluten-free options including burger buns as well as dishes perfect for sharing like the BBQ Nachos. This offers customers a very big portion of house-fried corn chips served on a half sheet pan covered with vegan bbq, black beans, cashew queso, fresh pico de gallo, and jalapeños, plus you can add sour cream.
With a range of vegan selections in the gastropub sphere, Element Gastropub is uniquely placed as one of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Opening Times: Tues-Thurs 11:00-14:00 and 16:00-21:00, Fri 11:00-14:00 and 16:00-22:00, Sat 11:00-22:00, Sun 11:00-15:00
Address: 421 Fayetteville St Suite 103, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA
3. Earth To Us
Latin-American vegan comfort food
A family-owned business, Earth To Us finds its roots in Puerto Rico and offers a Latin twist on vegan comfort food. Open for counter service whether dining in or taking out, this fast-food-style eatery is found in Swift Creek Shopping Center, so parking is easy.
Perfectly located for some vegan eats between shopping, you can take a seat inside or outside. The chilled setting with a brick exterior and shades of dark green offers simple seating and friendly customer service from high-energy staff.
The menu presents various appetisers, entrees, sides, desserts and drinks as well as a brunch menu on Sundays offering full breakfasts, burritos and pancakes.
Some favourite menu items of locals in the past have included the Cauliflower Wings, battered and deep fried cauliflower tossed in your choice of BBQ, buffalo or bang bang sauce, drizzled with ranch and served with celery sticks. Not only is this a tasty treat, but gluten-free too!
While Earth To Us cannot guarantee the absence of allergens such as gluten they do their best to accommodate where possible so those with intolerances can rest assured that their server will know how to advise.
Another popular choice over the years is the beloved comfort dish, Mac and Cheese Plate. This macaroni cheese is served with BBQ soy chicken or cauliflower wings and coleslaw making a delicious meal choice. Young and old will enjoy stopping off here for some comfort food and Earth To Us even has its own merchandise to purchase with some tongue-in-cheek vegan slogans.
Check out Earth To Us, one of the best vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Opening Times: Thurs 11:00-20:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-21:00, Sun 11:00-17:00
Address: 2893 Jones Franklin Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA
4. Udupi Café
Vegetarian South Indian cuisine in a casual dining space
Named after a coastal town in southern India, Udupi is the inspiration for this authentic restaurant of the same name serving south Indian cuisine.
Udupi is an area that is full of fresh fruits and vegetables and as such is known for vegetarian Indian cuisine that heavily features coconut in its dishes.
Just outside of Raleigh in Cary, Udupi has a popular lunch buffet and evening service in its simple dining space near to the Town of Cary Parking Deck. You can dine inside or outside this exposed brick establishment that contains a large dining space and some unique Asian art on the walls.
Not only is the food vegetarian, but a vast amount of the menu is also vegan! Servers are courteous and attentive as they serve a range of appetisers, Indian Chinese dishes, Dosai, Uthappam, Pulavs, curries, bread, sides and desserts.
Locals have had many favourites over the years including the Chilli Pakora, consisting of batter-fried finger peppers served with mint and tamarind sauce. The curries here receive high praise and regulars highly recommend the Palak Paneer, which is spinach and cheese cubes cooked in tomatoes, onions and spices.
There is a range of options to suit most tastes here, and if you have adventurous children they’re sure to love it here. If in need of gluten-free food you can ask your server to see what accommodations can be made for your meal.
While this restaurant sits between Raleigh and Cary, we still think Udupi Café can be considered one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Opening Times: Tues-Thurs 11:30-15:00 and 17:00-21:00, Fri 11:30-15:00 and 17:00-21:30, Sat 11:30-21:30, Sun 11:30-21:00
Address: 590 East Chatham Street 112 & 114, Cary, NC 27511, USA
5. Pure Vegan Café
Nutritious fast-food-style vegan food served all day
If you’re after a wholesome and healthy meal, then Pure Vegan Cafe offers nutritious meals as well as juice, smoothies, açai bowls and raw treats.
This casual, family-friendly eatery welcomes you with great customer service in this casual setting. Find simple café seating, colourful artwork hung on the walls, green foliage, an ‘instagrammable’ area with a neon sign as well as limited colourful seating outside, plus plenty of parking can be found in the retail lot.
The fast-food style menu offers a range of quick bites, burgers, (fake) chicken sandwiches, salad bowls, sides and desserts. As is popular around these parts you can enjoy dishes such as Chick’n and Waffles including homemade gluten-free waffles dusted with powdered sugar and topped with seasonal fruit and Chik’n on the side. Locals will tell you that the chicken is so crispy and tender that you won’t believe it’s not real!
Another favourite over the years has been the Southern Comfort, which is vegan sausage, vegan egg, cheeze, and Honee Mustard on a toasted English muffin. If all that deliciousness wasn’t already enough, their gluten-free options include dishes such as the Chipotle Bowl, including quinoa , romaine lettuce , black beans, pico de gallo, walnut taco, jalapenos, avocado, cilantro-date dressing, and cashew cheeze. Kids will enjoy the amazing sweet or savoury waffles here, as well as kid-sized juices and smoothies.
Promotional events in the past have included a Mother’s Day afternoon tea and Father’s Day platter. Pure Vegan Café is active and popular on socials so be sure to follow them online to keep up-to-date with their latest menu times and events.
Pure Vegan Café has to be considered one of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina and their nutritious selection is sure to be a hit with vegans and omnivores alike.
Address: 8369 Creedmoor Rd, Raleigh, NC 27613, USA
Opening Times: Mon-Sun 09:00-19:00
6. Aladdin’s Eatery North Hills
Fresh Lebanese-American dishes with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.
While not strictly vegan or vegetarian, a special mention goes to Aladdin’s Eatery, a simple Lebanese-American restaurant chain that serves many vegetarian options within its Lebanese-inspired menu.
This chain restaurant began in 1994 when Fady Chamoun – who arrived in the US in 1972 – opened the first restaurant with his wife Sally in Lakewood, Ohio. Their dream of opening a restaurant serving healthy Lebanese cuisine was born and the chain has been growing ever since.
In the North Hills area of Raleigh with parking in an extended lot, Aladdin’s balances western decor with an eastern twist. The restaurant is a comfortable setting with wood floors, warm lighting, eye-catching patterns and plants on the table as well as an outdoor patio space with foliage and fairy lights.
Aladdin’s Eatery strives to offer traditional Lebanese hospitality, so you can be sure to receive friendly and helpful service as you’re served some delicious authentic dishes.
The menu comprises appetisers, pita pitzas, rolled pitas, speciality plates, salads, soup, smoothies, raw juices, a selection of beer and wine and a kids menu.
Some favourites in the past have included the Mujadara Power Salad containing lentils and brown rice over mixed greens topped with Aladdin’s award-winning hummus and fried onions, and in-house dressing.
The fun Pita Pitzas include Farrouk’s Falafel Pitza which consists of tahini lemon dressing topped with falafel, banana peppers, diced tomatoes, and chopped parsley. Regulars of this establishment will also tell you that everything at Aladdin’s is freshly made and you can taste the freshness.
With their vast amount of vegan and veggie dishes, there are also some gluten-free options including Mujadara Platelentils which offers brown rice topped with Lebanese Salata and fried onions. Kids will love it here too with options such as the Cheese Pita Pitza with cheddar and feta.
Aladdin’s makes a great choice for vegans and vegetarians earning it an honorary mention as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Opening Times: Mon-Sun 11:00-20:00
Address: 4209 Lassiter Mill Rd #136, Raleigh, NC 27609, USA