There are many restaurants in Asheville that have vegan or raw food options. Some are fantastic while others are quite disappointing. I’m listing all the restaurants I’ve tried, whether they are worth eating at or not, so don’t assume a place has good vegan or raw food just because it’s on this list. Read the review.
- Laughing Seed Cafe (All vegetarian)
40 Wall St.
Laughing Seed is a vegetarian restaurant with many vegan and gluten-free options. The food is healthy and very delicious. I’ve enjoyed the sea vegetable salad, shitake corn cakes, a few smoothies, the Harmony Bowl, and all the raw dishes on the menu, and all have been very good. They used to have a great raw tapas special on the menu every day that came with dessert, but now it’s just available randomly. Call to make sure they are serving it. There are some raw sprouted salads that are a part of their regular menu. Laughing Seed is definitely my favorite restaurant in town and the prices are not much worse than any other restaurant, depending on what you order.
- Firestorm Cafe & Books (All vegetarian. Mostly vegan.)
48 Commerce St (downtown)
For a gluten-intolerant vegan, this cafe has much more to offer than their menu lets on. They bill themselves as a vegetarian restaurant, but actually all of their food is vegan. The only non-vegan item in the restaurant is a milk option for your coffee. I also found out, from talking with staff, that they have gluten-free bread available for sandwiches. It isn’t listed on the menu – you just have to ask. The ginger sesame wrap is fantastic. In addition to food, this shop operates as a community space for movies, discussions, speakers, and all sorts of interesting events.
- Rosetta’s Kitchen (All vegetarian. Mostly vegan.)
Rosetta’s Kitchen is easily the most vegan-friendly restaurant in town. The vast majority of their menu is vegan, although they do have a few vegetarian items. Rosetta’s Kitchen specializes in comfort foods. Since I prefer healthier meals, I haven’t loved everything I’ve ever ordered. I find some meals, such as the hot wings, to be lacking in vegetables. But they do a fantastic job with tofu, tempe, mashed potatoes, southern greens, biscuits, and plenty of other dishes. And their desserts are out of this world.
- BoBo Gallery (Not sure if they still serve food.)
22 Lexington Ave.
What a little gem this cafe is! BoBo Gallery is also a vegetarian restaurant that is mostly vegan and has an extensive raw menu with many appetizers, entrees, and desserts. A substantial portion of their menu is also gluten-free. The best part is that all of the menu items are very clearly labeled as vegan, gluten-free, and/or raw. I enjoyed their Thanksgiving raw dinner which featured mock turkey, dressing, mashed “potatoes”, corn pudding, pumpkin pie, and a heavenly glass of almond nogg. This is a new favorite of mine. I hope the community supports BoBo Gallery so that I can continue to enjoy this amazing menu.
- Green Sage Coffeehouse & Cafe
5 Broadway St.
How did I miss this place for so long? I’ve walked by it a hundred times and never bothered to look at the menu until I happened upon it today (8/23/2009). Breakfast all day, sandwiches and wraps, soups, salads, smoothies, and fresh juices. They also have mate lattes which are not easy to find around town. Almost everything on the menu can be made vegan and/or gluten-free. Their tofu scramble is amazing, and I don’t usually care much for tofu scramble. This is worth trying. I wasn’t crazy about the sweet potato home fries – very bland. But the scramble and the rice biscuit more than made up for it. This will absolutely be a regular place for me. Also be sure to check out their mission and “food and beverage goals” on their website. They are a model local business supporting best practices and the local economy. Eat here!
- Chai Pani
22 Battery Park Ave.
Chai Pani serves Indian street food and comfort food. What I love about this restaurant is that their vegan and gluten-free options are very clearly labeled on their menu. And sometimes they even overlap! The food is delicious and is a fun alternative to the standard American hippie food served at most restaurants that cater to vegan and gluten-free diets. The staff is very friendly and the restaurant has a happy feel to it. I have heard that the wait can be long and service can be slow, but I didn’t experience that when I went there.
- Ophelia’s Restaurant & Bar
15 Eagle St.
Ophelia’s isn’t a vegetarian restaurant but they do specialize in vegan and vegetarian options. They have a multi-course organic raw dinner special every weekend – starting Friday at 5 PM and continuing through the weekend for as long as the food lasts. I enjoy their raw soups very much and the salad and entrees have been good, but not spectacular. Their pumpkin pie is phenomenal. Call for price and menu. I’ve heard that they have an inexpensive lunch buffet with many vegan options, but I haven’t tried it for myself.
- Heiwa Shokudo
87 N. Lexington Ave
This little Japanese restaurant is a big favorite among a few vegans in town, which means that the staff is very knowledgeable about what is vegan on the menu. There are plenty of dishes to choose from if you’re vegan. The gluten-free options are not so plentiful, but there are a couple of good choices. Don’t be fooled by the buckwheat noodles – they have some regular wheat flour in them. The only item that approaches raw food is the seaweed salad, which is quite good. The entrees are rather pricey but you get a lot of food in each dish. Heiwa would be a great restaurant to visit for a mixed crowd with varying diets.
- Early Girl Eatery
8 Wall St.
I doubt if I’ll ever eat here again. Early Girl Eatery is a well-known restaurant in Asheville, and they have several vegan items on their menu. I ordered a tofu scramble with some mixed vegetables and it was not good. It wasn’t inedible or anything, but I could have done better at home. The vegetables tasted like they came out of a can.
- Mellow Mushroom Pizzeria
50 Broadway St.
If you really need a pizza, this is as good of a place as any to go. You can order the veggie and tofu pizza with no cheese. But that’s pretty much all they have. Their fake cheese isn’t vegan and they don’t have any interesting fake meats. The staff is very helpful and they have some nice outdoor seating right downtown. I’ve heard that service can be painfully slow there, but I didn’t experience that.
- Mela Indian Restaurant
70 Lexington Ave.
I tried Mela’s lunch buffet at the insistence of some omnivore coworkers. The upside is that Mela’s labels all of their vegan options, which I love. The downside is that they really don’t have very many vegan options. Even their rice isn’t vegan. It filled me up and I enjoyed the company, but I wouldn’t every bother going their on my own.
- Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.
675 Merrimon Ave.
I got talked into going here with coworkers and was already committed to my gluten-free diet at the time, so I didn’t pay too close attention to the pizza selection. I do remember there were a couple of vegetarian pizzas that I’m sure could be ordered without cheese. I ordered a big salad that was pretty good…. for a salad.