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Downtown Raleigh’s Vegetarian Options

Part of the new vegetarian menu at Porter's

I swore off meat several years ago. I don’t remember the date or even the season. I just stopped one day without any deliberation. As a former meatatarian who couldn’t enjoy a meal without a substantial amount of protein, I had to adapt quickly. Having to explain the rationale for this life decision to my carnivorous comrades is one I find myself answering on a regular basis. I usually mumble something about a family history of heart problems (completely true) and leave it at that. I prefer not getting in philosophical debates about what is moral and what isn’t.

Of course, I’m not here to talk about the personal decision. I’m going to talk about some of the restaurants downtown that make an extra effort for those who like to eat a meal or two without meat.

Here are some of my favorite spots that offer delicious non-meat food. Don’t let the listing of a restaurant here imply they only have great vegetarian food, all offer far more meat options than not.

Remedy Diner

Although this list isn’t any sort of ranking of friendliness toward the vegetarian crowd, Remedy Diner deserves the top spot. No other restaurant has as many options. From delicious vegan buffalo wings, to (fake) sloppy joes, (fake) parmesan chicken sandwiches, to a host of all-day breakfast options, it’s difficult to get tired of the options provided. The prices can’t be beat, there are varying drink and menu specials every day, and the service is second to none. I’m here at least once a week and would be incredibly sad if I didn’t have this option. They have gluten-free and vegan options as well.

You can learn more about the history of the building in a previous post by Raleigh Boy.

137 East Hargett Street

The Rockford

Situated in a nondescript location on Glenwood Avenue, The Rockford is type of place you only discover via word of mouth. There is no sign, no web site, and no local advertisements of any sort. There are rotating vegetarian-friendly entrees and side items offered daily. I recommend the Mission Burrito, it’s the best in town.

320 1/2 Glenwood Avenue

The Borough

In a somewhat quiet part of downtown, the Borough features a lively crowd and diverse selection of vegetarian friendly dishes at fantastic prices. They have great soups and innovative food choices. One of my favorite places to eat. It’s where Sid’s favorite server once worked, as well as the legendary Sneaky Q. The Redbeard is the best veggie burger in town.

317 West Morgan Street

Thaiphoon Bistro

Thaiphoon, like the Rockford, is hidden on Glenwood Avenue amongst the more traditional dining options. What sets this place apart is a diverse menu of ethnic foods, from various types of curry to soups. The atmosphere is great and seating comfortable. Despite being popular on weekends, I’ve never had to wait to find a table (I may just be lucky). Serving menus on DVD and Vinyl covers is a creative touch. If you’ve never been, it’s well worth a trip.

301 Glenwood Avenue

The Player’s Retreat

The Player’s Retreat is the oldest bar in Raleigh. This place has a lot going for it: it has the largest selection of single-malt scotches in the state, probably the largest collection of beer bottles/cans in the state, and has a great menu to boot. The owner, Gus Gusler, has put forth a tremendous effort toward bringing the menu up to par with the slightly more upscale establishments downtown. He invested a lot in a modern and state of the art kitchen, too. The menu offers a wide variety of sandwiches and pastas, as well as entire vegetarian-friendly section. Enjoy a bit of living Raleigh history with a great meal.

105 Oberlin Road

Laziz Biryani Corner

The only Indian Restaurant near the downtown area, Laziz Biryani Corner blends a home-cooked atmosphere with some delicious and affordable options. A hidden gem amongst the typical Hillsborough Street fare, this place shouldn’t be missed if you enjoy Southeast Asian Cuisine.

2316 Hillsborough Street

Sadlack’s Heroes

Being in business for over 30 years, Sadlack’s is without a doubt the oldest bastion of vegetarian-friendly fare downtown. It’s a sandwich joint that frequently features live music, which makes it a great place to hang out with friends on a weekend afternoon. The crowd is unlike any you’ll find in Raleigh. The chips are home made, the sandwiches prepared on great bread … but the food is only a small component of the charm of Sadlack’s. Stop by for lunch some time and experience it for yourself.

2116 Hillsborough Street

Porter’s City Tavern

Carrying on amidst the rubble

Although they’ve had delicious vegetarian options for a long time, they just recently carved out a new menu highlighting the selections. The Blue Cheese Macaroni is worth the trip.

2412 Hillsborough Street

Moonlight Pizza

Moonlight has been my longest running love affair with pizza here in Raleigh, but until now received no love on this blog. In addition to a wide variety of pastas and salads (and a fantastic gnocchi), they feature a diverse array of toppings. Great drink specials too.

615 West Morgan Street

Worth a mention

  • Mitch’s Tavern – I’ve heard from more than one source that they have the best vegetarian chili in town.
  • The Roast Grill – Yes, the place that serves only hot dogs, baklava, and pound cake. They have a “Ruth Dog”, named after a vegetarian friend of the family. It consists of a hot dog bun with relish, mustard, and onions.
  • Spize Cafe – I dined here for the first time recently, and thrilled they decided to be open for dinner hours.
  • Village Kabob – This new Afghan restaurant has a delicious vegetarian menu with several items at great prices. I’ve only recently made it here for the first time, but it was absolutely delicious and a welcome new ethnic dining addition.

Some Love for Hillsborough Street

You may have noticed that many of restaurants listed here are located on Hillsborough Street. Although it is mostly coincidence, I did take extra care to include the ones there. Due to the ongoing construction work, business is hurting for these restaurateurs. They need your support. Rush hour delays and parking are issues–but what is a few extra minutes commute time when you can enjoy great food?

By No Means Comprehensive

This list is just some of my favorite places, and certainly doesn’t include all options. What’s your favorite restaurant to enjoy a meal sans meat? I’ll add more suggestions here and maintain this page as an index of veggie-friendly restaurants.

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