As a student at UNC, exploring the many restaurants and cafés along Franklin Street has been an integral part of my Carolina college experience. It’s the perfect place for foods like high-quality burgers, pizza, and frozen desserts.
If you’re vegan, you might be wondering…can Franklin accommodate my dietary needs? The answer is yes! Following a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t experience and enjoy many of the awesome restaurants in Chapel Hill.
The following list acts as a guide to Franklin Street for vegans and people interested in trying out meat-free alternatives, as they explore our beautiful college town.
Vimala’s is the perfect spot for vegan eaters and people interested in local, organic foods, with dishes like dal and rice, eggplant curry, and a simmered chickpea stew. Indian breads like whole wheat Chapati and Paratha can be ordered alongside. Their crepes, either Dosa or Uttapam, are made with a sourdough rice and lentil batter. You can choose from a variety of different fillings, like tomato, oyster mushroom, and even kimchi!
#SpoonTip: Vimala’s actively promotes the belief that access to healthy food is a human right. Their policy called "Food for All," runs on donations made by customers, providing people who couldn’t normally afford a healthy meal, the ability to eat at the restaurant. if you’ve got a few dollars to spare, please consider supporting this awesome program!
Med Deli is known for their huge selection of vegan salads, wraps, sides, and baked goods. They do an excellent job of labeling their foods, so that it’s very clear what’s vegan and vegetarian-friendly. A few of the many vegan options include: falafel, hummus, tabouli, grape leaves, cabbage salad, and chickpea salad. The entrées at Med Deli often come with their famous pita bread.
#SpoonTip: Med Deli pita comes in three different choices: white, whole wheat, and gluten-free. All three types are vegan.
Spotted Dog has a variety of food options for everyone, but they are particularly known for taking traditionally meat-heavy dishes and making them vegetarian and vegan-friendly. For example, you can order a reuben sandwich made with organic tempeh, vegan Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. Alternatively, you could try their vegan crab cake sandwich, served with a vegan remoulade sauce, or the veggie BBQ with cole slaw. The options at Spotted Dog are endless!
#SpoonTip: Give their vegan quinoa curry burger a try. It’s perfect with a side of beer-battered French fries or crispy sweet potato fries.
It’s all about customization at Ms. Mong, a relatively new restaurant on Franklin that was established in 2015. You can order your entrée as a bowl or burrito, filled with plain or fried tofu, noodles or rice, and any number of veggies, like mushrooms, bean sprouts, and cilantro. Try topping off your creation with Ms. Mong’s special BBQ ginger vegan sauce.
#SpoonTip: When ordering, you have the option of adjusting the spiciness level to your own personal preference.
Spicy 9 specializes in a variety of different Asian cuisines, particularly Japanese, Thai, and Chinese. Vegan options with Japanese influence include: the miso soup, tofu veggie ramen, seaweed salad, and the Inari (aka. tofu skin) sushi roll. You can also order many different varieties of Thai curry at Spicy 9, made vegan by picking tofu as your protein of choice.
Few places on Franklin can compare to Buns when it comes to getting a late night bite to eat. For vegans and vegetarians, their “Very Veggie Burger” is a great choice. In fact, it was voted the best veggie burger in Chapel Hill! Topped with avocado, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, cucumber, onion, tomato, and a garlic tahini sauce, it is far from a basic burger.
#SpoonTip: The fries at Buns are vegan and delicious. If you can’t choose between regular and sweet potato fries, just ask for a mix of both when you order.
This well-known pizza chain is particularly great for vegan eaters, because you have the choice of opting for dairy-free Daiya cheese on a variety of different pizzas. Further customization gives you the ability to pick from an endless array of fresh veggies as toppings, including: broccoli, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers. Along with pizza, Mellow also offers vegan calzones, tempeh and tofu hoagies, and an “Herb” Veggie Burger made of brown rice, quinoa, kale, and roasted mushrooms.
You don’t have to eat meat to enjoy a burger at Al’s. Their menu offers a vegan sweet potato, black bean, and oat burger called the “Kaarin.” Topped with guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a potato bun, it will satisfy any vegan burger craving. When it comes to fries, you’ve got two options: sweet potato fries, sprinkled with brown sugar, or crispy, crinkle rosemary fries. The hardest choice at Al’s is picking which kind of fry to order.
This smoothie chain, founded in Louisiana, has a diverse selection of vegan smoothies (17 different options to be exact). There are fruit-heavy smoothies, like the Mango Kale, with plant-based protein, mango and apple juice, bananas, kale, and almonds. The Nutty Super Grain is another, less fruity option, with almond milk, super grains, cocoa powder, apple juice, and bananas. All of the smoothies can be customized to your liking.
More commonly referred to as “Yopo,” the frozen treats at Yogurt Pump are a must-try if you’re visiting Franklin Street for the first time (or the hundredth time, for that matter). A cup or cone of sorbet is the perfect dairy-free option. Try a mango or berry sorbet, topped with your favorite vegan candies, fruits, and nuts.
Eating in Chapel Hill can be enjoyable for everyone, including people who have made the choice to become vegan. I hope that this list has provided you with a taste of the many different meat-free choices available to Carolina students and visitors on Franklin Street.