The South isn’t known for its vegan cuisine, but in many Southern cities, especially Athens, Georgia, more plant-based eateries are popping up.
Whether you’re hardcore vegan or just looking to switch things up, look no further to learn about all the vegan options Athens has to offer. With the help of all the vegans I could find in Athens, and based off my own experience, here's your extensive guide to eating vegan in Athens.
1. The Grit
From its birth in the early nineties, The Grit is an absolute classic for herbivores. For years it was the only vegetarian joint for miles around.
Today, it still stands strong in the restaurant game and every vegan and vegetarian in the city has a favorite Grit dish: from pancakes to The Golden Bowl (the best tofu you'll ever have) to Bahn Mi to the Grasshopper cake. This variety restaurant is bound to please every palette.
With 11 locations across the country, the Athens-based Cinnaholic is the newest addition to the growing chain. Opening just last November, vegans and omnivores alike rejoiced at the sight of the cinnamon roll shop on Broad Street and then again when they found out customers have the choice of over 20 frostings and toppings each!
If you're lucky, you might even be able to snag yourself a free one baked the previous day.
3. Your Pie
Another Athens classic, Your Pie lets you "Express Your Inner Pizza," and that includes vegan pizza, too! All you have to do is ask, and you'll get a beautiful personal pizza with all the Daiya cheese a person could ask for.
Load up on veggie toppings to up your vegan pizza game! Bone-us points if you take a picture of it with your dog.
While this venue can be pricier, that is partly due to the greater range of sizes. Another plus about Mellow Mushroom is that it's the kind of place where you and 15 of your friends could all squeeze into the seats for one huge table in the back corner. Talk about a pizza party!
There's always enough room in my heart for more vegan pizza, so I had to include another pizza place on the list! Automatic Pizza provides Normaltown vibes with your slice of pie. This is also the place to be if you want some vegan pizza on the cheaper side with slices at just $2!
Over on Gaines School Road, Mannaweenta offers Ethiopian and Eritrean foods. While utensils are offered if you want them, one of the best parts about eating here is that you can eat with your hands (using injera bread) without getting side-eye from the table beside you.
All of their vegetarian dishes are also vegan, and they offer even more plant-based options on Wednesdays!
Conveniently located on Broad, this restaurant isn't just for those who like a little kick in their food. Instead, they customize spice level to suit each consumer's preference on a 1 to 5 scale: 1 for the wimps (me) and 5 for the masochist in your group.
This is my go-to when I'm craving some greasy, vegan pub food. You have a lot of options here, like the Tofurkey Klub, Toona Melt, and their vegan "corndog." I say the Oyster Mushroom Po'Boy in particular is a nearly religious experience everyone should have, vegan or otherwise!
9. Trappeze Pub
Another place for vegans who love the pub life, Trappeze Pub is known for their cooking with beer. One of the Athenian favorites is the Vegan Beer Chili (especially when it's a bit chilly outside), always prepared with seasonal craft stout.
Other plant-based dishes on the menu include the Veggie Reuben and the Vegan Tofu Fried Rice.
Don't be fooled by the menu's extensive list of beef burgers because this diner also has some out-of-this-world vegan options! I always find myself getting a black bean burger here, but they also have so many others like tofu dogs, tempeh ruben, veggie chilli, and flavorful (i.e. not bland iceberg) salads.
Nearly all of their sandwiches can be made vegan, and not just through leaving stuff off but with alternatives they carry like Vegenaise and tempeh bacon.
This spot is perfect when you find yourself on Baxter wanting a bite to eat. All too often people lump together Asian cuisine, but Just Pho and More's Vietnamese dishes are a perfect example of how unique each region's foods are.
A classic is the Tofu Bánh Mì, tofu on toasted vietnamese-style french bread with fresh vegetables, and house sauces, or Bún Bò Huế Chay, lemongrass soup with tofu or wheat protein, rice vermicelli noodles, and vegetarian fish sauce.
You don't often think that a barbecue place would have good vegan options, but White Tiger Gourmet is here to prove you wrong with their awesome Tofu Q sandwich, Tiger salad, and tofu tacos!
Aside from the food, the artistic, casual atmosphere and historical neighborhood will have you wanting to spend the whole day there.
With a foundation like beans and rice, it's hard to go wrong with burritos as a vegan! Barberitos is all about bringing Southwestern fare here to the Southeast, and they're a crowd-pleaser with portions reminiscent of Texas.
Finding yourself starving on campus? You can also get your hands on these bad boys at the UGA Tate Café!
14. Cali N Tito's
Another great spot for vegan Latin American food, just look at the "Platos Vegetarianos" section to see what all you can get here. The Veggie Tamal and the Veggie Saltado are already vegan, and everything else in this section can be made vegan simply by omitting one or two ingredients! I would also suggest giving their Yuca Frita for cassava done right.
Just looking at their falafels has my mouth watering! Chickpeas are already amazing by themselves, but Middle Eastern cuisine really knows how to kick it up a notch with these little protein power houses.
For just $10 you can have yourself a plant-based feast of hummus, baba ghanouj, falafel, tabouleh, and a side salad for mixing everything together!
While the name is probably a turn off for most vegans, their bean and quinoa burger customized however you like is a great option for when your friends try to drag you to their favorite burger joint. You may even decide to head there on your own after giving them a try!
If you are having trouble deciding on toppings, I would suggest "Gringo Style" with a black bean spread, pico de gallo, avocado, jalapeños, and the diablo sauce.
Sushi is another type of food that at first seems to be off limits to vegans but turns out to have plenty of delicious options! Who wouldn't want to try fried sweet tofu Nigiri? There are also other dishes like vegetable tempura and edamame to enjoy.
Enjoy all the vegan food you like here with friends at Athens' favorite Karaoke and sushi joint. Also, can we all just take a moment to appreciate how stinking cute that orange bear is?
Their Instagram feed is mostly filled with smoker pictures, but this barbecue restaurant has a surprising amount of vegan options. Look for the uppercase "V" to see which dishes are like smoked pecans, collard greens, vinegar lime slaw, and of course smoked tofu!
19. Donna Chang's
Make sure to bring the gang, because the menu at Donna Chang's is all about family-style dining. From dry fried eggplant to their mock chickpea tofu, it's a good place to share a dish, some wine, and a good time with loved ones. This is also a great place to get out of your rut with drinks as the staff consists of self-professed wine geeks.
Have you ever had a vegan empanada before? I hadn't before eating here, but now I'm in love! Paired with either their lentil or butternut squash soup, which can be made vegan on request, and you have quite the satisfying meal!
21. The National
Start the night off with hummus and flatbread and end it with vegetable plate fit for royalty. We are talking about Sea Island red peas and black rice with curry, kale slaw with fennel, kumquat and turmeric vinaigrette, fried cauliflower with harissa (though make sure to ask for no yogurt), marinated carrots with pomegranate, sautéed snow peas with sesame, and lightly dressed rossa chicory.
Located both in Eastside and Westside Athens, Siri Thai Cuisine has classic dishes such as pad thai and goes outside the box with other dishes like their ginger mock duck.
It's also one of the few places where you can finish off your meal with a vegan dessert, and sticky rice with sweet mango is something everyone should try. I wager that those who don't like mango probably haven't tried a properly ripe one before, so go into it with an open mind if that's you and you just might be pleasantly surprised!