You’ve read the headlines: plant-based dining is trending. Whether you eat plants 100% of the time or not, more and more people are skipping animal products for the greens. Eating vegan is an impactful way to make everyday life for wildlife, even if it’s just a few meals here and there. Businesses are taking note too, they are leaning into the vegan options now more than ever. When Lance and I made the transition over a year ago, we really under estimated the challenge we’d have dining out. Aka: we often found ourselves settling for a side of fries in lieu of a full meal. Thankfully in the past year alone I’ve already seen a noticeable shift in Columbia’s restaurant scene.
#RealColumbiaSC has really embraced plant-based options and I am so here for it!
To help you avoid the dreaded entree of French fries…. Here are my top SEVEN picks for vegan friendly restaurants in the heart of South Carolina!
I tell everyone about this perfect little hideaway tucked in the Vista. Small Sugar serves up a very urban and historic vibe. This place will have you wishing you brought a book to read just so you can soak up the atmosphere longer. Plus their staff know just how to help pick out the vegan option you are craving. I am always torn between the Hummus Bowl and the Sweet Potato Bowl myself. Both are packed with farm-to-table flavor and are served on massive open faced bowls. On every occasion I’ve needed my reusable to-go container for delicious leftovers. Top pick: Hummus Bowl (marinated eggplant, carrot, Calabrian chili oil, with fresh whole grain herb flatbread) I live for the pizza-sized flatbread it comes with!
Talk about a chic place in Columbia, this restaurant and bar is all about the moody lighting and decor. And now with the help of Emily Blanchard from Tasty As Fit they have stuck the landing on their full vegan menu. Top pick: Envolturas De Lechuga (Beyond Meat chorizo wrapped in lettuce w/pico and creamy guac)
This fully vegan spot was ahead of the plant-based trend, and has a killer Main Street location. Good Life Cafe makes for an ideal start to date night with a quick plant bite before heading over to the Nickelodeon Theater for an indie flick. Our preferred seats are at the low-top bar facing the busy street scenes. I say great food always tastes even better with a great view. Top pick: Chili Cheese Fries (hand cut fries smothered in house made chili and cheese)
When I lovingly say “hole-in-the-wall” you better know I’m referring to The Whig. Located directly across the street from the South Carolina State House, this underground bar has a top notch rotation of vegan dishes. Come for the plant-based menu, but stay for the drinks! This intimate bar will have you stuck in one of their booths laughing with friends for hours. Top pick: Chickenless Sandwich
The vegan clouds parted when this North Main gem reopened. Peace of Soul has got it going on with soul food! I’m specifically talking about their fried “chicken” sandwich. The combination of pickles, homemade sauce, fried crunch, all on a pretzel bun- makes for a sit down shut up and eat kind of experience. You can’t go wrong at Peace of Soul, their entire menu is 100% plant-based! Top pick: Fried Chicken Sandwich, with a side of Vegan Mac & Cheese
Hendrick’s on Main Street, has the perfect (treat yourself) dish to split with someone special. Yep, I’m talking about their vegan paella. Seriously don’t try and take on this plate on your own. I’d even say to pack your reusable to-go container for leftovers later. This paella is big, and so yummy you might not stop yourself from finishing it right then and there (we sure couldn’t control ourselves and polished it off). Top pick: Vegan Paella
This is our favorite spot in Five Points! We have always enjoyed eating (and drinking) at Publico, and even more so after they expanded their outdoor seating. I’m a sucker for al fresco dinning! So you can imagine we about died when they announced their FULL vegan menu. Top pick: Vegan Cuban Nachos (chips topped with black bean corn chili, pineapple pepper salsa, vegan cheese, guacamole, salsa Verde & cilantro, I make sure to add the Beyond Meat to really feed my hunger) I’m also a big fan of their Caramelized Plantains
Plant lovers go get out and support local in #RealColumbiaSC