by Eric Ginsburg
Word spread among Greensboro’s vegans that the Charlotte-based Zizi’s Vegan Restaurant would expand to the Gate City well before the storefront opened near Sedgefield. But it didn’t take long for the takeout business to fail, and it closed about as quickly as Jaribu, a more recent Jamaican restaurant originally from Winston-Salem that served a tasty vegan breakfast.
Greensboro’s vegans, for the most part, are forced to become adept cooks, unless they’re the type that considers a sleeve of Oreos to be lunch. But there are still particular menu items scattered throughout the city that local vegans have come to appreciate beyond Boba House, Greensboro’s lone vegetarian restaurant.
1. Binh Minh (pictured)
It used to be more common to see a crew of a dozen vegan, straight-edge punks crowded around a round table at this Vietnamese institution on West Market Street. The fake chicken with vermicelli, more commonly called “V10” here, is the way to go. Arriving in two bowls — one with the noodles, bean sprouts and lettuce and the other with the fake chicken (or tofu) in a delicious, orange sauce along with potato, onion and bamboo shoots — it’s more than enough for one person.
Tandoor India Restaurant, just up the street from Binh Minh, only serves the buffet during lunch. But show up for dinner and order the bhindi masala — “fresh-cut okra sautéed with onions, tomatoes, fresh herbs and a touch of fresh lemon juice.”
3. Taste of Ethiopia
It’s incredibly rare to see the word “vegan” on a menu in these parts; most venues use the catchall “vegetarian.” But Taste of Ethiopia lists five vegetarian/vegan options — choose the seven-item combo plate with spicy split lentils, yellow peas, greens, cabbage, shiro, salad and chickpeas in a spicy sauce.
4. Crafted: Art of the Taco
Few places actually understand what “vegan” means, paying enough attention to remove egg and meat while leaving cheese or another similar screw up. That’s not the case at the South Elm Street taco joint, where the Messenger tacos can be made vegan and eaten with seitan, a fake meat made from wheat gluten. There are also “chofu” tacos — fake chorizo made with tofu.
5. Jack’s Corner
This establishment proximate to UNCG has long been known as a vegan haven thanks to its falafel wrap combo with tahini — rather than cucumber tzatziki — sauce. The Mediterranean Platter with falafel, hummus, tabouleh, pita and baba ghanoush is another fine choice.
6. Pho Hien Vuong
The city’s most popular Vietnamese restaurant is also known for two vegan choices in particular out of its extensive vegetarian menu section — the stir-fried tofu basil with garlic and onions as well as the vegetarian pho noodle soup (which, of course, utilizes vegetable broth).
7. Sticks & Stones
That vegan pizza tho. Sure, other places, even the chains, can remove the cheese from a pizza and throw on a bunch of vegetables, but Sticks & Stones is the best choice for vegan ’za around. The Lindley Park restaurant also has a relatively solid veggie burger — unlike nearby Hops, the bun here is vegan as well.
8. Taste of Thai
Ever heard of pad ma kua? It’s stir-fried eggplant with salted soya bean, bell pepper and sweet basil. Order it with vegetable and tofu at Taste of Thai on Westover Terrace and you won’t be disappointed.
9. Wallfour Bakery
The weekly Corner Market in the parking lot of Sticks & Stones on Saturday mornings is as close as Wallflour — a vegan and gluten-free local bakery — comes to a storefront. But the desserts can be found at places like Deep Roots Market and Vida Pour Tea consistently.
10. Coming soon…
Get ready. With options like vegan steak, vegan tofu and vegan ribs, Noma Food & Co. makes a strong first impression based on its menu alone. The forthcoming Thai and Vietnamese fast-food restaurant will open on Battleground Avenue with things like a banh mi sandwich with vegan ribs, red curry with vegan tofu and pho with vegan steak. And one of the two women opening it runs Boba House.