THERE'S NO NEED to stress about vegan and vegetarian fare in Savannah. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s really not that hard to find here. By taking a good look at the menu and asking the right questions, you can find what you want virtually anywhere.
But to get you started, here are some of my favorite places in town for vegan/vegetarian dining. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, so no one should be offended at being left off of it. These are just a few suggestions to begin your quest:
Brighter Day Health Foods
1102 Bull St.
For those in a hurry, the deli inside this health food store offers an extensive array of prepared sandwiches, including Tempeh Salad, Barbecue Tofu, Cucumber Hummus, Avocado, and Baked Cheese. Or try one of the organic dishes from the deli case. (Most are vegan.) If the weather is cool enough, take your meal across the street to Forsyth Park for a picnic.
321 Habersham St.
This cozy cafe on the corner of Troup Square offers a creative menu of high-quality, fresh fare including sandwiches, salads, and egg dishes. Little stars mark the menu items that are vegan or can be made vegan.
Firefly Café is a popular but small weekend brunch spot, so reservations are helpful if you don’t want to wait too long for a table. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available. (The restaurant is closed on Mondays.)
Locos Grill and Pub
301 W. Broughton St.
8108 Abercorn St.
This Athens-based chain of bar-and-grills is good when you want to “get your party (and your drink) on.” With ten-dollar buckets of beer every day, happy hour deals, and Thursday team trivia, this is the place for letting off steam after a long day at work. The servers at Locos are extra-friendly and attentive, which means I always leave happy. The meatless menu items are already tasty, but you can make them even better by getting creative with substitutions and additions. I usually get barbecue sauce on the side if I order a sandwich.
11 West Liberty St.
I’ve been going to Mellow Mushroom for years, and it’s never disappointed me. It’s a dependable, ultra-casual pizza joint with funky murals and servers who seem more like your buddies than your waiters.
Despite its commitment to high-quality food and healthy ingredients, the restaurant never seems to take itself too seriously. This down-to-earth feeling is really what makes the restaurant so enjoyable. I usually get one of the several vegetarian “Monumental Hoagies” or a calzone made with their signature spring water dough. For pizza-lovers, the menu offers a huge assortment of toppings, so get creative! Or order the Mega-Veggie and prepare to be wowed by its twelve toppings.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
7801 Abercorn St.
If you find yourself on the Southside with a big appetite, there are several chain restaurants that are great for vegetarians and vegans. One of my favorites is Moe’s Southwest Grill, an extremely casual but tasty restaurant that offers burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and fajitas made to order Subway-style. The portions are huge, the salsa selection is good, and the menu is highly customizable. Everything can be made vegetarian, because grilled tofu is a protein option. This is a great place to go for a quick bite after shopping. If you¹re like me, you won’t be able to finish your gigantic burrito because you ate your chips first. Not to worry, just grab a to-go bag and eat the leftovers later!
402 MLK Jr. Blvd.
After its 2005 opening, the Metro Coffee House quickly became the coffee shop of choice among SCAD students because of its late (and I mean LATE) hours, comfortable furniture, and unique menu items. The Metro is the only place in Savannah to offer the intriguing “bubble tea,” a highly customizable drink with tapioca pearls on the bottom. If you’re not a bubble person, try the vegan chocolate peanut butter smoothie, which is more like a milk shake than a smoothie. It’s almost too easy to stay at the Metro for hours with a group of friends, playing board games on the comfy couches or having a late-night study session. During the school year, the coffeehouse usually stays open until 4 a.m. on weekends.
The Sentient Bean
13 E. Park Ave.
True to its name, the Sentient Bean is the conscious coffee shop of Savannah, offering only fair-trade, organic coffee and a completely meat-free menu. Try the popular Greek Isles panini, or order a fresh-baked scone to go with your espresso. If you’re a vegan with a sweet tooth, this is the perfect place to go; many of the baked goods are vegan, and the staff is happy to make your lunch vegan too. The Sentient Bean is known for its nightly music, indie film showings, and open mic nights, so be sure to check the calendar of events before you leave.
41 Whitaker St.
1100 Eisenhower Dr. Unit 4
If you’re looking for clean flavors, extra-fresh ingredients, and a meal that fills you up without giving you that after-Thanksgiving feeling, Sushi Zen is the place to go. This authentic Japanese restaurant offers a plethora of sushi rolls, appetizers, and grilled dishes. Each of the two locations has its own advantages, so try both to find your favorite.
I personally like the relaxed, spacious atmosphere of the Eisenhower Sushi Zen more than the bustling Whitaker restaurant, but many students and young locals find the downtown location more convenient due to its stated 4 a.m. closing time Thursday through Saturday (!). My suggestion: let the staff help you decide what to order. I always enjoy what they recommend. And don’t forget the sake!
Sweet Leaf Smokery
606 Abercorn St.
Sweet Leaf pushes “barbecue joint” to the next level. This new little smokery is a great place to go with friends. The funky décor and friendly atmosphere make for a very fun dining experience. However, it’s the food that really makes Sweet Leaf memorable. The restaurant offers a simple but solid menu of smoked dishes for carnivores, herbivores, and everyone in between. The servers are helpful and seem to enjoy assisting diners with their menu choices. When I went there last, the waitress suggested the Smoked Tofu Wrap with added smoked veggies. It was perfect!