The Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Asheville, NC

Calling all vegans and vegetarians. Asheville has an abundance of vegan and vegetarian restaurants to choose from. Not all of the places listed below are solely vegan or vegetarian. Many of them have more than just one or two plant-based options, though, and a few are dedicated vegan spots. For those of you who need a refresher, vegans exclude all meat and animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy and eggs. Vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, fish and seafood. Here are our top picks for the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Asheville, NC.

Heiwa Shokudo | 87 North Lexington Avenue

The menu at Heiwa has plenty of meat options but for those of you looking for an excellent restaurant in Asheville with vegan and vegetarian options, head on over to Heiwa. It’s located downtown and has a nice outdoor patio and even some free parking in a lot next to the restaurant. Their kimchi and seaweed salad are delicious and we’re big fans of their sweet potato tempura appetizer served with vegan tempura sauce. If you want sushi, the Veggie Handroll is a solid pick and they’ve also got a solid veggie and tofu tempura main.

Hop Ice Cream Café | Various Locations

a white persons hand is holding a pink cup of brown ice cream with a spoon stuck in it. the forearm and part of the upper arm are visible in a maroon puffy coat. In the background are window panes and a glass door. There is a neon sign that's on that says THE HOP OPEN with two ice cream cones on either side.

The Hop has an online store and 4 retail locations and all of them offer vegan ice cream options. They also have vegan brownies at each spot in case you want to go for a deluxe dessert. The Hop’s goal is to offer as many different options for people with as many dietary restrictions and preferences as possible. To that end, they have scratch-made ice creams that are made with oat milk, pepita milk, hemp milk, almond milk, and even banana crème. Also, the Hop does a great job of sourcing a ton of their ingredients from local farmers and small businesses. And not that you need an extra reason but the owners are some of the nicest people you’ll meet.

Laughing Seed Café | 40 Wall Street

One quick glance at the menu and you might think you’re pulling up to a regular ol’ restaurant. But take a second look. That Blue Ride BBQ sandwich is actually made with jackfruit and the Buffalo Tacos are made with cauliflower! This is a place where you get more than just one or two vegan or vegetarian items. In fact, the entire menu is devoted to vegans and vegetarians; there aren’t any meat products on the menu. We recommend the Harmony Bowl and that you pair it with one of their cold pressed juices. Bonus: there’s a nice outdoor patio and it’s dog-friendly.

Nine Mile | Various Locations

There are three Nine Mile locations but the one we go to the most often is the one in West Asheville. Regardless of which one you visit, they all have the same menu. And there are numerous vegan and vegetarian options available. At last count there were 22 vegan and vegetarian options on Nine Mile’s menu. If you go, give their Groundation salad a try. You can add tofu or tempeh and the best part is that it comes with their famous sesame garlic tahini dressing.

plant | 165 Merrimon Avenue

plant is one the best restaurants you can dine at in Asheville, in addition to being one of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in town. The food is not only scratch-made and 90% organic but it’s also very beautifully presented and many of the ingredients are locally sourced. In fact, Zagat has been quoted as saying that Plant is one of the best vegan restaurants in the country. You can bring in your own wine for a nominal cork fee but it must also be vegan. And as far as a dress code, like almost everywhere else in Asheville, there isn’t one. That said, they do not tolerate fur on your clothes and will ask you to leave it in your vehicle if you come in with it on.

Pop Bubble Tea | 640 Merrimon Avenue

Though traditional bubble tea is made from cow’s milk, Pop Bubble Tea in North Asheville offers vegan bubble tea. Oat milk is available and almost everything on the menu is available dairy-free and vegan. Also, in case you didn’t know, boba aka tapioca pearls, are plant-based so you’re covered there, too. This is a popular spot with both kids and adults so if you’re looking for a fun little vegan treat, head on over to Pop Bubble Tea.

Pulp + Sprout | 233 South Liberty Street

A vegan juice bar? Yep! Pulp + Sprout makes our list of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Asheville even though it’s technically a café. But we’re not about to get all technical on you and have you potentially miss out on one of the coolest spots in town. All of their food is plant-based and organic and several of their menu items are also gluten-free. Their smoothie bowls are crave-worthy and if you’re big on eating every color of the rainbow, this is your spot. Pulp + Sprout is at the top of the list when it comes to healthy restaurants in Asheville, NC.

Rosetta’s Kitchen | 68 North Lexington Avenue

One of the coolest things about Rosetta’s Kitchen, besides their delicious vegan food, is that it’s a place where everyone eats. Literally. As in, no one is turned away because they don’t have the funds to buy food. They have a rice and beans dish that is offered daily on a sliding scale and ask that if you can, you pay it forward so that others may eat. Plus, Rosetta’s is one of the more healthy restaurants in Asheville NC. Their Buddah Bowl is a classic dish: a bed of organic spring mix, organic brown long-grain rice, sea veggie salad, tomatoes, avocado, organic and grilled smoky tofu, with a sweet and tangy tahini-based BBQ sauce plus some sprouts for good measure. Whatever you do, just order the cornbread and collard greens.

Smokin’ Onion | Location Varies

Though the Smokin’ Onion is a food truck, it made our list of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Asheville because well, they’re doing good stuff around town. They’re making a lot of their food from scratch including their buns, pita, seitan, “burgers”, “crab cakes”, dressings, sauces, fries, and fried pickles. The fried Brussell sprouts are a must-eat. Check their website to see where they are parked – usually it’s at one of the local breweries!

The Trashy Vegan | 697 Haywood Road, Unit E

The Trashy Vegan started out as a food truck but in 2022 they opened a brick and mortar in West Asheville. Though you can’t go wrong with anything on their menu, give what’s on the weekly specials a try. And if you must take a recommendation, order the cheeseburger or the tot burger. They’re both made with impossible burgers and go great with their $2 PBRs.

Vortex Doughnuts | 32 Banks Avenue, Suite 106

the outside of Vortex Donuts. The building is shown from the side where a colorful mural depicting geometric shapes and an orange acoustic guitar and a white coffee cup. To the left the building says Coffee and Donuts. The sky is blue in the background and there is a tree without leaves back there. In the foreground is a red hand rail and a green bush.

Vegan doughnuts? Yep! Vegan is the default at Vortex DouAnd they’re really good, too. There’s often a line and they sometimes sell out, so if you’re craving a particular flavor, especially on a weekend, go early. Oh, and we recommend getting at least a half a dozen so you can try the different flavors.

Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Asheville, NC Recap

Is Asheville vegan-friendly? It is! Stop at any one of the places listed above and if you go, please let us know what you think! Also, be sure to check back periodically as we make a point to update our lists as new information becomes available on the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Asheville, NC.

How to Choose a Van for Van Life

Ready for a new adventure? One that involves travel? And possibility living out of your van? We’ve spent many, many hours discussing, processing, debating and learning about how and what kind of van we should get for van life. In this post we discuss some of the questions we’ve wrestled with ourselves. Answering them should help you narrow the decision making process and get a van that suits your needs: How to Choose a Van for Van Life. Already picked a vehicle? Head on over to our thoughts on outfitting the inside of your home on wheels.

What’s the best van for van life?

Best Van for Van Life | Authentic Asheville.jpg
Who doesn’t love the look of this van?!

Is it a vintage VW? A mini van? A cargo van from the 90’s? The long and short answer is that the best van for you might be the worst van for someone else. (We’re making the assumption that you’ve decided to actually live in a van and have already ruled out school buses, RV’s, truck campers, etc.) Vehicle choice is a personal decision and one that is going to take a good bit of time to figure out. For starters, though, we’ve found that the following questions are good jumping off points for figuring how to choose the best van for van life.

How much money do you want to spend?

The answer to this question is one of the most important when it comes to figuring out how to choose a van for van life. Your budget is definitely going to impact your options. You might be lusting after a 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter van with clearance, a hitch, a bamboo ceiling and all kinds of internal wiring as well as solar BUT if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. Figure out how much money you have (or want to spend) on a van and go from there. There are so many options these days that figuring out your budget is going to be one of the first steps in narrowing your options.

In addition, a new van is likely going to be more expensive than a used van. That said, if you have the experience necessary to fix up a used van, you might be able to save a lot of money by buying a vehicle someone else has given up on. We’ve had two vintage vehicles but we will never go down that route again. Lesson learned! We dumped way too much money into them and ended up abandoning both.

Also, when it comes to money, think about gas mileage. Our Dodge Ram Promaster City gets pretty good gas mileage. It averages about 24 miles per gallon. If you think you’ll be doing a lot of driving, this might be a question to really ask yourself when trying to decide which van to choose for van life.

Starting prices for our top three van life vehicles are below.

Will you be living in the van full-time?

This is another one of the critical questions to ask when deciding which is the best van for van life. Part-time adventures mean you can have a rig that maybe isn’t the perfect fit  but it’s close enough because you can problem-solve relatively easily. For example: the van is missing a shower but you’ll mostly be staying at campgrounds so it’s not a big deal. Or, it’s lacking electrical wiring but you’ll only be using it on weekends so you can bring most of your gear fully charged.

How many people and pets will be traveling?

Space needs will be different based on how many people and pets you plan to travel with. The fewer the people and paws, the less space you will need. Space needs include seats, seatbelts, sleeping spaces, food storage spaces, gear storage spaces, etc … all of which expand as you add more bodies to the trip. We traveled with a dog for a while in our 1976 Toyota Chinook but it was tight. For the last year it’s just been the two of us. We’ve managed to cut down on how much space we’ll need by decluttering (more on that HERE) and making sure that almost everything in the van has at least two purposes.

Do you need to stand up?

What's the Best Van for Van Life | Authentic Asheville
We drove across the country and back in this van and are thankful for good gas mileage!

At first I wrote, ‘Do you want to stand up’ but then I realized, almost everyone is going to want that. It’s one of the main reasons we have outgrown our van (pictured above.) Most of the time being able to stand up isn’t an issue but it really gets the best of us when the weather is bad and we’re cooking and making coffee outside. But purchasing a high roof van is going to impact how much it costs. There are different options for van height but, basically, the taller you go, the more it’s going to cost. That goes for both the cost of the van as well as gas mileage. That said, if you’re only going to be weekending or taking short trips in your van, you might not need the extra height. Update: we recently purchased a standup Ram Promaster with a 136 inch wheelbase.

Do looks matter?

What the van looks like really comes down to personal preference. For the longest time I really wanted to get a VW van. I just love the way they look. But when it came time to choosing a van, the practical side of things took over. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice reliability for something that looked really great on Instagram. Maybe you are? (Especially if you’re handy with tools and love a good project. In all honestly, I’ll probably always love the way a VW looks but will never own one because I’m too afraid of the costs.) One look at Pinterest will show you that the sky is the limit when it comes to van life aesthetics. That said, often the most affordable rigs are really, really ugly. (A quick scan on Craigslist is bound to turn up all kinds of examples.)

What are your van life needs?

How to Choose the Best Van for Van Life | Authentic Asheville
Making coffee in the rain is one of the drawbacks to a smaller van.

Some van lifers can get by with fewer amenities than others. We have traveled for over a year without a bathroom or running water. There are lots of different hacks to staying clean on the road but if you can get away without a bathroom, you’re going to save yourself money and valuable space.

Another question to ask yourself is whether or not you’ll want a sink, or electricity, running water, a bed that you don’t have to break down or not. The answers to each of these questions is going to impact the amount of space you’ll need and therefore the size of your vehicle.

Conversion kit or DIY van life build?

Another super important question to consider when trying to narrow down which van to choose is whether or not you’ll be using a conversion kit or doing the build yourself. A conversion kit will take a lot less time to install (this means getting on the road faster) but it can potentially cost more money than doing it yourself. A DIY build, however, requires having the skills to do the work or learning them. In addition, building your own van out requires time, tools and the space to do it.

There’s plenty of options when it comes to custom builds but if you’re trying to keep costs low, you can pretty much cross this option off your list. The minute you go custom, the costs start skyrocketing. We’ll post more about the interiors of different vans and their options. For now, we’re going to just stick on the vehicle itself.

Gas or diesel?

Ah, the debates for this one seem to go round and round. Especially on reddit. Personally, we’re big proponents of gas engines. The main reason for us isn’t actually fuel economy or torque (we’re not going to be towing anything) but it’s that we don’t want to have to stress about being able to find a diesel mechanic if we break down.

So, what’s the best van for van life?

Since you made it this far you probably guessed we were going to say “it depends” when it comes to choosing the best van for van life. It’s really all about your needs as van lifers (or weekend users) which are different from one person to the next. But we’ve narrowed our top picks to three:

Dodge Ram Promaster City

This is what we’ve been traveling in for about a year. You can read a ton more about it by checking out our Van Life page. It’s got a Wayfarer Plug-N-Player Camp Conversion Kit in it. It’s great for people who are on the smaller side (especially if there are two of you traveling). It is also great if you are wanting a daily driver (meaning that your van will double as your regular vehicle) and want to still get fairly good gas mileage. It’s also the most affordable option of all the ones listed below. It’s starting price new back in 2018 was $23,995. These days you can get a used one for much less. Full disclosure: We’ve had some issues with our van. We finally decided to write about it. You can learn more here on our post Problems with the Ram Promaster City.

Dodge Ram Promaster 1500 with a high roof

This is the bigger sibling to the Dodge Ram Promaster City. You can stand up in this van and spread out a bit more (it’s got a super boxy shape to it.) If you’re wondering why we like this one over the Ford Transit, it’s mostly because the base models come with more things than the base models of the Transits. In addition, we like the look of it a tad more than the Ford, it has a few more inches of roof height and we can get a Wayfarer kit for this van. It’s starting price new is $32,695. Again, this is for a high roof. The standard sized roof Promaster starts at $29,295. Update: The 136″ wheelbase is the van we upgraded to!

Mercedes Sprinter Van

We never really considered buying a new Mercedes Sprinter van because it’s a big jump up in price from the Dodge. Not only does the cost go up for the vehicle itself, but it also prices the conversion kits and van life builds in a much higher group. Rising costs = rising panic. That said, if you can find a used one that hasn’t been in an accident and has low mileage, you might have found a winner. We think it’s a great vehicle and it makes the list because, even though it’s out of our budget, it’s still a great vehicle. New Mercedes Sprinters start at around $36,495.

All of the above vehicles we mentioned above are at the 2018 models.

Additional Camper Van Resources

How to Choose a Van for Van Life Recap

There’s obviously lots to think about when it comes to figuring out which is the best van for van life. Hopefully the information above helps you in choosing a vehicle that fits your needs. If you’ve already picked a great van for van life, hop on over to our next post in this series about Custom Builds, DIY Van Conversion and Conversion Kits.

Still not sure which van to choose? It’s helpful to try them out. Luckily there are numerous companies out there that rent vans so you can test them out for a weekend or a week-long adventure (even more) to see which ones suit you best. Learn more on our post about the 7 Best Camper Van Rental Companies.

In addition, be sure to check out the full list of van life posts HERE.

Authentic Asheville is a team of two. We are freelance Squarespace web designers, photographers, writers and content creators.

Follow by Email
Skip to content