Being a vegan or vegetarian isn’t always easy. There are the questions about your dietary choices from strangers, the Internet debates about ethics, the family members’ less-than-subtle judging… the list goes on and on.
One part of being a vegetarian or vegan that should be easy, however, is finding an amazing place to eat. Luckily, the Twin Cities vegan and vegetarian scene is having a major moment. Invite your friends and family because these places are too good not to share.
Birchwood Cafe, a Seward neighborhood gem, is known for its locally sourced fare. The menu changes each season but always includes several plant-based options that are nothing short of drool-worthy. Don’t believe us?! Give the Tempeh Hash or the veggie-packed Birchwood Bowl a try and get back to us.
The Herbivorous Butcher
Minnesotans aren’t big on bragging, but The Herbivorous Butcher is just so damn cool that our hearts swell with pride. We can’t help but tell everyone that the first vegan butcher shop in the country is here in Minneapolis, and it is amazing! Made with jackfruit and wheat flour, you’ll find meatless meat options from brats to bacon to BBQ ribs to breakfast sausage to… yeah, you get the point. Plus, it’s all so delicious, even your most carnivorous friend will be hard-pressed to tell the difference.
So Good So You
This Minneapolis-based juicery does more than just juice (although, the juice really is so good) — it also has cafes with all-vegan menus! If you work downtown, So Good So You’s two locations in the skyway makes it super convenient to pick up a smoothie, acai bowl, salad, or protein plate on days when your meal-prepped lunch just isn’t cutting it. (You can even order online!) Not downtown? No stress. So Good So You also has an Uptown juice and smoothie bar inside Kowalski’s and its products can be found in grocery stores nationwide.
TRUCE is best known for its juice, but its entire menu is raw vegan, organic, gluten-free goodness. Need a bite to eat? Choose from acai bowls, zoodles, walnut tacos, salads, smoothies, energy bites, and more. Thirsty? Whether you’re looking for a post-workout recovery drink or a cleanse system, TRUCE will hook you up with bottles full of delicious (and pronounceable) ingredients. Really, if you’re in another “where should we eat?” argument, this Uptown shop is truly the truce you’ve been searching for.
No need to study this menu in advance to figure out what you can eat. Everything J. Selby’s (and its food truck, the J. Mobile!) serves up is vegan, from the cauliflower-based buffalo wings to the Big Mac-inspired Dirty Secret made with beef patties from the aforementioned Herbivorous Butcher. The menu isn’t the only amazing thing about J. Selby, though. This St. Paul newcomer also serves a pay-what-you-can Community Bowl with rice, beans, and seasonal veggies to ensure that everyone who wants to eat vegan can afford to.
Not much beats pizza, so naturally finding a pizza place with a clearly marked vegan/vegetarian menu is pretty much perfection. And we’re not just talking about one sad vegetarian pizza option tacked on to the end of the menu. Pizza Lucé has four specialty pizza options that can be made vegan upon request and—with two varieties of “cheese”, six meatless meats, and over two dozen types of veggies—a ‘Build Your Own Pizza’ option that allows for endless combinations (we’re still working out how many different pizzas we need to try).
Totally Baked Donuts
Totally Baked’s doughnuts are even better than its A+ puns. Available for pick-up and delivery—and at pop-ups throughout the metro—these gluten-free and vegan circles of perfection will be adored (and devoured) by dessert-lovers regardless of dietary preference. Among the most popular flavors are lemon hemp seed, mini matcha, the appropriately-named OMG! Chocolate, and the savory jalapeño cheese doughnut, but there is no shame in trying every flavor. You know, for research purposes…
Whole Sum Kitchen
With juices in every color of the rainbow and beautifully-decorated acai and grain bowls, South MPLS’s Whole Sum makes it almost impossible to dig in without taking a picture of your order first. Although not 100% vegetarian/vegan, this food truck turned cafe’s website writes out all of the ingredients in each dish to make ordering a breeze. Oh, and in addition to being #flawless, the food here is every bit as good as it looks and won’t confine you to hiding your food baby in your stretchiest yoga pants.
Usually finding decent vegan desserts is far from a piece of cake. Well, no longer! Thanks to one St. Paul woman and her magical baking skills, it just got even easier to get your hands on vegan cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, muffins… the list goes on! You can get your sugar fix at Vegan East’s cafes in WBL and—coming soon!—Uptown. With cake this good, we won’t judge if you want to celebrate your birthday more than once this year.
French Meadow Bakery & Cafe
French Meadow has apparently never heard the phrase “You can’t please everybody.” With chalkboard menus spanning wall-to-wall with vegan, vegetarian, organic, and gluten-free options, there is bound to be something for everyone in your brunch group. Speaking of options, French Meadow has locations in St. Paul and Minneapolis, can be grab-and-go or sit down, and offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and—our personal fave—dessert. Choosing what to order may be difficult, but choosing French Meadow is a no-brainer.
The Hardtimes Cafe
On the short list of totally vegan/vegetarian restaurant in the cities, Hardtimes can almost always be counted on to serve up serious rock ’n’ roll vibes and kick-ass vegan/vegetarian food. And we use “almost always” very literally — Hard Times is open 22 hours a day! This Cedar-Riverside cafe is a fave for its all-day breakfast, grilled bites, and sandwiches (like the incredible banh mi). Just make sure to hit up the bank beforehand; Hard Times is cash-only, but we promise it’s totally worth the ATM fee.
Root to Rise Kitchen
Where to even start with Root to Rise? Everything this food truck serves up is rave-worthy, from the homemade vegan pop tarts to the mac ’n’ cheese eggrolls to the drunken noodles. Root to Rise stops at several local farmers markets each week, so make sure to check its Facebook page for up-to-date locations and menu offerings. Oh! And make sure to try the Vegan Virgin Mary, a plant-based twist on your typical bloody made with wasabi, ginger, and vegan Worcestershire.
Being vegan doesn’t mean giving up on your favorite comfort foods, and boy does Seward Cafe do comfort food well. We’re talking vegan pancakes, bagel sandwiches, veggie burgers, gyros… we’re drooling just thinking about it. And while the menu here isn’t totally meat-free, you can avoid foodie FOMO by ordering the vegan substitutions listed in the menu.
Brunch-lovers, rejoice! On the weekends, brunch is an all-day affair at this Powdertown cafe. And whether or not your squad eats vegan, Modern Times has got you covered with clearly-labeled menus and dishes including breakfast burritos and hash that are made to order based on your preference. In case you need more convincing, Compassionate Action for Animals named Modern Times the best Vegan Breakfast/Brunch 2017. We’ll take a standing Sunday brunch reservation, please!
fig + farro
A youngin’ in the TC vegan/vegetarian scene, this globally-inspired restaurant opened its doors in the Uptown hot spot of Calhoun Square at the beginning of 2018. fig + farro puts an equal emphasis on creating delicious takes on comfort food (vegan cheesy shells or mashed potatoes, anyone?!) and being good to the environment by using organic, locally-sourced ingredients. Oh, and don’t miss the brunch here. Four words: Giant Blueberry Cinnamon Roll.
Look out, Uptown! Brim is fresh on the scene with its largely plant-based menu packed with all the best ‘northern grown’ produce. Most of the meals here come in the form of grains or greens bowls (think sticky rice and turmeric brown basmati) filled—you guessed it—to the brim with organic, made-from-scratch ingredients that you can mix and match to your liking. Bonus: Brim is so close to Bde Maka Ska, you can basically walk across the street and be in the water, making it the perfect place to refuel post beach day.
Reverie Mobile Kitchen
Reverie is still searching for a building to call home, but instead of making hungry Twin Cities’ residents wait, it took its all vegan everything on wheels. Talk about dedication! We sure are grateful for Reverie’s huge act of public service, though, because when it comes to getting our hands on eats like cubanos, polenta rancheros, and TLTs (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato!), waiting in line for the food truck is about all the waiting we can handle.
**Updated by Gina Van Thomme, September 2018