**Updated April 2017**
I can’t believe I’ve never done a blog about this before! Believe it or not, it’s really easy to get a yummy vegetarian (and even vegan) meal in Birmingham. As far as I know, there is only one completely vegetarian restaurant in Birmingham, and I’m willing to be it’s the only one in the state of Alabama, period! But there are plenty of places that have great vegetarian options and almost all of them can be modified to be vegan.
Below is a list of places I eat often, or places that I know of that have veg menu items, and a brief description of their offerings. As I find more, I’ll add them to the list!
Golden Temple Café – This is the only purely vegetarian restaurant in Birmingham. They have vegetarian burgers, hotdogs, and a chik’n sandwich. They also have a tofu salad sandwich, burritos, salads, pizzas, smoothies, soups, and fresh-made juices.
California Pizza Kitchen – There are several locations around Birmingham. They have several vegetarian pizzas like Greek (the veg option subs avocado in place of chicken), Vegetarian Japanese Eggplant, Pear & Gorgonzola, Wild Mushroom, and Tostada. They also have great soups (all vegetarian), salads, and pasta. I’ve actually ordered their pizzas cheeseless before and they were still yummy!
Cheesecake Factory – The Portobello on A Bun (burger), Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta, Avocado Egg Rolls, Veggie Burger, and The Incredible Eggplant Sandwich are all great vegetarian options.
PF Chang’s – This is a great place for delicious Chinese food. They have a vegetarian section on their menu and many other options can be modified to be vegetarian. According to correspondence I’ve read from the restaurant, all of their vegetarian options are vegan. The coconut curry stir fry and veggie spring rolls are awesome!
Chili’s Bar & Grill – You can substitute a black bean patty for any of the burgers on the menu. My favorite is the Shiner Bock BBQ burger, but keep in mind that the black bean patty is not vegan.
Mellow Mushroom – MM has great pizza! They offer several vegetarian options on the menu like the Mega Veggie, White Rabbit, and Kosmic Karma pizzas and the Tempeh Hoagie is really good too. Great news if you’re vegan – they have Daiya vegan cheese! Substitute Daiya on any vegetarian pizza and ask them to leave off the butter and parm on the crust and you’ve got yourself a vegan pizza! You can also build your own pizza with ingredients like tempeh and BBQ tofu.
The J. Clyde – The place is a little hard to find, sort of tucked back in an alley near Mellow Mushroom in Five Points, and they have limited seating, but if you can get a table, it’s well worth the trouble. I recommend highly recommend their fried green tomatoes and their vegetarian options include Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (served with sweet potato crisps), Vegetable Pot Pie, Veggie Burger, Black Bean Burger, and Vegetarian Brat.
The Purple Onion – There are several locations around the city and they have GREAT Mediterranean food. Their falafel wraps are great, and they also have veggie kabobs, tabbouleh salad, and the best baba ganoush I’ve ever had. The falafel plate and veggie kabobs are served with wild rice, a greek salad or tabbouleh, hummus or baba ganoush, hot pita bread, and fresh fruit. I’m pretty sure all of these options are vegan.
Olive Garden – eggplant parm, capellini pomodro, fettuccini alfredo, minestrone soup
Stix – Sushi, Chinese, and Japanese food. They have at least one vegetarian option in each category. Any of their sushi can be modified to be vegan and they have veggie stir fry with tofu and a variety of different sauces.
Panera Bread – They serve soup, salads, and sandwiches mainly, but also have coffee drinks, smoothies, and a bakery. They always have one cold sandwich, one hot Panini, and at least two soups that are vegetarian. The only vegan option they appear to have is the black bean soup.
Taziki’s Greek Fare – They have a large Greek salad and a veggie wrap, but I highly recommend the Dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice), which are vegan to my knowledge. The Taziki’s sauce they are traditionally served with is made with yogurt though. They also have hummus and pita.
Moe’s Southwest Grill – vegan burrito bowls, tacos, burritos, and salads
Chipotle Grill – same deal Moe’s
Pablo’s – This is a Mexican restaurant that has veggie tacos, taco salad, burritos, and quesadillas. Leave off the cheese and sour cream if you’re vegan.
Ruby Tuesday’s – There are several locations in Birmingham. They have a salad bar and multiple side items that are vegetarian (grilled asparagus, mashed cauliflower, green beans, roasted spaghetti squash, etc.) They also have a new vegetarian dish on the menu: spaghetti squash and zucchini with marinara sauce that’s alright, but not wonderful. If you eat there, I recommend getting several sides or getting a baked potato and the salad bar.
Organic Harvest – This is technically a grocery store, but they have a small café and juice bar that opens for lunch. Their ALT (avocado, lettuce, tomato) sandwich and Jack and Veggie Panini are my favs. They use Vegenaise on all their sandwiches and their soup of the day is almost always vegan or at least vegetarian. They have ready-made burritos and salads made with nuts and grains in the deli case and they have vegan brownies, cakes, soup, and cookies for sale in the deli case as well as the grocery section of the store.
Whole Foods – The one and only WF in Alabama is in Birmingham in an area called Mountain Brook. They have readymade soups, salads, burritos, and wraps in the deli case and they have a hot bar, salad bar, and a dessert bar. The salad bar has loads of stuff to choose from and they always have veg options on the hot bar. You can also order vegan sushi at the sushi bar or have them make you a pizza at their pizza stand (they have vegan cheese!). They have recently added a juice bar.
Which Wich – Customize your own deli sanwich (like Subway, but way better) and choose from a wide variety of ingredients such as vegan black bean patty, avocado, onion straws, slaw, sauerkraut, as well as a variety of sauces, dressings, and veggies. The white sandwich bread is vegan and the only ingredient keeping the wheat bread from being vegan is honey.
Nabeel’s – Family owned and operated, this little cafe has been around for as long as I can remember. They serve authentic Mediterranean food. Their Peasant Salad is simple, yet amazing. They have really good tabbouleh and grape leaves too. Vegetarian entrees include lentil soup, falafel burger, and eggplant parm, although again, I really must recommend the peasant salad (it has creamy French feta on it, so not vegan). On your way out, make sure to grab one some dark chocolate sea salt fudge and visit their market next door.
Flip Burger – Another great restaurant at the Summit shopping center. Their “fauxlafel” burger is good, but The Vedge is better. Their vodka battered onion rings and fried pickles are awesome and they always have an amazing salad on the menu.
Seasons 52 – Located at the Summit shopping center, Seasons 52 offers a seasonal menu featuring some local produce. Their soups change weekly but they almost always have a vegetarian option. Their main menu always features a vegetarian option as well, but be sure to ask for their vegetarian menu! They have one, but you have to know the secret handshake to get it (just kidding – all you have to do is ask). The vegetarian sampler is my favorite: cedar plank grilled tofu with the most amazing mango chutney, a quinoa salad, seasonal veggies, and a veggie taco (tell them to leave off the feta and the meal is vegan)! I must say that their pecan pie mini dessert is to die for!
Rojo – black bean and corn salsa, black bean soup, veggie tacos, spinach burrito, several different veggie quesadillas, salads, veggie & black bean burgers
Chuy’s – My favorite Mexican place! Tex-Mex style food, all very fresh and flavorful. The guacamole tacos are great (I add in the rice and beans that come on the side. Cheese is served on the side too, so you can omit). Ask for the veggie enchiladas w/o cheese if you’re vegan. They also have a “Big As Your Face” bean and cheese burrito.
Mt Fuji (Japanese hibachi and sushi) – miso soup, ginger salad, several different veggie sushi rolls (the sweet potato roll is awesome!), hibachi vegetables, or teriyaki tofu.
***If you know of any great places I missed, please let me know and I will add them to the list!