AED: Meatless, gluten-free and flavorful

Food limitations, whether taken by choice or of necessity, can make eating out feel more like a chore than a treat. Skimming those delicious-looking menu items only to settle for the blandest dish that’s devoid of all the good stuff can beg the question, “Why go out at all?”

Thankfully, Asheville boasts a number of restaurants consistently offering delectable dishes and desserts for diners following an alternative diet. In fact, it’s rare to find a locally owned restaurant that isn’t ready and willing to cater to special diets. Consider these choices:

  • For more than 20 years, the Laughing Seed Café has been serving up vegetarian delights with international flair. The menu also includes vegan, raw and gluten-free options.
  • Posana, on Pack Square in the heart of downtown, features an entirely gluten-free menu of contemporary American cuisine, emphasizing local, seasonal and sustainable fare. Chef Peter Pollay spearheaded efforts to secure Asheville’s title as the nation’s first Green Dining Destination.
  • North Asheville vegan restaurant Plant, which prides itself on “flavor-sophisticated, scratch-made food” recently made The Culture Trip’s list of the 10 Best Vegan Restaurants in the U.S.
  • Since 2002, Rosetta’s Kitchen has been serving up reasonably priced “creative vegetarian and vegan soul foods” downtown with a lively atmosphere and late-night hours.

Originally a food truck called Roaming in the Raw, Elements Real Food is now a brick-and-mortar storefront just north of downtown, specializing in fresh-made juices and nut milks as well as vegan raw salads, sandwiches and desserts.

In addition, the following establishments were among those local eateries highly rated as “vegetarian-friendly” or “vegan-friendly” on

  • The Over Easy Café downtown offers breakfast, brunch and lunch with gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and dairy-free options.
  • Mela Indian Restaurant downtown features a number of vegetarian and vegan entrees and has repeatedly claimed Best Indian Restaurant honors in Mountain Xpress’ Best Of WNC readers poll.
  • Tupelo Honey Café, the Asheville-based regional chain, focuses on Southern comfort food; its recently overhauled menu includes both meat-free and gluten-free items.

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About Jacqui Castle
Jacqui Castle is a freelance writer who began contributing to Mountain Xpress in 2014. When she is not writing, she is living it up in the Fairview mountains with her family of four.

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