We’ve already been over the fact that if the city of Charlotte were a real girl, she would not be vegetarian. She’d be all barbecue and bacon and momma’s green beans with chicken stock and fatback. She’d be a God-fearing girl except, ironically enough, on Sundays when she’d curse His name for closing Chic-fil-A. She’d pronounce vegan “vay-gan” and say it with so slow and sweet a Southern lilt it seems time stands still while she takes a second to add five or six syllables to the simplest of words.
Despite Charlotte’s decidedly carnivorous leanings, I find the city to be surprisingly vegetarian friendly. In fact, I’ve written two features for Charlotte Magazine about veg-friendly dining in the Queen City:
If you know where to look–both geographically and on a menu–you can find plant-based food just about anywhere.
My favorite spots (and dishes) in Charlotte include:
- Fern: OM burger, bruschetta, all the soups, Buddha bowl, vegan carrot cake
- Luna’s Living Kitchen: Clinton classic burger, Lunasagna, yin yang macaroons
- Krazy Fish: Lemongrass tofu tacos (GOOD LORD)
- Flying Biscuit: tofu and tater salad (every single time no matter what)
- Cantina 1511: taquitos vegetarianos
- Zeitouni: FALAFEL.
- Amelie’s: vegan soups, tartines, French pastries (hello.)
- Intermezzo: grilled veggie pizza, garden fresh pizza
- Cowfish: build-your-own sushi, any salad with grilled tofu instead of chicken/fish
- Crisp: build-your-own salad with grilled tofu
As of last week, I’m adding a new hole-in-the-wall to my animal-free, must-eat list: Bean Vegan Cuisine.
It’s in a weird location in a weird building that I can only assume used to be a Mexican restaurant that used to be a dry cleaners with the weirdest/best sign I’ve ever seen; it’s just a giant bean. One lone bean towering there over Independence Blvd. like a bat-signal calling to vegans far and wide.
The menu is small but mighty. Think straight up Southern comfort food–macaroni an cheese, meatloaf, mashed potatoes–sans animals but seriously good.
Adam got the jackfruit carnitas tacos and we swore up and down this whole operation was one big Punk’d episode and that at any minute Ashton Kutcher would pop out peeing his pants in delight over the fact that two vegetarians had just consumed meat.
If it smells like meat, looks like meat, shreds like meat and tastes like meat… I assume it’s meat. But it’s not. It’s jackfruit, a strange tropical fruit with a starchy, fibrous flesh that, if seasoned properly, stands in as a frighteningly suitable meat substitute.
I got the reuben after watching some Food Network show about reubens the night before and announcing that if presented with a pile of corned beef I would probably eat it. No questions asked. At Bean I got to have my beef and eat it too, no cows necessary.
The “beef” in this sandwich is a seitan base that’s topped with vegan cheese and sauerkraut and slapped between two slices of “buttered” bread.
We also went to town on the sides with the Northern rosemary butter beans, steamed kale and grilled asparagus.
I seriously had my doubts, but Bean delivered. I love this place. They’re a brand new restaurant with a relatively radical concept ’round these here parts so you know they could use some support. Go see them so we can start seeing more places like this pop up. Charlotte needs it.