While Charleston is known as a food city, it has relatively few vegetarian restaurants. But, you can still find options if you know where to look. Vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Charleston range from local Mexican, pizza, and brunch spots to well-known restaurants downtown; and, while vegetarians may not be spoiled for options, there are still several vegetarian and vegan-specific restaurants in and around the Holy City.
While our list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Charleston includes a handful of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, it primarily consists of restaurants that either (i) have vegetarian items on their menus, or (ii) offer vegetarian options sort of by default—such as Mexican restaurants and pizza joints. We have also included a few restaurants that offer vegetarian options for breakfast and brunch only. While you might not be able to dine at these restaurants (or have “supper,” as many locals say in Charleston), they are still well worth visiting based on their location and/or the unique menu items they offer.
As such, these are not all vegetarian restaurants—in many cases you will have to check the menu for the options that are available, and these options may be limited. But, all of these restaurants have at least one or two quality vegetarian dishes to choose from (not just a combination of sides), and they are worth checking out if you are looking for vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Charleston.
Downtown Charleston Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants
The largest concentration of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Charleston is located downtown on the peninsula. Downtown Charleston has an increasing number of vegetarian and vegan options, and the city’s established restaurants are increasingly catering to vegetarian and vegan patrons as well. While this list could be much longer, here are 10 vegetarian-friendly restaurants we’d recommend trying in downtown Charleston:
- 82 Queen
- Basic Kitchen
- Butcher & Bee
- Chasing Sage
- Huriyali Gardens
- Neon Tiger
- Pink Cactus
- The Grocery
Our Pick: If we had to pick just one vegetarian-friendly restaurant in downtown Charleston, we’d choose the Pink Cactus. As you’ll see as this list goes on, we have a particular affinity for Mexican food, and the Pink Cactus does not disappoint. While finding street parking nearby can be challenging on busy nights, this vegetarian-friendly restaurant is well within walking distance of several of the parking garages downtown. Butcher & Bee is a good option for date night, and 82 Queen is one of a handful of go-to restaurants for special occasions.
James Island and Folly Beach Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants
James Island and Folly Beach each have several vegetarian-friendly restaurants as well. This includes a couple of vegetarian restaurants on Center Street at the beach, as well as cuisine options ranging from Mexican to Thai. While most of James Island’s vegetarian-friendly restaurants are concentrated on Maybank Highway, there are also various options scattered throughout the island. Some of the best options include:
- Azul Mexicano
- Coastal Crust
- Chico Feo
- Crust Wood Fired Pizza
- Lost Dog Café
- Jack of Cups
- Rita’s Seaside Grille (breakfast & brunch)
- Taco Boy
- Thai Elephants
- Zia Taqueria
Our Pick: If we had to pick just one vegetarian-friendly restaurant on James Island or at Folly Beach, we’d have to go with Taco Boy. At its new location, eating at Taco Boy is very much a dinner-at-the-beach experience, especially in the evening with a warm ocean breeze. The ingredients are fresh, and the tempura avocado tacos are worth the drive to Folly Beach alone. We’ll also add Jack of Cups as a very close second. In fact, it’s pretty much a toss-up. At Jack of Cups, the entire menu is vegetarian, and there are multiple vegan options as well. Flavors range from Thai peanut and ginger to tofu with cumin and cilantro.
Johns Island and Kiawah Island Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants
Johns Island has seen several new restaurants open on Crowne Commons Way (near the intersection of River Road and Maybank Highway) over the past couple of years. These restaurants complement the existing vegetarian-friendly options on Kiawah Island at Freshfields Village. Our picks for vegetarian-friendly restaurants to try on Johns Island and Kiawah Island include:
- Cabana Burgers & Shakes
- Cantina 76
- Fiji Sushi
- Island Provisions
- KISS Café
- La Tela Pizzeria
- Minero Mexican Grill & Cantina
- King Street Grille
- Tolli’s Trattoria
- Wild Olive
Our Pick: If we had to pick just one vegetarian-friendly restaurant on Johns Island or at Freshfields on Kiawah Island, we’d go with La Tela Pizzeria in Freshfields Village. The atmosphere is chic but casual and understated, and the wood fired pizzas are excellent. They also have a variety of vegetarian-friendly pasta options, and you can get an espresso and tiramisu for dessert. But, if you’re in the mood for French fries, King Street Grille has some of the best waffle fries you’ll find anywhere.
Mount Pleasant Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants
Along with the peninsula, Mount Pleasant is also home to some of the most popular vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Charleston. You can’t go wrong at Basil or Five Loaves Café, and The Pickled Palate is a local favorite. The vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Mount Pleasant are scattered throughout the area, so you can pick one and explore its surroundings, or choose one to visit on your way to (or from) Sullivan’s Island or Isle of Palms.
- Five Loaves Café
- Page’s Okra Grill (breakfast & brunch)
- SOL Mt. Pleasant
- Tavern & Table
- The Mustard Seed
- The Pickled Palate
- Vicious Biscuit
Our Pick: If we had to pick just one vegetarian-friendly restaurant in Mount Pleasant, we’d go with Tavern & Table. While this Shem Creek restaurant doesn’t have a ton of vegetarian-friendly dishes, the setting and view make up for the lack of options. This is why we picked it for our recent feature, A Restaurant a Night: Dining Out for a Week in Charleston. Sit outside if you can, and enjoy watching the boats go by as the sun goes down over Charleston. Alternatively, if you are in the mood for brunch, Five Loaves Café is definitely a good place to go.
Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants
While Sullivan’s Island is pretty well known for having a selection of highly desirable restaurants on Middle Street, Isle of Palms’ restaurants don’t seem to get as much attention. But, both of these sea islands have vegetarian-friendly options for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Options for vegetarians on Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms include:
- Coastal Provisions
- High Thyme Cuisine
- Mex 1 Coastal Cantina
- Papi’s Taqueria
- The Co-op
- The Dinghy
- The Longboard (breakfast & brunch)
- The Obstinate Daughter
- The Refuge
- Woody’s Eatery
Our Pick: If we had to pick just one vegetarian-friendly restaurant on Sullivan’s Island or Isle of Palms, we’d have lunch at The Co-op. We’re suckers for a quality sandwich, and The Co-op’s Veggie Sammie is a good one. Plus, they now offer boat charters that cruise down the ICW for a view of the Charleston skyline. If you are looking for a more refined (but not too refined) dining experience, The Obstinate Daughter is one of the most well-known local restaurants outside of downtown Charleston.
West Ashley Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants
As West Ashley continues its come up, more vegetarian-friendly restaurants are coming to the area. Dellzville on Ashley River Road is widely regarded as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Charleston, and there are options of various cuisines throughout the area. A surprise, for many, on the list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in West Ashley is Boxcar Betty’s. While this local favorite is known for its deep fried chicken sandwiches, you can substitute a pimento cheese-stuffed portobello mushroom cap.
- Agave Mexican Cantina
- Boxcar Betty’s
- Mellow Mushroom
- Metro Diner
- Red Orchids
- Senor Tequila’s
- Taco Bartina
- The Gathering Café
- Three Little Birds Café
Our Pick: If we had to pick just one vegetarian-friendly restaurant in West Ashley, we’d go with Taco Bartina. Did we mention we like Mexican food? The burritos, tacos, and nachos are all good options, and the tres leches cake is not to be missed. Pair it with a Mexican Coke for a decadent dessert. If you’re not as big a Mexican food fan as we are, then check out Three Little Birds Café. Located on Windermere Boulevard, this small stand-alone café offers fresh wraps, sandwiches, salads, and more.
Can you believe it? That’s 60 vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Charleston, and there are plenty more we could add to the list. While finding new places to eat as a vegetarian or vegan in Charleston requires some creativity, you’ve now got a list (and a map) to help you on your culinary adventure. To be clear, we did not leave any restaurants off of this list for any particular reason—and, again, we know there are plenty more. Rather, we chose to list 10 vegetarian-friendly restaurants in each of the six geographic areas above based in large part on our own experience as vegetarians living in Charleston.
What is your favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurant in Charleston? If you don’t see it on this list, let us know!