After counting the fourth passenger carrying a guitar in the terminal, I quickly realized that Nashville was a special place. As we passed airport shops of Nashville souvenirs and posters of local musical venues on the walls of Terminal C, I began to get very excited about the adventures on which we were about to embark. I was also eager to check out Nashville’s vegan scene.
Before joining the hilariously fun Nash Trash Tour (which we highly recommend), we enjoyed our first meal in Nashville at Jamaicaway Restaurant & Catering at Midtown (1812 Hayes Street). It’s a very relaxed casual restaurant with a variety of vegan options.
The friendly and knowledgeable waitress told us that all the vegetarian items on the menu were also vegan except for the eggplant parmesan. Each entree comes with 2 sides; all the sides are vegan with the exception of the cheesy mashed potatoes and the johnnycake.
We chose the Curry Tofu with green beans and fried plantains, and the Jerk Gluten with sweet potatoes and plantains. Everything was well-prepared and very flavorful.
Before heading over to the Marathon Village to check out the Antiques Roadshow Store, we had a fabulous lunch at Vege-licious Cafe. This small eatery with a sitting-in-your-Grandma’s-kitchen feel is housed in the back of a large house so be sure to look for the sign out front or you will miss it. Adding to the ambience of this locale the owner and waitress is extremely welcoming and is happy to share her inspirations behind the dishes.
We finally decided on the Not-BLT Po Boy (one of my favorite po-boys and that’s saying something because we just recently tried many versions of them in New Orleans), the BBQ Chick’n Wrap and the Gyro. And we also could not resist their sides of yams and mac and cheese.
Always wanting to try a new kind of drink I asked about the Sorrel on the menu. It turns out that it’s a traditional Jamaican holiday drink made of hibiscus flowers and was delicious, along with their homemade ginger beer, which opened up all the taste buds in my mouth!
E+Rose Wellness Cafe
I was really excited to explore Nashville’s famous Country Music Hall of Fame, where I was to learn all about the origins of country music and the incredible journey this genre has taken throughout the years.
But first things first – we had to start the day off with a great vegan breakfast at Our E+Rise Wellness Cafe. Within one step into the small casual semi-serve restaurant two things become abundantly clear: they are focused on healthy eating and they are very creative in doing so.
I could not resist the avocado toast with local sprouts, crushed red pepper and cashews. If you are looking for a sweeter option you can’t go wrong with the baked apple toast with roasted almond butter, sliced apples, cinnamon and chia seeds. Both were delicious and a great way to start the day.
E+Rise also has plenty of already-made drinks to go, which was perfect for our walk to the Country Music Hall of Fame afterward. We selected the cold snap which contained apple, ginger, mint, kale, spinach, parsley and chard and the cold brew, a cold brew coffee with cashews, cinnamon, dates, vanilla bean and coconut oil. Even though they both were cold, they kept us energized for the rest of the morning.
Before going to a concert at Nashville’s famous Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Theater, we celebrated Mindy’s birthday at Graze Restaurant. As we stepped out of our Lyft the first thing we noticed about Graze was the prominent Pride flag in the window. We felt welcomed before we even stepped inside the restaurant.
It turned out that it wasn’t just the welcoming atmosphere that we loved about what quickly became our favorite vegan restaurant in this Midwest city. We had an incredible meal at Graze Nashville.
We started with their ChoriQueso (cashew cheese sauce with seitan chorizo with tortilla chips) and Szechuan Brussel Sprouts for appetizers. Our mains included the Green Chile Burrito and the Patty Melt, with potato salad and chickpea salad as sides. We purposely took half of our mains home to save room for dessert.
Although we couldn’t locate a dessert menu online, we were so happy to discover that they indeed to have a plethora of delicious desserts.
We tried three: peppermint bark cheesecake (they have a rotating cheesecake selection), creme brulée and brownie with ice cream.
The following morning we had planned to go to the Southern V for Sunday morning brunch but when we got there, a sign on the door read that they were closed until the day after we were to leave. So, we headed over to Graze again to try their brunch menu. We’ll have to check out Southern V the next time we find ourselves in Nashville as their menu looked amazing.
Graze’s brunch menu featured so many delicious options, it was hard to decide what to get. With the help of our friendly waitress, we finally tried the oven fries (roasted potatoes, topped with cashew cheese, vegan sour cream, & green onions), tofu rancheros (tofu scramble, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, green onions and cilantro all served on two grilled corn tortillas), and the breakfast burrito (seitan chorizo, cashew cheese, tofu scramble, roasted potatoes, quinoa, spinach and hollandaise. served with guacamole salad). As expected, all were delicious!
Five Daughters Bakery
Located right next to Graze stands the Five Daughters Bakery. The employees were friendly and quick to point out the 4 vegan donut varieties: purist (vanilla bean glaze), huckleberry, chocolate peppermint, roasted strawberry and sprinkles. Not able to make a decision, we got one of each!
With full bellies we walked around corner from Graze and stepped inside Wild Cow, a mostly vegan restaurant (apparently they offer cow cheeses upon request). While we can’t attest to the food, the atmosphere seemed cozy with wonderful pictures of farm animals on the wall including a cow and pig. Hopefully, Wild Cow will stop offering animal products and live up to the peaceful message they seemed to be portraying.
312 Pizza Company
After exploring Nashville’s Johnny Cash Museum, we headed over to 312 Pizza Company in Germantown to meet some friends. They have a separate full vegan menu – just ask for it. This menu includes several kinds of deep dish and thin crust vegan pizzas, salads, sandwiches and some neat appetizers, including soft baked pretzels, potato skins and beer battered mushrooms.
In addition to the food, Mindy loved the sports atmosphere – they had several large TVs and Sunday night football was playing while we were there.
The Grilled Cheeserie
The next day we took a very educational free tour of Nashville’s Capitol Building before taking in a matinee of O Brother Where Art Thou? at Nashville’s historic Belcourt Theatre. We were delightfully surprised to see that there are many vegan options at the concession there from the popcorn made on the premises to the hummus and chips to a few cookies and muffins.
After the movie we walked just 3 minutes to the The Grilled Cheeserie, skeptical as to whether we could find anything vegan at an eatery with such a name.
It turned out that all the bread options are vegan (sourdough, multigrain and rosemary garlic), and they have one soup that is vegan (roasted pepper and tomato). Other vegan options included tater tots, some add-ons such as avocado and tomatoes, and one milk shake (vegan coconut shake). We confirmed that the chocolate sauce was also vegan.
While exploring Nashville’s Marathon Village, featuring local artists as well as the Antique Archeology Store, made famous by the American Pickers TV show on the History Channel, we saw a sign that read “free samples of whiskey and moonshine”. Curious about moonshine, we followed the sign and ended up in the Tennessee Legend Moonshine shop.
We confirmed that all their whiskeys and moonshines are vegan except for the creme liqueurs. All their whiskeys and moonshines are made of corn and the flavored ones, such as cinnamon, are made with a natural extract. I am also happy to report that no animals are used in the process of making their products.
We tried the coffee, which was the bar tenders’ favorite, apple pie, white lightning (pure moonshine) and my absolute favorite was the fiery mango margarita. First, I tasted the sweetness followed by the fieriness. We both liked it so much that we bought a bottle, even though we knew that meant us having to check a bag on the way home.
Nashville’s Farmer’s Market
The Farmer’s Market at 900 Rosa Parks Blvd comes up in any “Things to do in Nashville” search. I couldn’t find much information about vegan options at the market, however, so I went there hoping to do some of my own research. Here is what I found:
Outside the Main Hall
I came across a Thai food truck called Thai Ni Yom, that opened in the fall of 2018. The very friendly owners, Alex and Nikki, who are from Bangkok, told me that they come to the Farmer’s Market on Fridays and Saturdays. They said they can happily make any of their dishes vegan.
I met a man from Laurel Mountain Farm, who had a small table outside the main hall. They offered a variety of breads all of which are vegan except for the jalapeño cheddar.
Inside the Main Hall
I was happy to see that there is another Jamaica Way at the market offering vegan options.
Swagruha is a small Indian place offering hot food. They have two vegan options: chana masala (chick peas) and dal (lentils). The breads and the samosas are not vegan.
Music City Crepes offers a vegan crepe with whole wheat flour and soy milk for an additional dollar. All of the options on their menu, however, are not vegan so you have to order something and take out the cheese and/or pesto sauce, which I confirmed has parmesan cheese in it. I tried their veggie crepe without the cheese or pesto sauce and as a result my crepe was very dry. (I should have probably asked them to add hummus to make it more moist.) They also don’t seem to understand the concept of vegan because they wanted to grill the mushrooms in my order on the same grill as I had just seen her grilling the body parts of a chicken. I would not eat there again.
When I go back to the Farmer’s Market, I think I would eat at Green Asia, where 3 vegan options are on offer. The man who worked there pointed to the 3 options and, perhaps reading my mind, quickly explained that they were cooked separately and that they paid careful attention to not have meat dishes come in contact with them.
Succulent Vegan Tacos is sometimes available at the Farmer’s Market as well. An employee at the market told me that they were on a rotating schedule of who gets the main spot in the food hall. We weren’t so lucky on the day we visited.
A Word About Cowboy Boots
If you visit Nashville’s Broadway Street, you will hear lots of live music, see lots of souvenir shops and be bombarded with boot shops where they sell a variety of cowboy boots. Unfortunately, these shops offer boots with skins from all sorts of animals from cows to alligators to snakes to ostriches and even stingrays.
And so, I set out to find vegan cowboy boots. I went into Boots Trail West, Boot Country and Boot Barn on Broadway Street. The man at the first location showed me four styles of non-leather boots (that unfortunately weren’t cowboy boots). When I told him I was doing research for a vegan travel blog he began mansplaining to me what vegan means and then cracked a stupid joke that some of the leather they used were from vegan animals.
The salesman at the second locale explained that having non-leather boots in the store would actually make customers question whether all the boots were non-leather and would be bad for business as genuine leather was a very important selling point. He was friendly and even wished me luck on my journey to find vegan cowboy boots.
At the third and final boot store I entered I was met with two very friendly women who explained that they didn’t carry any non-leather boots and confirmed that I would be hard-pressed to find any in Nashville. They said they hadn’t had any demand for such a product. (So if you go to Nashville please enter as many boot shops as possible asking for non-leather cowboy boots.)
Some advice that I was given when shopping around for vegan cowboy boots was to be careful to read the entire tag because many boots have some leather and non-leather parts. For example, the part that goes up your calf might be made with synthetic materials but the part on the top of the foot could be the skin of an animal.
If the amazing country scene of Nashville leads you to want to purchase cowboy boots, you can buy them from Kat Mendenhall, who was featured at the Nashville VegFest. You can special order one of her many styles of vegan hand-made cowboy boots.
Like in so many locations around the world, being vegan in Nashville is rapidly becoming easier. So you can enjoy the amazing music while experiencing the awesome variety of vegan food that Nashville has to offer.