Our Plant-Based Nashville Restaurant Guide

This month we are officially celebrating two years of living in Nashville, and I honestly can't believe it! So many insane life changes (aside from moving cross-country) have taken place since the move, and it blows my mind to even think about our little Phoenix being a native to Music City. Born and raised! 

we eat ze plants

It's no secret that over in our household, plant-based eating is one of our many passions. I've put off doing our official guide to Nashville restaurants because in all honesty, we go through spells of not eating out at all. We've also shifted our diets around quite a bit (all I craved in the beginning of pregnancy was egg and cheese sandwiches) in the past two years, but are both currently eating 99% plant-based.

hey, i thought you were gluten-free!

After dealing with a pretty miserable bout of digestive distress in the summer of 2013, I went strictly gluten-free to see if things would change for me. As with any huge dietary shift, things did -- initially. Within six months of making the change, the positive things I noticed began to dissolve and I was left once more with terrible IBS-D and painful bloating. I could tell the gluten-free lifestyle was never going to be the end-all/cure-all for me, but I was still pretty into the literature exposing commercially produced wheat products and their long-term effect on our overall health. 

Fast-forward to 2017. Not only did I try out a blood-test that let me in on my permanent food intolerances (garlic, vanilla, and cane sugar -- apparently I tolerate wheat just fine), but we also discovered that I was pregnant! I struggled pretty intensely with pregnancy-related nausea for the first sixteen weeks of my pregnancy and finally decided to give organic sprouted bread a try. AFTER ALMOST FOUR YEARS. 

Personally, I have still yet to have a negative experience with re-incorporating some gluten-containing foods into my life. It's definitely a food I eat in moderation, but I have absolutely benefited from the convenience of daily avocado toast during this pregnancy. 

so what about nash eats?

The reason I wanted to back it up and describe my personal food preferences is to kind of show you that I've had the experience of dining through a strict gluten-free lens for the majority of two years in addition to avoiding meat, dairy, and eggs. 

We live in East Nashville with most of our friends, and we don't typically drive around trying every restaurant, so this is by no means our final list. This list will be a comprehensive summary of both mine and Collin's favorite spots so far and what we like to order broken up into:

  • non-veg options for outings with friends (NVO)
  • gluten-free options (GF)
  • soy-free options (SF)
  • raw vegan options (RV)
  • vegetarian (V)
  • vegan or can-be-made vegan (VG)
  • different price level $, $$, $$$
  • cocktails (C) or beer and wine (BW)

the wild cow (GF, V, VG, SF, BW, $)

The Wild Cow is first on this list by no mistake. This is 100% our favorite place to go, and we hit it up a minimum of once a week. We've taken friends and family here for casual hangouts, but we typically just pull a no-makeup-or-shower date night here. I've tried about half of the menu, but we typically get the same things every time. In fact, Collin ordered his burrito the same way so many times that they added it to the menu like that! The vibe is very casual and loud, not glamorous or trendy (literally, there are photos of animals all over the place and kelly green walls), and the portions are huge for what you pay for. My favorite! This restaurant is vegetarian and only offers cheese, not eggs.

Where: East Nashville

What we get: I get the Buffalo Beans & Greens (pictured) with extra kale and ranch on the side with their iced hibiscus tea, and Collin gets the Chipotle Black Bean Burrito *wet style* (smothered in vegan queso and barbecue sauce) with a side of buffalo tempeh and whatever local IPA they have.

Honorable mentions: Chickpea Salad (with ginger-miso dressing), Caesar salad with a grilled portobello mushroom, and their soy-free Veggie Burger with a side of garlicky kale.

graze (VG, RV, GF, SF, C, BW, $)

Graze is our double-date staple! It's the sister restaurant to the Wild Cow and it opened just last summer. The menu isn't as large as the Wild Cow, and it's completely different aesthetically, but the prices are pretty low for the quality of the food! This restaurant is completely vegan which is awesome if you have a dairy or egg allergy. 

Where: East Nashville

What we get: Citrus Caesar Salad (pictured) with Hot Tempeh + House Moscow Mule (Karsyn), Burrito con Papas with a side of mashed potatoes + House Margarita or local vegan IPA (Collin)

avo (GF, SF, RV, VG, C, BW, $$)

AVO is definitely a destination vegan spot that I've noticed has gotten really popular online -- which is awesome because the food is AMAZING. Personally, this place a bit too pricey for us to visit frequently, but we have made it a point to go on dates here or splurge for special occasions. I should clarify that when you go here, you want to get fancy drinks and appetizers, not just two meals and a check!

We were invited to their new menu tasting last year (I think their old head chef left) as they were transitioning from strictly raw vegan to more of an inclusive vegan menu, and we were blown away. Collin isn't a huge fan of the food, only because everything is really vegetable heavy (no french fries or vegan queso here), but he has managed to find something he likes besides just their avocado margarita. I will say my favorite thing on the menu is one cocktail they have with fresh hibiscus tea and chia seeds! It's divine.

Where: West Nashville

What we get: Kimchi Spring Rolls, Pad Thai, Zucchini Pasta Verde, AVOcado margarita, Raw Cinnamon Roll, coffee with house Almond milk, daily dessert.

dose (NVO, V, VG, C, BW, $$)

Dose is an awesome option if you're looking for a place to have a professional meeting or get some work done on your laptop. Originally a coffee shop in West Nashville, Dose opened a second location in Inglewood with a lot more pizzaz.  I will say this cafe has way more options if you are a gluten-eating vegetarian than if you are a strict gluten-free vegan, but either way you should be able to find something to munch on. 

Where: Inglewood

What we get: Seasonal avocado toast (minus feta) + iced 12oz almond milk chai (K), a dozen fried Tofu "wings" with dipping sauce + 8oz iced almond milk latte (C)

rose pepper (NVO, V, VG, GF, C, BW, $)

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I did say this was our list -- not just mine. Any Nashville favs list of Collins that doesn't include Rosepepper is just a down-right lie! This place is definitely known for it's clever outdoor sign, long wait times (no reservations!), and big margaritas. I wouldn't categorize it as a "health-conscious" place to eat, but when I found out their refried beans are vegan without the tiny sprinkle of cheese, I was sold. Well, kind of. I am currently 28 weeks pregnant and this was one of my random cravings spots in the beginning of my pregnancy -- so now the thought of it makes me kind of nauseous. Hopefully, I'll move past it!

This place is cheap, the chips and salsa are free, and there are a ton of options for vegetarians. Trying to make sure things are vegan can get a little complicated, but the servers definitely seem to know the menu through-and-through and can help you navigate!

Where: East Nashville

What we get: De La Vegetables Fajitas (no sour cream) with corn tortillas and black beans (K), Veggie Burrito with no sour cream + House Margarita...or two (C)

italia (NVO, GF, V, VG, $$)

Italia is easily my favorite pizza place in Nashville, though I think Collin would fight me on it (you'll find his further down). They offer daiya cheese and gluten-free crust, but I don't think the gf crust is also egg-free. If you are a GF vegetarian or gluten-eating vegan, they have you covered as their house crust is vegan.

Where: East Nashville

What we get: Drag-it-through-the-garden pizza + pineapple with vegan cheese on gluten-free crust. 

the smiling elephant (NVO, GF, V, VG, $$)

The Smiling Elephant is an award-winning thai restaurant in Nashville that has tons of vegetarian-friendly dishes and also random photos of celebrities all over the walls. I think it's safe to say that it's a Nashville favorite. This, again, was an early pregnancy pleaser for me and I've personally avoided it since then, but I know it was absolutely divine when I had it. 

The portions are awesome, a ton of vegan options if you just ask your server, and so so SO full of flavor.

Where: 8th Ave S

What we get: Daily curry with tofu + vegetables & a peanut roll (K), Vegetable + Tofu Pad Thai with rice noodles (C)

lynne lorraine's (V, VG, SF, GF, RVO, $$)


Lynne Lorraine's is actually a plant-base juice bar and cafe owned by a friend of ours, and we absolutely love the food! Collin has worked the bar there in the past (as have I a couple of times) and we can vouch that Chad (the owner) uses tons of fresh ingredients and tries to be as transparent as possible with the quality of the foods. 

This spot is only open until 4PM, so it's definitely more of a breakfast or lunch stop, but I've been known to grab that late-afternoon pick-me-up!

Where: East Nashville

What we get: Pitaya Bowl + granola, kiwi, pineapple, cashew butter, black bean brownie (K), Smoked Almond Chickpea Wrap no mustard, Inglenook juice (C)

chauhan (NVO, GF, V, VG, C, BW, $$$)

Chauhan is definitely one of the more pricey picks on the list (we dropped $75 just getting entrees and a drink a piece one time), but it's so fun for a special occasion! It's Indian-fusion brought to you by the well-known Maneet Chauhan (um, judge on Chopped) with a fresh and bright take on the traditional cuisine. 

They have a full vegetarian menu available to you upon request, badass cocktails, and killer Bollywood vibes. Personally, I had a hard time initially finding a vegetarian dish fully dairy-free, but just make sure you talk to your server. They're really helpful!

Where: The Gulch

What we get: Veg & Three to split + extra side of rice and Daal of the day, Collin loves to order their flight of beers and try a bunch of different ones!

five points pizza (NVO, V, VG, BW, $)

Remember when I mentioned Collin's favorite pizza was coming? Here it is! Five Points Pizza is definitely a staple for most Nash residents, and luckily, they have vegan options! I would be lying if I said Collin gets the vegan pizza (this is his one dairy indulgence) and they don't have a gluten-free option, so honestly, I've never tried it.

BUT if you are a gluten-eating vegan or vegetarian, this is the spot to try! It's all very reasonably priced and you can get cheese pizza by the slice, even at midnight!

Where: East Nashville

What we get: Cheese pizza by the slice (Collin)

the post (NVO, V, VG, GF, SF, RVO, $$)

Last, but definitely not least, The Post! This honestly could be at the top of the list, and that's why these aren't numbered lol! This place is definitely one of those tucked away gems, and we used to frequent it every single day when we lived in the neighborhood.

The Post has everything you need from cold-pressed juices to homestyle biscuits (v & gf!) and even my favorite vegan brunch food! This is an awesome place to get a little music in on the weekends with their Blue Grass Brunch (#allthefiddles) while you sip your almond-milk matcha latte and eat your vegan and gf waffle as big as your head. It's also not very hip and trendy at all, but it makes a really good meet-up spot for an old friend or even a new business endeavor! It can definitely seem a little pricey if you pull out all the stops (coffee, juice, a pastry, two meals), but it's an order and take a number kind of joint with real organic food. I say it's 100% worth it!

Did I mention I met and chatted with one of the owners, Tonya, and she was so unbelievably sweet. Definitely an amazing place to go.

Where: East Nashville 

What we get: What don't we get?! LOL! Any of their vegan sandwiches on fresh, house-made GF bread, their waffle (it's GF & V) with vegan butter + real syrup, house-made sweet potato biscuits (V & GF) with jam and a veggie sausage patty, Breakfast Kimchi Bowl (sub eggs with tempeh bacon), Cinnamon roll (GF & V), and ANY of their GF & V cookies!

Boom! These are all of the places we've tried and had success with, personally. There are absolutely more restaurants that have vegan options we haven't gotten to try yet (The Southern V being one I'm dying to try), but hopefully I'll update this in the future or do another post. Let us know if you give any of them a try!