“You know Memphis is the land of BBQ — I think your vegan options will be quite limited,” a friend cautioned after I shared that I was planning to visit the birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll for a conference.
The dreaded thought was honestly in the back of my mind.
Was this trip going to be like visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — maybe a few random tacos and a Beyond Burger, if I’m lucky? So, I took to Google to dispel my fears and was pleasantly surprised to see the little red silverware flags pop up on the map, signaling that maybe it’s not just about BBQ after all.
While the little red flags of vegan eats weren’t as densely populated as, say, LA or NYC (but, honestly, who can really compete with those guys?), they still provided hope — the vegan movement is growing in unexpected places, and I won’t go hungry — hooray!
The Memphis vegan scene has a little bit of everything to delight your palate — waffles for breakfast, raw eats for a nutrient boost, and even BBQ and fried chick’n — you won’t feel left out! To ensure you don’t miss out on one tasty beet, check out these six restaurants in Memphis for vegan food (plus gluten-free options!).
If you plan to check out more of Tennessee, be sure not to miss my one-day vegan itinerary to Nashville!
Memphis Restaurants with The Best Vegan Food
Visitors to the home of Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll will be delighted with a variety of vegan options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at these vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants!
One note, they are spread out throughout Memphis, so it would be helpful to have a car, but Uber and Lyft are great options too. Also, if you only have one day in Memphis, this itinerary will ensure you don’t miss all the best vegan spots and things to do!
#1 Raw Girls
150 S. Second Street, Suite 118, Memphis, TN
If you’re staying in downtown Memphis, you’re in for a treat! This bright and inviting raw café opens early and is ready to greet you with a delicious latte (add a scoop of chocolatey cacao for something extra special), overnight oats, juices, and more. Everything they serve is vegan and gluten-free, so no worries about fretting over the menu.
At lunch, come back and check out their lineup of fresh, crunchy salads, bowls, and even sweet desserts! I found myself here multiple times — not only is the food an outstanding balance between healthy and tasty, but the staff will go out of their way to ensure you love what you try, even if that means multiple samples.
669 S Highland St, Memphis, TN 38111
You know the feeling when you go somewhere, and you’re not really hungry, but then you see the menu, and you just can’t help yourself? Well, that’s the exact feeling of walking into Plant-Based Heat!
This Black-owned vegan restaurant serves up good ole American classics, with plenty of gluten-free options! So, how could I say no? Plus, they’re also coming up on their first anniversary — I feel like my overindulgence was in celebration!
Their menu features burgers fully loaded with house-made sauces, caramelized onions, cheese, and much more, but if you’re not really feeling like a burger, then check out their crispy oyster mushroom basket, finger-licking cauliflower wings (get them tossed in Agave Gold — the sweet heat with a mustardy tang is downright addictive!), or get in the BBQ spirit with their BBQ jackfruit for a little sweet Memphis smoke! Who said that vegans were missing out on the Memphis BBQ scene? I think not — we’re only skipping out on the cruelty!
2158 Young Ave, Memphis, TN 38104
This family-owned café is a beacon of compassion in a sea of BBQ joints. From the happy farm animal murals that cover the walls to the giant stop eating animals sign, it’s evident that they take their job of providing a cruelty-free environment seriously. While vegan visitors to Memphis might think they will have to forgo any Southern comfort food, that’s not the case here.
The menu features an eclectic mix of hearty fare that is bound to put a smile on your face — hush puppies, potato skins, fried chick’n, BBQ brisket, and so much more. And, what’s even better is, if you’re vegan and gluten-free, you’re not going to be left out in the cold (although, does it really get that cold in Memphis!?).
You can’t go wrong starting with a Funky Monkey (peanut butter and banana smoothie) and then fire it up with a spicy buffalo chick’n sandwich — don’t worry, it’s not five-alarm spicy, just a nice kick to get you going. Don’t forget to save a little room for dessert, specifically their giant, fudgy brownie covered in peanut butter and chocolate — this is one treat you won’t want to share.
One note, don’t miss their vegan brunch on Saturday and Sunday (served until 3 pm)!
327 S Main St, Memphis, TN 38103
Just a few blocks past the heart of Blues, Beales Street, is this game-changing dining spot for all of my vegan and gluten-free friends! Not only do they have a filling vegan menu for breakfast and lunch, but everything in the café is gluten-free! Man, I was bummed that I didn’t make it here sooner, so I made up for it and came twice in one day (I was testing the boundaries of my eating capacity!)?
Kick off your day with savory breakfast tacos (Just Egg, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, salsa, and Violife cheese), or get a little sweet with a peanut butter banana or cinnamon sugar donut waffle (did you just read that twice in disbelief? A cinnamon sugar donut waffle IS a real thing!). And, if that doesn’t make you smile, then drinking your coffee out of a friendly Darth Vadar mug might — guess you’ll just have to go to see what I mean!
4571 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116
Just down the street from the second most-visited house in America, Graceland, is this family-owned restaurant serving up flavorful plates of African cuisines (along with a few traditional American options).
Their vegan-friendly menu even brings in some locals twice a week — how’s that for a rave review? The “All About Vegan” section of the menu features staples like vegan nuggets, burgers, and quesadillas, but skip right on over that and check out their flavorful veganized African dishes.
Dishes like creamy Maafee (peanut stew cooked with carrots and cabbage) or Saka Saka (braised spinach with onions) beat a veggie burger any day, in my opinion! If you can’t decide what to order, Bala’s has an answer: The Vegan Plate! Load up on multiple dishes with various sides (don’t miss their sweet plantains — like little bites of sweet heaven).
#6 Slider Inn
363 Mulberry St, Memphis, TN 38103
2117 Peabody Ave, Memphis, TN 38104
A whole menu devoted to sliders? I immediately thought this place wouldn’t have anything vegan, but it looked so cool — it’s built inside an old garage (downtown location), so I just had to check it out. Exposed brick, and industrial lighting, give this place a real hipster-esque vibe. It’s the type of place you’d expect to see highlighted in tourism campaigns touting how cool Memphis is — it’s not a spot you’ll find just anywhere! And, aside from its aesthetics, lucky for you and me, they have vegan options!
Choose between a vegan Triple B, falafel (skip the dill yogurt), or classic PB & J slider and if you’re feeling hangry, add on an order of spicy vegan wings served with a special house-made vegan hot sauce and ranch! Aside from sliders, they pride themselves on an extensive cocktail lineup — on a hot day, a Jameson slushie (Jameson, fresh-squeezed lemonade, ginger beer, and bitters) will hit the spot!
Unfortunately, gluten-free friends, they don’t have gluten-free buns (I know, womp, womp), but they can wrap the sliders in romaine. I’m sure you wondered what’s up with the bun-less slider in the photo!
A Few More Spots for Vegan Food in Memphis
Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it everywhere — I should work on cloning myself — but there are a few more spots for vegan food in Memphis that you should add to your list. Many came recommended to me by locals!
Also, if you happen to be visiting another Tennessee hot spot — Nashville — be sure to check out the 11 best spots for vegan food there too!
Vegan-Friendly Hotel in Memphis
The vegan food scene hasn’t yet influenced the hotel scene in Memphis but I did find one locally owned B & B that is vegan-friendly! If you’d love to stay in a Victorian mansion, here’s your chance. After you book your reservation, reach out to them and let them know that you’re vegan.
The James Lee House
690 Adams Ave, Memphis, TN 38105