In April, satirical news source The Onion posted an article titled “Vegetarian Begins Sad, Private Routine of Scanning Menu for Little Green V’s.” The piece, which ends with the punchline of a diner ultimately settling for an order of steamed broccoli and a baked potato, is relatable to anyone who either skips meat entirely in their diet or otherwise enjoys it in limited quantities.
At many restaurants, finding a meatless entree that is flavorful, healthy, and filling can be a challenge. But as the culinary landscape in Greenville continues to evolve and incorporate a variety of cultural influences, meat-free diners can rest assured that there’s something out there for them, too.
The Greenville Journal compiled an array of local eateries that offer an assortment of meatless dishes.
Aryana | Cuisine: Afghan | Price: $
As Greenville’s first and only Afghan restaurant, Aryana is one of the more distinct establishments in the city’s range of dining options. The restaurant’s rotating menu of six dishes, served cafeteria style, is announced daily on their Facebook page and displayed on an outdoor sandwich board. Plates are priced at $9.60 for adults and $5.50 for kids. Every day, Aryana serves vegan and vegetarian options. A recent offering included Bonjon (diced eggplant stewed with tomatoes and onions and topped with cilantro); Kabuli Palau (cumin-spiced long-grain rice with carrots, raisins, almonds); and Nakhod (spiced chickpeas). For an extra pop of flavor, a cilantro-based green chutney can be added to any dish.
ASADA | Cuisine: Latin American | Price: $
ASADA serves contemporary Latin American cuisine inspired by the celebrated street food of San Francisco’s Mission District. ASADA’s meatless offerings include a taco ($5), quesadilla ($6.50), burrito ($7.50), and nachos ($7), with each dish incorporating cilantro-lime rice, cumin-garlic black beans, melted queso, pico de gallo, and sour cream. The brunch menu, served every Saturday from 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., also includes unique vegetarian dishes, such as a Latin-style vegetable okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake.
Happy + Hale | Cuisine: New American | Price: $
Happy + Hale’s menu fully embraces the emerging trend of single-bowl meals. These filling dishes contain varying textures and bold, complementary flavors. Moreover, with the use of colorful, fresh ingredients, bowls have a reputation of being an ideal fit for the health-conscious. At Happy + Hale, options for veggie lovers include the Ensa-Lot-A ($8.95, romaine, black beans, roasted red peppers, corn, diced onions, cilantro, baby radishes, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, tortilla crunch, avocado cilantro dressing) and the Quinoa Bowl ($7.95, golden quinoa, diced tomatoes, black beans, diced red onions, feta cheese, avocado, cilantro, tortilla crunch, red pepper vinaigrette).
Pita House | Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern | Price: $
For many, the concept of deep-frying is most closely associated with the latest zany dessert debuting at the county fair. But at Pita House, falafel — deep-fried balls of chickpeas — is the key protein in the restaurant’s heartiest meat-free dish. The Vegetarian Plate ($6.99) includes hummus, falafel, baba ghanoush, and tabouli salad. There aren’t many better deals in town.
Pomegranate on Main | Cuisine: Persian | Price: $$
With its Persian cuisine, Pomegranate on Main is a rare find in Greenville’s culinary scene — and a restaurant that caters to those foregoing meat. The menu features three distinct vegetarian options: the Veggie Kabob ($17, eggplant, tomato, Portobello mushroom, pineapple, bell pepper, onion); Bademjan Stew ($16, slow-cooked pan-fried eggplant in a tomato stew); and Fesenjan Stew ($16, sautéed Portobello mushrooms slow-cooked in ground walnuts and pomegranate).
Basil Thai | Cuisine: Thai | Price: $$
At Basil Thai, all entrees can be made vegetarian when paired with tofu, such as the Vegetables Delight ($15.50, green beans, bean sprouts, snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, Napa cabbage, soy sauce) and the Sweet and Sour ($15.50, onions, bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes, pineapples, scallions). The restaurant’s three curry dishes are all designated as vegetarian, as are some of the noodles and rice offerings.
Roost | Cuisine: New American | Price: $$
With its emphasis on using fresh, in-season, and local ingredients, Roost’s menu isn’t completely static. But one component that remains is the small subsection of vegetarian fare. Current selections include a Wild Mushroom “Naked” Pasta ($19, mushroom fettuccine from Naked Pasta, local mushrooms, roasted garlic broth, peppers, onions); “Zpaghetti” and Veat Balls ($19, three-bean “meatballs,” roasted tomato basil puree, julienned squash “noodles,” micro green salad); and a Vegetable Curry Bowl (mild massaman coconut curry, basmati rice, garden vegetables). Add tofu to any dish for $4.
SWAD Restaurant & Store | Cuisine: Indian | Price: $
If you’re not looking for SWAD, you just might miss it. Housed in a nondescript strip mall on Laurens Road, SWAD offers a rarity in Greenville: a completely vegetarian menu. The restaurant serves up a plethora of traditional Indian dishes, including Chana Masala ($6.95, chickpeas cooked in curry, tomatoes, onions, basmati rice) and Mumbai Pau Bhaji ($6.50, onions, tomatoes, peas, potatoes, spicy curry, nan). SWAD’s daily special is the Thali plate ($7.99–$8.50), which includes two vegetables, dal (lentils), whole-wheat roti or nan, rice, and either papad (a lentil crisp) or cucumber raita (yogurt dip).
Swamp Pizza | Cuisine: Pizza | Prizza: $$
Pepperoni and sausage are classic toppings on pizza, but a nice helping of veggies can also go a long way toward upgrading a pie. At Swamp Pizza, the pizza venture from local veggie-centric Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery, vegetarian choices rotate depending on the season. However, there are two meatless pizzas always on the menu: the Margherita (sauce from local tomatoes, Tyger River Smart Farm basil, Blue Ridge Creamery mozzarella, salt and pepper) and the Swamp Veggie (sauce from local tomatoes, Bio-Way Farm eggplant, local bell peppers, local cherry tomatoes, organic red onions, Crescent Farm basil, house-made pesto, organic balsamic vinaigrette, Forx Farm gouda and parmesan cheeses). The toppings of the Swamp Veggie pizza vary with in-season ingredients.
White Duck Taco Shop | Cuisine: New American, Mexican | Price: $
White Duck Taco Shop, located at Hampton Station, is primarily known for two things: low prices and quick service. It’s also an appreciated addition for those who continue to search menus for filling meat-free options. White Duck’s vegetarian taco options, all priced at $3.65, include the traditional Black Bean (cheddar, lettuce, pico, tomato salsa); Mushroom Potato (romesco sauce, pico de fallo, feta cheese); and Asian-influenced Banh Mi Tofu (daikon and carrot slaw, sambal aoli, ginger glaze).
Willy Taco | Cuisine: Tex-Mex | Price: $$
If you’re looking for meatless options, a note on Willy Taco’s menu above their 10 taco options will likely catch your attention: “Vegetarian? Make any taco a tofu taco.” But if tofu is on your list of foods to avoid, Willy Taco offers a couple more meat-free options, including the Crispy Avocado Taco ($3.70, tempura-battered avocado, shaved cabbage, sweet chili sauce, microgreens, toasted sesame seeds, house crema, pico) and the Nitty Gritty Bowl ($8.50, jalapeno cheddar grits, quajillo braised collards, grilled street corn, chipotle ranch, frizzled onions, queso fresco, pico, chopped cilantro).
Yellow Ginger | Cuisine: Thai, Chinese | Price: $$
With a choice to add tofu to over 20 entrees, meat-free diners may find themselves in an unfamiliar situation at Yellow Ginger: having too many options. Familiar dishes at the restaurant include Pad Thai (rice noodles, egg, tofu, bean sprouts in soy tamarind sauce with ground peanuts, red chili flakes, lime wedge); Kung Pao (tofu, onion, green onion, peanuts, dried chili pepper sauce); and Tangy Teriyaki (tofu, onion, bell pepper, carrots, green onion, pineapple, teriyaki sauce), among several others.