Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

The Traveling Vegan Gourmand Hits Charleston, South Carolina

Published on July 29, 2010 by   ·   15 Comments Pin It
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Eat Pure…A Monthly Taste: Sarah-Mai Miller is the foodie behind Eat Pure, a veg food + travel blog, she’ll be sharing her culinary adventures with us Monthly;

This month, I ventured to Charleston, South Carolina for the first time.   And although it was sweltering hot, I was completely mesmerized by its charm.   Incredible architecture, quaint neighborhoods, and warm ocean water…what could be better?

My first stop was The Southend Brewery and Smokehouse.   I know what you’re thinking…a smokehouse?   When traveling, it’s not all rainbows and vegan cupcakes.   Sometimes you have to eat at some not so veg-friendly establishments, especially when you have a husband and family who eat meat.   This requires you to speak up.   Make sure you tell your server that you’re vegan, don’t assume that because an item looks vegan that it is (restaurants love to smother veggies in butter – kindly ask for olive oil).   That said, I ordered the Vegetable Sandwich with some alterations – no mozzarella, fried green tomatoes or spinach and basil spread.   The vegan version is filled with a lovely smoked ratatouille, fresh tomatoes, portabello mushroom, onions, and lots of fresh lettuce on grilled Ciabatta.   Smoked ratatouille on a sandwich…who knew?

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A rooftop breakfast at The Harbourview Inn is a great way to start an exceptionally hot day.   If you ever have the pleasure of staying in this charming hotel, make sure to special request soy milk the night before.   They’re happy to provide it with advanced notice.

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After a long day at the beach, Papa Zuzu’s in Mount Pleasant is a splendid choice.   They have some amazing, incredibly fresh veggie options.   The Cucumber Salad is a refreshing way to start…cucumbers, red onion and lots of Greek dressing.

The Veggie Pita is absolutely delicious.   Its stuffed with all your favorite Greek flavors – cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, olives, peppers and oregano.   I ordered mine with a side of hummus – perfectly mouthwatering and oh so filling.


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My family rented a house in Mount Pleasant, very close to the local Farmers Market. Its held every Tuesday afternoon from April to October.   We found so many delectable fruits…nectarines, raspberries, blackberries and heirloom tomatoes. (There’s a Whole Foods nearby where you can find soy whipped cream and vegan cake to eat with your just picked fruit!)

You can even find local veg treats for your dogs from The Good Dog Bakery.   (Make sure to check the ingredients – not all products are vegan).

And raw fruit snacks from Nicole’s Nutty Goodness.   (Again, read the labels, some products contain whey protein).

And Peach Cider – perfect to sip on while you stroll through the market.

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Water’s Edge restaurant was recommended to us by a local couple.   It’s in a great location (hence the name) and you can often see dolphins swimming in the nearby bay.   The menu is mostly seafood based, but the Bruschetta can easily be ordered sans crab.   Count me in for anything with a balsamic reduction.

And they do feature a Vegetable Pasta on their menu, but we asked their chef for his recommendation for the three vegans at our table (my parents are also vegan).   He was more than happy to customize our main course, full of grilled potatoes, okra, asparagus, tomatoes, peppers and a side of white truffle cous cous.   This was amazing….chock full of flavor and texture.

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The following evening we headed to Virginia’s, a traditional southern restaurant in downtown Charleston.   The Grilled Pear and Frisee Salad is not to be missed.     The pear is so perfectly sweet and balanced with the frisee and sherry vinaigrette.   Just ask them to hold the blue cheese.

Again, we asked the chef for a customized vegan entree.     He created a lovely dish with bowtie pasta, grilled vegetables, and a spicy vinegar based sauce that almost tasted pickled…a brilliant way to infuse flavor.   Though this dish looks simple, it was full of spicy goodness.

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On our last day, while wondering through downtown, I stopped in Seeking Indigo, a wellness center that features raw food from The Sprout.   Although I went solely for the food, they also offer infared saunas, nutritional counseling, yoga, and massages.   Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to enjoy all that they offer, but I did get to taste The Sprout’s Raw Pad Thai and The Skinsaver with peach, pineapple, carrot and apple juices.   Crunchy and crisp – perfect on a hot day.

I was so pleasantly surprised with the vegan options in Charleston.   They may not be obvious at first, but the chefs I encountered were incredibly friendly and helpful with lots of Southern hospitality to spare.   Eating vegan in the South?   Completely doable.

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Readers Comments (15)

  1. Amy H. says:

    I spent a summer in Charleston as a vegan, and it was divine. The quality and quantity of vegetables astounded me, and people were more than gracious to adjust dishes for me. My favorite hangout was Gaulart et Maliclet Cafe, a French restaurant that offers a “three vegetables” plate that you can request cooked without butter. I ate there three or four times a week all summer!

  2. Laure says:

    More great pics !! Makes me hungry :)
    I wish i could have been there too

  3. Claire V says:

    Once again thanks for sharing such great places.
    The pictures are beautiful.
    I’d love to try the places you recommanded!

  4. Kathryn says:

    Beautiful photos! I wouldn’t have guessed there was so much vegan-friendly fare. Will definitely put this on my places to visit list!

  5. Barb says:

    Everything looks and sounds yummy. I’ve found that it’s usually not too hard to eat as a vegan and go to carnivore restaurants. Although, I have been to two restaurants where the kitchen and wait staff weren’t sure what dairy meant. At one restaurant the waitress didn’t know that cheese is a dairy product. Just this past week-end, the kitchen staff of a restaurant we were at thought eggs were dairy. (That’s a long story.) So, much as I hate to, I usually spell out what dairy means. But only twice have I been to carnivore restaurants where the staff obviously didn’t like the fact that I asked if the chef could “veganize” a dish for me. I’ve learned to call ahead if at all possible.

    I’m going to Paris for 2 weeks this fall. I’ve been before, but never as a vegan. Will I have trouble? We are renting an apartment, so that should help since we’ll be able to cook for ourselves.

  6. Chloe says:

    Barb: Paris as a vegan is tough! Use happycow.net to search out your options! There is a new vegan place in the Marais which I hear is great. And be sure to know how to say what you don’t eat in French!

  7. Barb says:

    Chloe:

    Thanks for the ideas. I know that meat, dairy and eggs are everywhere! I did find what appears to be a good vegetarian/vegan restaurant right near our apartment. Someone has also told me about some apps I can add to my iPod that sound good; they apparently list veggie restaurants and markets all over Paris – with maps.

    Great idea to learn to say what I won’t eat in French. I’ll try to find that new place in the Marais too.

    Thank you! And wish me luck…

  8. jodie says:

    Looks like you had an amazing time in SC. I have been eating vegan for 4 years and find traveling to be difficult. Unless you are in a somewhat sophisticated area, a satisfying vegan meal can be hard to come by.

    Any major city usually isn’t a problem, and (most) major tourist areas also tend to have more choices. When you find yourself in remote areas like Northern NH (the White Mountains) or Lompoc California…you are pretty much looking at pasta with “mystery oil” (usually a corn oil blend), iceberg lettuce, purple cabbage, tomatoes and cucumbers…breakfast is fruit and bread, lunch is rice or pasta, dinner the same…as much as I LOVE to travel, the eating situation so far has not been easy. My 25 years as a vegetarian were “easier” on me when traveling…but I’m a vegan for life in any case!

  9. Jan Merritt says:

    100% delightful – so enjoyed. My son works at Papa ZuZu’s – in the kitchen – probably prepared your cucumber salad!

    Thank you!

  10. sarah-mai says:

    Thank you so much for all of your lovely comments!

    Amy – a French restaurant that will customize vegan dishes for you is a rare gem! Awesome to hear they were happy to do it for you!!!

    Laure – if there are any other veg-friendly Paris locations you like, please feel free to share them here!!!

    Claire + Kathryn – You must visit Charleston. So charming.

    Barb – In Paris, there are two Maoz restaurants, great falafel and 100% vegetarian. Le Grenier de Notre Dame is also a good option with a great location. Cru is an all raw restaurant, not vegetarian, but lots of veg options. There’s also a Loving Hut restaurant there, which is completely vegan! And in the afternoons, every ice cream stand (on almost every corner) serves incredible sorbets!!!

    Happycow.net is always the first site I visit when researching my travel spots. Such a great resource!!!

    Hope that helps. Please let us know all about your travels when you return. And take pics if possible ;)

    Jodie – It’s always a disappointment to get an iceberg salad as your vegan option. That’s really the reason I started my blog, to let people know that most restaurants offer much more than this for vegans!

    Jan – You raised your son well :) Amazing food at Papa Zuzu’s!!!

  11. Barb says:

    Sarah-Mai,

    Thank you for the suggestions. Le Grenier de Notre Dame is the restaurant I’d heard about which is about 2 blocks from the apartment we’ve rented. I will check out the others you mentioned too. I will take pics and will report back.

    Thank you!

  12. Ginette says:

    I am in Charleston right now will stay here till the end of September. It’s the first time I visited since becoming Vegan. I am glad to read your posts. It’s definitely not obvious that it is Vegan doable. I wish that would be more advertised. If it weren’t for your post I would still not know where to go except for the Sprout.
    What I am missing and are disappointing in that Vegan is an afterthought. I love Charleston and paint it often that is why I come here. Becoming Vegan has opened my eyes to how addicted people are to meat, ice cream and that sort of stuff and how difficult it is to eat out as Vegan and have choices. There are no Vegan Ice cream places or cafe’s with pastries that I know of, where you can stop for a break and refresh. My husband and I are both Vegan. The good thing about Charleston is that people are very accommodating and friendly! I stay at a place where I can cook my own food. I shop at Whole Foods and Publix near by.

  13. Christy says:

    I live and work in Mt. Pleasant. I absolutely love your pictures and descriptions. Im a complete regular at Pa Pa ZuZu’s and love Debbie to death! One spot you may want to hit up the next time you are in town is the Old Village Bakery on Pitt St in the old village section. I absolutely love their food and they do a lot of vegan and gluten free baking.

  14. […] The Traveling Vegan Gourmand Hits Charleston, South Carolina – The … Jul 29, 2010 … The Traveling Vegan Gourmand Hits Charleston, South Carolina. Eat Pure…A Monthly Taste: Sarah-Mai … […]

  15. sarah-mai says:

    Ginette – I know what you mean, and in that heat vegan ice cream would be a dream! I’m so glad you enjoyed my post.

    Christy – Thank you so much. Hopefully Ginette will visit the Old Village bakery for some much needed vegan pastries :)




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