Memphis is arguably the barbecue capital, especially if Memphians are doing the arguing. People travel from across the country for the annual pilgrimage to the World Championship Barbeque Contest. Teams construct tents up to three stories high and spend a week creating dishes, earning bragging rights and satisfying the taste buds of those lucky enough to attend. But Memphis is more than barbecue. Thanks to a growing vegetarian and plant-based community in the city, there are delicious options sure to satisfy even the most devout omnivore.
From BBQ and falafel to cheesecake and cupcakes, these black-owned restaurants are challenging perceptions of vegan food and redefining the Memphis dining experience.
1. Pink Diva Cupcakery
Mocha coffee caramel, strawberry shortcake and raspberry champagne sound like the stuff dreams are made of, and once you try Pink Diva Cupcakery’s treats, you will happily stay in that dream. Pink Diva quickly removes any doubt that vegan desserts can be fun and delicious, and owner Cassi Conyers offers a lunch menu just in case you’re unable to survive on cupcakes alone. Grab the bbq tofu, chickpea salad sandwich or mac and cheese bowl with your choice of toppings. Thank me later.
2. Two Vegan Sistas
Glance at the Two Vegan Sistas‘ menu and you might be surprised to see burgers, steaks and wings. Sisters Bretta and Belinda create rotating weekly menus of delicious entrees, sides and desserts that happen to be vegan, GMO-free and gluten-free. Anxious about trying vegan food for the first time? Visit Two Vegan Sistas on Fridays for their lunch specials that are half the price but all the flavor.
3. Blue Nile Ethiopian Kitchen
The best way to experience Blue Nile is to grab a friend and split the overwhelming number of vegetarian options. Order the Ethiopian Vegetarian Platter and prepare to crave this dish every day for the next week. The combination of spicy lentil stew, greens, potato and carrot, cabbage and injera will leave you stuffed — but no one will judge you for keeping it going with the tofu kabob and washing it down with the chickpea stew.
4. Deja Vu: New Orleans Creole Soul Food and Vegetarian Food
Deja Vu is a Memphis favorite that is sure to please any palate. Your meat-eating friends can enjoy a full menu of traditional New Orleans fare while you chow down on veggie rolls, smothered okra and fried plantains, then finish up with chocolate cake covered in strawberry sauce. Your friends might find themselves reaching for your plate.
5. Guilt Free Pastries
Avocado in brownies? Don’t knock it ‘til you try it! Owner Brandon Thomas whips up an assortment of tempting vegan and gluten-free treats that will leave you with the tough decision of deciding which to try first. Memphians were lucky to celebrate the recent grand re-opening of Guilt Free Pastries, but you can also place an online order and have the #GuiltFreeLifestyle delivered to your door.