“I believe that knowing where your food is coming from and that it is nearby is incredibly important for a healthy body and the environment.”
by Katie Coulter
When I was a first year here at U.Va. I had very little appreciation for the fantastic food options Charlottesville had to offer. I stuck mostly to the occasional food on the corner and whatever O’Hill was serving, but I rarely ventured into the realm of restaurants downtown or farther out in Charlottesville. Simply speaking I was unadventurous and blissfully naive about the incredible palette of options we have here. In September of my second year however that all changed when I cut out meat, eggs, and dairy from my diet and started eating vegan. With cheesy bread and Christian’s pizza no longer an option, I was forced to venture out to find healthier and plant-based menus. This year I have been shocked to find the vegan friendly and delicious restaurants here in Charlottesville are not at all sparse, but so abundant I haven’t had the chance to even try them all yet. However, I would like to share some of my favorite local plant-based options that I have tried
1. Blue Moon Diner — A classic 50s style diner where you are transformed to a different time period when you walk win. The service is impeccable and the waiters make you feel like you are family, but the food is even more comforting. Their main vegan option is a “Vegan Garbage Plate” and features beautiful spiced tempeh, beans, and veggies in a chili style plate. I personally love to combine the Garbage Plate with thick cut sweet potato fries for the perfect combination of savory and salty. One of my favorite things about Blue Moon Diner is that they have a chalk board on their wall that says where their food comes from for the day, so you know exactly what you’re getting with no questions asked. Additionally, Blue Moon Diner also sources much of their food from the same farms as Greens to Grounds including Carpe Donuts, Local Food Hub, and more!
Photos: Vegan Garbage Plate from Blue Moon Diner
2. Nude Fude — An authentically American farm-to-table restaurant on Hydraulic Road that boasts a large menu guaranteed to please all. While meat, eggs, and dairy are served here, they are all locally raised and wholesome so that customers know they’re getting the best quality. Nude Fude features various vegan options and has their menu conveniently labeled to mark which options are vegan and gluten-free for a positive dining experience. Some of my favorites are the Chicken Pea-laf (which can be made without the chicken), the Sweet Potato Agridolce, Carrot and Ginger Soup, Split Pea Soup, and Kale and Orange Salad. The restaurant also features beverages that go beyond beer and wine including local Mountain Culture Kombucha and Farmstead Ferment’s Kefir Water. To top it all off, Nude Fude supports local farms and businesses as they source most of their produce from farms around the Charlottesville area including Free Union Grass Farms, Autumn Olive Farms, Farmstead Ferments, Mountain Culture Kombucha, Shenandoah Joe’s, Kirt’s Ice Cream, and many more! What caught my attention mostly was that Nude Fude also sources from Local Food Hub which Greens to Grounds also gets much produce from.
3. Firefly — A bar, restaurant, and arcade combination that has a fun atmosphere where kids, college students, and adults alike can have a good time whose menu highlights seasonal and local ingredients with many vegan options. This menu also clearly notes which options are vegan and gluten-free and if you go for brunch or order off the late-night menu you are sure to find an array of delicious options. Some of those for brunch include, vegan tacos with tofu and beans packed with protein, Granola Goddess: House-made Granola served with almond milk, a “No Bull” lentil burger, and sides of sunflower wheat toast. And if you find yourself wanting to munch late at night you can choose from sweet potato fries, the veggie burger, fried chickpeas, and tater tots. Firefly also proudly buys local food and will gladly tell you where each item on your plate is from! I love knowing the story of where my food is from and I feel thankful when I can know that I’m helping the environment while also nourishing myself.
Through this food journey in Charlottesville I’ve learned that by eating vegan you won’t miss out when dining with friends as we are so lucky to have a wide array of delicious and accommodating restaurants. Also, my favorite part of eating plant based in Charlottesville is that the fruit and veggies many restaurants serve are from local farms. I think that the most important thing about eating is nourishing your body and having a connection to your food as well as eating as sustainably as possible. I believe that knowing where your food is coming from and that it is nearby is incredibly important for a healthy body and the environment. We are lucky that in Charlottesville there are many restaurants and organizations like Greens to Grounds that make local and sustainable plant-based eating easy!