For the veggie-lovers and plant-based enthusiasts out there, finding the right dining options isn’t always easy. Thankfully, in Gainesville, a handful of restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian food that’s both delicious and nutritious.
Located in Gainesville’s vibrant Downtown, Daily Green is an urban and inviting counter-serve restaurant offering tons of quick, delicious vegan and vegetarian options. Daily Green’s healthy and creative dishes are both fun to look at and enjoy. The place’s atmosphere is chill and trendy, making it a great place to relax and enjoy a tasty meal, without the guilt. Customer service is great, and all of the workers are eager to educate customers on the wonders of veganism.
Everything on the diverse menu is fresh and locally sourced. With so many options, it may be difficult to choose. From sweet banana waffles to mac n’ cheese waffle cones, Daily Green’s quirkiness never gets old. You can also enjoy huge burritos, super-smoothies, juices and teas (including lots of kombucha), lentil soups, kale chips, salads, sandwiches, and much more.
Reggae Shack Café
This cozy and colorful Jamaican restaurant is a city staple, serving up the best island vibes and flavors. You’ll find this gem nestled in some tall buildings on West University Avenue, located next to another vegan favorite: Karma Cream. Reggae Shack Café is a little hole in the wall, but it’s warm, homey, and offers a wonderful assortment of flavorful, hearty dishes.
A section at the bottom of Reggae Shack’s menu outlines all of the vegetarian dishes. Each vegetarian option is 100% vegan, cooked separately, and served on special green plates and baskets. A few of the choices are handmade, local, and/or organic, made with real, fresh Jamaican ingredients. Vegan steak, jerk tofu, and curry tempeh are just a few of the scrumptious vegetarian items. But be careful with the spices in these dishes -- they may set your mouth on fire.
This Gainesville favorite is charming and modern, serving up sweet vegan treats in a comfy, industrial interior. Karma Cream is a locally owned ice cream café offering organic coffee and vegan ice cream. The wooden tables, white tile walls, and pastel hues make this hipster coffee shop a chill place to relax, work, or study. There’s also a nice selection of vegan pastries and sandwiches that pair well with a rich milkshake.
You can buy ice cream by the scoop, sundaes, sundaes on cookies, brownies, shortcakes or bananas, in a bowl, in a cone, or as a sandwich. Karma Cream offers both vegan and organic dairy ice cream for its diverse array of flavors like amaretto cherry, coconut, and pumpkin. You can also cover your ice cream in even more vegan deliciousness with toppings like cookie dough, chocolate-covered pretzels, and peanut butter shells. Beyond the sweet stuff, Karma Cream also has vegan sandwiches like Tofurkey reubens, grilled cheeses, bacon & Tofurkey clubs, and banana fluffernutters. Have your coffee made any way you’d like, or try some organic, fair trade tea with brews like lavender, matcha, jasmine, or spicy mint.
Gyro Plus is a chill, casual, counter-serve restaurant offering yummy, affordable gyros, falafels, and other Middle Eastern bites. This place serves up both meat and veggie-based dishes, meaning it has something for everyone to enjoy. All of the gyros and falafels are loaded with healthy, vegetable goodness, and your choice of hummus, cucumber sauce, vegan mayonnaise, or tahini sauce.
Experience authentic Middle Eastern flavors at Gyro Plus, with the vegan falafel sandwich, grape leaves sandwich, Baba Ghanouj sandwich, Zaatar pie, tabbouleh sandwich and more. You can also enjoy the house salad and soup of the day, which are always vegan. Keep in mind that Gyro Plus’s dishes are jam-packed with savory ingredients, so feel free to pick and choose as you please. The two brothers who run the place are always happy to perfect your meal.
Vale Food Co.
If you’re looking for a quick bite that’s both satisfying and nutritious, Vale Food Co. is the spot for you. There’s a wide variety of combinations to be made at Vale with its classic “Build Your Own Bowl” menu. Choose from bases like brown rice, quinoa salad, chipotle mac, or roasted sweet potatoes and add veggies like balsamic mushrooms or coconut cauliflower to create a fresh, unique, and delicious dish. Meats are available as a protein option, but Vale also offers different Oumph! or tofu on a daily basis. You can have a bit of a “boost” with vegan goodies like guacamole, local sprouts, corn salsa, sunflower seeds, and shaved almonds. Add some more flavor with sauces and dressings like avocado caesar, sriracha honey, chipotle ranch, and curry honey mustard.
Vale also features two meal plans for those looking to eat right on the regular. There’s the “Weightloss Meal Plan” and the “Maintain Meal Plan,” each containing wholesome, natural ingredients that don’t sacrifice taste. These meals are made fresh by Vale’s chefs every day, carefully portioned, packaged, and delivered to your doorstep Monday-Friday. Be sure to check out the restaurant’s website for more information.
Vegan to Goloka
This eatery offers globally influenced vegan fare in a cozy and compact setting. It’s located a little far out by The Oaks Mall, but it’s definitely worth the drive with its excellent food and preparation. The chef here has years of experience and is always cooking up fresh and tasty dishes like spring rolls, curry & rice, and vegan subs. Everything on the menu is completely vegan with options for plant-based protein. There are also a few homemade smoothies and juices to pair with your meal.
Located in Gainesville’s historic Gulf Oil Building, Civilization provides a relaxed and intimate environment to enjoy international vegan dishes. On “World Wide Wednesdays,” Civilization offers special deals and meals from a different country every week. Civilization specializes in serving up good eats from five different continents, all made with locally sourced ingredients. Civilization supports Gainesville farmers and has a predominantly veggie-based menu, but it also has Florida beef and seafood, as well as homemade desserts.
Grill Fresh is a chill, spacious, no-frills eatery serving healthy and filling dishes. This counter-serve, “Build Your Own Bowl” joint is simple and straightforward: you pick your base, and you add the rest. Choose from a variety of sizes and ingredients to make your perfect bowl. Grill Fresh offers mostly meat as protein options, but fresh, herb marinated tofu is always available. Sprinkle some seasonal, farm fresh vegetables and drizzle a bit of awesome sauces on top to maximize all of the flavors.