Salt Lake City has more vegan restaurants per capita than New York City. Take that in for a moment.
With New York’s massive international status, everyone assumes it has the most and best of anything on any scale. Statistics will show you otherwise.
SLC has about 12 vegan restaurants and 200,000 people. New York has 33 and over 8,000,000 people. Long story short, NYC would need more than 400 vegan restaurants to keep pace with Salt Lake City. In other words, New York City isn’t as vegan-friendly as most people expect, especially if you’ve lived there as a vegan on a budget.
Before finalizing our very first housesitting assignment in Salt Lake City, we did a quick Google search for vegan restaurants. A few articles popped up, namely VegNews naming Salt Lake City the Next Great Vegan City in 2012. Yet it wasn’t until our arrival that we realized how vegan-friendly Salt Lake City actually is, with no shortage of places to try whenever* we felt like going out.
We combed the web only to find there was no definitive vegan guide. So we took it upon ourselves to create the ultimate vegan guide to Salt Lake City.
*most places are closed Sundays unless otherwise noted
JUMP TO: Places with Great Vegan Options (including Zest, Mi Ranchito, Este Pizzeria, Golden Phoenix, and more)
JUMP TO: Dining In: Grocery Stores (including Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and more)
Dining Out: 100% Vegan Establishments
These are 100% vegan restaurants in Salt Lake City, meaning that they serve ONLY vegan food. Places with vegan menus that still serve meat and/or dairy are listed here.
We love Bud’s and ate here several times. Rarely does a vegan establishment hit that sweet spot with quality, portions, and reasonable price. They serve sandwiches, chips, beverages, and even zucchini cookies – but we’re all about the sandwiches.
We were quite pleased with every sandwich we tried, including possibly the best vegan Philly cheese steak Veren’s ever had (Sam’s not a cheese steak fan), which consisted of a house made cheese sauce, onions and peppers, over “steak” chunk filling that had just the right amount of savory flavor and chewy texture. The only slightly disappointing sub was the barbacoa. We found that the amount of beans overshadowed the delicate barbecue jackfruit.
Order every sandwich with the sourdough – so fresh and toasty, you’ll wish your mouth wasn’t lined with easily shredded gums. Also, Bud’s gets the omnivore stamp of approval: “This is at least a once a week spot,” said our visiting meaty friend.
Pros: Great sandwiches, prices, and portions. Good location – walkable from downtown.
Cons: Only outdoor seating/no bathrooms, only open until 5 pm.
We never thought we’d have bagels with cream cheese, pizza, glasses of milk, and most pastries, including Veren’s beloved croissants, ever again, when we converted to plant-based paganism.
Fortunately, veganism has come a long way since. Passion Flour is part of the new vegan generation. They offer plain croissants, chocolate croissants, “ham” and “cheese” croissants, sticky buns, quiche, and more. This is not your corner store bakery – Passion Flour calls itself a Patisserie for a good reason: the proprietor is a trained French pastry chef, and the proof is in the pastry.
A croissant should be layered, flaky on the outside, and buttery in the middle. Half of the experience is texture, and the flavor should border on the fine line between savory and sweet. Veren the Croissant Connoisseur was not disappointed. The sticky bun was soft and sweet, and the quiche had a flaky crust with rich filling.
The spot has great minimalist decor that beckons you to sit down and take your time. The counter help was especially patient, allowing us to wax nostalgia over the options before we ordered one too many, and politely inhaled them all. We love a chill cafe, so this was a big bonus.
Pros: amazing pastries, laidback yet classy atmosphere
Cons: pricey ($4 for a croissant)
Vertical Diner is the equivalent of that diner that serves breakfast all day, straight down to the slightly divey American diner decor. It has a large, deliciously greasy menu that also includes beer, wine, and dessert. In the first couple of weeks we were in Salt Lake City, we went here three different times – that’s how much we love this place.
Between trying each other’s (and our friends’) dishes, we’ve sampled most things on the menu. Vertical Diner shines with items that they make in house: creamy vegan cheese, super savory gravy, and anything breakfasty.
Like any restaurant, there are stellar dishes and ones that miss the mark a bit, but everything was still very good. Don’t opt for healthy stuff here – they do diner food best. Besides, why would you come to an American diner and order a salad or rice bowl?
Pros: Vegan diner food, American diner atmosphere, good prices.
Cons: Nothing else as good as breakfast. The 25% off Meatless Mondays that is advertised on their website is only 10% (others have noted this on Yelp too).
This is definitely one of our top three vegan restaurants in SLC. If “Chay” means great, then it’s “All” they deliver. This spot is located northwest of downtown Salt Lake City, but at the center of our herbivore hearts.
Everything is right on. The entire menu is fantastic. The seemingly random location with an interior that looks like a former American Legion Hall and decorated with what surely must be thrift store paintings. The same roundtable designated for local regulars. The family owned, comfortable atmosphere. Walk up to the counter, order what you want, pay, and they’ll bring it to you when it’s ready. Help yourself to water, silverware, chopsticks, and condiments (which aren’t even needed as everything is flavored perfectly).
Vietnamese food is all about bold and fresh flavors. Every bowl of pho comes with bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime wedges, and jalapeño slices. We were especially impressed with how rich and savory the broth was here. Their fried “shrimp” appetizer is great, even if you don’t like shrimp, because it actually tastes better than shrimp.
There are several banh mi choices (French bread stuffed with raw veggies and “meat”) such as barbecue and lemongrass tofu. All are delicious. Veren’s quite the banh mi fan, and has tried many in the Pacific Northwest and the Atlantic Northeast, but their selection and quality take the vegan cake. Or in this case, their housemade vegan flan, with optional coffee caramel syrup.
Pros: Amazing food, options, and price. Open Sundays.
Cons: So good you’ll debate ordering more, it’s a good thing that you pay first.
If you want an experience that feels indulgent and doesn’t leave you feeling like you ate a self-inflating brick, this is the place to be – assuming that you enjoy raw food. If the thought of a raw food diet sounds unappetizing, skip this spot.
This was a special treat for us. We do eat a lot of rawness, always starting the day with a smoothie (or two). Veren eats mostly raw, and it’s what led him to a plant-based diet. The flavors here are bold, rich, and layered, so if you err on the bland side, they might kick your ass (we’re not trying to be facetious – a Yelp reviewer actually complained about this).
Everything was super fresh, and fun to eat. The food is Lebanese inspired, so expect lots of hummus, tahini, spices, and herbs, with flax seed crackers, and lettuce wraps. We felt sprightly afterward, ready to take on the world of vegetable adversaries.
Turned off by high priced raw food? Let us provide a quick defense. For one, they can’t get away with buying cheap, shitty produce, as that’s what’s on display. Often, the food is all organic, which further drives up the price. Additionally, sauces are usually nut-based, and the amount of nuts needed to make even a small amount of sauce is expensive (for example, macadamia nuts can be $13 a pound, pine nuts are $20+ per pound, etc). The table next to us was sorely disappointed when they saw their plates were adorned by unadulterated and recognizable plant parts . Raw food isn’t for everyone, and by that we mean mostly everyone, including vegans.
DISCLAIMER: THEY USE HONEY: Not everything is sweetened with it, but they do use and sell a honey a product.
Pros: Strong and rich flavors, satisfying, left us full but not gross.
Potential cons: All raw, uses honey, expensive.
We went to Sage’s on a Tuesday for their Pizza Night Rodizio. For those who don’t know (we didn’t), rodizio is an all-you-can-eat restaurant style commonly found in Brazilian restaurants. Rather than a stagnant buffet, in a rodizio waiters come around with the latest plates fresh from the kitchen. You can continually choose what you want from the steady offerings until you’ve stuffed yourself. Sage’s Pizza Night Rodizio was fun – we got to try tons of their pizza, and unlimited salad (with delicious dressing) was included for only $12.75. Win.
The slices themselves varied greatly. We’d definitely go back, but would be more selective with the slices we ate. Star slices were ones with homemade vegan cheese. Unfortunately, some missed the mark, especially on the cheeseless slices, when the small amount of sauce was baked into the crust, and the slices were especially dry.
Our same meaty friend who loved Bud’s ate a sandwich here and was sorely disappointed. While this may be good place for other vegetarians and vegans, we can’t recommend it to omnivores. We suspect this place is a remnant of the old vegan vanguard, an early generation with little interest in appealing to non-vegans, and likely haven’t changed their menu since then. Sage’s is run by the same people as Vertical Diner, but we much preferred the latter.
Pros: Not super expensive, best deal is the Pizza Rodizio.
Cons: Not everything is good, can’t recommend to non-vegan friends.
Two words: juice flights! Vive serves high-quality cold pressed juices, nut milks, and cold brewed coffee. We had our first actual visit to the downtown location during a gallery stroll (more like gallery drive, as places are too spread out in SLC to walk all in a night), that happens every third Friday. There was a great community vibe, with the DJ spinning some juicy beets (pun intended).
They had tasting juice samples out, so naturally we tried them all. Very earthy, fruity, and vegetably. Set up in a corner was a communal painting (to be auctioned off) on which anyone could paint, and at the end of the auction, the highest bidder never even claimed it, so it still hangs at Vive.
We were sold just on that experience, so we came back with a friend and ordered juice flights. Even our least favorite juice tasted amazing. These places are not cheap, and we can’t afford to visit regularly, but we wish we could and we’re glad they exist.
Pros: Nice chill café atmosphere, great juices, sells vegan beauty products and t-shirts, all high quality. Three locations.
Cons: Not cheap.
Our favorite thing about this place is that it’s all vegan but you wouldn’t know it by passing by or even walking in. Except for a discreet V in the corner of the window, there is no indication or flag waving in your face. This is trend we hope new vegan places continue.
Their interior has a former art gallery space look and it works well. Everything has a clean layout, and the menu is straight to the point: donuts. The glass display case resembles more a jeweler than a bakery, and their gems are proudly on display.
Oh, and the donuts tasted great. We honestly don’t know why donuts aren’t all vegan yet when they can taste this good.
Pros: Super chic layout, elegant, delicious donuts. Downtown location.
Cons: $3 donuts.
City Cakes is a solid classic American style bakery with lots of gluten free options with cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls. We had a chocolate chip cookie and brownie on our first visit, and Sam (who will travel for vegan mac and cheese) later tried their mac and cheese and potato au gratin (against Veren’s warning).
Unfortunately, their lunch items don’t compare with their baked goods. They were microwaved (still half cold), and pretty bland (and similar) in taste and texture. So stick to the bakery, and you’ll be satisfied. You can also buy their cookie dough, sauces, and other pre-made yumminess there. Sam’s not ashamed to admit that she ate almost a whole tub of their cookie dough in a couple days.
Pros: Classic American baked goods, cheap. Many gluten free options.
Cons: Not the best lunch items.
We tried Frisch late in the game, just getting to the cafe in our last couple weeks in Salt Lake, after about four months living there. After eating all the aforementioned plant-based plentitude, we weren’t terribly interested in trying much else. Does that mean that Frisch’s wasn’t good? Hardly. Frisch’s would be a great option anywhere else, it’s just that the competition in Salt Lake is pretty steep, with more creative options to choose from. The food was very tasty, and the dessert even more so. It just wasn’t anything new for us. Places like this exist in the majority of big cities, offering standard wraps, salads, and a few appetizers.
Their nachos were solid, but with small improvements, they could’ve been great. For example, more fresh finishers, like green onions, and less weird toppings, like rice. Add a bit of fruity pepperiness, like bell peppers, or directly into the cheese sauce, and it’d have been stand out.
Frisch’s baked goods are provided thanks to Cakewalk Baking Co. They have cupcakes and Dillos aka vegan Twinkies. The carrot cupcake was super moist and the icing made in a cream cheese style. Possibly the best vegan carrot cake we had. And the Dillos! A red velvet cake with the same cream cheese filling, everything tasted beyond expectations. If they could mass produce these Dillos, they’d be vegellionaires.
Pros: Great baked goods, decent prices, and cute lunch atmosphere.
Cons: Nothing we haven’t seen before regarding lunch menu.
We kept meaning to try this vegan chocolate place, but the prices of this place just pushed it off our pragmatic radar. $9 for a peanut butter cup! If it weighed a pound, then maybe we’d consider. But! We still champion their right to make fancy raw vegan artisanal chocolates, and understand that they don’t come cheap!
Cons: We never went.
Salt Lake is so vegan friendly that even places that aren’t 100% plant based offer amazing vegan food. The options blew us away, from an authentic, entirely vegan Mexican buffet night to a pizza place that more than satisfied our thin-crust NYC-style pizza we’d been craving.
These are great spots to go to with your non-vegan friends, or for particular items that are not available or done as well at the all-vegan spots.
If you told us that there was a vegan buffet that served maybe half a dozen items, we’d be ecstatic. Now if that buffet turned out to be authentic homemade Mexican cuisine veganized by PETA’s famous Sexiest Vegan of 2015, Victor Ivan Barragan Razo aka The Solar Fire Ninja, with a selection of over two dozen items, we would need a word that means beyond ecstatic. And that’s what we found in SLC.
Mi Ranchito has been around since the eighties, with frequent regulars forming the backbone of the clientele. The place is huge, with 3 dining areas: two on either side of the entrance, and an even larger room in the back. They offer traditional Mexican food, with buffets on weekends. The vegan buffet was born when Victor came along last autumn and suggested it. Under his guidance and direction, a new vegan menu has been born, including the Friday all vegan buffet. So far the turnout has exceeded expectations. The owner has been very pleased too, as the vegan buffet is cheaper to produce than the regular version. Many Mexican meat dishes require hours of labor to prepare, and high-quality animal products don’t come cheap. With the money earned, they’ve been able to commission an artist to create murals and handcrafted chairs and tables.
We cannot rave enough about the food here. If you think that buffet food can’t be high quality, you clearly haven’t tried this place. This is not Golden Corral or Chuck-o-Rama (seriously, who thought up that name?). There are three kinds of stir fry for fajitas (see the homemade tortillas), three kinds of enchiladas, two tamales, two types of rice, black beans, chips, salsa, GUACAMOLE, corn on the cob, fruit and a salad bar, all of which is fresh. They even have non-traditional (to Mexican cooking) items like maduros (fried sweet plantains), roasted potatoes, candied yams, and soups. There’s rice pudding, and they’ll also put out an additional dessert, like ice cream in a freshly baked cookie taco.
If this wasn’t beyond enough, all this can be yours for only $14 and it comes with unlimited horchata. If it’s Friday night from 5 – 10 pm, the buffet is all vegan. Presumably, you can still order the regular menu, if your non-vegan friends are so inclined. But we’ve heard from Vegan Victor himself that many have been converted to the veggie club by the sheer deliciousness of the food. We even came twice and expect to miss this place sorely.
Pros: Insane amount of authentic Mexican food veganized, for super reasonable price.
Cons: Vegan buffet only on Fridays. Vegan menu available all other times, but wasn’t as good as the buffet.
This place has some of best NY style pizza outside of New York. It’s so good they have lines at lunch in the downtown location.
Fortunately, we tried Este when visiting Park City and had a much more low-key experience. We ordered the lasagna pizza and were in vegan pizza heaven. Unless you’re using homemade cheese, the trick to doing vegan pizza right is lots of toppings, and not overcooking as plant-based substitutions rarely require actual cooking.
Order yourself a pie or two, right next to your lactovore friends – you won’t feel left out.
Pros: New York style pizza (and we’d know), great use of toppings.
Cons: Keep in mind that not all vegan toppings are housemade.
Don’t judge this book by its cover! Interior (or exterior for that matter) decor is not a priority here as it clearly hasn’t been updated since opening, but the food is delicious. Golden Phoenix is the standing restaurant, and they offer a vegan menu of the formerly next door Evergreen restaurant, whose space they have expanded into. The staff was very sweet and gave us complimentary sweet and sour soup, just cause The Sam is so cute.
This place has it all: deluxe sushi rolls, bento boxes, and even traditional Chinese dishes. If you are tired of simple one-kind-of-vegetable sushi rolls, the deluxe is what you’re after. They had too many ingredients to remember, stuffed within, and layered on top.
Pros: Offers vegan menu, cheap.
Cons: Not the prettiest place. But who cares? Not us.
This was an oasis in a desert of storm clouds relentlessly chasing us on a Sunday evening when nothing is open in SLC. We were with Sam’s aunts, and needed a place to duck into and eat. They offer a lot of options, including Vietnamese, Thai, classic American Chinese, and the first half of the menu is all vegetarian. We didn’t see any explicit dairy ingredients, so we ordered classic sesame “chicken” and “beef” with vegetables.
This was pure nostalgia, and we felt like we had time warped to the days where we wantonly (we did order dumplings) ate Chinese take-out with no regards for the consequences. They also had great Thai and Vietnamese options: we got to try the red coconut curry with tofu and veggies as well as the lemongrass tofu with veggies. Both of these were done authentically as well.
We found out later that the imitation meat has egg in it, so vegans take note. You can sub tofu for any dish though, or even just have them make anything with all veggies.
Pros: super veggie friendly- can sub tofu for any dish, tons of options. Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian menus. Good prices. Open Sunday.
Cons: Imitation meat has egg in it :-/
If you’re into the more common subcontinental food of India, Nepali cuisine will feel familiar: lots of curries, fried things, and rice.
We went to Kathmandu for the lunch buffet. It was really good, with ingredients listed on every item, and virtually 80% of it was vegan and gluten free. There were at least 4 vegan entrees, like coconut curried chickpeas, something with spinach, yellow lentils, a couple of salads, fried potato and veggie chunks. There were two meat items at the end, and there were a few items made with cow’s milk. So we had plenty to choose from, and ate several plates between us, with Veren doing most of the damage.
The restaurant had a very relaxing ambiance. The staff was very friendly and genuinely interested in our enjoyment of the food. All the windows were covered with tapestries, and statues and ornaments adorned the walls. They even had a couple of HDTVs playing photo slideshows of presumably Nepal, with a variety of contributors (guessing on the varying styles of composition).
The lunch buffet is a fair price, and the food is fresh and well made. This isn’t food we care to eat regularly, as with the friedness, the oiliness, and spice, it can be heavy duty for your gut. So the arrangement isn’t quite a steal, and if you can’t eat several people’s worth of food like Veren, you’d probably be satisfied going in for an à la carte lunch or dinner.
Pros: Mostly vegan buffet.
Cons: Very fried.
Zest delivers on its promise of fresh and healthy vegetarian food, with virtually every item having a vegan option. Everything is gluten free and organic. As they’re also a lounge, they have a huge drinks selection. However, it is important to note: this is upscale vegetarianism. Add on the all organic tag, and it won’t come cheap. We were only able to eat here thanks to the generosity of Sam’s aunt who was visiting from NYC.
For appetizers, we had deviled avocados and lightly sautéed Brussel sprouts.
Veren’s taco salad with walnut stuffing was especially bright in flavor and tasty. Sam’s zucchini noodles were lightly cooked enough to soften but retain structural integrity. Her aunt’s mushroom stew was super rich tasting. It’s truly vegetarian cuisine designed by a chef.
That being said, we hadn’t been in a hurry to try this place, and afterwards, didn’t plan on coming back. Was it bad? Not at all – please see all the aforementioned. While everything was delicious, price is a big point for us, and we can’t afford to make this place a regular stop. We can imagine that isn’t the case for upscale, lounge inclined vegetarians and vegans who don’t have time to cook for themselves. A lot of the items definitely take a lot of work and craft – we don’t deny that. There just isn’t much appeal to us for eating rice bowls out, when we make them so much at home.
Pros: Exactly as advertised – fresh, organic, carefully crafted upscale vegetarian food & drinks.
Even Steven’s is a local quick serve chain with two very solid vegan options: a hummus avocado veggie sandwich and a chickpea mushroom sloppy joe inspired sandwich. Both are delicious and portioned well. This is a sandwich spot, so having more than one vegan option is extra vegan-friendly in our book of Plant-based Practicality. AND TATER TOTS (note: the brava tots come with egg mayo).
Their name comes from their philosophy, not the old Disney show. For every sandwich bought, a sandwich is donated, and they’ve donated over 600,000 sandwiches thus far.
Pros: Cheap, good quality, a couple vegan sandwich options and sides too. Live music on Thursday and Friday evenings, and Sunday afternoon.
Cons: Not as amazing as Bud’s and only has a couple of vegan options.
You can’t eat out all the time – we certainly can’t, nor would we want to. Read on for our review of SLC’s impressive array of grocery stores, all with tons of vegan options.
The key to sustainable travel for peons like us is affordability. So that means you’re preparing at least eighty to ninety percent of your meals at home.
This is what Whole Foods wishes it was. It’s like Trader Joes and Whole Foods had a baby, but bred out the Wholly terrible customers. It’s as cheap and sometimes even cheaper than Trader Joe’s, but with better produce than TJ’s. They even have their own line of products, AND 72-hour sales where their prices just get insane, like ten plus pound watermelons for two bucks! Sprouts ain’t playing. The defining characteristic of this place is that produce is smack center, with bulk items in front, and groceries off to the sides.
They have tons of vegan products everywhere you look. The usual supermarket staples plus many more.
That being said, there’s almost always a line here. And not just ‘cause they’re popular. The cashiers aren’t moving at the lightning speeds most of us are accustomed to at big generic supermarkets. And the customers follow suit, ambling around and leaving an obstacle course of shopping carts. Opt for the smallest cart possible.
That also being said, we love Sprouts.
Pros: Possibly the best place for produce, sales, and selection of products, reusable bag discount.
Cons: Things move a bit slower here but that’s okay. The employees seem much happier for it.
If Sprouts isn’t enough, two Salt Lake City sized (read: massive) blocks away is this large yet modestly presented natural health food store. Their produce is exclusively organic, and the rest of the grocery is reasonably priced – still cheaper than Whole Foods. The big clincher is the discount items and clearance items. Stuff nearing their expiration date gets the price chopped to half, and “unsightly” (edible but not pretty) produce get stuffed into $2 price fixed bags usually weighing several pounds – great considering nothing organic is under two dollars, except a fistful of wheat grass.
Even non-sale items are competitively priced. We consistently found organic halawi dates for 3.83 per lb, when they’re usually $ 7/lb, and at Whole Foods where it’s $ 9/lb. Also, their base price for vegan products was generally cheaper than Sprouts, and they’ll sometimes carry more specialty products than Sprout’s. Basically check between these two stores and you’ll find all your specialty vegan needs.
The staff are genuinely friendly, and never in a hurry. Bring bags as they don’t have any. If you forget, you can use one of the cardboard boxes they keep for that purpose. They also host community events, like food tastings and workshops.
Pros: Great selection, especially for specialty items, discount, clearance.
Cons: Can’t think of any.
Basic, run of the mill supermarket. Best for staple goods and stocking the pantry. Expect to see every type of person, because dependably good prices never go out of fashion. The cashiers are high schoolers, and the self-checkout section is madness. If you incorporate high raw this is the place to go. We eat copious amounts of bananas and rarely are they cheaper elsewhere.
Pros: Cheap produce and consistent cheapest prices on basic items (like soy/almond milk).
Cons: Crowded, not enjoyable shopping experience.
If you don’t know Joe, we don’t know you. They’re reliably cheap, even for specialty products (if they have it), and the stores are run like well-oiled machines. Staff are always willing to help. For us, TJ’s is about key items. Frozen fruit, coconut oil, nuts, sprouted tofu, tempeh, are the cheapest here. But when it comes to produce, Sprouts undersells them.
Pros: Free samples (read: coffee), great and cheap prices on their products.
Cons: Don’t always have everything you need, not great produce.
You’ll know you’ve arrived when you go through the giant Chinese style gate to the parking lot. If you’re looking for East, Southeast Asian food, it’s here. If anyone else has the same product, it will still be significantly cheaper here. We like to stock up on rice vinegar, nori, jasmine rice, sushi rice, sweet rice, frozen non msg dumplings, veggie buns, ginger, and Chinese eggplant here.
Pros: Lots of yummy, cheap Asian grocery items.
Cons: Far from downtown.
Live in or visiting Salt Lake City? Check out our other SLC posts:
Have you been to Salt Lake City or would like to go? Please comment with your recommendations of any new vegan spots or places with vegan options that we have missed – that way next time we’ll know where to go!