Metro Diner has been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner since 1992 when it was officially branded, but according to its company history, it’s stood in Jacksonville, Florida far back in 1938 and has been its first location ever since.
Today, they have over 50 branches in 12 states, most of which are in the southeast, and have also been awarded for Best Breakfast, Best Diner, and Best Burger. Their most popular menu items are the Chicken & Waffles and Iron City Meatloaf.
Metro Diner is set apart for its slogan, “your best local restaurant,” and although this claim may seem far-fetched, the restaurant chain is famous in the south for its unique innovations and remaking of classic southern food and breakfast meals. Part of their slogan means that whatever your taste and preference may be, they can serve you savory, home-style comfort food the way you want it.
“You want what you want. We’re here for It.” Can Metro Diner also serve those who want vegan meals only, and hold to its reputation?
Metro Diner has an extremely limited menu of vegan options since their specialty is breakfast eggs, grilled meats, and burgers. Their salads are vegetarian, but not vegan, and most of their sides are cooked with butter, milk, eggs, honey, and/or other meat-based seasonings. Would I come here as a vegan? Probably not.
Pickup and delivery are available from their website, and a downloadable menu may also serve as your guide for finding the food you like, calories, and price.
The list of their vegan-friendly items would be painstakingly short, but hang in there, we’ve got you covered with a few other suggestions for vegan, Southern-style restaurants.
Served with brown sugar, raisins, and a side of fresh seasonal fruit. 630 cal. $5.69.
Keep in mind that some items may have been cooked with butter, milk, eggs, honey, or other animal-based seasonings, so it’s wise to make sure first before ordering.
- Hashbrowns – 240 cal. $2.99
- Homefries – 400 cal. $2.99
- Toast/ English Muffin – 120/220 cal. $2.29
- Biscuits – 600 cal. $2.99
- Fresh Seasonal Fruit – 110 cal. $3.29
- Seasoned Fries – 290 cal. $2.99
- Steamed Green Beans – 120 cal. $2.99
- Steamed Broccoli – 190 cal. $2.99
- Mashed Potatoes & Gravy – 250 cal. $2.99; ask for no gravy
They do have House Salad and Caesar Salad, but their House Salad comes with honey mustard dressing and the Caesar Salad isn’t vegan. You might be able to order their House Salad without the honey dressing and request a vinaigrette instead. House Salad is served as a platter of mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded carrots, radishes, red onions, and tortilla crunch. 240 cal. $7.49.
According to PETA2, Caesar salad dressing is usually made with fish anchovies, egg mayonnaise, and sometimes, Parmesan cheese. These ingredients make Ceasar Salad creamy and calorie heavy. So most restaurants’ Caesar Salads aren’t vegan, but other Caesar Salads and Caesar Dressings can be served vegan.
The Chicago Diner serves Caesar Salad with crispy-fried Tempeh and Dijon Caesar Dressing. Veggie Grill also serves an amazing vegan Classic Romaine Caesar with a wedge of lemon.
That’s all the possible vegan options at Metro Diner, and as you can see, you can only get by a few appetizers, but can’t expect a good, full meal, especially if you’re one with an appetite and crave some “meatier,” plant-based chow.
Other Vegan-Friendly Diners
Metro Diner prides itself in its blend of traditional and tweaked southern cuisine. Most of its locations are scattered across West Virginia, Georgia, Atlanta, Alabama, and Florida. Grits, country ham, briskets, meatloaf, fried chicken steak, buttermilk biscuits, and baked potatoes are some of the Southeastern United States’ favorites and seeing how they’re notoriously in love with meat, it’s almost miraculous how vegan restaurants thrive in the states.
While not as popular as most, well-established companies, vegan restaurants are often singular establishments, but few have branched out. Nonetheless, their menu has no shortage in popularity, both among vegans and commoners, and one would be well surprised at how innovative plant-based chefs could be.
There are also other regular restaurants that do have a full vegan menu or serve a deal of vegan-friendly dishes, but with economics applied, they still mainly serve the mainstream culture of omnivory or vegetarianism. Whether you’d visit these types of restaurants with an ounce of guilt or not, is totally up to you.
So without further ado, here are some of the best Southeastern-style restaurants that would better serve your vegan palate.
Chef Will The Palate – Alabama
Located in Huntsville in a food trailer and tent vibe, Chef Will the Palate is established by renowned vegetarian Chef Forest Wilson where they serve Alabama’s best vegetarian cuisine with Southern-style seasonings. The menu items are very affordable too, and they do, of course, have vegan and gluten-free options.
Best to try are the Portobello Burger, just without cheese, the Curry Quinoa Lettuce Wraps served as twins at only 6 bucks, the Blacked Edamame Bean Salad, and the Chef Will California/Spring Rolls with Chef Wilson’s signature “bee sting” seasoning.
What truly sets Chef Will the Palate apart is how they heartwarmingly serve their community with great, plant-based food, service, and recreational activities. Check their Facebook page for more details.
The Root Café – Arkansas
The Root Cafe isn’t 100% vegan, but they’re known for responsibly sourcing high-quality products from local farms to give support to Arkansas’ farming community. Southern delectables made vegan are Tofu Scrambler, Bowl’a Granola, Shiitake Mushroom Burger, and Seasonal House Salad. They also feature Asian-influenced Banh Mi that can be made vegan with Tofu Scrambler instead of eggs.
Their website is very simple, but their menu is vivid and easily identifies vegan-friendly options.
Ethos Vegan Kitchen – Florida
Ethos Vegan Kitchen immediately gives away its 100% plant-based menu which features true Southern cuisine the vegan way. Located in Winter Park, Orlando, Ethos Vegan Kitchen is any plant-based foodie’s go-to, and for a great many reasons, or say grubs.
Sit comfortably in their hearty, homestyle fare, and be sure to catch your preferred hours; breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Order anything you’d like, they’re all vegan anyway! But I highly recommend trying out their Southern-style recipes; Breakfast Burrito, Biscuits and Gravy, Garlic Knots, Crispy Chikun Salad, “Meat” Loaf, and Sheep’s Pie.
The Grit – Georgia
One of the earliest restaurants on our list, and certainly one of the best servicers of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free food confirmed by PETA, The Grit in Athens, Georgia has been around for more than two decades and remains to be famous for its Black Bean Chilli. The Black Bean Chilli can be made vegan by skipping the sour cream.
The Grit features an old-style, brick-and-mortar building and mainly serves for lunch and dinner. Get yourself a tabletop of Loaded Nachos, Tofu Reuben Sandwich, and Black Bean Chilli.
V-Grits – Kentucky
V-Grits and Chimera Brewing are a tag team located in Louisville that stands for social justice, racial equality, access to healthy food for all, animal rights, and sustainability. Offering Southern-style, scratch vegan comfort food and craft beer, V-Grits is 100% plant-based and 100% committed to serving delicious, guilt-free food, including vegan barbecue.
All their “meats,” sauces, and cheeses are vegan, so feel free to try their Fried Mac Bites, Phatty Melt that features a double whammy of juicy, Beyond Burgers and melted vegan cheese, and finally BBQ Caesar Salad.
Killer PoBoys – Louisiana
They have a saying that if you haven’t tried a Po’boy in New Orleans, you’ve never tasted the real New Orleans. The Po’boy is Louisiana’s traditional sandwich, while others may refer to it as a sub or hoagie. While a Po’boy is almost always meat-filled, Killer PoBoys “kills” that idea by creating their own vegan Po’boys.
Serving lunch and dinner times, Killer PoBoys features a broad menu consisting of only two things; PoBoys and not PoBoys. Sides and drinks are available of course.
Their vegan-friendly PoBoys include Roasted Sweet Potato, Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich, Pecan Butter & Jelly, Thai BBQ Tofu, and Spinach Salad.
Magic Vegan – Mississippi
Magic Vegan doesn’t feature a broad menu board, but their plant-based BBQ meats still stand out and are among the best in the state. Located in Gulfport, Magic Vegan features Southern-style cuisine in a vegan light. BBQ Sandwich, Seitan Steak and Cheese, and Fajita Strips are some of their best sellers.
Don’t forget to treat yourself to a Cheezecake Mini for dessert and Unsweetened Herbal Tea to ease the stomach after all the protein-rich goodies you just had.
Happy + Hale – North Carolina
Happy and Hale is a business of well-being that promotes healthy living and a better Earth. Happy + Hale serves vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free food items, and although their menu is not strictly Southern, they’re largely influenced by Southern Californian cuisine and serve one of the best Salads and Protein Bowls in North Carolina.
They feature Avocado Toast, vegan Smoothies, Hale Caesar, and an Asian-influenced protein bowl, Beyond Bulgogi. These are their best-selling vegan menu items and are well known for their distinct flavors.
Despite Metro Diner being hardly vegan-friendly, there’s no shortage of great vegan places that offer innovative, Southern-style cuisine tweaked for the plant-based preference, but no less savory and satisfying. There’s no need for you to awkwardly walk into a well-known restaurant only to find yourself trying to get by their meager offerings.
If you’re around any of the places we’ve mentioned, be sure to check them out and let loose with all their vegan-friendly delicacies. Online orders and pickups are available too and are convenient ways of saving time and effort. If you wish to dine in, a reservation is also possible, just be wary of the ongoing Covid-19 protocols.
Finally, don’t restrict yourself by eating at restaurants that barely value your diet and lifestyle choices, because you can almost always be sure that there’s a better restaurant nearby that does.