Any herbivore can tell you, when selecting a travel destination or a city to call home, the presence of veg-friendly dining options can be an important deciding factor. For St. Augustine locals and visitors alike, between downtown, Anastasia Island, and everything in between, there are countless plant-based options to enjoy.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, dining with one, or simply interested in adding more plant-based meals to your diet this season, here are five veg-friendly eateries to add to your dining out lineup, plus a visual sampling of their mouthwatering vegan menu items.
1. THE PRESENT MOMENT CAFE — Entirely vegan
If you are in the market for a totally plant-based dining experience — one that truly rivals, if not exceeds, vegan restaurants in New York City — a visit to The Present Moment Cafe on West King is in order. The menu features an eclectic mix of raw, unprocessed, gluten-free, vegan fare. Specialties include original twists on classic favorites, such as hummus drizzled with mint oil, as well as more exotic choices. If you’re torn on what to try, fret not! You can order a half and half plate featuring two main dishes for a mix of flavors.
On my plate: Sweet and spicy Mango Samosa wrapped in coconut paper, paired with White Truffle Pesto Pasta.
Details: 224 West King; thepresentmomentcafe.com
2. THE MANATEE CAFE — Primarily vegetarian/vegan
The Manatee Cafe boasts a casual diner feel, complete with manatee-inspired artwork, and a primarily plant-based menu. This popular daytime spot offers a diverse selection of vegetarian and vegan breakfast, brunch or lunch options.
On my plate: A breakfast burrito that is so flavorful it doesn’t need to be doused in hot sauce gets an A+ in my book. This Tofu Breakfast Burrito includes rich, creamy sweet potatoes, and is paired with a side of home fries. This burrito can be made vegan by simply selecting tofu instead of eggs, and requesting Manatee’s vegan cheese option.
Details: 525 State Road 16 #106, Westgate Plate; manateecafe.com
3. THE BACK 40 URBAN CAFE — Vegetarian/Vegan Options Available
Sit back, relax, sip a beer or cider, and make yourself right at home at The Back 40 Urban Cafe. Dine inside the comfort of this house turned eatery, or outside in the back courtyard. From Island Bowls to Wet Burritos, guests can enjoy a number of original menu items, most of which can be easily made vegetarian, with several totally vegan options.
On My Plate: Every time I order this gigantic Wet Burrito with avocado, I say I’m going to save some for later, and it never happens. Instead, if one of their vegan cheesecakes is available, my burrito is followed up with dessert. This Wet Burrito with avocado can be made vegan by holding the cheese, and substituting Annie’s Goddess Dressing for sour cream.
Details: 40 S. Dixie Hwy; back40cafe.com
4. THE FLORIDIAN — Vegetarian/Vegan Options Available
Between tempeh from nearby Gainesville, and veggies sourced from area farmers, the Floridian seeks to provide sustainable, culinary creations, with an emphasis on farm-to-table offerings. Along with many fresh seafood options, they offer both tofu and tempeh as protein choices for their dishes. Between salads, and other specialties, this downtown eatery offers countless veg-friendly choices, and is willing to cater to a number of dietary needs and preferences.
On Our Plates: This Floridian salad changes with the seasons, meaning, in the summer you can expect to enjoy it loaded with blueberries, while in the fall, winter squash abounds. The combination of seasonal fruits and veggies, with blackened tempeh (or tofu) and quinoa over top a bed of fresh local greens makes this salad hard to beat.
As for the hearty Veggie Burger, this sweet potato and black bean patty will fill you up without weighing you down. Much like everything else at The Floridian, this burger is worth writing home about. If you’re thinking, “Hey, I recognize that burger,” it might be because it was featured in our Feb/March Issue, within the Eats section (page 91).
Details: 39 Cordova Street; thefloridianstaug.com
5. CRAVE FOOD TRUCK — Primarily Vegetarian/Vegan
Crave Food Truck offers a light and fresh combination of healthy lunch bites and smoothies. The build-your-own style lunch menu means you can combine any number of veggies, proteins and extras, to create an original salad or wrap. While grilled chicken is an option for carnivores, the majority of the menu is plant-based. Crave’s menu is simple, yet provides so many options you can select something new every single time you dine, based on what you’re craving (pun intended). If you can’t come up with the perfect combination on your own, Crave’s chalkboard filled with daily specials is there to help you out.
On My Plate: Veggie wrap filled with beets, black beans, corn, sun-dried tomatoes, a mix of fresh greens, and a nutritional yeast dressing.
Bonus Points — Convenience With a View: Because Crave Food Truck is stationary, you don’t have to go on the hunt to track it down. It’s always in its Riberia location, ready and waiting for you. Order and take your lunch with you on the go, or sit down at one of Crave’s picnic tables overlooking the water.
Details: 134 Riberia Street; Crave Facebook
While this handful of restaurants is certainly at the top of my list of local favorites, stay tuned for more veg-filled options coming soon.
Attention Fellow Veg-Friendly Food Lovers: If you have a plant-based favorite (dish or eatery) around town, leave a comment and let us know.