Whether you’re a veg head or not, sometimes it’s nice to take a step back from meat and get a little closer to nature. Eating a plant based diet can be a great detox and has a ton of other health benefits. Plus, contrary to popular belief, vegetarian eating is absolutely DELICIOUS. In the last few years, vegetarian dishes have been popping up on menus all over Lakeland, so we’ve compiled our favorites here, and spoiler alert: they aren’t all salads. Not even close.
Snack or meal on the go:
1. The Juice Box is Lakeland’s first and only juice bar. Their menu is mostly vegan, but also includes options for those on a paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, and/or raw diet. This is the perfect place to take a break and recharge with a healthy and delicious snack. (Insider favorite: Mint Chavocado Smoothie [avocado, banana, mint, greens, cocoa, vanilla] and Taco Toast [organic refried beans, chipotle-olive spread, organic tomato, chopped romaine, sea salt]). If you’re looking for a meal instead of a snack, they also have sandwiches and bowls that are more filling. Inside, you’ll also find a local art market where you can shop for products and goods produced right here in Lakeland.
2. Tea Largo is the go-to spot for boba, matcha, loose leaf tea, and acai bowls. They started as a part of PicassoZ Art Cafe, but quickly grew into a stand-alone shop as a part of the art-focused Central Florida Creative Outlet, which includes PicassoZ Art Cafe, Breakables Mosaics, Party Loft, and Tea Largo. This fun, creative energy is matched by the mosaic floor and bright colors. We love the classic acai bowl, but everything on the menu is delicious. They are also super conscious about listing vegan options, which is great.
3. Cafe Zuppina is a delicious Mediterranean lunch and dinner restaurant on South Florida, and is the perfect spot for an evening out with vegetarians and carnivores alike. There are plenty of meat options on the menu, as well as TONS of yummy vegetarian choices. Our Insider picks are the zucchini plate or hummus for an appetizer, and theVeggie Moussaka (vegans order without cheese) for an entree.
4. Anthony’s Health Hut & Restaurant is a health food store and cozy cafe all in one, so you can meet all your supplement, snack and hunger needs in one trip. This spot is great for a quick lunch, and also offers non-vegetarian options. Our favorite is the Veggie Sandwich with hummus and the Mexican Fiesta smoothie, with papaya, peaches and banana.
5. Bay Street Bistro is perfect if you’re looking for a veggie-friendly meal for a bit nicer occasion. Vegans, be sure to order everything without cheese (still just as tasty). If you’re dairy-friendly, be sure to try the Bruschetta or Eggplant Rollatini appetizers, or the caprese salad for something lighter. The poached pear salad, with poached pears and spiced walnuts on a bed of greens (with balsamic glaze and goat cheese, if you wish), is also delicious. If you’re ready to jump right in with something a little more filling, try the Melanzane Primo, with roasted eggplant stuffed with roasted red peppers, spinach, pine nuts, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and provolone cheese, or the Polenta Pizzarini, with polenta covered with sauteed vegetables in a marinara sauce with goat cheese and a balsamic glaze.
6. Patio 850 is one of our absolute favorite local hubs, and just so happens to have a menu filled to the BRIM with vegetarian options. Eating vegan is a little more difficult here, but most items can be ordered without cheese and are good to go! Our winner, by far, is the Veggielicious Flatbread, with hummus, grilled vegetables, mushrooms, tomatoes, goat cheese, mozzarella, spinach, onions, and balsamic glaze. If vegans are worried about the flatbread, even without the cheese, try the Organic Bleu salad without the gorgonzola, you won’t regret it!
7. Mellow Mushroom is the BEST for paying close attention to special diets, and they even have special vegan and gluten-free menus. They have Daiya vegan cheese and will substitute it on any regular menu items, and their pizza dough is vegan. Even better? They have a bunch of other delicious vegan menu items to try if pizza isn’t your thing. Our Insider picks are the hummus and veggies, the pretzel munchies, the Enlightened Spinach Salad, and Avocado Hoagie.
8. Taco Bus is the perfect late-night snack stop for a vegetarian or vegan in Lakeland. It can be tough to be a vegetarian during those midnight runs to Steak and Shake or Taco Bell, where your only options are greasy french fries or to go hungry. Taco Bus is your solution. They are open till 2am on Friday and Saturday nights and are conveniently located right downtown. They have every veggie-friendly taco/burrito/salad filling under the sun, from the classic beans and rice, to vegan “steak strips,” to our favorite, the diced butternut squash grilled with sweet red peppers, tomatoes and onions.
9. The Gourmet Muffin is a special breakfast treat for vegans, as they can only be found on Saturday morning at the Downtown Farmer’s Curb Market, but trust us, they are well worth the wait. With vegan and gluten-free muffin options, like blueberry, raspberry lemon, pineapple coconut, and many more. Our Insider pick: ginger peach.
10. A Cow Named Moo may not sound like a vegan’s dream dessert, but they actually offer a delicious vegan Coco Coffee dairy-free ice cream sandwich with Patriot Coffee Roasters coffee beans that is to die for. A Cow Named Moo is available at the Wednesday Twilight Market at Dixieland Relics, at pop-ups at Concord Coffee, and regularly at Simple Vintage with Scout and Tag downtown.
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