You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy these vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Whether you’re looking towards a more herbivore diet for health reasons or you just want to enjoy something light for lunch or dinner, these (not always obvious) places located throughout metro Detroit have something on the menu just for you. And for you meatatarians out there, your love of bacon is no less pure and true if you occasionally mix in some garbanzo beans and greens once in awhile.
22950 Woodward Ave
Ferndale, MI 48220
The Fly Trap is Ferndale’s “finer diner” and is so popular amongst the locals that it even attracted the attention of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. For those looking for a little lighter fare, the Fly Trap has a nice mix of available options. They’ve got a great selection of all-veg salads, sure, but there’s also a few more inventive items for non-meatheads. The Pea Patch sandwich is all veggies with an herb pesto “schmear,” while the Tempting Tempeh ‘wich is the same as their burger but without the beef. Also try the tofu version of their Lemongrass Pho Bowl, the traditional Vietnamese soup that’s steadily gaining in popularity in metro Detroit.
22651 Woodward Ave
Ferndale, MI 48220
With its emphasis on chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, parsley, eggplant, tomatoes, cracked wheat and raw juices, Mediterranean food lends itself particularly well to a vegetarian lifestyle anyway. (Well … except for all of the lamb. Cue the, “He don’t eat no meat? That’s okay, I make lamb,” joke from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.) Salads might get old for the vegetarian after awhile, but the salads at Anita’s are anything but same-old. Tabbouleh (with chopped parsley, tomato, onion, mint, cracked wheat, lemon and olive oil) and fattoush (with tomato, cucumber, green pepper, parsley, toasted pita chips and sumac dressing) are among the traditional offerings, and the chickpea salad, Mediterranean salad and Greek salad are all 100% meat-free (most are also vegan, or can be made vegan by removing the cheese). Also try the pita pizzas, vegetarian grape leaves and baba ghannouge.
Cass Café in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood was a vegetarian and vegan restaurant back when that was still an exclusively niche market. This art gallery, restaurant and bar has been a popular spot for Wayne State and CCS students for years with its free WiFi, cheap drink specials, and not-your-typical-college-town-restaurant menu. Everything is made from scratch, including their roasted curry lentil soup, artichoke heart and spinach dip, and hummus. They’ve got a huge selection of salads with homemade dressings as well as a hugely popular lentil burger. They’ve also got some unexpected items with a vegetarian twist like a vegetarian burrito, vegetarian egg rolls, vegetarian lasagna, and a large selection of veg-centric sandwiches.
Sweet Earth, with a store in Birmingham and another recently opened in Royal Oak, serves non-fat frozen yogurt as well as non-dairy soft serve with wheat-free, gluten-free, organic and vegan options for toppings. If you’ve got a sweet tooth and a strict diet, this is your spot.
While Inn Season Café is certainly an obvious choice for anyone looking for vegetarian and vegan cuisine in metro Detroit, sometimes being obvious isn’t a bad thing. Inn Season has been a place of plant-based refuge for desirous diners since 1981, long before this kind of cuisine was considered in vogue. They focus on organic, seasonal and locally-grown ingredients, and al of their food is made without use of any animal products (unless otherwise noted) and are all made in-house from-scratch without any food colorings, preservatives, refined sugar, bleached flour or microwaves. It is the Platonic ideal of vegetarian restaurants.
22828 Woodward Ave
Ferndale, MI 48220
Imperial in Ferndale is a honky-tonk, rockabilly, Mexi-Cali, L.A. biker/hipster taco and tequila and beer and bourbon bar. Nothing about it screams “vegetarian,” except for Chef Brennan Calnin’s select vegetarian options and regular vegetarian specials. While the specials are different weekly (sometimes daily, depending on how popular certain items are – and the vegetarian options are most certainly popular), you can always count on their house-made salsas (in three different exceptional flavors), guacamole, grilled japaleños, grilled sweet corn, and the vegetarian taco with spiced seitan and roasted potatoes.
The Wurst Bar specializes in sausage. They make all their own brats in-house and use a variety of different exotic and game meats. Which sounds completely antithetical to a vegetarian lifestyle, except for the fact that they also serve a variety of vegetarian and vegan items including a veggie burger and vegan tots with seitan sausage. They also offer delivery, which includes beer.
Buddy’s Pizzavarious locations around metro Detroit
You might not assume that Detroit’s most popular and most famous pizza can actually be quite healthy (depending on what you order), but Buddy’s Pizza – with nine locations throughout metro Detroit – offers a variety of options for a healthier lifestyle. From gluten-free and multi-grain crusts to vegan “cheese” and gourmet veggie options, Buddy’s is actually very veg-friendly. For great-tasting signature pizzas minus the meat, try their Margherita or Greek pizzas.
Another pizza place? Yes. Because Pizzeria Biga isn’t just another pizza place. With locations in Southfield, Royal Oak, and a third currently underway in Ann Arbor, Biga is the hottest thing happening in pizza in metro Detroit. The dough itself (called “biga,” hence the name) is lighter and healthier than traditional pizza doughs, and their pizzas are all topped with exceptional high-quality, all-natural ingredients. While Chef Luciano del Signore’s house-made charcuterie is certainly a star here, those looking for a meatless alternative will find dozens of options ranging from oven-roasted tomatoes and zucchini to rapini and fingerling potatoes. They also have an excellent selection of salads which include several vegan and gluten-free options, and even a few vegetarian-friendly house-made pastas. Be sure to save room for dessert: their house-made gelato is rich, creamy, and has less fat than ice cream, and their sorbetto is fat-free, dairy-free and guilt-free.
There’s so much to love about Green Dot Stables in Corktown, including their list of $2-3 craft beers and their extensive menu of gourmet sliders made with sometimes *ahem* unusual ingredients (meat-eaters, check out the weekly “Mystery Meat” and don’t ask too many questions), and they also have plenty of love for plant-eaters. Veg-friendly sliders include the tempeh slider (with marinated tempeh, wasabi mayo and wakame salad), the Korean (with peanut butter and kimchi) and the PBJ with chipotle-raspberry jam. The poutine (French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds) is fast becoming a signature Detroit dish, while their other French frie stylings are suitable for vegans. They’ve also got several popular vegetarian and vegan salads including cucumber, kale, hummus and white bean and potato, as well as a vegan mushroom soup. A slider joint with strong vegan leanings? Thank you, Corktown.
All Photos by David Lewinski Photography