By Cassie Nataro |

When I decided to go to college in Texas, I knew my food options were going to be limited as a vegan. My hometown in Pennsylvania hosts an annual vegan food festival and even has a fully vegan bakery with non-dairy soft serve and cannolis. Waco, however, seems like it just got almond milk on the menu. 

Despite this, I was determined to find restaurants in Waco that I can enjoy something other than a dressing-less salad with a side of carrot sticks. I joined a vegan Facebook group for the area and got recommendations through that, but I also messaged many restaurants on Instagram to see what their vegan options were.

Whether you are trying to eat less meat, you have a friend who is vegan, or you really like non-dairy frozen dessert, here are the best restaurants in Waco with vegan-friendly options. 

Harvest on 25th

With large wooden tables, this restaurant is perfect for an Instagram-worthy brunch with friends or studying for an upcoming test. Harvest on 25th partners with local farms to serve delicious food with a sustainable focus. They have been in Waco for less than a year and are constantly adding more items to their menu, including their vegan options. Often times they have vegan baked goods like cookies and brownies. I like to go for the blueberry pancakes with coconut whipped cream or the tofu scramble breakfast tacos with coconut bacon. 

Clay Pot

Clay Pot is a Vietnamese restaurant that offers a large variety of vegan options from pho, fried rice, to vermicelli bowls. Everything on the menu is clearly marked with what can be made vegan and the staff is very knowledgeable. I like to order the tofu spring rolls with peanut sauce and the vegetable clay pot (rice, veggies, and sauce). The portions are large, so I bring my own to-go leftovers container. 

The Cheddar Box

Perfect for a cold fall day, this food truck is parked at the Silos and offers gourmet grilled cheese. Cheddar Box does not list their vegan options on the menu, but they do exist, you just have to ask. When ordering vegan, the chefs are careful to use olive oil and a separate grill. They have a vegan tomato basil soup that is mildly spicy with being smooth and creamy without the dairy. 

The soup pairs perfectly with a grilled cheese made from sourdough bread and your choice of vegan gouda or pepper jack cheese. 

Poppa Rollo’s Pizza

A Waco staple for decades, Poppa Rollo’s does not disappoint with their made-from-scratch pizzas and are perfect for a late night carb craving. I order the gourmet vegetarian which comes with mushrooms, olives, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. Their dough and sauce are naturally vegan and their menu labels everything very clearly. You can also choose your own toppings, just make sure to substitute for vegan cheese. 

Luna Juice Bar

Serving a variety of juices and smoothies, Luna Juice Bar also offers an assortment of salads, waffles, wraps, and more. They have a food truck at the Silos and a brick and mortar store as well. The owner started her business after becoming sober from drugs and alcohol. She helped open a recovery house for women right here in Waco, which makes me feel good that I’m supporting a business that has provided so much for the Waco community. During the fall, they have a bean and quinoa chili that is hearty and packs the flavor. In the warmer months I like to get their Pina-Kale-Ada smoothie.

There may not be a fully vegan restaurant in Waco and it can take time and effort to do the research, but for me, being able to eat out with friends and share meals together, is time spent building community. All of these restaurants demonstrate that there is a wide variety of delicious options and proof that vegans don’t eat grass for every meal.