Vegan Fast Food & Restaurant Chains
When you leave your home, and are deciding to eat plant based for the first time or because you do every time, it doesn’t have to be so daunting. There are many easily options available at today’s major restaurant & fast food chains. To help you figure out which places are vegan-friendly, I’ve started a growing list of what places have official options and have included a few of my own personal hacks along the way from travels around the US. If you have suggestions on popular places to add near you, feel free to share it in the comments section below. As always, as new information becomes available, this page will be continuously updated to help everyone in the vegan community thrive. Enjoy!
Locations: Arizona, California, Oregon, Hawaii, Washington, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, & Virgina,
Atmosphere: I visited the Portland location on a work trip with some of my omnivore colleagues who were open trying a vegan restaurant… Yay!! It was warm, cozy & the perfect place to get us out of the rain.
What to Try: We tried their take on a western specialty, the Hawaiian Burger (a tender veggie soy patty, pineapple, onions, mushrooms, teriyaki sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, vegenaise served with french fries) and the BE-VEG Delight (Steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, baby corn, & mushrooms with clean white rice) which were both slam dunks!
Locations: Chicago, Oregon, Colorado, Palm Springs, and California.
Atmosphere: This is a walk-up diner style spot with a very warm, authentic vibe that you could just hang at forever. My boyfriend, Austin took me to check out their Point Loma location on our first date after a hike and it’s been one of our frequent favorites ever since.
What to Try: You really can’t go wrong with any of their savory classics like the Chicken Wings (grilled/crispy wings, as is or with buffalo/thai chili sauce served on a bed of shredded cabbage, carrots, & green onion with a side of ranch) or the Poppin’ Jalapeno Burger (2 plant based patties with Follow Your Heart American cheese, pickled jalapenos, crispy onions, jalapeno-pimento cheese, green goddess dressing, on a toasted pretzel bun) and the Twister Wrap (crispy/grilled chicken as is or tossed in Buffalo sauce, with avocado, mixed greens, cucumber salsa, and ranch/chipotle sauce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla).While I love eating healthy, french fries are my weakness. Their perfectly crisped steak cut fries will keep you coming back for more.
Plant Power (California Only)
Locations: Fountain Valley, Riverside, Long Beach, San Diego University, Redlands, Encinitas (fav!), & Ocean Beach
Atmosphere: SDU was a pretty cool for an evening bite. What’s not cool? The parking situation, but as long as you plan ahead you’ll be alright. Encinitas is the go-to for drive thru but be aware of the late-night rush line.
What to Try: All…of…it… This menu is super fun to work through if you want to see what it’s like to veganize major fast food chain classics. They cover all the favorites with The Big Zac (2 ‘beefy’ style patties, Zac sauce, American ‘cheese’, lettuce, onions & pickles), a spicy Buffalo ’66(crispy battered buffalo ‘chicken’ breast, ‘ranch’ dressing, lettuce & tomato), and even a lent-time favorite like the ‘Fish’ Filet Sandwich (crispy breaded ‘fish’, American ‘cheese’, tartar sauce, lettuce & tomato). I never leave without an Old Fashioned ‘Milkshake’. They have a ton of flavors to pick from like chocolate, strawberry, peanut butter, horchata & a rotating ‘Flavor of the Month’.
Locations: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, & Washington
Atmosphere: I love their no fuss, walk-up ordering style without the “fast food” feeling! Patio dining is great when you’re looking for something fresh during your next lunch outing.
What to Try: Everything! Seriously this is place is great for anyone looking to eat a little cleaner. A go-to Postmates order always includes their Southwestern Nachos (chips, queso sauce, achiote taco meat, ranchero beans, tomato corn salsa, mashed avo, crema & pickled chiles), the Far East Bowl (grilled tempeh/sesame chick’n wild rice, broccolini, pickled veggies, fresh herbs, & savory thai coconut curry sauce) and the Reuben on the Rye (corned beef, special sauce, whiskey dill sauerkraut, provolone cheese, on toasty rye bread).
The Gentle Grill (California Only)
Location: Temecula, California
Atmosphere: This is a great joint for whenever you’re in the mood for fast order style comfort food. They also have a great selection of non-dairy cheeses, sauces, and sweets for purchase on any given day.
What to Try: Cauliflower Buffalo Bites (lightly battered & seasoned cauliflower with ranch dip), Crispy ‘Chicken’ Sandwich (crispy ‘chicken’ patty, lettuce, tomato, ‘mayonnaise”, and pickles served on a potato bun), Cabo Bowl (cilantro-lime quinoa, crispy chicken, black corn, tomato, pickled jalapenos with chipotle cashew cheese dressing)
With Vegan Options
Barrel Republic (California Only)
Locations: Oceanside, Carlsbad, Pacific Beach, & Escondido
Atmosphere: I am so on board with their pay-what-you-pour concept! My first experience with them way at the Oceanside location on historic 101 Coast Hwy. Upon walking in you’ll be given a wristband tied to your credit/debit card to manage your food and drink tab. From there, you’ll get to walk right up to barrels full of rotating craft beer, wine and even kombucha!
What to Try: Aside from the ever-changing beverage options, there is a small selection of vegan options including the Fresh Tomato & Avocado Soup, Ironman Salad (spinach, kale, almonds, ground flaxseed, quinoa, cranraisins, strawberries, & tumeric-maple vinaigrette), Thai Peanut Salad (field greens, napa cabbage, carrots, green onions, red pepper, red cabbage, chopped roasted peanuts & spicy thai dressing), my personal favorite the Vegan Wild Mushroom “French Dip” (portobello, oyster, & button mushrooms with sautéed onion, spinach, vegan cheese, and porcini au jus on a hoagie bun).
Beach Hut Deli
Locations: Oregon, Nevada, & all throughout California
Atmosphere: This place practically oozes cool surfer vibes with eye-appealing surfboard decor, quick walk-up service style that’s perfect to help you make it back in time for your lunch break while enjoying some time near the ocean. The Oceanside (CA) staff was super kind and were excited to learn how I veganized one of their salad items after them telling me there were no options and what the plant based life is like. Spoiler alert: It’s great. Unfortunately none of their breads are vegan (yet), so salad is the only option for vegans that I know of to date.
What to Try: The Super Salad (a mixture of quinoa, edamame, corn, and bell pepper, topped with tomatoes, onions, sliced avocado, and feta cheese. Served with a side of lemon garlic Italian dressing) No Cheese (yep, that’s it!). This salad packed a punch with plenty of protein to help fuel me during the last half of the work day.
Locations: Alberta, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington & West Virginia.
Atmosphere: This quick fast-fire’d pizza spot is sure to warm up your next solo lunch or family dinner. Their Temecula (CA) location is so well versed on vegan preferences that they often proactively ask if you’d like a glove change when you mention you’re ordering a plant based pizza.
What to Try: The main vegan option you can always rely on is a Build-Your-Own Pizza. Choose from a classic, gluten free or high-rise dough and either a traditional or spicy red sauce. From there, you can add all the plant based toppings you want like: artichokes, banana peppers, basil, black olives, cherry tomatoes, chopped garlic, green bell peppers, jalapenos, kalamata olives, mushrooms, pineapple, red onions, red peppers, roasted brussel sprouts, roasted garlic, sauteed onion, spicy chorizo (vegan), spinach, zucchini.
Locations: You can find these two brands of the major chain almost anywhere in the US. It’s safe to say, you’ll find it called ‘Carl’s Jr.’ in most Western states and ‘Hardee’s‘ the closer you go to central or Eastern states. Oklahoma & Wyoming are the only states with both locations. Surprisingly, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, & Maine are the only states with no locations of either (The Daily Meal).
Atmosphere: As far as fast-food places go, I’d say Carl’s Jr. is more of a drive-thru style service and Hardee’s is more home-style or meant to dine-in. I find that options are almost always a little healthier on the Carl’s Jr. side offering extra avocado, sauces & jalapenos, whereas you’ll find more things like biscuits & diner style burgers at Hardee’s.
What to Try: You can safely navigate the menu with a few plant based friendly options. Always be aware of the possibility of cross-contamination & how your body will react to heavily processed foods. For a vegan friendly safe go-to, you can order a Beyond sandwich combo with fries (No cheese or mayo). Fun things to add are extra tomato, choice of red/onion, avocado, jalapeno, bbq sauce). Stay away from the onion rings, fried zucchini. As tempting as they sound, they contain diary in the ingredients.
Locations: Arizona, Nevada, and a handful of locations throughout Southern California.
Atmosphere: When you walk in, it honestly feels like a nightclub for donuts. The flashing lights, electronic menu boards, upbeat music all get you excited to try some of the most over-the-top varieties out there. They have a variety of vegan options on hand at the Temecula (CA) location, but individual locations may vary.
What to Try: Strawberry Split Donut (Vegan yeast donut filled with vegan whipped cream and fresh strawberries), Creme Brulee Donut (Vegan Bavarian cream filled), Apple Fritter (Vegan fresh apple fritter topped with caramel glaze), Vegan Funfetti, Spiced Chai Donut (Vegan Cake donut dipped in spiced chai glaze with a hint of grated orange) PB & J (Vegan bar filled with raspberry jelly, glazed with peanut butter & topped with chopped peanuts), Vegan Salted Caramel (Vanilla cake donut dipped in caramel and lightly dusted with salt).
Locations: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina & Florida
Atmosphere: This is the local, late-night hero when everything’s closed and drive-thru is a must. I honestly wasn’t a fan prior to going vegan, but their plant-based options are always on point.
What to Try: They’ve recently added more vegan options to the menu including: Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito (Beyond meat®, slow-cooked beans made from scratch, cilantro lime rice, fresh guac & pico wrapped up in a warm, oversized tortilla) Beyond® Avocado Taco (seasoned Beyond meat® crumbles, sliced avocado, crisp lettuce tomatoes in a hard shell) Avocado Veggie Bowl (sliced avocado, seasoned black beans, diced onions & tomatoes, fresh romaine & iceberg lettuce blend over cilantro lime rice), Fries & Hash Brown Sticks
Locations: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, & Wyoming.
Atmosphere: This place is great for a quick bite and is very vegan friendly offering many bagel options and even a couple menu items (with one modification).
What to Try: Vegan friendly bagels include: Cinnamon Raisin, Cranberry, Everything, Garlic, Plain, Poppy, Pumpernickel Sesame, Cinnamon Raisin, Everything, Sourdough, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip*, French Toast, Pretzel, Plain Thin, Whole Wheat Thin, Apple Cinnamon, Power Protein Bagel. You can also use potato rolls & tortillas. Spreads you can try are Natural Peanut Butter and Natural Strawberry Jelly. Sauces you can try are Chipotle Salsa, Spicy Brown Deli Mustard, Salsa Verde. Veggie toppings for sandwiches include avocado, capers, cucumber, leaf lettuce, pickle spear, red onion, spinach, & tomato. My go-to order is the Avocado Veg Out (your choice of bagel, tomato, lettuce, cucumbers and red onions with avocado. No Shmear). You can do Kettle Chips on the side or a fruit cup. An alternate option is Avocado Toast .
El Pollo Loco
Locations: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Louisiana
Atmosphere: Whenever I don’t feel like cooking & my local shop is too long to wait, this is my go-to. I prefer them over other chains of the same style because of their fresh, quality ingredients. As with any fast food, the risk of cross contamination is likely although I feel that this place is a little safer given their overall focus on approaching quick service traditional food in a healthier way.
What to try: Official vegan friendly menu items to order as is include: Vegan Chickenless Pollo Taco, Vegan Chickenless Pollo Burrito, Chips & Guac, Salsas. Vegan Hack: Original Pollo Bowl Combo (No Cheese. Sub Avocado for the Chicken), order chips & a drink.
Locations: Colorado,Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and largely throughout California. You can check out the fun Road Trip Location Guide I recently discovered here.
Atmosphere: It’s a California staple, so if you’re looking for a laid back lunch or late-night-snack experience, you can always count on this being consistently satisfying. I haven’t been in other states long enough to experience it there, but here at home things get a little hectic during the lunch rush or some later evenings since it’s a cheap, easy option especially when it gets late & you can’t decide where to go.
What to try: Thankfully this restaurant chain is super ‘clean’ for fast-food and has a simplified menu, so modifying for vegans is a breeze. Start out with the ‘Veggie Sandwich‘ (No spread), choose grilled/fried onions add chiles, ketchup & mustard. Add fries & your favorite non-dairy drink 🙂
Jersey Mike’s Subs
Locations: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware,
District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Atmosphere: I love that you can find these virtually anywhere and that staff is always friendly to veganize an order. Their ‘Shore’ culture follows true no matter where you go and is sure to be your go-to on any day. While it’s nice to dine-in, I prefer to enjoy it via rooftop or desktop depending on how the day is going.
What to try: Order The Veggie (#14) on wheat, (No cheese) extra bell peppers, pepperoncini peppers, red pepper spread, Mike’s way (includes onions, lettuce, tomatoes, spices & vinegar) & add avocado.
Locations: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California,
Colorado, Connecticut, Washington DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii
Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, & Wyoming
Atmosphere: I remember taking my kid sister to their location on Clinton St. in Defiance (OH) years ago for a ‘girls day’ around the city where we both grew up. She had fun ordering anything she wanted & it was such a great place for us to goof around before catching a movie. Definitely family approved.
What to try: One safe option is the Create Your Own Pizza with the OG ‘Buttery Blend Crust Flavor’ crust which is totally vegan (the others? not so much), choice of Classic Marinara/Buffalo sauce (…stay away from the BBQ which definitely contains honey stolen for bees), choice of Buffalo Dipping Sauce or Drizzle, choice of toppings including:
mushrooms, roasted spinach, red onions, Mediterranean Black Olives, Green Bell Peppers, Banana Peppers, Pineapple, Jalapeno Peppers, & Roma Tomatoes. You can also try the WingStreet Fries with Ketchup and Cinnamon Sticks (No icing)
Rubio’s Coastal Grill
Locations: Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Florida and California.
Atmosphere: Their headquarters in Carlsbad (CA) is the perfect reprise during a busy afternoon running errands around the mall and is hearty enough to help you recover after a beach day with their minimalist decor and delicate lighting.
What to try: My favorite menu item is the California Bowl (citrus rice, black beans, guac, salsa fresca, romaine lettuce, roasted chipotle salsa, with grilled veggies as the protein). Other plant based options include Cilantro Lime Quinoa Bowl (brown rice & quinoa, avocado slices, black beans, cilantro lime mojo sauce, romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, with grilled veggies as the protein), Balsamic & Grilled Vegetable Salad (mixed greens, cauliflower, fire-roasted corn, red onion, avocado slices, lemon agave balsamic vinaigrette, with grilled veggies as the protein), Mango Avocado Salad (mixed greens, brown rice & quinoa salsa, avocados, tortilla strips, with grilled veggies tossed in lemon agave white balsamic dressing, mango), Burrito Especial (citrus rice, cauliflower, poblanos, red bell peppers, fire-roasted corn, black beans, guac, roasted chipotle salsa, salsa fresca, and red onion marinated in garlic, lemon & sea salt), Grilled Gourmet Taco with Veggies (cauliflower, poblanos, red bell pepper, fire-roasted corn, avocado, cilantro, onion, & red onion marinated in garlic, lemon and sea salt. No chipotle sauce or toasted cheese), Chips, Citrus/Mexican Rice, Greens with lemon balsamic vinaigrette, “no fried”™pinto beans (No cheese).
Locations: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New, Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, West Virginia, Wisconsin & Wyoming
Atmosphere: Their Oceanside Blvd (CA) location masters the art of being the perfect chill spot when you need to grab a fast lunch or dinner. I always end up working this chain into my road trip route at some point just to mix it up and it’s always a slam when the late-night munchies hit.
What to try: My go-to is the Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme (No sour cream or cheese) with avocado, Bean Burrito (Order it fresco), Veggie Power Menu Bowl (No cheese, sour cream or ranch). You can also do the Cinnamon Twists, Crunchy/Soft Tacos (make it fresco, sub black beans for the beef), Rice, Black beans, & chips
Texas de Brazil
Locations: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, & International: Puerto Rico, Aruba, Mexico City, Trinidad and Tobago, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, South Korea & Panama
Atmosphere: I will say the culture of this business does not directly align with vegan values, however, if you find yourself here for business or with family, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their understanding and ability to accommodate to a plant based diet.
What to Try: As expected, vegans are safe to mainly stick to the salad bar area with the exception of a few sides. Safe salad items include: romaine lettuce, cherry/sliced tomatoes, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, capers, cornichons, roasted garlic, roasted peppers, roasted jalapeños, malagueta peppers, cucumber, red onion, shredded carrots, kalamata olives, & balsamic vinaigrette. Vegan friendly sides include couscous salad, cucumber salad, jasmine rice, feijoada black beans & sauteed mushrooms (Be sure to ask your waiter for verification on any sides to be sure they are prepared without animal products).
Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia & Washington
Atmosphere: This place elevates the sports pub experience with quality food and a comfortable, yet structured atmosphere. It’s perfect for a low key date night or a celebration with friends. Either way, you’re bound to leave full and happy.
What to try: They have plenty of vegan options to go around including: Gardein™ Buffalo Wings, Gardein™ BBQ Wings, Gardein™ Whiskey Black Pepper Wings, Gardein™ Lemon Pepper Wings, Gardein™ BBQ Chicken Salad, Gardein™ Chicken & Avocado Sandwich, Gardein™ Orange Chicken, Beyond™ Burger with Salad, Chips & Guac, Truffle Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Avocado Toast, Steamed Edamame, Spicy Edamame, House Salad, Jumbo Bavarian Pretzel, Jasmine Rice, Spicy Rice, Pinto Beans, French Fries
That’s All For Now…
This current list is just the start to show you what’s out easily available out there right now. Stay tuned for more updates as I prep past content for posting & find new hacks/menu items to add.
Leave a comment below if you’ve tried any of these options yourself or have questions about anything on this list. I hope you enjoy it!
As always, thanks for your love & support.
‘Til next time!