Maybe someday Salem will have good enough vegan options that we won’t need to eat at big national chains, but for now this is one of our best options. If you have never been, you can choose your burritos, bowls, or salad items at the location on Lancaster Drive in North Salem. If you get the vegan one (without cheese), guacamole is included for no extra charge. They also now have sofritas: a delicious tofu “meat” option, making what would otherwise be just beans and rice (and maybe the fajita vegetables) a lot more exciting. Another nice feature they have is you can put together your order online, then just stop by and pick it up.
Donatello’s Pizza, located next to Northern Lights Theater & Pub is big — it can accommodate about 200 patrons or so. Really friendly/helpful staff and management. They have a decent selection of local beers on tap, live organ music, and serve Daiya cheese as the vegan option. They have thick or thin crust choice (both tasty). There is a jukebox, pinball machines, some video games, and a bunch of tvs with sports on. Kind of what you’d expect from a pizza place (except they serve vegan food!). We were told the gluten-free crust is not vegan. We don’t know why their online menu says nothing about Daiya being available, but one of our members confirmed that they do have it.
The Laughing Lunchbox is a food truck and they have a vegan sandwich every day! They love their vegan customers and their ideas/suggestions (as seen in the photo)! They have made extraordinary efforts to have legit vegan options and are open to feedback. This is so unique among Salem businesses and we appreciate it! They are a mobile food business, but can often be found at the f/Stop Fitzgerald’s Public House. Check their Facebook page for days where they may be at other locations.
[The Laughing Lunchbox website (Facebook) || menu & directions change daily]
A fast food kind of Americanized Japanese/Asian place with locations in Keizer, Salem and Albany. They have the usual stuff– tofu with noodles, vegetable tempura, etc. Check out the menu for options and do be sure to tell them you are vegan in case something has fish sauce in it.
Another chain, but there’s only one location in Salem and we’re glad to have it. Located in downtown Salem at 524 State St. (near the corner with High St.), you can always count on Pita Pit for a quick, healthy lunch or dinner on-the-go. Our favorite is the spicy black bean on a whole wheat pita stuffed with as many veggies they can squish in there! Best of all, the staff is always friendly and knowledgeable about vegan options. When ordering a spicy black bean or hummus wrap, they always ask if I’m veggie and if I’d like them to change their gloves before making my food. They always comply with a smile :) Note: as of this writing, according to the handy app VeganXpress, Pita Pit’s current vegan options are the spicy black bean, falafel, hummus, or garden (veggie), on a pita or in a salad.
Saigon Restaurant is located downtown on Court St. next to the Govenor’s Cup. Like most Asian restaurants, they have a lot of tofu dishes with vegetables over rice. If you are tired of Thai or Chinese, though, Vietnamese food adds some nice variety. Our favorite dishes are the two tofu banh mi sandwiches. It’s unclear if their “homemade mayo” has eggs in it (we asked and they said they thought it did) so order without and of course order without the pate which they told me is pig liver (YUCK!!!!) The banh mi comes with pickled vegetables and cukes for a nice crunchy tasty sandwich. The banh mi pictured here has vegenaise I added once I got home. The price is extremely reasonable at $4.50 for a meal-sized baguette sandwich.
Yes, another chain…and a Mexican restaurant (which we said we weren’t going to include because there are so many places you can get a veggie burrito). But we’ve got to give this one props for actually using the word VEGAN on their menu…of a national chain! Awareness is the first step. But on to the food.
So, there’s a vegan burrito which you can get mondito (regular size) or mondo (huge!) or in a bowl with no tortilla. It comes automatically with guacamole and then you add rice, beans (black, pinto or refried), and veggie toppings. All in all, pretty standard, but you can grab a quick bit at the one off Mission St. or further north at Keizer Station. And sometimes all you want is just a good, ‘ol reliable veggie burrito.
During the school year there’s Goudy Commons, run by Cafe Bon Appetit, the dining hall at Willamette University. We aren’t proud to say it, but in our humble opinion, Goudy is the best place in Salem for vegans or vegetarians–or anyone for that matter– to eat. Goudy is affordable, but is also very high quality. For $7.75 (for dinner, it’s less for lunch) you get an all-you-can-eat buffet that is different every night. They aim for healthy and local foods with a variety of different options such as vegan pizza, burritos, quinoa salads, hemp burgers, soups, and more.
Vegan, gluten free, soy free and vegetarian options are clearly marked here. Even if Goudy doesn’t show it on their menu there is always something vegan to eat. They also do a dinner that is buffet style – yum!
The Cat Cavern at Willamette is also an option. It is the same Goudy food, but less variety. Or venture across 12th St. to Tokyo International University’s Kaneko Cafe, also part of the Bon Appetit world.