How to Eat Vegan in Dayton, Ohio
It would be weird if I didn’t write about the 937 (Dayton) vegan scene before I wrote about all the other great cities I’ve visited. This will be the first of many city guides that you can use when you’re new around here or just passing through. So here it is, a list of over 40 places in this great city I call home!
I’ve lived in the Dayton area my entire life (that’s over 36 years for my math fans). I’ve only been vegan for the past 2 years, and that’s more than enough time to scout out some of the coolest places to eat around this Midwest gem, so here we go.
I’ll start out by saying that I am a very simple eater and I don’t need a ton of variety. When I’m not traveling, I’m eating a lot of the same meals at home or at one of my favorite places around town (Chipotle & CJ Chan). I still mix it up around here, and I can drive an hour east to Columbus or an hour south to Cincinnati to try something new that’s not too far. But Dayton is the topic today.
Below is a list of every place around here that I’ve visited and personally tasted vegan food at, at least once. I know there are more, this is not the final list. I can think of at least 3-4 places right now that I still need to check out soon. This list will be updated whenever I try a new place that has vegan options, or as new restaurants open up with plant-based choices. So check back often.
Some of these places are big chain restaurants. Some have several locations in the Ohio area. Some are just a single location, or a hole in the wall, or a mom & pop operation. I’ll list them all.
All of these food spots below will get their own post with details and photos very soon, and I will link to them accordingly as I create those posts. Also included are the grocery stores I visit, as I know plenty of people prefer to cook food at home for various reasons.
This post will basically serve as the main central hub for all of the amazing vegan food options here in the Dayton, Ohio area. To help out, I’ve listed everything alphabetically and included a brief note about each. Enjoy!
This is just like the Chipotle business model, except it’s Korean-based. The location in Dayton is actually right across from Chipotle. Usually us vegans are stressing about where to find food, but on Brown Street near UD, our stress comes from having to decide which of these places to eat as they are both quick, easy, cheap, and delicious.
I don’t eat here often, but when I do, it’s for breakfast. The french toast sticks and the hash rounds are both vegan. Most people will see me eating BK food and think I’ve fallen off the vegan wagon. Nope, BK just found a way to mix a bunch of random things together without using dairy or eggs to make french toast. Are these fast food places listed healthy? Doubtful. But this entire website isn’t just geared towards eating the healthiest options. Sometimes yes, but sometimes we just want food porn. Also I went through the drive-thru with my mom a couple months ago in Florida on a trip back to Ohio. It was lunchtime, so I did some quick research and ended up getting fries and an apple pie. Us vegans know how to get creative in a pinch.
Definitely a place that local vegans always mention. It’s good. A great brunch spot for vegans and non-vegans to both find something to eat. It’s also really hard to leave here without getting a cupcake to go. I recommend you check this place out.
You probably already know about my obsession with this place, but if not, now you do. There are tons of them all around this city (like 15+), and I’ve been to all of them. Most of them several times. Some of them hundreds of times. Plus you can find one pretty much anywhere all over the country. Even internationally too (I had it in Paris a few times because obviously). It’s extremely simple to eat vegan here. I mix it up sometimes, but again, I’m pretty damn simple when it comes to food. Side note, I was one of the first customers at the Englewood location when it opened, and I tried to work there after I was fired from my last full-time job, but I guess I just wasn’t made to be behind the counter.
Christopher’s Restaurant and Catering
This appears to be one of the oldest vegan spots in town, although I’ve only been there twice. Both times were excellent and they have a few options every day, but they also have rotating lunch and dinner specials every Wednesday. It’s been pretty busy every time I’ve been there.
My simple go to Asian spot. There are two locations, one just barely outside of downtown, and one in West Carrollton. I get the same thing 95% of the time, the General Tso’s Tofu with extra rice. The workers even know my order when I walk in. And I order by phone a lot too when I’m in a hurry or need a quick meal on my way out of town.
Only been here once, but it’s another restaurant where you build a bowl. Several options, although the entire staff wasn’t on board with what was vegan. It was still good though, and the large bowl could probably be split into two meals, which makes this place a great deal. They definitely focus all of their marketing on living a healthier life, which is probably why it was busy, because deep down, I think we are all looking for ways to be healthier.
Not my vegan pizza spot by choice, but it’s another chain that you can easily find. The thin crust is vegan, just get the regular sauce, no meat, and no cheese.
Dorothy Lane Market
A local grocery store with a few locations, none of which are actually on the road called Dorothy Lane, which I’ve always thought was weird. Two of the locations are open everyday with early and late hours. And the location closest to me, just south of downtown (located on Far Hills in Oakwood), is open 24 hours. Kroger and Whole Foods both have more options, but I can always grab some vegan things here when it’s late and I don’t want to drive far, plus there’s a few things unique to DLM. I also like the seating upstairs if you want to eat something there or just hang out. I’ve never actually done that, but as I’m typing this, I think I will soon.
Fifth Street Brewpub
Only been twice, and only once had food. But I was happy to see their menu cleary marked for what was vegan. I got some sort of stir-fry dish, and it was really good. A lot of people love this co-op place, as it’s obviously another craft beer joint. If you go here a lot you can become a member and get discounts.
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
Another grocery chain with plenty of vegan options. I’ve only been a couple times, mainly because I get most of my groceries from Kroger, but this is a solid place to check out if you’ve never been. Also, they donate food to The House of Bread, which is a local kitchen that serves free meals 365 days a year to anyone that needs help or a warm meal. I’ve volunteered there several times and I recommend you do it too.
I like basic sushi, so obviously you thought you had to give that up when you went down this vegan rabbit hole. Nope! If you tell them you want it vegan before you order, they will make sure it’s rolled and cut by hand to prevent cross-contamination as much as possible.
Gem City Catfe
It’s basically half coffee, half cats. I’m not a coffee drinker, but when I found out I could take a 5-10 minute walk and hang out with a bunch of cool cats, I was sold. It made the list because I had an epic vegan Elvis style cupcake.
Only been there once, but the two guys that work there (the owners I think) were fun to talk to. It’s located in the 2nd Street Market, so the hours are limited. But it’s a quick walk for me and I had to try it the last time I was there. Also while you’re at the Market, you can pick up some fresh produce to support local. The food I had here was simple but good. I applaud all places that offer vegan options and I want to check these guys out again.
One of the largest grocery chains in the world, and there are tons around here since the headquarters is located in Cincinnati. Lots of vegan products, and most of what I eat can be purchased here. They are open late and I can be in and out fast. You can’t really go wrong with any of the grocery stores listed in this post, but this is the easiest one to access. And of course some are bigger than others and actually the one closest to me (Wayne Avenue) has the least amount of vegan options. But again, any of the suburbs around Dayton usually have better selections.
I’ve been here twice, but only had food one of those times. The first time I had the vegan tacos, which were huge, and good. A little pricey but worth it. The second time I went there on a Sunday night, and turns out it’s their Sunday Chicken Dinner night. Oh. Ok then. I had a drink and walked across the street to Thai 9 that night. What’s cool about Lily’s is they have vegan dinner events occasionally. I haven’t made it to one yet, but they were like 4-6 course dinners. I will definitely try to make the next one.
I wasn’t going to list this place, because the only time I’ve had food from there was through Door Dash, and while eating my food, I found a tip of a paring knife in my food, which ended up in my mouth. Like in my head I was thinking, shit, I could have died if I swallowed that. I’m not sure if that’s what would have happened, but I think it’s possible. Surely this likely will never happen again, but I had to tell someone about it. I honestly thought about this situation many times and think I’m living a bonus life now, so life is pretty awesome. Anyways, the Vietnamese food was decent, it was a large portion, and again it was deliverable. In my opinion though, I’d rather stick with CJ Chan and Thai 9 for my Asian cuisine (as well as Bibibop and Fusian).
Lock 27 Brewing
A local brew-pub that started in Centerville, and has since added a big location downtown, right next to the Dragon’s stadium. I’ve only been to the downtown spot, but they have a few vegan options now, and I think they have a new rotating vegan special that changes every Friday. I definitely want to try so more things here soon. I believe the chef downtown is vegan, which is awesome, but be sure to tell them you want everything vegan, just to be sure, as I know some of the sauces aren’t.
One of my favorite local spots is Lucky’s. Since I live downtown now, it’s only a 10-15 minute walk to this Oregon District favorite. Almost everything can be made vegan, or comes that way as is. And these options are easily identified on their menu. Get the vegan chicken and waffles (available all day every day). You’re welcome.
If you’ve spent any time in Dayton, you’ve heard of Marion’s, and have likely tried it, and probably loved it, and noticed they spelled pizza with two a’s. This is a local favorite and has always been one of mine, so I was glad to find out the crust and sauce are vegan. So just get it with no meat or cheese, which is how I get pizza at most places. Plus they have sauerkraut, which isn’t a topping available at most places.
I found this local grilled cheese place, through an ad, while I was randomly sitting in their parking lot. I was blown away by how many options they had, and they have a separate vegan menu to make it easy. I love the rock music atmosphere, and I end up in a food coma every time I leave. It’s located next to the Fairfield Mall, and there area other Ohio locations as well. Speaking of malls, malls are so weird to go inside of these days.
I think Rapid Fired Pizza was the first place in town that served fast casual made to order pizza, but MOD has a cooler atmosphere with more creative toppings to choose from and it’s cooked with fire not a heater. I know there are at least two locations in the 937, but I’ve only been to the Englewood location since I used to live in Ewood. I was actually one of the first 50 customers on opening day so I got free food. Typical #ranplan type shit. Haha
North Star Cafe
Technically not in Dayton, but it’s only a short drive south, and it definitely deserves to be on my list. The Northstar Burger (you have to say you want it vegan) is one of my all-time favorite vegan burgers. I could eat there daily and just get that with a side of fries. The smoothies are also good and are vegan by default I believe. There’s a couple other vegan options, but so far it’s been impossible for me to get anything else. It’s located in the Liberty Center (outdoor shopping mall right off I-75, between Dayton and Cincinnati), and there are all sorts of things to do here. Plus they have a Chipotle too, so you know it’s a legit area.
Old Scratch Pizza
I’ve been here a couple times. The first time was a super basic pizza with no cheese and a couple toppings. It was good but nothing crazy. The second time was when they had a vegan special and it was really good. It’s a cool environment and I hope they add more vegan options at some point.
You might not consider it authentic Italian food, but I think deep down we all love the OG. Especially since you can find a location in just about any decent sized city. Not many options, but you can get pasta with marinara sauce, and 542 breadsticks. There website is up to date, and I spoke with someone there via the @EatGoodShit Instagram account when I made a post about them. It’s nice when companies reach out to you to confirm their vegan options.
You’ve heard of this place, because they are everywhere. The regular crust and sauce are vegan, just get no cheese and no meat like usual. I’ll typically pick it up because I rarely want to pay delivery/tip fees because frugal. And there’s always a Papa John’s within 5 minutes. I did get real sick in late 2017 and the last thing I had to eat was Papa John’s. I don’t know if it was that or not, but the CEO stepped down the day after. Coincidence? Anyways, I haven’t had it in a long time, mainly because I live downtown now and there are better options. But hey, the garlic sauce is vegan, so it’s probably worth it to go there just for that.
Another great pizza spot. No cheese and no meat is all you need to remember. They offer delivery, and they do buy one get one free all day every Monday. Which is an amazing deal.
Rapid Fired Pizza
Several readers let me know that Rapid Fired has recently updated some of their options. I first tried them in 2017 and it was decent. Then I saw their website had updated the ingredients on their crust, to include dairy and/or eggs. So I stopped eating there, and just went to MOD Pizza. But now it looks like all of their crusts are vegan, except the Gluten Free and the No Doh: Parmesan options. All the pizza sauces are vegan, except for the Pesto, Ranch, and White sauces. They now have a Vegan Cheese, which I hear is Follow Your Heart brand, which I actually prefer over Daiya. All the veggies are vegan of course. Only a few of the seasonings are vegan: Crushed Red Pepper, Garlic Powder, Oregano, and Sea Salt. These dipping sauces are vegan: BBQ, Buffalo, Garlic Sauce, Red Sauce (Classic, Spicy, & Sweet), Sweet Habanero, and Taco. Plus all the hot sauces are vegan too. Some of the dessert toppings and salad dressings are also vegan too. I’m looking forward to swinging in there again soon!
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
Unlimited regular and/or sweet potato fries? Sign me up. They have a vegan burger and there are plenty of toppings. It’s good, but the best thing is the allergen tool on their website which helps quickly identify everything that’s vegan on their menu. I wish I would have thought of this software!
This is a small food vendor that does pop-up vegan food around town, as well as offering catering services. I first saw them in my neck of the woods at one of the events at the Front Street Buildings. I was like, “What, a 100% vegan place? I’m sold.” Because there isn’t a 100% vegan place here in Dayton, and I really want to start one here, but until that mild dream becomes a real thing (not sure if I will actually attempt it), there’s places like Sprouting Dreams offering the next best option. I didn’t try them out the first time I found them because I had just ate something before I went. The second time I found them, they were sold out by the time we got there. Third time was a charm. The food was great and I can’t wait to try more. Follow them on Instagram to keep up with their events/pop-up schedule.
I feel super weird saying this, but I’ve only been to Yellow Springs a few times. Ever. I might have been there more when I was a young kid, but I don’t remember. But for who I am, this is unacceptable. My roommate took me to this place the other day after we hiked at John Bryan State Park, and it was so damn good. We ordered the vegan special with a side of soup. Probably the best soup I’ve ever had. Quirky little place, but every place in Yellow Springs is. I’ll definitely be back often!
Here’s another downtown favorite, even though I’ve only been there once, and technically I didn’t eat anything. I already stuffed my face beforehand, but I had to tag along to check it out. It’s pretty cool inside, but I felt that there weren’t many vegan options on the menu. The waitress said they could veganize a few things, but again I wasn’t really hungry. So I went with their green smoothie. It was good. It’s a little pricey, but nothing crazy. Vegetarians love this place, but honestly, vegetarians can basically eat anywhere in my opinion (we’ll save that convo for another day). Vegans need a little extra care, but I’m told it’s possible here. I’ll check out there food next time I’m there.
If you are stuck in a place in the middle of nowhere, and you can’t find any vegan restaurants, you’re lying. Because there are over 7,000 locations worldwide, and there’s usually one located right off every highway exit. My go to order is 2-3 bean burritos, no cheese, fresco style (you really only need to say fresco style which omits the cheese, but I say no cheese first to really solidify the point that I don’t want cheese, because it’s very hard for them to not put cheese on things), no red sauce (only because I think they pour a gallon of sauce on these and they are insanely messy by default, so I get them with no sauce, and then I just add hot or fire or diablo sauce via the sauce packets), and add rice. It sounds complicated, so double check your order, because they’ve still managed to mess it up a few times. Also, I would add potatoes as well, but for a month straight, the potatoes were rock hard and I would take a bite and have to open up the burritos and remove all of the potatoes, making it pointless and frustrating. All of this to say I still appreciate Taco Bell for having vegan options, having a ton of locations, and being open late. Also the cinnamon twists are vegan, and you just have to get those, because duh. Plus you can have your late night Uber/Lyft driver take you through the drive-thru, which basically means we are living in the year 3019.
Definitely one of the top restaurants in the region. If you’ve never been, go this week, probably today. They have a vegetarian section on the menu, and I just order something off of that, and ask for no egg, no butter, and no fish sauce. I don’t know if those things actually come on what I order, but I say it anyways just to be safe. Typically I get the Thai Spicy with tofu, spice level 9 (0-9 scale, most people can’t handle anything past 5 or 6). Last time I went, the waitress was like, oh you mean you want to order it vegan? I said yes! Because in the past, the workers weren’t totally in the know. And if the salad comes with your meal, get it. It’s a basic salad, but the vegan dressing is so damn good. Love this place. It’s always busy. And pretty much everyone around here has been there and highly recommends it.
This grocery is usually a top choice for most health-conscious people. There are plenty of locations across the country and they have several vegan products. Not as many as Whole Foods, but Amazon doesn’t own Trader Joe’s, so that’s to be expected. The workers are super friendly, and this is another place that donates food to The House of Bread. And I think it’s actually one of their top food donors, if not the main one. It’s cool when companies give back.
I was told that this bar had vegan options. I said you’re lying. I didn’t believe them, mainly because I didn’t even know they served food. So as I was walking past one day, I noticed they had their menu on the wall outside (more USA places should do this). I was surprised there were a couple vegan options on there. So I ate there a few days later, and I wasn’t impressed at all. Probably the most boring veggie burger I’ve ever had, none of the bread was vegan, the toppings were non-existent, the sides were lacking, and the staff seemed confused by my requests. So the first time was a failure, but the second time was much better. I went for brunch and the vegan nachos were really good. I’d go there just for that, but don’t expect much for lunch or dinner. A great spot to hang out without food though. But if you really want vegan food, just go next door to Lucky’s.
Yes, you can find a vegan option at your favorite place that you always wander into at 4am. Hash browns. I’ve literally been here probably 10-15 times in the past 2 years to just eat hash browns. I get a triple order with all the veggies and no cheese. Throw on some pepper, hot sauce, and ketchup and you are good to go. And yes, I’ve eaten here in broad daylight. It’s awkward to be in a place that reminds you of your bad decisions, but it’s worth it.
Here’s another surprising place on this list. Before going vegan, I had only had White Castle twice in my life, and both times were not impressive. I wasn’t expecting much really, but nothing kept me going back there. Until they started carrying the Impossible Burgers. I heard they signed a deal last year where they will be the only fast food chain to carry the Impossible Burger, which had to cost them a fortune to make that deal happen. But hey, by them doing that, it’s brought me to White Castle at least 5-7 times in the past few months. It’s really good, as long as they remember to give them to you with no cheese. These sliders are small, so be sure to get 3-6 of them. A sack of fries goes perfect with them as well. The only weird thing is there are hardly any Dayton locations. Which makes no sense because there’s a White Castle plant near the airport, the company headquarters is in Columbus, and there are tons of locations in Cincy and Cbus. And of the few Dayton area locations, none are open 24 hours, and just about every other location outside of town is open 24 hours. Oh well, when I’m traveling around, I’ve been lucky to grab some Impossible Sliders when I’m craving them, even at 2am outside my hotel in Vegas. Definitely try them if you haven’t. Even the Wu Tang Clan vouches for them, so you know they have to be good. They also have black bean sliders too. They are good but the Impossible sliders are better in my opinion.
Whole Foods Market
Some people talk shit about Whole Foods, saying it’s just for hippies or rich soccer moms. I might have been one of those people that said that back in the day, but once you go vegan, it’s a place you can get lost in for hours. So many choices that you won’t find at the other groceries. Plus they also have a pizza bar that usually has vegan slices ready to go. I heard they’re gonna stop the Meatless Monday hot bar, but hopefully they’ll still have plenty of vegan options there in the future. Anyways, if you’re gonna cook from home, they have tons of products you should try. I usually go there once or twice a month. And if you have an Amazon Prime membership, you get a discount.
The husband/wife team that started this food truck, they are awesome. They became a local favorite, and eventually opened a brick and mortar right next to the University of Dayton. Really cool branding with a horror theme, and creative gourmet hot dogs. It’s not necessarily a vegan place, but you can get a veggie dog on a gluten free bun and have a variety of toppings. Plus tots. Tots! I even interviewed them on my podcast a couple years ago to learn more about this small business with a cult following. Give it a listen and then go sample their food!
Another place in the Oregon District that doesn’t have much for vegans, but I’m listing it anyways. I’ve only been there once, and I settled on a salad with no croutons or dressing. It wasn’t impressive, but it wasn’t bad at all. A basic salad is always an easy option if you can’t find something vegan. What I was impressed with was the waitress asked the owner a question about the veggie burger (which isn’t vegan), but he came to the table and answered any questions I had and said they would try and accommodate me in any way possible. I’ve been to hundreds of restaurants and this is one of the few places where I’ve felt super welcome even though they didn’t have much. It was appreciated.
You could literally eat a new place every day this month, and still not try all the places listed here. Tons of people are surprised that there are so many options around here, so I think you owe it to yourself to give one of them a try. Tell them Randy at Eat Good Shit sent you, and that you appreciate them for having vegan options.
If you are worried about cross-contamination, some of these restaurants are not what I would call “vegan-friendly.” Sure, they have some things that can be made vegan, but use your best judgement. It’s possible that some items might be cooked on shared equipment, or some employees are simply unfamiliar with the term vegan. If you have allergies, ask the employees as many questions as possible, or avoid places that seem confused by your requests. I hope this helps.