Vegan Eats at Café Cusco

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On a recent solo getaway weekend, I enjoyed lunch at a new to me restaurant.

I stayed on historic C Street in Springfield, Missouri. This six block area is home to cute boutique shops, art galleries, an incredibly unique hotel and restaurants featuring foods from around the world. It was a weekend full of new experiences that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Because of my plant based lifestyle, I carefully consider where to eat while traveling. Thankfully, this Peruvian inspired restaurant offers a wide selection of vegan options.

Check out the vegan eats at Café Cusco, in Springfield, Missouri.

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A Dream Becomes Reality

Joseph Gidman, owner of Café Cusco, had a dream. On the restaurant website, he shares that he fell in love with Peru after hiking trails to Machu Picchu with his best friend.

Sitting in a café in Cusco, the friend asked Joe, “What will you do in 10 years?”

Joe immediately answered “I am going to open a restaurant and call it Café Cusco.”

He made that dream a reality, opening his restaurant with his mother in an 1883 building at 234 East Commercial Street in Springfield. Two brothers, a doctor and a pharmacist, built the building for use when C Street was the headquarters for the Frisco Railroad. The building was abandoned for years and in need of restoration when Joe bought it.

Artist Erik Kinkade oversaw the renovation and Café Cusco opened July 2013.

The Peruvian inspired restaurant offers healthy dining options including meals for vegetarians, vegans and those with gluten sensitivities.

Vegan Eats at Cafe Cusco outdoor seating
Vegan Eats at Café Cusco – outdoor seating area

Vegan Eats at Café Cusco

Reservations must be made at least two hours in advance, to dine in this attractive café. It’s a popular, busy restaurant with limited seating. Reservations may be made online by clicking HERE or calling 417-868-8088.

I made my reservation online the day before my visit. It was so easy to do. On the online form, I stated that I was vegan.

When I arrived for lunch, my table was ready and a vegan menu awaited my perusal. Café Curoso offers a variety of vegan starters, soups & salads, sandwiches, entrées and desserts.

EVERYTHING looked good to me! Dining at this restaurant was part of an Adventure Challenge for me, along with one of my birthday activities. My Adventure Challenge (purchase the solo edition HERE) instructed me to eat at a new to me restaurant, ask the server for recommendations and then go with that meal.

My attentive server recommended the Vegan Sweet Potato Noodle Stir Fry…which is the exact menu item I wanted. And for a starter, she recommended the Fried Guacamole, served with mango sauce and pico de gallo and white corn chips.

Both were delicious and very filling! The server suggested I add a few drops of their house hot sauce to the stir fry. It provided the perfect amount of spiciness.

Vegan Eats at Cafe Cusco fried guacamole
Vegan Eats at Café Cusco – fried guacamole with mango sauce
Vegan Eats at Cafe Cusco sweet potato noodle stir fry
Sweet Potato Noodle Stir Fry

Table for One

I so enjoyed my solo lunch at Café Cusco. Years ago, I shied away from eating alone in public places. I didn’t want to appear lonely or unlikable or pitiful for eating by myself.

You know what? I’m way past caring what anyone else thinks about what I do!

The truth is, I enjoy solitude and going on adventures on my own. I savored this lunch for one. The restaurant is beautiful, with dark wooden booths lining one wall and a few tables and chairs filling in other areas. The ambience is cozy and inviting.

I fully occupied my small booth, perfectly sized for one or two people. And by that I mean, I fully occupied my space, my sense of who I am and what I love to do. If anyone spared me a glance at all, they surely recognized a woman who loves life and enjoys herself, no matter what she is doing.

I’ll return to Café Cusco soon, to try another of their tantalizing vegan dishes. I highly recommend the café to anyone in or passing through the Springfield, Missouri area.

Have you ever tried Peruvian food? And do you hesitate to eat alone in restaurants…or do you go for it?

Vegan Eats at Cafe Cusco Springfield MO
Café Cusco, 234 East Commercial Street, Springfield MO

 

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Vegan Eats in Charleston

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

When I travel, I adhere to my health practices. If I didn’t, I’d quickly not feel well and that’s not the way I want to spend my travel time.

That means I continue to eat a plant based diet, wherever I am.

On my recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina, I scouted out the best places to get a plant based meal. Based on my location in the historic district downtown, I chose cafés and restaurants within walking distance from my accommodations.

These places serve healthy meals, some that aren’t vegan. All have plant based options though.

Check out these vegan eats in Charleston.

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Eating Vegan in Charleston

My accommodations, Meeting Street Inn, provided a continental breakfast. Although they served a variety of breakfast items, most of them weren’t plant based. They did offer several low or no sugar cereals…but no plant based milk. And they did have packets of plain oatmeal. I had a small refrigerator in my room so one option was to stock it with plant based milk for the cereal. The other option, which I chose, was to purchase some vegan snacks to keep in my room, for a quick breakfast before heading out the door.

I opted to eat lunch and dinner out. Meeting Street Inn also offers an evening wine and nibbles. Other than fresh grapes, however, the rest of the nibbles are not vegan.

I had no problem finding cafés and restaurants to try, that offer vegan meals. Here are the ones I recommend.

Verde

Located at 347 King Street, Verde is a locally owned, operated and staffed health conscious café that features salads and wraps. The café is bright, clean and inviting.

Verde cares about making it easy for diners to experience the benefits of eating, going and being green. And they care about the environment, so their fresh salads and bowls come in compostable containers. They source ingredients locally to reduce their carbon footprint and they use bicycles for deliveries, whenever possible.

Plus Verde gives back to the community. They support their community by donating food and volunteering at local organizations.

Verde offers an assortment of salads and bowls, any of which can become a wrap.

I chose the Bowled Buddha, a yummy combo of roasted broccoli, chickpeas, pickled onions, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, kimchi and power seeds, served with turmeric vinaigrette on brown rice, quinoa and kale. For a drink I selected unsweetened iced tea.

This Buddha Bowl was so incredibly delicious and very filling. I took half of it back to my room at the inn and ate it for supper that night.

Vegan Eats in Charleston verde buddha bowl
Vegan Eats in Charleston – Verde’s Bowled Buddha

Beech

Located at 315 King Street, Beech takes the guesswork out of eating healthy. This café focuses on delivering a fresh, fast and healthy menu based on four pillars of a balanced diet: fruit, fish, rice and vegetables. You can, of course, leave out the fish, as I chose to do!

The Beech Team began as two brothers pursuing a dream of serving their community through healthy foods, served quickly. Beech is clean and cozy.

They offers cold pressed juices, smoothies, fresh fruit bowls featuring acai, and poké bowls.

The poké bowls, which originated in Hawaii, are basically sushi in a bowl. They feature cubed raw fish mixed with rice, veggies and toppings.

I built my own delicious poké bowl using brown rice, avocado, picked red onion, picked cucumber, seeds and crispy onion flakes with sriracha aioli. It was SO good. An unsweetened iced tea accompanied this meal as well.

Vegan Eats in Charleston beech poke bowl
Vegan Eats in Charleston – Beech build your own poké bowl

Basic Kitchen

Located at 82 Wentworth, just off the intersection of King and Wentworth, Basic Kitchen uses seasonal, local produce and the best ingredients to create nourishing and delicious meals.

They love diverse flavors and dishes from around the world. Basic Kitchen believes that the choices we make through food have a positive impact on our health, community and environment. They feature a fun, casual dining environment. On their menu are the words “Cleaner fuel…longer adventures.” I agree with them!

Basic Kitchen offers small plates such as sweet potato fries, cauli wings and pistachio beet dip, salads, bowls and big plates. Big plates include dishes such as pistachio pesto rigatoni and veggie burgers.

Keeping my bowl theme going, I chose a Curry Bowl with green Thai coconut curry, veggies, cilantro and Charleston Gold rice. I devoured it! No left overs and no room for their salted chocolate tahini tart. My waiter brought me a bottle of chilled water. I loved that extra touch!

Vegan Eats in Charleston basic kitchen
Vegan Eats in Charleston – Basic Kitchen green curry bowl

Brown Dog Deli

Admittedly, this café at 40 Broad Street is not one you’d think of for plant based food. However, checking their menu I found some vegan options.

Chef Wes Denney brings a far reaching experience to this unique deli. His diverse menu includes Asian influences and southern BBQ. Brown Dog Deli has a fun classic diner vibe.

The deli features salads, poké bowls, gourmet sandwiches, deli classics and a very nice assortment of vegan options including plant based burgers, non chicken “chicken”, veggie dogs and veggie wraps.

I barely made it to Brown Dog Deli before it closed, after visiting a museum late in the afternoon. So I ordered my meal to go. I chose the Black Bean Santa Fe Wrap. It contains a black bean burger, corn, mango salsa, lettuce, tomato, onion, guacamole and cilantro.

As the sun sank, I enjoyed my wrap seated near the Pineapple Fountain, in Waterfront Park. The wrap was wonderful…and huge. I took half of it back to my room for later.

Vegan Eats in Charleston brown dog deli wrap
Vegan Eats in Charleston – Brown Dog Deli black bean wrap

Two Restaurants That I Missed

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the last two restaurants on my list: The Daily and Neon Tiger.

Both of these eateries are located on King, at 652 and 654 King, respectively. The Daily is primarily a breakfast and lunch café and I just ran out of days and times to get there. And on my last evening in Charleston, I intended to eat supper at Neon Tiger. However, strong thunderstorms rolled into area. Since I was on foot, I opted to stay in.

The Daily

The goal of The Daily is to create a place where people come to be refreshed and nourished. They source local and regional products. And they support sustainability and environmental stewardship.

They offer healthy juices, strong coffee, breakfast toasts made with their own freshly baked bread, plus pastries, smoothies, wine and snacks to go.

Neon Tiger

Neon Tiger is a cocktail bar featuring local, natural, organic and fresh libations and small plates. They are wholly vegan. On their website they say that they are fun whether you identify as vegan or not. “Come for the drinks, stay for the vibes and make up your own damn mind.” I love that!

Neon Tiger offers vegan appetizers, salads, main dishes such as roasted cauliflower over red beet hummus and chickpeas, bowls, pizzas, plant based burgers and sandwiches.

Next time I visit Charleston, I’ll make sure I visit The Daily and Neon Tiger first!

Vegan Eats in Charleston basic kitchen groovy
Feeling groovy in Basic Kitchen

Other Vegan Options

I’m sure there are other places to eat in Charleston, with vegan options. Near Meeting Street Inn I saw a Subway, where you can create your own chopped salad, and a Moe’s Southwest Grill, where you can build your own vegan bowl.

And at most restaurants, you can order plain a la carte veggies.

Overall, I found it easy to eat vegan in Charleston and even fairly simple to eat plant based in the airports as I traveled.

I’m grateful for healthy food that fueled me, making it possible for me to explore this gorgeous city on foot, energy high and body functioning well.

Have you visited Charleston? What restaurants are your favorites?

Vegan Eats in Charleston brown dog deli
The fun interior of Brown Dog Deli on Broad Street

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