Tampa Bay’s vegan food scene has grown rapidly over the past few years, with several vegan restaurants now in existence. Guests can chow down on handmade vegan deli sandwiches at Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli in nearby Gulfport, fill up at an all-you-can-eat buffet that happens once a month at Lotus Vegan, enjoy healthy takeout at Pure Kitchen, or go big with decadent, comfort-food dishes at Cider Press Café in downtown St. Petersburg. But vegans shouldn’t feel restricted to just all-vegan restaurants when vacationing in this part of the Sunshine State. Some of the best star-quality vegan food is served up at omnivore restaurants that have fantastic, and sometimes surprising, plant-based options.


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Bamboozle Café
Bamboozle Café is on the swankier end of the spectrum when it comes to ambience, providing an elegant place to go for dinner in downtown Tampa, and the food is truly top-notch. This Vietnamese-fusion restaurant has a separate vegan menu, which includes dishes such as Lemongrass Tofu, Vegan Pho, and Bahn Mi Sandwiches. On Meatless Mondays, get 20 percent off any dish on the vegan menu, and on Tuesdays it’s $5 Vegan Pho Day.


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Taco Bus
Taco Bus is becoming a prolific chain in the Tampa Bay area, with 12 locations and counting. Their authentic Mexican food is bold, flavorful, and hearty. The menu boasts Tacos, Tostadas, Burritos, Tortas (Mexican sandwiches), El Plata rice and bean dishes, and El Borrito Bol salad bowls. For every dish on the menu, you can choose from three vegan protein options: Mexican spiced tofu, butternut squash (make sure to specify vegan), or their homemade grilled vegan steak made from textured vegetable protein. Taco Bus also offers vegan cheese. The abundance of vegan options means you can enjoy a cheesy quesadilla stuffed with Daiya vegan cheese, veggies, and your choice of protein.


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Tropical Smoothie Cafe
This national smoothie chain has locations all over the Tampa Bay area and provides a healthy option while traveling. The smoothies themselves are enormous and delicious, but did you know that you can swap out animal meat with Beyond Meat chicken strips in any of their wraps, salads, or bowls? You’ll want to watch out for dairy-based sauces or cheeses that may be included by default, but several options such as the Thai Chicken or Caribbean Jerk Chicken wraps can easily be veganized if you ask them to use Beyond Meat and omit the cheese.


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Waffle House
If you’ve driven by Waffle House and never bothered to go in because you assumed there was nothing for you to eat, it’s time to slam on the breaks and pull into the parking lot. There may only be one dish that’s accidentally vegan (the hash browns) but it may end up being your favorite breakfast of the week. Vegan mix-ins include sautéed onions, grilled tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and mushrooms. Since they are dirt cheap for the generous portion sizes they offer, consider going all out and adding in all four toppings for only 40 cents each.


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Stone Soup Company
No visit to Tampa is complete without spending some time in historic Ybor City. It’s a charming part of town with cobblestone streets and—hold your breath for this one, animal lovers—feral chickens and roosters all over the place (local organization Ybor Chickens makes sure they are fed). Luckily, there’s a great place to stop for a meal while you’re there. Stone Soup Company has expanded their vegan options over the past couple of years to include dishes such as pho, empanadas, fried pickles, and the plant-based Impossible Burger. You can even order a Cubamanti Sandwich (ask to sub in vegan cheese) stuffed with tofu, cucumber, vinegar-based slaw, and home-cut French fries on a crispy bun. They offer clearly-marked menu items that are or can be made vegan, so ordering is easy.


Barbi Lazarus is the Donor and Volunteer Coordinator at the Toronto Vegetarian Association, who makes an annual trek to the Tampa Bay area each year for Ybor City’s punk rock festival Pre-Fest.

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