Zoe’s Kitchen is another rapidly expanding fast-casual restaurant – only 132 restaurants in 15 states at the end of 2014, but with plans of having 1,600 restaurants across the US soon! (Currently, Zoe’s has six locations in the Charlotte, NC area – the most recent addition being Carmel Commons.)
It’s also another fast-casual restaurant that takes its vegan and “plant based” customers seriously – who are no doubt instrumental in helping finance their expansion.
Zoe’s Kitchen features Mediterranean food but is far from being your standard Middle Eastern falafel shop or Greek diner. In fact, Zoe’s does not serve falafel at all! Instead, Zoe’s Kitchen plans to draw on a range of culinary influences from the entire 21 country Mediterranean region.
The 21 Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal on the north;
Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on the east;
and Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia on the south.
What this means for vegans: Flavorful new options!
Bonus: Not only does Zoe’s Kitchen have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, those options are plainly marked on the menus!
For a first visit to Zoe’s, I’d recommend the Veggie Kabobs – $8.79. It’s an entirely vegan combination plate – no need to ask for modifications when ordering! It comes with: Charbroiled Veggie Kabobs (portabellos, zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes) that are actually slightly charred, not just steamed, baked, or microwaved; Braised White Beans spiked with fresh rosemary; Pita Bread (use the bread as a “scoop” for eating the white beans); and a feta-less Greek Salad with lots of goodies – cherry tomatoes, onions, green peppers, cucumber, black olives, pepperoncini. And yes, the Greek salad dressing is vegan, too!
On your next visit, you might want to try putting together your own veggie combo plate. All sides are $2.09. I highly recommend the mayo-free Potato Salad, made with baby red potatoes and olive oil. You could also order the Braised White Beans, Roasted Vegetables, or Seasonal Fresh Fruit. You could also add a Side Greek Salad, without feta, for $3.69.
What else is marked vegan on the menu? Hummus – either Plain ($4.99) or Red Pepper ($5.29). Avoid the Pesto Hummus – it’s not vegan (cheese).
Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find you have still more options. Several of the Meal Salads marked as Vegetarian can be modified to Vegan, by the simple process of not adding feta cheese. These options include the Quinoa Salad (quinoa tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, broccoli, green onion, olives, and lemon vinaigrette served over a bed of greens – $6.99); Greek Salad (served over potato salad! – $7.69); Orzo “Tabouli” Salad – $7.39; and the Hummus & Greek Salad Plate (ask they leave off the yogurt raita as well as the feta cheese – $6.99).
There’s also quite a few vegetarian options, including Spinach Roll-Ups, Veggie Pita Pizzas, and Pimento Cheese Sandwiches. (Although I’m a little confused how pimento cheese is Mediterranean!)
Zoe’s Kitchen also offers prepackaged tubs of several of their sides – including that potato salad! You can also order take-out Family Meals – one entree and two sides, feeding 3-5 people for $29.99 or 4-6 people for $39.99 (the $39.99 option also comes with Greek Salad or hummus and pita bread).
168 Locations with 6 Locations in the Charlotte Area – SouthPark, Midtown Metropolitan, Carmel Commons, Blakeney, The Arbors, Huntersville.
All locations open daily, 11-9.
Online ordering available.
List of Zoe’s Kitchen Charlotte Locations.
*Pricing is for Charlotte locations; may vary slightly in other regions.