We stumbled upon this place on our way back home from Virginia. We were looking for vegan food and a place that was dog friendly, since we never road trip without the boys.
It was a Sunday and for some reason, ALL the vegan restaurants on our path back to Charlotte were closed!
Finally, we discovered The Refectory Café – one of those hybrid places that claim to have “something for everyone.”
It was the best brunch I’d had in years. The day was beautiful, the patio was gorgeous, and the food amazing!
THE. BEST. VEGAN. PANCAKES. Sometimes I think these hybrid places try harder! These pancakes were light and fluffy, made with coconut milk and delicate spices, topped with fresh strawberries, and served with real syrup.
Note: This restaurant has both vegetarian and vegan pancakes – make sure you order the right ones!
A Good Old Fashioned Tofu Scramble. None of that Just Eggs nonsense here! A super healthy option, lots of protein from the tofu, and loaded with fresh vegetables – grape tomatoes, broccoli, red onions. We would have liked a slightly higher ratio of tofu to broccoli, but that’s just personal preference. Some fresh lemon juice on the broccoli added a little zip and zest. And there was enough turmeric it didn’t just give the tofu a pretty color, you could actually taste it!
Fruit Bowls. When road tripping, you tend to eat a lot of vegan junk food and I felt we could use some fresh fruit. This was a generous bowl of a variety of perfectly ripe fruit, cut into bite sized pieces. My travel companion also noted the prongs on The Refectory Café forks were very pointy, allowing us to spear even grapes with ease. A small thing, but small things make a difference.
The Refectory Café also has a vegan grilled cheese sandwich and a house-made black bean burger on the brunch menu.
An Important Note
The Refectory Café is a WILDLY popular place, so it’s best to call ahead and book a reservation – especially if you have a dog and you NEED the patio. (I only got a table because I threw myself on the mercy of the hostess and told her we had come ALL THE WAY from Virginia and REALLY wanted to eat there! Technically, this was not a lie.)
Once you arrive, the hostess will show you your table (or you can look for your name card on the empty tables) and then you go inside to order and pay. A server will bring your order to your table when it is ready.
The Refectory Café is VERY dog friendly. It goes beyond just allowing dogs on the patio. The server not only brought Romeo some water, but also his own small slice of bacon. Yes, she asked permission first. No, I don’t demand that my dogs be vegan.
What is impressive about The Refectory Café is that most, if not all, items appear to be house made, with little, if any, reliance on frozen mass marketed foods. (No Beyond or Impossible burgers on the menu!) I only had brunch, but the vegan items seem to be fairly healthy. Even my “decadent” pancakes felt light and didn’t weigh me down or make me sleepy after eating.
Their Afternoon Delights menu includes: Award Winning Vegan Chili, Indian Dal, and a Green Machine smoothie. Dinner options change seasonally but currently include Vegan Ratatouille, Indian Dal, and their Award Winning Vegan Chili. It appears there is always at least one vegan appetizer and one vegan salad.
HIGHLY RECOMMEND! At least for brunch. Maybe one day my dog and I will be in Durham again and we’ll stop by for dinner.
Located at 2726 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, Durham, NC. Call ahead to reserve a table and verify the hours – (919) 908-6798.