North Carolina: Restaurants & Shops with True Grit for Dairy-Free Diners

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Last Updated in April 2021! We’ve created this ever-growing guide to restaurants, bakeries, cafes, ice cream shops, and stores in North Carolina that are friendly to dairy-free diners. It’s a collection based on research and reader recommendations (send yours!) that’s divided into restaurants & shops by city (first) and major chains found throughout the state (second). And we’ve started a section for specialty dairy-free foods produced in this state.

We Update Continuously! You can ignore the original date on this post going forward. We update the information below whenever we’re alerted to a new recommendation, change, or closure.

Dairy-Free North Carolina: Recommended Restaurants & ShopsPhoto from BimBeriBon

Dairy-Free North Carolina: Recommended Restaurants & Shops

We’ve listed these recommendations alphabetically by city and then by the restaurant or shop name. For large chains with locations throughout the state, see the Major Restaurant & Grocery Chains section below. We have dedicated posts with dairy-free details for many of the big guys.

⭐️ = Restaurant is either dairy-free, has a dairy-free menu, has dairy-free labels on their menu(s), or lists top allergens with menu items. (At the time of our last review.)

Asheville

  • Abeja’s House Cafe – This cozy local spot serves breakfast and lunch with Latin flair. They have a few vegan items right on the menu, including tofu scramble and breakfast burritos. They’re also reportedly quite accommodating for dairy-free diners with other menu options.
  • Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co – This local brewpub has been offering vegan cheese as an option for over 20 years! They currently have Daiya on the menu, for topping pizzas, burgers, and fries. There are a few locations in town.
  • Baked Pie Company – They sell pies, and lots of them. Every day, they have a featured vegan pie. It rotates between popular classics, like apple or cherry, and unique creations like decadent snickers or cream mint chip.
  • BimBeriBon – This gluten-free bakery and cafe is also quite dairy-free friendly. Most of their warm sandwich and bowl menu can be made dairy-free, since they offer a couple types of dairy-free cheese. They also offer many vegan baked goodies.
  • Biscuit Head – It’s not easy to find dairy-free biscuits and gravy, unless you’re in Asheville. This Southern-style restaurant serves vegan and gluten-free biscuits with not one, but two choices of vegan gravy. According to their staff, any of their egg dishes can be made without dairy, and their potatoes can be served without cheese. They also have several naturally dairy-free items, including red eye gravy, sriracha slaw, calaloo collards, sriracha sausage, country ham, brisket, pulled pork, bacon, mimosa fried chicken, kale salad, and granola.
  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This is a popular regional chain that offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! In fact, their classic pizza crust and sauce are vegan, and they can make any veggie pizza vegan. They also have a fantastic allergen list. It tells you the specific items with dairy AND the items that contain dairy even when you hold the cheese. As a not-so-obvious heads up, their Thai Chili Sauce contains dairy – that one surprised us!
  • French Broad Chocolate – This cute chocolate shop has a whole selection of their own crafted dairy-free and vegan chocolates and chocolate bars.
  • Green Sage Cafe – This plant-heavy restaurant and coffeehouse has a handful of locations scattered around Asheville. Their all-day breakfast and lunch menu is mostly dairy-free, and labeled with several vegan and gluten-free options. Some highlights include their dairy-free milkshakes and global plant-based bowls. They also offer almond, coconut, and oat milks for their coffee drinks.
  • Laughing Seed Cafe – This is Asheville’s favorite vegetarian restaurant, and almost every item on the menu is vegan or has a vegan option. This includes pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and an internationally-inspired selection of casual entrees. Vegan cakes and dairy-free smoothies are also available.
  • Nine Mile ⭐️ – Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian items are clearly labeled on the menu. They even call out items that contain tree nuts. The cuisine is Caribbean, and thus includes quite a diverse dairy-free selection of chicken, seafood, and plant-based dishes. You can stop in for a late lunch or dinner, any day of the week, at all three of their Asheville locations.
  • Plant ⭐️ – There isn’t a drop of dairy at this 90% organic, often locally sourced, mostly gluten free, and completely vegan restaurant. They boast a simple, modern atmosphere and a dinner menu to match. Their dishes have plant-heavy, flavor-forward, global appeal, and are meant for savoring with one of their craft beers or biodynamic wines. They also offer a diverse dessert menu to cover those lingering cravings.
  • Red Ginger – This popular Asheville restaurant is known for dim sum, noodle dishes, and other Asian specialties, most of which is dairy-free.
  • Rosetta’s Kitchen & Buchi Bar ⭐️ – The upstairs is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant, with dairy-free options for everything on the menu. The choices are diverse, with small plates, entrees, sandwches, and more. Downstairs, the bar serves their full menu, but has a more relaxed atmosphere with several kombucha flavors on tap, craft beers, local ciders, and more.
  • Salsa’s – The Caribbean influence on this Mexican restaurant equates to many dishes that are dairy-free, or can easily be made dairy free without the cheese on top. Our friend Thomas said he had an easy time enjoying a dairy-free and gluten-free meal at this restaurant. They also have a couple vegan dinners right on the menu.
  • Short Street Cakes – They offer Vegan Vanilla Cake, and can also make a wide range of their classic cake and cupcake flavors dairy-free and vegan on request. They bake meticulous cakes for all occasions, including weddings.
  • Sunshine Sammies – This ice cream sandwich shop and their food truck offer one dairy-free variety: vegan vanilla coconut milk ice cream + vegan chocolate chip cookies. It’s a local window-serve spot, but if you like their sammies, you can buy them online (they ship nationwide).
  • Vortex Doughnuts – They make both yeast and cake doughnuts, and over half of the flavors are vegan! They also offer oat milk for coffee drinks.
  • West End Bakery & Cafe – This is the spot for rustic, fresh-baked vegan breads and bagels. They also have a rotating selection of unique vegan cakes, muffins, and other pastries.

Beaufort

  • Aqua Restaurant – This is a laid back spot for tapas and plates. They clearly label dairy-free and gluten-free items on their menu. Truthfully, the dairy-free options are pretty limited (a small plate and a dessert), but they are reportedly happy to modify some of their other dishes for dairy-free needs.

Belmont

  • Cinnaholic – This is a vegan cinnamon roll bakery chain. They offer an array of frostings, toppings, other pastries, and dairy-free coffee drinks.

Boone

  • Coyote Kitchen – This eclectic restaurant serves Southwest & Caribbean soul food, and is happy to accommodate almost any dietary need. Most of their menu is dairy-free, or can be made dairy-free on request. They also offer specialty sauces like vegan aioli.
  • F.A.R.M. Cafe ⭐️ – This is a non-profit, pay-what-you-can community cafe that operates primarily with volunteers. And they are truly all-inclusive. They source local ingredients and label their daily menu for dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan options. Most of their menu items are usually dairy-free.

Burlington

  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.

Carolina Beach

  • Latella Gelato ⭐️ – They clearly label dairy-free and vegan ice cream options, which can include sorbets and creamy flavors like Cookie Dough or Peanut Butter Patties.

Cary

  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.
  • Cinnaholic – This is a vegan cinnamon roll bakery chain. They offer an array of frostings, toppings, other pastries, and dairy-free coffee drinks.
  • Vida Dulce – If you love fruit, then this sweet shop is a must. Most of their ice creams contain dairy, but they have a handful of fruity dairy-free and vegan flavors daily, and many dairy-free popsicle flavors – all house made. They also serve slushies, mangonadas, and fruit cups.

Chapel Hill

  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.

Charlotte

  • À la Minute Meal Delivery – They deliver fresh entrees and sides to customers every Monday, and their menu changes weekly. They always list top allergens for ease of ordering and have many dairy-free choices.
  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.
  • Burtons Grill – This upscale bar and grill boasts classic American dishes with fresh ingredients and a touch of global flair. Year after year, they’re top rated as an allergy-friendly restaurant. They follow strict allergy protocols, have well-trained staff, and even attentive to allergies with their online ordering and takeout.
  • Cheesecake Carousel – This mobile dessert truck also takes special orders or vegan cheesecakes and can cater to various special diet needs.
  • Flower Child – This healthy restaurant chain serves salads, bowls, and plates with choose your own protein and side options. Their modern “hippie” menu is loaded with organic produce, whole grains (gluten-free, too), and house dressings. Their menu is littered with vegan and paleo options, and most items either are, or can be made dairy-free on request.
  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – This nationwide chain has a few scoop shops in Charlotte. See our Jeni’s post for more dairy-free details.
  • Pepperbox Doughnuts – Tucked away in the Design Center of the Carolinas, you’ll find a little doughnut shop that begins baking their yeast-raised doughnuts at 2am every day. They offer several vegan flavors daily.
  • Sanctuary Bistro ⭐️ – For fine dining without worry, visit this vegan restaurant. Their lunch and dinner menus center around local and organic ingredients, and have elevated appeal.
  • Suárez Bakery ⭐️ – This “friendly” bakery offers several vegan doughnut and twist flavors. But they also have additional menus for items that are “just” dairy-free – just ask! And they do have menus for other dietary needs, like gluten-free and nut-free.
  • Sugar Donuts – This is a classic bakery with a simple selection of vegan donuts in vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon sugar, along with vegan cinnamon rolls and dairy-free sorbets.
  • Switchin’ Kitchens ⭐️ – This is a local meal prep service. They prepare the meals, you thaw and cook them. Their menu changes monthly, and they clearly label for dairy-free, gluten-free, and other dietary needs (like diabetes). They typically have a range of dairy-free options.
  • Ted’s Montana Grill – Founded by media mogul and rancher Ted Turner, this American chain serves a meat-heavy menu with lots of dairy-free options. See our Dairy-Free Guide for Ted’s Montana Grill for more details.
  • The Common Market – This is a local store, deli, and bar with a few locations in Charlotte. They offer a range of special diet options, including local vegan doughnuts and pastries (with gluten-free options) by Move that Dough Baking, and deli sandwiches made wit Boar’s Head meats.
  • The Local Scoop ⭐️ – They have a decadent menu of creamy non-dairy ice cream flavors, ranging from Chocolate and Vanilla to Cookie Butter to tropical Staycation. Their bases vary, with coconut, soy, and oat milk options. They also serve floats.

Concord

  • Cinnaholic – This is a vegan cinnamon roll bakery chain. They offer an array of frostings, toppings, other pastries, and dairy-free coffee drinks.

Durham

  • Kanki Japanese House – This isn’t a strictly dairy-free restaurant. In fact they do use cream cheese in some of their sushi rolls, and they cook their hibachi in butter. But they are very accommodating. Their staff is quick to alert you of any items containing dairy, they will cook you a full hibachi dinner in the back to avoid dairy on the grill, and will modify dishes as needed. Reader Jessy said they cooked chicken tenders and rice from scratch without dairy when her son said he wanted some.
  • Ninth Street Bakery – Many of their fresh-baked breads are vegan, and they offer vegan tartines, hand pies, sandwiches, curry bowls, chili, cakes, and a few sweet pastries. They also offer dairy-free challah and most sandwiches can be made dairy-free on request.
  • Ted’s Montana Grill – Founded by media mogul and rancher Ted Turner, this American chain serves a meat-heavy menu with lots of dairy-free options. See our Dairy-Free Guide for Ted’s Montana Grill for more details.
  • Tobacco Road Sports Cafe – This local restaurant makes ordering downhome food quite easy. They have a filter on their website, that even tells you how to custom order for your dietary need. This opens up a few dozen menu items for dairy-free diners!

Gastonia

  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.

Greensboro

  • Boba House – This warm vegetarian restaurant serves an array of Thai and Vietnamese-inspired dishes. Almost everything on their lunch, dinner, and dessert menus is vegan and dairy-free. And many items are or can be made gluten-free. Everything is prepared fresh, made to order, and they source locally when possible.
  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.
  • Boombalatti’s – Their homemade ice creams include up to 8 dairy-free and vegan flavors, with a coconut milk base. They have two locations in Wilmington.
  • Ice Scraperz Rolled Ice-Cream – You can custom order a flavor with a dairy-free coconut, almond, or cashew milk base. They also offer coconut whipped cream and dairy-free milk beverage for lattes.

Indian Trail

  • Cinnaholic – This is a vegan cinnamon roll bakery chain. They offer an array of frostings, toppings, other pastries, and dairy-free coffee drinks.

Knightdale

  • Vida Dulce – If you love fruit, then this sweet shop is a must. Most of their ice creams contain dairy, but they have a handful of fruity dairy-free and vegan flavors daily, and many dairy-free popsicle flavors – all house made. They also serve slushies, mangonadas, and fruit cups.

Matthews

  • Artisen Gelato ⭐️ – Holy (un)cow! It’s a dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free ice cream shop with certified vegan gelato and sorbet flavors and allergy-friendly waffle cones! They also make ice cream cakes! Have we thoroughly conveyed our excitement with enough exclamation points?!
  • The Local Scoop ⭐️ – They have a decadent menu of creamy non-dairy ice cream flavors, ranging from Chocolate and Vanilla to Cookie Butter to tropical Staycation. Their bases vary, with coconut, soy, and oat milk options. They also serve floats.

Raleigh

  • Bean Sprouts Cafe – Bean Sprouts plants cafés inside family destinations across the country. This one is inside the Marbles Kids Museum. Their playful yet healthy menu is allergy-friendly, and boasts a few different dairy-free breakfast and lunch options for kids and adults.
  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.
  • Kanki Japanese House – Reader Jessy recommended this restaurant for being extremely accommodating, but she visited the Durham location. Nonetheless, I found the restaurant as a whole to be very responsive on special diet needs and happy to make modifications as needed. They can cook dairy-free hibachi for you on a separate grill, have a couple dairy-free appetizers, and offer a good range of sushi (just avoid the rolls with cream cheese!).
  • Sitti ⭐️ – Modern Lebanese cuisine is easy to order at this local restaurant. They clearly label dairy and dairy-free options on their menu.
  • The Fiction Kitchen – Laura recommended this popular vegetarian dinner spot. Their menu has comforting Southern appeal with some global inspirations. Almost everything on the menu is vegan – they even serve a house-made vegan pimento cheese and cheddar. Their menu is also labeled for gluten-free options.
  • Tobacco Road Sports Cafe – This local restaurant makes ordering downhome food quite easy. They have a filter on their website, that even tells you how to custom order for your dietary need. This opens up a few dozen menu items for dairy-free diners!

Southern Pines

  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.

Wilmington

  • Boombalatti’s – Their homemade ice creams include 4 to 6 dairy-free and vegan flavors, with a coconut milk base. They have two locations in Wilmington.
  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.
  • Epic Food Co – This fresh and healthy restaurant serves salads, bowls, wraps, sandwiches, and smoothies. They have ample dairy-free menu items, and are happy to accommodate gluten-free, vegan, and paleo diners, too.
  • Rx Restaurant and Bar ⭐️ – Southern cuisine with fresh seasonal ingredients is just what the doctor ordered at this converted drugstore. They label dairy-free and custom dairy-free items on their main (same for gluten-free and vegan). The dairy-free options include a plant-heavy sandwich, and a few gourmet mains.

Winston-Salem

  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This regional chain offers dairy-free cheese alternative at no extra charge! Their crust is vegan, and they provide allergen info. See the Asheville Listing above for more details.
  • Camino Bakery – This vegetarian bakery has three locations running from north to south in the city. They each have an array of fresh-baked vegan bread loaves, along with a few other vegan pastries. Sometimes they have additional desserts that are “just dairy free.” They have a petite cafe menu with a couple vegan options, and you can order a dairy-free hot chocolate or mocha – their mocha syrup is vegan. At last check, they had coconut milk and oat milk for coffee drinks.
  • Lovey’s Natural Foods & Cafe – This is a local shop for natural food groceries, with lots of dairy-free brands. They also have a casual café with healthy burgers, sandwiches, and burritos. They offer vegan cheese and can make most menu items dairy free.

Dairy-Free North Carolina: Recommended Restaurants & ShopsPhoto from Nine Mile

Restaurant & Grocery Chains found throughout North Carolina

Some recommended restaurant and store chains are getting too big for our city listing britches. They have many locations, or are rapidly growing, and you might stumble across them in a number of towns in this state. Click on them for more dairy-free details.

Dairy-Free North Carolina: Recommended Restaurants & ShopsPhoto from BimBeriBon

Local Dairy-Free Food & Drink Producers in North Carolina

These dairy-free friendly companies don’t have their own retail location, but are in North Carolina. So you have a good chance of finding their products at grocery stores, restaurants, and/or other shops in this state. Keep an eye out!

  • Dolci di Maria – A full range of gluten-free, dairy-free cakes and brownies, produced in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
  • Move that Dough Baking Co – This vegan baker sells her vegan doughnuts and other sweet treats at restaurants and shops around the Charlotte area.

Dairy-Free North Carolina: Recommended Restaurants & ShopsPhoto from Move that Dough Baking Co

This Guide is Continuously Updated with Recommendations

We welcome you to recommend other dairy-free friendly restaurants. Leave a comment or contact us and tell us why you like a certain restaurant. Restaurant owners and employees are also invited to reach out and let us know how you welcome dairy-free customers.

Please kindly let us know in the comments if any of these restaurants close. We want to keep this list current for you, but aren’t always notified when a restaurant closes. Let us know and we will quickly update!

This Guide is for Informational Purposes Only

Menus, ingredients, kitchen procedures, management, and restaurants are subject to change at any time. Always read the menu and discuss your dietary needs with the staff before ordering. Make sure that they can accommodate your situation.

There is always a risk for potential cross-contamination of allergens in any commercial kitchen. If cross-contamination is an issue for you, always speak with the manager to ensure that your meal can be safely prepared. Listings here do not guarantee that a restaurant is safe enough for your individual needs. Only you can make that decision.

For More Dairy-Free Guidance, Get Go Dairy Free!

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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