South Carolina: Hoppin’ with Dairy-Free Dining Options

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Last Updated January 2021! Buttery biscuits and cheesy grits can be found on most restaurant menus in South Carolina. But in recent years, many chefs have begun incorporating fresh dishes with local ingredients and less dairy. Consequently, our guide to dairy-free friendly restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and ice cream shops continues to grow. It’s a collection based on research and reader recommendations (send yours!), that’s divided into local restaurants (first) and chains (second).

Note: You can ignore the created date on this post going forward. We’ll update the information below whenever we’re alerted to a new restaurant recommendation, change, or closure. 

Recommended Restaurants in South Carolina for Dairy-Free Diners with options for Vegan, Gluten-Free, and More.

Local South Carolina Restaurants Recommended for Dairy-Free Eats

Many South Carolina favorites are ubiquitous throughout the south. Common dairy-free options include barbecue, sweet tea, and boiled peanuts. But keep your eyes open for Hoppin’ John, collard greens, and Frogmore stew, which are often made without dairy in this historic Southern state.

In addition to naturally dairy-free dishes, the following restaurants take an extra step to accommodate dairy-free guests. We’ve listed these recommendations alphabetically by city, and then by the restaurant or shop name.

⭐️ = 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.)

Charleston

  • Annie O Love’s Cafe of Sweet Abundance ⭐️ – Sandwiches and sweets are the specialties at this all vegan and gluten-free cafe. The sammies are served panini-style and the desserts include cookie dough truffles, cheesecake slices, cookies, and more.
  • Basic Kitchen – If you’re craving high quality food, made with healthy ingredients, then you can’t go wrong with this local downtown restaurant located in a historic building. They are big on diverse flavors from around the world, but keep their menu simple with local produce, whole grains and legumes, wild-caught seafood, sustainably raised meat, and lots of plant-based options. Most of the items on their breakfast, lunch, and brunch menus are dairy-free, and they even offer specialty sauces like cashew ranch. They also offer ample vegan and gluten-free options.
  • Beech – They have two locations in Charleston, each with a very fresh, mostly dairy-free menu. They serve cold-pressed juices, smoothies (made with almond milk or coconut water), acai bowls (also dairy-free), poke bowls, bagels, toast, wraps, and salads. They have a couple vegan menu items specifically, and they only use dairy in a few selections – like cream cheese or butter for the bagels.
  • BKeDSHoP – They’re well known for yeast-raised donuts in a variety of flavors, with daily vegan options. You might find vegan apple fritters, vanilla bean donuts, cinnamon buns, or several others. They also offer vegan oat black sesame milkshakes, oat milk for coffee drinks, and other specials in store.
  • Brown Dog Deli – This eclectic eatery serves breakfast and lunch menus filled with vegan options. In the morning, they have vegan scrambled “eggs,” faux sausage, dairy-free cheddar, and vegan gluten-free bread. They also have a loaded vegan breakfast burrito and can likely make many other items dairy-free. For lunch, they have several vegan and dairy-free entrees and sides. They also offer smoothies (some dairy-free) and acai bowls.
  • Caviar & Bananas – They label their prepared items and baked goods for dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian guests, and have build your own sandwiches and salads with a plethora of options. You can find them downtown and at the airport.
  • Gnome Café ⭐️ – This hip vegan cafe welcomes guests with full breakfast and lunch menus. In the morning, they’re big on bagels, biscuits, and breakfast burritos, and at midday they serve a comforting selection of sandwiches and salads.
  • Huriyali – Dairy-free acai bowls and smoothies, healthy breakfasts, and lunch bowls are featured at this local cafe. Pretty much their entire menu can be ordered dairy-free, they even have vegan cheese as an option. They can also accommodate gluten-free and vegan guests with many options and little fuss.
  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – This chain is slowly gaining shops across the nation, including one in Charleston. They always have vegan scoops available. See our Jeni’s post for details.
  • King Street Cookies – They regularly offer three types of vegan cookies: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and chai spice. Their staff said they will be adding vegan peanut butter soon. And they do have additional dairy-free cookies, “between one third and one half of our cookie types are dairy free.”
  • Neon Tiger – This swanky establishment serves a unique all-vegan menu with pizzas, salads, and shareable sides. It’s a great place to enjoy craft beers and local spirits.
  • Playa Bowls – This is a chain with a big array of smoothie, acai, and poke bowls. See our full Playa Bowls post.
  • Swig & Swine – Thank you to R. Z. for recommending this local area barbecue establishment. “They have many options that are dairy free and is an excellent place to get Southern BBQ.”
  • The Harbinger Cafe & Bakery – They serve breakfast all day, sandwiches at midday, and fresh baked goodies until they run out. Vegan and gluten-free options are clearly labeled on the menu, and there is plenty to choose from. In fact, at last check, all of their bakery items were dairy-free and most were vegan (a few contain honey). They also have a full coffee and tea bar with almond and oat milk options.

Columbia

  • Cupcake Downsouth – This prolific cupcakery offers one vegan flavor for every day of the week. Chocoholic on Mondays, Peachy Keen on Tuesdays, and so on.
  • Good Life Cafe – This casual, quirky, vegan restaurant offers a big menu of raw and cooked cuisine, with a healthy comfort food spin. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, smoothies, and desserts, and have a grab and go case of nutritious items. Ample gluten-free options are also available.
  • The Local Buzz – This breakfast, lunch, and coffee spot is open just five days a week, but it’s a secret little spot for special diets. They always have several options for dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo, and keto guests.

Fort Mill

  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This southeastern chain 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.
  • The Southern Olive – This local gluten-free bakery and cafe makes an array of dairy-free treats daily and for special orders. They can also accommodate other special diet requests. And they do bake custom cakes for all occasions, including weddings.

Greenville

  • Biscuit Head – They started in North Carolina, but this Southern-style restaurant has one location in South Carolina. They serve 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 southeastern chain 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.
  • Happy + Hale ⭐️ – This is a fast casual salad, bowl, and smoothie restaurants focused on fresh and healthy food. They carefully label which items contain dairy, nuts, and / or soy right on their menu, and also have labels for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. The dairy-free options are abundant, and they offer build-your-own bowls.
  • Kuka Juice – The house-pressed juices and almond mylks are naturally dairy-free, but they also offer a salads, toasts, and smoothies. Everything is vegetarian, with a lot of vegan and dairy-free options, including a kale Caesar salad made with cashew “parmesan.”
  • LTO Burger Bar – Vegan options are clearly labeled on the menu, including a “Beyond Cheeseburger,” sweet potato fries with blueberry ketchup, salads, power bowls, and more. They offer vegan cheese and kaiser buns, so their burgers can also be made dairy-free, on request.
  • Oak & Honey – Come for the craft cocktails, locally brewed beers, and tipsy wine collection, but stay and enjoy a “not so small” plate of vegan nachos topped with cashew cheese and lime cream.
  • Saffron Indian Cuisine – They have a vegan menu right on their main menu, and many additional items are dairy free – just ask!
  • Sidewall Pizza – Sure, there are quite a few pizza joints offering vegan cheese, but do they also have housemade dairy-free ice cream? This local chain does! In addition to custom order pies with vegan mozzarella and all your favorite toppings, they regularly serve coconut milk-based ice cream in vanilla, chocolate, and a surprise flavor. They have two locations in Greenville.
  • Southern Pressed Juicery ⭐️ – They have a menu of house-made almond mylks and fresh juices galore. But you can also order smoothies, superfood lattes, hot oatmeal, and healthy meals for breakfast and lunch. They also offer nutritious snacks and healthier desserts. And everything on the menu is dairy-free, plant-based, and vegan (except for a few items that contain honey).
  • Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery – Their online menu is a little haphazard, but they offer some dairy-free and vegan goodies, like donuts, in addition to good options for sandwiches, salads, and breakfast items. They also bake custom order vegan cakes, but do not offer vegan cupcakes.

Hilton Head

  • Salty Dog Ice Cream – Enjoy a scoop (or two) of their creamy coconut ice cream. They typically offer a few non-dairy and vegan flavors in a nice atmosphere right by the water.

Lexington

Mt. Pleasant

  • 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.
  • Cupcake Downsouth – This prolific cupcakery offers one vegan flavor for every day of the week. Chocoholic on Mondays, Peachy Keen on Tuesdays, and so on.
  • Swig & Swine – Thank you to R. Z. for recommending this local area barbecue establishment. “They have many options that are dairy free and is an excellent place to get Southern BBQ.”

Myrtle Beach

  • Acai Couples Superfood Bar ⭐️ – This acai shop is completely dairy-free and they don’t use added sugar in their blends. They offer honey, for topping, so they aren’t purely vegan, but close! Their menu includes a sweet array of acai bowls and smoothies.
  • Bay Naturals – This healthy market has an organic kitchen on site, offering a big menu of smoothies, breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches, burritos and more. They have many vegan and gluten-free options, and most of the menu is, or can be made, dairy-free. They offer Daiya cheese alternative and use Dave’s Killer Bread (sourdough, gluten-free, and lettuce wraps are also available).
  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – This southeastern chain 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.
  • You Eat I Bake – This little small batch bakery, recommended by Tasha W., is gluten-free and nut-free, and most of their goodies are dairy-free and vegan, too. Daily options can include cookies, brownies, muffins, cupcakes, and keto fat bombs. But they also have specialty items, take custom treat orders, and bake cakes to order. Sugar-free and keto options are available.

North Myrtle Beach

  • Lucy Buffet’s Lulu’s ⭐️ – Yes, this is Warren Buffet’s sister! Which explains why you will only find locations in a few touristy coastal towns. They have full allergen and special diet menus for Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Shellfish Free, Soy Free, Seafood Free, and Vegan guests. The dairy-free menu is filled with seafood, big ole’ salads, tropical sides, hamburgers, sandwiches, and more.

Simpsonville

  • Exchange Coffee Co – This is so much more than a coffee shop. They make sweet and savory gluten-free crepes that can be ordered dairy-free and vegan. They also offer dairy-free cream cheese, and have almond and coconut milks for their coffee drinks. According to Jennifer V, “The owner and his wife have children with food allergies so they’re careful to label foods.”
  • Sidewall Pizza – In addition to custom order pizza pies with vegan mozzarella and all your favorite toppings, this local chain regularly serves dairy-free coconut milk-based ice cream in vanilla, chocolate, and a surprise flavor. They have two locations in Simpsonville.

Spartanburg

  • Health in Hand ⭐️ – This juice and smoothie bar is dairy-free, and mostly vegan – they do use honey in some of their blends. They serve fresh-pressed juices, smoothies made with various nut butters and milk alternatives, and acai and pitaya bowls.
  • Sidewall Pizza – In addition to custom order pizza pies with vegan mozzarella and all your favorite toppings, this local chain regularly serves dairy-free coconut milk-based ice cream in vanilla, chocolate, and a surprise flavor.

Summerville

  • BKeDSHoP – You can pick up a vegan donut, oat milk coffee drink, and a plant at this bakery + plant shop. They bake yeast-raised donuts in a variety of flavors, with daily vegan options. You might find vegan apple fritters, strawberry jelly donuts, cinnamon buns, or several others. They also blend vegan oat black sesame milkshakes, have a savory selection, and might have and other seasonal goodies in store.
  • Swig & Swine – Thank you to R. Z. for recommending this local area barbecue establishment. “They have many options that are dairy free and is an excellent place to get Southern BBQ.”

Surfside Beach

  • Meyer’s Ice Cream Parlor – This local shop sent a friendly response when I asked if they have daily dairy-free ice cream flavors. “we do … we make a handful of flavors in non-dairy coconut based ice cream (more in season) and also have non dairy Italian ices. We also run a non-dairy dole whip soft serve (variety of flavors) but that happens once the weather is warmer.”

Travelers Rest

  • Sidewall Pizza – In addition to custom order pizza pies with vegan mozzarella and all your favorite toppings, this local chain regularly serves dairy-free coconut milk-based ice cream in vanilla, chocolate, and a surprise flavor.

Recommended Restaurants in South Carolina for Dairy-Free Diners with options for Vegan, Gluten-Free, and More.

Most Popular Chains in South Carolina for Dairy-Free Diners

There are many more chains in this state, but these are the ones we recommend most for dairy-free options.

Recommended Restaurants in South Carolina for Dairy-Free Diners with options for Vegan, Gluten-Free, and More.

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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