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Charleston Restaurant Week returns for 2014

Saffron always delivers at least one vegan dessert option.  This chocolate delight pleases everyone.
Saffron always delivers at least one vegan dessert option. This chocolate delight pleases everyone.
Sheryl Thompson

It’s back! From Wednesday, January 8 until Sunday, January 19, several members of Greater Charleston’s Restaurant Association will offer $20, $30, and $40 three (or four) course dinner menus. In past years, options for vegetarians and vegans have been slim. Will 2014 be any different? Last year, Saffron allowed the substitutions for the curry option and always has at least one vegan dessert every day. Keep in mind that not all of the participating establishments will allow substitutions or offer vegetarian options for all courses.

$20 specials run the gamut from burgers to Thai and back again:

  • An Avondale favorite, Al Di La regularly pleases diners of all ages. Al Di La's special menu has vegetarian options noted that could be vegan with the omission of cheese.
  • Baroni's makes a killer NY veggie pizza. Skip the cheese and enjoy a salad and two drinks or dessert with your pie. Both the Mt. Pleasant and West Ashley locations are participating in the event.
  • Like Basico? If the management will allow substitutions on specials, veggies and vegans will love the Grilled Vegetable Salad sans egg, vegetarian tacos, and Basico bowl sans chorizo.
  • Basil does not disappoint. Several veggie and vegan options - some gluten-free - are on the special menus in Mt. P and Downtown.
  • Feel like a burger? Big Billy's on International Boulevard has a vegan black bean burger. Grab some fried pickles or fried green tomatoes to share and burgers for two.
  • Brixx Wood Fired Pizza in Mt. Pleasant offers Daiya Vegan Cheese. Sub it on you pizza and ask for an alternative dessert.
  • Caviar & Bananas has a plant-based appetizer and entree on the special menu. Ask for a dessert substitution to make it vegan.
  • Juanita Greenberg's is a hit for lunch or dinner. Two dine for $20 either in Mt. Pleasant or Downtown.
  • Nirlep is a Charleston favorite for so many reasons. For Restaurant Week, two diners will enjoy entrees of their choosing and bread or dessert for $20. Nirlep offers 15 selections on the vegetarian menu.
  • P. F. Chang's is taking part this year with gluten-free and vegetarian options for the appetizer and entree options.
  • Feel like sushi? Sushi 101 in Goose Creek and Tsunami Downtown make good choices.
  • Five Loaves Cafe always offers veggie selections, but does not have vegan dessert selections listed on the special menu. Visit them in Mt. Pleasant or Downtown to see what's available.
  • How Thou Art Cafe on James Island offers the Garden of Earthly Delights as an entree, but the appetizer options are not vegetarian as offered. Ask for an omission or substitution.

$30 menus include pizza, pasta, and more:

  • Mellow Mushroom Avondale, Downtown, and Summerville have special $30 for two specials for the next two weeks. Remember, they have Daiya and will use it on any pie or calzone of your choice anytime.
  • Muse has a lovely menu featuring a winter panzanella and vegetable plate.
  • Butcher & Bee has a vegetarian tasting menu for two.
  • Old Village Post House and Slightly North of Broad are changing their special menus daily. Check for veggie and vegan offerings.
  • Med Bistro has vegetarian options every day. No special menu is listed online, so ask your server about the Restaurant Week options.
  • At first look, Tomassio at Turtle Point's specials seem easily adaptable for vegetarian and vegan diners. Ask if the risotto is made with vegetable stock and if cheese can be left out of the salads.

The only $40 op for vegetarians and vegans is from The Lot on Maybank Highway. Make sure the Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup is made with vegetable broth.

Lunch options are limited at best. Only Butcher & Bee offers a plant-based lunch option this time around.

While veggie options are increasing, some special menus need tweaking for vegans.

In addition to special restaurant menus, some hotels are getting in on the action. Charming Inns, Marriott Hotels of Mt. Pleasant, and Charlestowne Hotels all have discounted rates available.

Where do you dine in Charleston? Is it offering a special menu for Restaurant Week? Tell me about it on Twitter, Facebook, or G+. Share your favorite vegetarian and vegan tips, hints, and Pinterest finds.

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