10 Durham Restaurants Taking Vegan Food to a New Level

“Don’t just ask restaurants for vegan options. Challenge chefs to create them.” That simple idea from Bull City Vegan’s first Challenge in 2010 stuck, and now the 5th Bull City Vegan Challenge led by a team of community volunteers is running the entire month of April. Ten top local chefs at meat-centric restaurants compete against one another to create the best vegan dish, added to their menus for the month.

The public dines, then votes on categories such as best overall, best entree, best appetizer, or best dessert.  Community partners and supporters include The Durham Originals, Triangle Vegetarian Society, Durham Farmer’s Market, Triangle VegFest, Vegans for Peace, Fillaree, Arcana, and others.

The idea is to support local businesses, engage our community, and make more room at the table for everyone. Over half of the diners usually aren’t even vegetarian. It’s for anyone who loves culinary adventures. Encouraging chefs to think outside the box of standard vegan fare like veggie burgers and hummus wraps helps provide creative and hearty food we can all enjoy.

Challenge diners can win several prizes throughout the month such as a bike tune-up from Seven Stars Cycles, passes to Global Breath Studios or Crossfit Durham, memberships with Green to Go and CompostNow,  a goodie bag from Joe VanGogh, or gift certificates from Soul Cocina Catering, Scrap Exchange, Durham Coop, and Other End of the Leash. The winning chefs are also in line to win prizes including a 2-night staycation at the Unscripted Hotel or a 1-month subscription to Pine State Flowers bouquet service.

This year brings several newcomers on board including Jack Tar Diner, M Kokko, Grub, Counting House, and the Unscripted Hotel, as well as Juju, Pompieri, and Parizade. Past Challenge winners Dos Perros and Guglhupf round out the list to fight to keep their titles in this friendly competition.

The Bull City Vegan Challenge has been so successful that other cities have started to replicate it, yet it’s a uniquely ‘Durham’ event. We believe it’s effective because we’re supporting and promoting local businesses while showing how popular and in demand vegan options are. We celebrate local restaurants and cuisine by sharing their versatility and creativity when coming up with a plant-based dish. It’s also rewarding to see the dishes sell out.

This year, the theme guiding participation is sustainability. Throughout the month the Challenge will incorporate tips and offer challenges to chefs and diners to make moves towards a more sustainable lifestyle, of which plant-based eating is only a part of.

The event began April 1st and a ballot will be made available in late April on their website.  Winning chefs will be announced on May 5th at an After-Party located at the Fillaree shop. Follow BullCityVegan.com for details, or the Facebook event page here.

Check out some of the delicious options below!


Leeanne Siart
Author: Leeanne Siart