Many area vegans and vegetarians were no doubt saddened by the closure of Sea Level City Gourmet, a local eatery that served only vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian dishes.
While owner Nikki Spears could not be reached for comment, a sign posted on the door in recent days stated that the restaurant was closed permanently.
Thankfully, with the help of the local organization Wilmington Vegan, which publishes a reference guide for vegan-friendly establishments, vegans living in and visiting the Port City can see which area restaurants have vegan items on their menus.
“Vegans are looking for hearty, whole-food, plant-based options,” said Wilmington Vegan executive director Lisa Neill. "We don’t want to have to order a garden salad or a hummus plate every time we go out. Give us a grain, a green and a bean.”
The organization was founded in 2011 by Sue Cag, and today is run by Neill, and dining guide organizer and Facebook administrator Elizabeth Gordon. In addition to publishing the guide, the group hosts regular potluck and group dinners at local vegan-friendly restaurants, has a Facebook discussion group, publishes a bi-weekly newsletter and operates a lending library. It also partners with other community organizations for events and festivals.
Neill said that while Sea Level was a very popular destination for many area vegans, there are still many restaurants offering plenty of great vegan options. A recent poll of the more than 2,300 Wilmington Vegan Facebook followers revealed many of the followers' favorite destinations.
Some of the eateries that received the most positive responses included Tidal Creek Co-op, 5329 Oleander Dr., for its hot and cold bar with numerous vegan options as well as eco-friendly service ware; Seaside Bagels, a family-run bagel shop at 6400 Carolina Beach Road in Masonboro Commons, serving a wide variety of well-priced vegan options including vegan eggs, cheese and spreads; and Nawab Fine Indian Cuisine, 6828 Market St., for its weekly Wednesday night all vegan buffet.
Other restaurants favored in the poll included Hell’s Kitchen for its selection of vegan bar food; Indochine, Uncle Lim’s and Pho Café for Asian cuisine; Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria, Blaze Pizza and Your Pie for pizza; Flaming Amy’s, Peño Mediterranean Grill, Savorez, Tama Tea and Kale Me Crazy, and Brooklyn Cafe for its vegan beignets and donuts.
“The number of restaurants included in our guide increases every time we publish, which is twice a year,” Neill said. “In fact I just learned today that the Melting Pot has a four-course vegan option including cheese and chocolate so that will be in our next guide.”
The full Wilmington Vegan dining guide, as well as information on community events and additional vegan resources are available online
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