Vegan Quad Cities options abound! They include plant-based offerings at Exotic Thai, Olive Tree Cafe, Taste of Ethiopia, Jennie’s Boxcar, and more.
The Quad Cities straddle Iowa and Illinois.
They include Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa. On the Illinois side there’s Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline.
(What’s that? There are actually five cities that make up the Quad Cities? Well, yes. But let’s move on.)
There are several restaurants in the Quad Cities with vegan options. Today I’m sharing some of my favorites.
Vegan Quad Cities options include Thai, Ethiopian, Indian, and Middle Eastern options.
None of the restaurants on the list aren’t purely vegetarian or vegan.
However, they do make some delicious plant-based food.
Exotic Thai in Davenport
My top choice in the Quad Cities is Exotic Thai in Davenport.
Not only are they my favorite place in Davenport, they’re also one of my favorite restaurants in the state.
(They also have a sister restaurant called LemonGrass in Moline.)
The lengthy menu has denotations next to the items that can be made vegan.
If you’re ordering for pick-up from their website, you can click next to the allergens you want to avoid.
There’s also room to note your vegan preferences. It’s very handy.
Would you like beer or cocktails with your meal?
They have those as well.
If you like martinis, don’t leave without ordering a dirty gin martini. I’ve never had one better anywhere.
Some of my favorite options are Thai rolls, kang-dang, garlic black pepper with tofu, and spicy basil noodles.
Just be sure to ask that they omit the egg that usually comes on the rice noodles.
(FYI: Sadly, they no longer offer vegetarian chicken, shown above.)
But perhaps the best part of the Exotic Thai experience is the hot sauce tray brought to the table upon request.
The hot sauces are made in house. And the slices of crisp jalapeño peppers are especially good.
Soaking in a bath of vinegar, they maintain all of their crunch, as they haven’t been cooked and didn’t come out of a jar.
(They inspired me to start making my own quick pickled jalapeños at home!)
Please note that one of the hot sauces is not vegan.
The sauce that has a couple different kinds of red peppers and is floating in a vinegar bath also contains fish sauce.
(In the picture above, it’s the sauce furthest from the camera in the line-up.)
The jalapeño slices and the sauce that looks like Sriracha are fine.
Olive Tree Café in Bettendorf
For a quick and casual order-at-the counter option, Olive Tree Café in Bettendorf has lots of options for vegans.
They have an extensive menu of salads, bowls, wraps, flatbread pizzas, and more.
Some of the menu options require a simple request of no cheese, tzatziki, or aioli.
If in doubt, the staff has been more than happy in the past to confirm with the kitchen which items don’t include animal products.
Before I started making my own air fryer eggplant dip at home, whenever I’d go to the Quad Cities, I’d pick up a container of the baba ganoush from Olive Tree Cafe.
It has chunks of eggplant in it and the mild, smoky flavor I crave.
The falafel bowl (above) is packed with rice, salad, hummus, and baba ganoush.
It usually comes with dairy-based cheese. Just ask them to leave it off.
The Mediterranean salad (below) is made with mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and Kalamata olives.
It typically comes with dairy-based cheese. Simply ask them to omit that.
And of course, an order of stuffed grape leaves is never amiss.
Jennie’s Boxcar in East Moline
Jennie’s Boxcar is an adorable eatery specializing in street tacos and tequila.
They are across the street from train tracks (hence the name).
The interior is super cute and very Instagramable.
They have lots of creative cocktail options, including jalapeño margaritas (shown here).
They also have seasonal offerings like lavender margaritas and Valencia orange mules.
Their menu has clearly marked vegan options, which is always appreciated.
Everyone at our table raved about the roasted cauliflower tacos, listed on the menu as paco.
The cauliflower is tossed in a sweet barbecue sauce along with cabbage and pineapple salsa. It was a tasty mix of sweet and spicy.
We also enjoyed the el camote (sweet potato) tacos, which includes black beans, onions, avocado, and cilantro.
They also have tortas with the same fillings as the tacos above. They can be made vegan by omitting crema and cheese.
Taste of Ethiopia in Davenport
Taste of Ethiopia has an outdoor patio dining area with a view of the Mississippi River, which you’ve got to love.
There are lots of vegetarian wots available at Taste of Ethiopia.
And since they cook those options in oil and not butter, they are vegan as well.
I recommend getting a vegetarian sampler platter, so that you can try a lot of things.
I particularly like their green beans and split peas.
Miss Phay Cafe in Davenport
Miss Phay Cafe is a Viet-Thai restaurant in downtown Davenport.
The food here is full of layered delicious flavors & addictively good.
I recommend the vegan cha gio (crispy spring rolls), pad Thai with tofu (omit egg), green curry noodles with tofu, and ca ri curry with tofu.
The vegan pho is very soothing. Plus, it’s enough food for 3 meals.
They have a few marked vegan options on the menu. But otherwise, you’ll have to ask what modifications can be made to prepare a dish vegan.
(It would be great to see more clearly denoted items for easy ordering!)
N7 Nitrogen Ice Cream in Bettendorf
Don’t sleep on this nitrogen ice cream at N7!
While you wait, they freshly make ice cream using liquid nitrogen.
I was sure it was just a gimmick, until I tasted it.
In addition to dairy bases, they also offer a base of coconut milk for non-dairy ice creams.
From there you can choose the flavor of the base, plus whatever mix-ins you’d like.
(Ask the staff if you have any questions about which flavors & mix-ins are vegan.)
I recommend vanilla coconut milk ice cream dotted with cherries.
It is incredible! Super thick, rich, dense, and creamy.
(Looking for more vegan ice cream options? Whitey’s now offers a non-dairy chocolate mint.)
Mantra in Davenport
Mantra Indian Cuisine is located in downtown Davenport, not far from the Mississippi River.
It’s a non-vegan restaurant with lots of marked vegan options, which makes dining out so much easier.
For your appetizer, check out batata vada.
These lightly spiced balls of potatoes and peas are battered in flour and fried.
They’re served with house-made chutneys – cilantro, tamarind, and my personal favorite, onion.
(Pro-tip: The batata vada reheats beautifully in the air fryer if you can’t finish them off at the restaurant.)
My favorite entrée at Mantra is the chana masala.
It has a deep, rich flavor and bold color that makes me wonder if they cook their chana masala with amla, also called awala or Indian gooseberries.
Lopiez in Davenport & Moline
If a fully loaded New York-style vegan pizza is what you crave, Lopiez is the answer.
Create your own calzone, 10, or 20 inch pizza. Or order The Mayor right off the menu.
The Mayor comes packed with three types of non-dairy cheese, Impossible burger, spinach, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, green peppers, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts on an agave crust.
Get it as a pizza or as a calzone.
When I had the pizza (above), they were using vegan meatballs. But they’ve since switched to the Impossible burger for their vegan protein.
It’s a satiating pie you can sink your teeth into.
And I’m glad they’re reaching beyond a strictly vegetable-based vegan pizza option.
Top Hat Pizza in Moline
Top Hat Pizza is a takeout or delivery only pizza joint in Moline.
They have lots of vegan options – including local favorites like Quad Cities-style taco pizza.
They offer vegan meats aplenty with vegan sausage, chicken, pepperoni, and chorizo, as well as non-dairy cheese.
Be aware that each vegan meat & cheese comes with an additional surcharge. In addition to the cost of the pizza, which already includes the price of dairy + meat, vegans have an added cost of $6 for each vegan meat & $4 for vegan cheese.
That can add up. I was surprised when two large pizzas came to $75.
The pizzas were very tasty and provided multiple days of delicious leftovers.
We ordered both QC-style, which means long rectangular slices.
We had a taco with vegan chorizo, vegan cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, taco chips, and taco sauce.
We also ordered a build-your-own with vegan sausage, banana peppers, and bell peppers with non-dairy cheese.
Twin Span Brewing in Bettendorf
Are you a beer fan who likes outdoor patios?
You’ll want to visit Twin Span Brewing.
They offer Beyond Meat, and have several vegetarian items on the menu.
From there, you’ll have to make some omissions to get a vegan dish.
My favorite item on the menu is the Bavarian pretzel.
This over-sized pretzel is great for sharing and served hot.
It comes with a cup of Boetje’s mustard. Request no beer cheese on the side.
Another tasty option is Tex-Mex fajitas with Beyond Meat.
It’s cooked with poblano peppers and red onions. Then it’s served on a piece of slate with guacamole, salsa, and corn tortillas.
Request no queso on the side to make it vegan.
Loaded fries can be made with Beyond Meat. They’re topped with pico de gallo.
Request no queso or queso fresco to make it vegan.
We also ordered the blistered shishito peppers, which I’d skip in the future. They’re very generous with the size, but it still seems overpriced at $11 for what it is.
(I’d make them at home instead.)
Request no Twin Span sauce to make it vegan.
It would be awesome to see them add some vegan sauces and/or cheeses – especially since there’s a surcharge for adding Beyond Meat, so you’re paying more but omitting other pricey ingredients.
Cavort in Davenport
Cavort is an intimate restaurant in downtown Davenport with a menu inspired by the tropics.
It’s a date night-worthy restaurant with prices in the $15 to $18 range.
They also offer a variety of cocktails.
The menu changes regularly. So what you see here may or may not be available when you go.
It took a lot of back & forth before we went to get much information about vegan options beyond one sandwich.
It would be great if they’d post their veganizable options on their online menu and/or social media channels.
Once we arrived, our server was very helpful, though. And their in-restaurant menus did note a couple vegan options.
They also have unbreaded Gardein chicken that can used as an addition or substitution to menu items.
For an appetizer, we started with mandu.
It was made with steamed dumplings in a very salty broth. The dumplings were nice & plump.
For our main course, a vegan version of chicken piccata.
Browned Gardein cutlets were coated in a bright & light lemon caper sauce. They don’t have non-dairy butter on hand, so they made the sauce with oil instead.
They served it with roasted instead of mashed potatoes because of the same butter situation.
We also had a crab cake style sandwich with a banana blossom cake. It was served with a heaping pile of mango salsa. On the side, crispy fries.
I wish the banana blossom cake was served on its own like an appetizer.
It had a really tasty flavor & texture, but it got a little lost under a fluffy bun & sweet salsa.
Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport, Iowa
The Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport is within eye line of the Mississippi River. They have both an indoor & outdoor market.
The outdoor market is open from the beginning of May through the end of October. The indoor market is open year ‘round.
In addition to produce, the farmers market has arts, crafts, and music.
Other vegan Quad Cities options
For something of the quick casual variety, there are vegan fast food options at Noodles & Company, Moe’s, Bruegger’s Bagels, Starbucks, Qdoba, and Chipotle in the Quad Cities.
Content and photos updated May 26, 2022. Originally posted October 24, 2013.