Vegan Quad Cities options abound! They include plant-based offerings at Exotic Thai, Olive Tree Cafe, Taste of Ethiopia, Healthy Harvest Urban Farms, 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.
Most 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 location in Moline and 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.
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.
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.
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.
Taste of Ethiopia in Davenport
Taste of Ethiopia recently opened in downtown Davenport. From their patio dining area, there’s a view of the Mississippi River, which you’ve got to love.
I’d tried Taste of Ethiopia in the past when they served at a food tent near the Freight House Farmers Market. So I was very excited when they got a real brick and mortar restaurant not far from there.
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.
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. They remind me of a favorite dish at Shree Indian Restaurant in Illinois.
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, vegan meatballs, spinach, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, green peppers, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts on an agave crust. Get it as a pizza or as a calzone.
The vegan meatballs are very mild. I don’t know if they’re made of tempeh, but that’s the flavor profile.
While I would prefer a heavily spiced meatball like Beyond Meat or Gardein, theirs does the trick. 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.
Cavort in Davenport
Cavort is new to the Quad Cities restaurant scene. It’s 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.
From the appetizers or bites section: Mandu. It was made with steamed dumplings in a very salty broth. The dumplings were nice & plump.
From the plates section: 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.
From the buns section: 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.
Healthy Harvest Urban Farms in Rock Island
Across the river in Rock Island Illinois is Healthy Harvest Urban Farms.
It is a small grocery store that offers organic produce and a variety of specialty products like seitan and non-dairy cheese. This isn’t an exclusively vegan grocery store, however. They also sell animal products.
Inside of the grocery store is a small vegan cafe with smoothies, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and pizza.
Their menu changes. But some of the things I’ve tried include a tofu scramble, tempeh BLT, and pizza.
The pizza above is called the Q.C. Quad. It contains 4 different kinds of pizza in one pie!
I especially enjoyed the taco portion. The next time I go back, I’m getting a whole taco pizza. Taco pizza is beloved in this area. And vegan taco pizza is a rare commodity outside of my home.
Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport, Iowa
One of my favorite things to do in the summer is visit the farmers market. Whether it’s in my own town, or while I’m on vacation, it’s always fun to see what is in season and local. As the months pass and the seasons change, so do the fruits and vegetables on offer.
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. There’s also a location of Baskin-Robbins, which recently added 3 new vegan ice creams to their line-up.
Content and photos updated August 2, 2021. Originally posted October 2013.