Gathering Café In Charleston, SC, Casual Fine Dining with Vegan Options!

by Danielle Bussone

Travel-weary and ravenous, Rich was searching the web for a place to eat near our hotel in north Charleston when I happened to look up from my steering wheel and noticed a sign that read “Gathering Café.” My car just steered its way into the parking lot. We were greeted by our friendly waitress, Olivia, and we grabbed an empty table. Casual and understated, the restaurant decor belies the gustatory delights awaiting discovery.

Gathering Cafe Exterior


Interior 2


Gathering Café serves animal dishes for the most part, but we were thrilled to learn the menu has a number of vegan options We quickly discovered Olivia to be knowledgeable and accommodating. To start, we ordered the Carrot-Ginger Soup and the House Salad, which we shared while awaiting our main course. The salad consisted of fresh, delicate baby greens, fresh tomatoes, carrots and cucumber tossed in a lemon vinaigrette and served with a crisp sesame seed cracker. It tasted… well, like spring.


House salad & Carrot-Ginger Soup

The Carrot-Ginger Soup was sweet and spicy and utterly delicious. I was beginning to get the picture. The chef at Gathering Café certainly understands flavor. There is a vegan falafel sandwich and vegetarian dishes in which the cheese can be removed if you prefer. We opted for the clearly plant-based options.

Oven Roasted Chickpea Cakes

I ordered the Oven-Roasted Chickpea Cakes. Served on a bed of chickpeas, roasted peppers and tomatoes and topped with perfectly prepared fresh asparagus, the combination of flavors was out of this world.

Rich had trouble choosing between the two rice bowls, so we resolved the dilemma by ordering both (taking one back to the hotel for later).  The Panang Curry boasted carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, mushrooms and ginger stewed in coconut milk and served with brown rice.

Panang Curry

The Teriyaki Rice Bowl comprised of mixed vegetables, avocado, and sesame seeds, was flavored with, you guessed it, teriyaki sauce.

Teriaki Bowl

Finally, we finished with a delightful refreshing fruit sorbet that was just the right combination of tart and sweet. These are not on the menu but are offered as seasonal specials in a variety of flavors.


Do yourself a favor the next time your are in Charleston. It’s worth the drive out of the city to visit this charming little restaurant to enjoy some of the best food in the area.


Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She is author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

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Vegan Options at Happy Trails Café, Alvarado Station on the Virginia Creeper Trail!




by Danielle Bussone

Happy Trails Café in Alvarado Station, Virginia is smack dab in the middle of the Virginia Creeper Trail between Abingdon and Damascus, VA.  The famous Virginia Creeper Trail is named after a railroad that ran between Abingdon, VA to Whitetop Mountain in North Carolina, spanning three states on what is now 34 miles of biking, hiking and horseback riding trails.

What is unique about Happy Trails is that they offer vegan options! Since there isn’t a single place in Abingdon or Damascus where we can find a plant-based meal, it is rather astonishing to find something to eat in this out of the way diner. The owner, Gwyn Hill, is a darling. Her partners/co-workers are her husband, Travis and her son, Logan, her parents, Loretta and Harvey Johnston, and her mother-in-law, Fran Hill, making it truly a family affair.





There are several plant-based options on the menu and Gwen often offers vegan specials. The first thing I noticed was the sign for boiled peanuts. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’m a boiled peanut fanatic. Rich and I scarfed down an order while awaiting the rest of our meal.





We couldn’t think of celebrating the Fourth of July without the traditional hotdog, vegan of course, with relish and sweet onions and a side of fried chips.


Vegan Hot Dog

Vegan Hot Dog


We ordered the Big Honkin’ Veggie Wrap, a flour tortilla layered with house-made hummus and stuffed full of fresh vegetables from local farmers and dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.



The Big Honkin’ Hummus Wrap


On a subsequent visit, I discovered I could replace the chips with a fresh side salad for a healthier version.



The Big Honkin’ Hummus Wrap with a side salad instead of chips


Rich and I also shared a Loaded Veggie Wrap, which is wrapped in gluten-free rice paper, stuffed with fresh veggies and served wit a lemon-vinaigrette. This wrap is made surprisingly sweet by the house-made sweet onions prepared by Gwen from a prized family recipe. It really is something special.




On our next visit we tried the Veggie Quinoa Salad, crisp, garden fresh vegetables topped with the now famous pickled sweet onions.



Veggie-Quinoa Salad


We enjoyed our meals in a small dining area next to the kitchen. Outside are plenty of tables underneath a sunscreen as well as numerous bike racks and plenty of parking. Across the street is a public park next to a lovely stream. There are pavilions with tables for dining and even swings to relax in underneath.



Small indoor seating area with lots of tables outside, plus a park across the street bordering a stream with covered eating areas.




This day’s veggie special was a veggie burger which comes with two sides. The menu board also features a delicious juice of beets, apples, carrots and ginger. I watched as one customer’s eyes popped open wide as took a sip from her friend’s glass. She immediately ordered one for herself.


Happy Trails Café is perfectly located and is a welcome oasis in the middle of our 17-mile bike ride. Rich and I are becoming regular customers and, so far, Gwyn and her charming family do not disappoint.


Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle  directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.


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Danielle’s Meatless BBQ pulled ‘pork’ made from Jackfruit WJHL 11 Daytime Live


Danielle Bussone demonstrates how to make Vegan “Pulled Pork!”







Note from Danielle: In the video I misspoke and said to add 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar. It is actually 1/4 cup! Oops! 🙂 Full recipe attached.


2 16oz cans Green Jackfruit in brine
¼ cup Light Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Southwestern Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder or Chipotle in adobe sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 – 1½ cups Barbecue Sauce (see Time For Change) or any commercial BBQ sauce


Drain and rinse in cold water. With a fork pull the wedges of jackfruit apart until it resembles pulled pork. (It is much easier if you microwave the jackfruit for 30 seconds or steam it in a tablespoon or two of water first.)
Transfer to a covered skillet or sauté pan.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring frequently.


Links to are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to products I use that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.



Jackfruit can be found in most Asian and Indian markets, probably at a better price than you can find on-line. However, if you don’t have these markets in your area or prefer the convenience of delivery to your door, this is good option.



This is a brand that I enjoy and is a reasonable price. I haven’t found an organic source for this product to date. This product doesn’t have high-glucose corn syrup and is overall the best among the available brands within the same price rang. You may be able to find this at you local grocers but, if not, this is an option!



This may be a better choice. Simply Organic brand is widely available at most grocers, but you may have a little more difficulty finding the chipotle powder. When buying hot peppers, it is important to find them organically grown if at all possible because many of them are sprayed with pesticides which also contain neurotoxins. Better to be safe than sorry!


Liquid Smoke is far less toxic than actually smoking your food over smoldering wood coals. A little of this goes a long way and is an essential ingredient if you want your dish to really taste like pork without resorting to cooking animal protein. This product is widely available in your local markets. The remaining ingredients can also be found at most markets, so there is no need to list them here.


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Green Truck Neighborhood Pub Serves Up Vegan Options In Savannah, GA




by Danielle Bussone



Green Truck Neighborhood Pub isn’t just a great place to find a plant-based meal in Savannah, it is a community experience. We arrived early for lunch on a Wednesday and the place was already packed. Rich and I were disheartened to learn there was a 30 minute waiting list, just our luck. We were en route to another destination and couldn’t hang around. But, just as we were about to leave the waiter mentioned there were two seats at the bar. Bingo! We were seated immediately.

I was surprised to find Green Truck so busy considering how large the dining area is. We were elbow to elbow at the bar where our orders were taken and place settings appeared out of thin air.


Green Truck Exterior


Green Truck

The Original Green Truck; the Namesake, a 1965 Chevy Stepside is a metaphor for hard work, a long road, and enjoying the journey.


There is a pride that exudes from the staff and for good reason. This is truly a community effort. Local farms provide grass fed hormone-free beef (still a boo from all us vegans) as well as  produce in season.  Local Perc Coffee, provides the coffee served at Green Truck. The furniture, bulletin boards and booths were either made from local artisans, or were salvaged. Local print shops created the menus and t-shirts, the beer comes from artisan brewers within the US, and everything that can be recycled or composted from restaurant is. And if this kind of social responsibility isn’t enough to tempt you to eat here, check out the menu.



The Mighty Veg With a Side of Vegan Chili


Rich ordered the Mighty Veg Burger topped with sliced tomato, avocado, grilled onions and red pepper with a side of homemade vegan Chili, dill pickle and crostini. The breads, salad dressings and sauces are made in house, including the ketchup. It was a beautiful presentation and OMG delicious! We always divide our orders so we can enjoy the entire meal. The burger was plump, flavorful, and moist, and did not fall apart as I bit into it.



The Mighty Veg Up Close and Personal


I ordered the Veggie Reuben, which is also the Mighty Veg burger sandwiched between slices of homemade Rye and topped with zesty Saurkraut and homemade Thousand Island dressing. I ordered a salad on the side. Normally it comes with Swiss cheese, but we opted to omit it. It wasn’t your typical Reuben, but it was really good. As usual, we divided the sandwiches and shared, so we both won.



The Vegan Reuben Close-up



The Vegan Reuben With A Side Salad


Green Truck doesn’t have a lot of veggie options, but what they do have is outstanding. If you are ever in the Savannah area, it will be worth the effort to check out Green Truck Neighborhood Pub.


Green Truck Interior



Green Truck Micro Brews

Bar offers a selection of 30 micro brews in bottles and 6 on tap From American craft breweries owned and operated in the United States, as well as a number of wines in bottles or by the glass.


green truck image

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Sweet Savor African Restaurant

Sweet Savor Exterior

Sweet Savor Interior

En route to Jesup, GA , we stopped in Charleston for an overnighter. Just down the road from our hotel, we discovered Sweet Savor African Restaurant, a Nigerian restaurant that is located in exactly the same location as now defunct Taste of Ethiopia, one of our all-time favorite Ethiopian restaurants. It’s a cautionary tale, use it or lose it. If we don’t support these marvelous ethnic restaurants with our patronage, they disappear, along with their amazing vegan options.






Sweet Savor is certainly not a plant-based restaurant but it does offer a few plant-based options. This cuisine is based on healthy whole foods like beans, grains and fruits. The spices are definitely understated so don’t expect exotic flavors. The food is simple and hearty. The owner is a lovely Nigerian woman who is willing to work with customers to see they have everything they need. If you find yourself in North Charleston, check out Sweet Savor and discover the hearty food of Nigeria.




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Chef Leslie Haas Talks about the Upcoming Plant Based Cooking Summit


Certified PCRM Food For Life Cooking Instructor & eCornell graduate in Plant-Based Nutrition, Leslie Hass, talks about the upcoming Plant Based Cooking Summit to be held in Lake Lure, North Carolina this October. As a cofounder of The Eat Smart Live Longer Club, her community’s interest in a plant-based lifestyle  grew from 60 to 600 participants.



Leslie says that people understand the value of a plant based lifestyle and the the interest is there. What she feels is needed is hands on experience in plant-based cooking and that’s what people will be getting at the Plant Based Cooking Summit.



In this last segment Leslie explains what she likes about plant based cooking and what you will be able to learn from her.



Register Now


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Rawtopian Bliss, Rawsome Dining in Columbia, SC!



by Michael Wilkins




Traveling can be difficult when you are on a vegan diet. Finding places that cater to your needs rather than being an afterthought on a carnivorous menu is a challenge. In order to find some of these great places you need to be diligent in your search. One such opportunity came up as we were traveling to Tega Cay to see my granddaughter. We did a search on Google, Yummly, and Trip Advisor for vegetarian/vegan eateries and found a place called Rawtopian Bliss. We decided to take a chance and experience something new.




The restaurant was easy to find as it was right off I-26. Our decision led us to a fantastic place not only to eat, but to learn about the mission of Chef Saa. We thought we were walking into a vegetarian/vegan eatery, but we found out that it is much more than that. Chef Saa changed her life approximately 20 years ago when she began her spiritual and vegan journey. Both of her parents were suffering from diabetes and she did not want to have the same issues in her life. She made the choice to switch to a vegan lifestyle and began a spiritual journey that eventually led her to founding Supreme Love and Light.




This is a ministry that is dedicated to holistic health. This organization is a nonprofit entity supporting healthy living. Their goal is to support wellness and whole health by encouraging natural healing, healthy food intake, herbal cleansing, stress management and spiritual awareness. They offer education about all of these things through workshops, classes, retreats and instructional demos. All of the money taken in by their ministry goes to support the maintenance and administrative costs for the mission of Supreme Love and Light Natural Path Ministry.



Tempeh Bliss Burger


Margie and I sat down at a table and began to peruse the menu. We were very excited about the offerings. All of the items on the menu are whole food plant-based. Most of them are 60 – 90% raw. Margie chose the Tempeh Bliss burger with chips and cheese. I chose the shepherd’s pie with side salad. The Tempeh Bliss burger is 80% raw. The tempeh is marinated, breaded and lightly sautéed. It is served on a flatbread created by Chef Saa and accompanied by grapeseed oil veganaise, lettuce and tomato.


Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie


The shepherd’s pie is prepared with the savory sausage created by Chef Saa. It also has a cheese created by her, and the whole thing is wrapped in a tortilla shell and lightly toasted with a sweet and savory sauce. It comes with a side salad.




This was a great experience in a pleasant atmosphere. We had a chance to sit down with the owner and speak with her briefly about her journey. When she made the decision to change her life, she left a corporate job taking a buyout which allowed her to start her ministry. It is her feeling that there is an awakening happening surrounding food and health. Her mission in life is to bring this message to people and help them improve their lives both mentally and physically. She offers culinary classes on a variety of different subjects and you can even do an internship, learning how to be a raw chef. I almost jumped at the chance. This harkens back to her training at a Body Ecology Life-Sciences Attunement Center in Greensboro, where she spent much time learning how to be a raw chef.




There are many ways to tap into wellness while being coached by Chef Saa. They range from a transitional program for raw or vegan lifestyle to detox and rebalancing your body. She also does some free classes to encourage individuals of lesser means to improve their life and health. If you’re driving through Columbia on I-26 then this is a must-stop. We have placed this in our GPS and plan on stopping here a lot since it is on the way to my daughter’s house. It is exceptionally gratifying to run into individuals who are dedicated to causes such as this. Even if you do not have a chance to come to the area and experience Rawtopian Bliss, I encourage everyone to support their cause.


Michael Wilkins is a respiratory therapist, an avid scuba diver and an accomplished photographer. He has been living with hepatitis C for more than two decades and is a cancer surviver. Michael has kept liver cancer at bay by employing the healing properties of a plant-based diet.

A year later, after a strict plant-based regimen, his tumor markers are normal and his MRIs are clean! This has made Michael more passionate about staying on a vegan diet. He has met lots of wonderful passionate people with amazing stories while walking down this path. Michael’s area is Northeast Florida, particularly the Jacksonville area. Contact Michael to share your restaurant finds, make comments, or just to say hello!

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Danielle’s Foolproof Quick Injera


by Danielle Bussone



Well, I’ve finally done it! After three years of experimentation, I’ve come up with a foolproof Ethiopian injera recipe that is quick and easy. Granted, it does not have the complex, sourdough flavor of the long-fermented injera that takes days to prepare. But it is so close to it most people, even those who are Ethiopian aficionados, can not tell the difference. For those of you who are purists, I’ll have the longer, version in my book slated to be published late this summer. In fact, I’ll have several methods of preparing injera with varying degrees of difficulty and varying concentrations of whole grains. I will also have two gluten-free versions, so there is something for everybody. If you are craving Ethiopian food and have some sourdough starter on hand, this is a bread you can create from start to finish in as little as 40 minutes.



1 cup teff flour, 160 grams
1 3/4 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour, 230 grams
1 cup sourdough starter 250g
4 cups water (945g)
1 tbsp baking powder, 12g
1 tbsp organic corn starch, 12g


METHOD: 5 minutes to make batter, 1-2 min each for injera (14 minutes for 7) About 20 minutes total


Teff, a vital ingredient in good Ethiopian injera, is a very nutritious grain from Africa and is possibly is the tiniest individual grain in the world. Injera is an Ethiopian flatbread with a consistency somewhere between a crepe and a pancake. It is spongy and flexible with a sour flavor which perfectly compliments the savory and spicy Ethiopian stews that are served on it. The injera not only is your plate in an Ethiopian meal but also serves as the eating utensil. You just tear off a piece and fold it over a mound of stew on your plate, pinch off a bite and pop it into your mouth. When you are finished with the stews, you eat the plate which has become saturated with the delicious juices of the stews!


I am told by every Ethiopian chef I’ve met that it is virtually impossible to make Injera using 100% teff in the United States. No one seems to know the reason but it is assumed that it has something to do with climate and humidity. This is my version, which is quite comparable to the best of the Injera I’ve eaten in Ethiopian restaurants.


In a blender add 4 cups water and 1 cup teff flour. Blend on slow initially just to combine ingredients. Use a rubber spatula if necessary to scrape the dough from the sides of the blender. Test the teff by rubbing a bit of wet dough between your fingers. In the beginning, it feels grainy like a fine, wet sand. Turn blender up gradually until on high speed. Blend for one to two minutes. You can tell when the teff is ready when it is no longer very grainy. It will never be perfectly smooth but will be much less grainy than in the beginning.


Add all-purpose flour. Blend on low to combine. Turn off blender and scrape sides. Resume blending on high only long enough to remove lumps, 15 to 30 seconds. Do not over-blend. Add sourdough starter and blend to combine. While the blender is still running, add baking powder and cornstarch. Gradually increase speed to high and blend for 30 seconds.


Allow to rest for 15 minutes.


Heat a non-stick skillet with a lid on high heat. It is ready when a drop of water on the surface of the skillet sizzles and burns off quickly.


Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into the hot pan and tilt the pan on all sides unit the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan. The amount of batter you use depends upon the size of your pan. I use a 12″ flat-bottom skillet with straight sides with a lid.


Cook on high heat for 15 seconds or until holes form on the top of the pancakes and the batter begins to firm. Cover and continue cooking until the edges of the pancake begin to lift from the sides of the pan and begin to curl. Depending on the heat of your stove, the entire process should take 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. As moisture accumulates on the inside of the lid, wipe it off with a paper towel so the moisture does not drop onto the injera and cause gummy spots. The pancake should be filled with little holes the Ethiopians call “eyes”. The injera should also easily slide in the pan when shaken.


Slide onto a clean cloth on a countertop or table. I like to use flour sack towels. While the injera is cooling begin another in exactly the same manner. When the injera has cooled completely, you may stack them on top of each other. The injera must be completely cooled, not room temperature but rather cool to the touch, before they are stacked. Otherwise they will stick together and become unusable.


Note- if for some reason you have accidentally folded and edge of the injera over itself while transferring to the cloth to cool (It happens to the best of us.), allow it to cool slightly before attempting to straighten the injera. If you do it while still hot, you will make a gummy spot on the injera. If you let it cool a little, it will lay flat when you pull on it with little or no harm to the bread.


This recipe should make eight to ten 12-inch injeras, depending on how thick you make them. One should be used as a the plate for Ethiopian stews. The rest should be rolled up like cigars and served on the side. These will be used to eat the stews by pinching the stews between pieces of injera. Then just pop it into your mouth! No utensils, no problem!


Links to are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to products I use that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.



I don’t know how I ever lived without a Vitamix. This is an excellent product and lasts a very long time. It is multi-functional and aside from injera, it makes it possible to make creamy cheeses from nuts and ice creams, which are virtually impossible with a regular blender or a food-processor, as well as sauces, soups and much more. I use my Vitamix every single day and have for the past eight years. It’s still going strong!



This isn’t the exact sauté pan I use but it is nearly identical. The one I have been using for years is no longer available, so I’ve found one that will work well for you. I like the high sides of this pan. It makes it a little harder to slide the injera out of the pan, but the sloped sides of other pans give you less surface area to work with and you end up with smaller injera. It’s your choice. If you follow the directions in my video, you shouldn’t have any problems using this pan.



I always use earplugs when working with loud electrical appliances. This is a great, inexpensive, reusable set that has a box to store them in as well as replacements for when you wear yours out. They last a very long time and are washable. Rich and I keep a pair for each of us in the fold-out drawer below our sink so they are always handy.



I’ve been using this Taylor food scale for years and I have to say I really like it. It reads both in ounces and grams and allows you to reset the scale each time you add an additional ingredient, or want to weigh an item without weighing the bowl.

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Family Convenience Store, Harrisburg, VA, Serves Up Ethiopian Cuisine Family Style!


By Danielle Bussone


Chef, Tirhas Negassi Woldebabr and Manager, Mehari. T. Ocbamichael, owners of Family Convenient Store

Chef, Tirhas Negassi Woldebabr and Manager, Mehari T. Ocbamichael, owners of Family Convenient Store


In one of the most unlikely places, we discovered a gem of an Ethiopian restaurant located in the recesses of a small family owned convenience store, appropriately name Family Convenience Store. The chef, Tirhas Negassi Woldebabr, was once the chef of a favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the same city, called The Blue Nile. We had reviewed The Blue Nile several years ago and were dismayed to learn that it had closed. What I remember best was how delicious the food was, especially the Ethiopian Peanut Soup served with an unforgettable bread, Ambashi, which is the national bread of Ethiopia, according to Tirhas’s husband and partner, Mehari. T. Ocbamichael. With overtones of honey, it was a perfect complement to the to-die-for peanut soup.






Now, the couple has opened up the Family Convenience Store, and Tirhas is back, juggling batches of batter between three grills, efficiently making injera and ambasha breads for her customers. She also prepares a wonderful menu of Ethiopian stews, called Wot (pronounced What), served on the spongy sourdough injera flatbread for which Ethiopia is famous. She offers packages of fresh injera for sale in the store, as well as with the dinners she prepares for eat-in or take-out service. Their daughter, a newly graduated high-school student, helps out in the store when she’s needed.




Mehari manages the Family Convenience Store, which offers all the standard items one can find at an American convenience store, but it also provides a range of Ethiopian goods, such as an assortment of spices, teff flour, and false banana root. I bought some of the false banana, though I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with it. I just couldn’t resist! You may wonder whether there is a demand for Ethiopian products in the area, but it seems there is. Harrisonburg boasts a thriving Ethiopian community of 400 families. It is no wonder a constant stream of native Ethiopians drifted in and out during our visit, picking up bundles of fresh injera for their families or filling the small tables in the back to enjoy a meal.




Tirhas was kind enough to show us how she makes both injera and ambasha, which is almost unbelievable since Ethiopians tend to guard their injera recipes with their lives. Making injera is an art that takes time to master. Some people never get it right; Tirhas certainly does.


The quality of injera is measured by the size and number of little holes in the top, called "eyes." This gives injera its spongy texture. This injera is perfect.

The quality of injera is measured by the size and number of little holes in the top, called “eyes.” This gives injera its spongy texture. This injera is perfect.


But let’s get to the food. While there isn’t a huge variety of vegan fare, it is certainly enough to give you a filling taste of authentic Ethiopia with a good balance of nutrients. We ordered the Gomen (collard greens), Misir Wot (spicy red lentils), and the Diniche Alicha (potatoes, green beans, and carrots), which included a tasty salad of tomatoes, lettuce, onion and jalapeño peppers with a lemony dressing.  The injera is some of the best we’ve tasted anywhere. It was soft and pillowy, with a slight sourdough flavor.




While we were speaking with Tirhas, we ran into Rick Yoder, who had popped in to let her know that he was bringing in a party of four later that evening. A former economics professor of Eastern Mennonite University, Yoder is now a Health Systems Consultant for low-income countries. Rick had once lived in Ethiopia and tells us that this convenience store/restaurant is a very typical venue there. He says he loves the food and attests to Family Convenience Store’s authentic flavors. What he particularly likes is that it hasn’t been Americanized like a lot of the Ethiopian restaurants he’s tried in this country. Not having visited Ethiopia ourselves, we can’t attest to that, but we can say this food is equal to or better than many of the Ethiopian restaurants we’ve visited and the injera, which is the heart of any Ethiopian meal, is among the best.


Former University Professor with

Rick Yoder loves the great Ethiopian cuisine at Family Convenience Store!


Do yourself a favor the next time you are tooling down I-81 South and are hankering for some good Ethiopian cuisine. Stop by Family Convenient Store and enjoy the best Ethiopian food within a 100-mile radius!


Links to are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to my own products that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.



Tirhas swears by the Heritage grill. She has been using one of hers for twelve years and she has bought two more to keep up with her baking demands, making three injera in quick succession. She feels they are the best, especially for the price. You will need the lid, which is purchased separately. I, personally, have a Wass digital grill (mitad). You can get it at half the price listed on Amazon at almost any Ethiopian market, but you will no doubt pay a lot in shipping costs. I’ll add a link to that product below. I am happy with my purchase but have not had it long enough to verify its longevity.



Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people who are making a difference in the plant-based community. She is the author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

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Check Out Jacksonville’s 2nd Annual Gastrofest! Good Food – Great Time!

by Michael Wilkins



The Jacksonville GastroFest is back for second year. This is a culinary inspired festival held annually in the downtown area of Jacksonville. The name GastroFest comes from GastroJax which is a 501(c)(3) organization. Their mission is to promote local cuisine and educate the public about food and beverage sources as well as local restaurants in the North Florida area. They do this through education about the cultural significance of what people eat, food history, healthy eating, and where food comes from. GastroJax was formed in April 2014 through outreach, during festivals like One Spark, EnviroFest, the Green Social and GastroFest. (more…)

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