Dining, Iowa

Vegan Guide to Dubuque, Iowa

If you’re planning a getaway to Dubuque and looking for plant-based or vegan options, you will have some delicious options! We find in our travels that some cities care about sustainable and local food producers, and it’s evident of the importance of this in the Dubuque food scene.

One thing we’ve noticed on our road trip travels is that some cities are better than others when it comes to making it a point to look for locally sourced foods so they’re able to provide fresh, local ingredients. We find that these types of restaurants offer thoughtful and creative menus. 

Vegan Guide to Dubuque

The food scene in Dubuque, Iowa, is scrumptious, and even if it’s not on the menu, the restaurants listed in this Vegan Guide to Dubuque here were happy to create a plant-based/vegan option upon request. 

Travel Dubuque sponsored some of our meals, but we share our honest opinion!

Vegan Guide to Dubuque, Iowa

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Vegan Guide to Dubuque, IA

As we vegans know, eating vegan while dining in some cities can be challenging. The good news is that there are delicious vegan options to enjoy in Dubuque. Read this vegan guide to Dubuque, and more importantly, share it with your vegan friends who may be traveling to Dubuque.

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Vegan Breakfast

Hotel Julien

Hotel Julien is an experience in itself. The menu at Carolines Restaurant, located in Hotel Julien, does not include vegan items, but Chef Mike did mention that they will accommodate vegan meals upon request. Chef Mike has a background and interest in sustainable cooking, which shows in the meals he prepares for hotel guests.

sweet potato hash with tofu scramble at Hotel Julien in Dubuque

Chef Mike at Hotel Julien created an amazing sweet potato and beet hash for breakfast. Chef Mike added tofu scramble to our plates. The dish was incredibly flavorful. The dish consisted of roasted sweet beets, russet potato, tofu sprinkled with curry and topped off with pumpkin seeds.

Book a hotel reservation for Hotel Julien

Inspire Cafe

Inspire Cafe has several vegan menu options for breakfast and lunch. We were there for breakfast and chose the Sunrise Veggie Bowl, consisting of kale, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, avocado, sauteed green pepper, and oven-roasted tomatoes served with hummus. It was very good. Portions were a little small, but we loved it. 

hash at Inspire in Dubuque

Kelly also had a maple oat pancake latte with almond milk. It was so good! We typically order black coffee, but this was calling her name! 

The lunch menu has more vegan options than the breakfast menu if you plan to go!

Convivium Urban Garden

Convivium Urban Garden is a vegetable oasis right in the heart of Dubuque. The concept of this non-profit is to feed the community and improve life through food for the community of Dubuque! Convivium is the Latin word for Feast. The concept and mission at Convivium are so great that it deserves its blog post. We stopped for breakfast and noshed on some sweet potato pancakes. They were so good and filling! Cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet potato….. an incredible combo!

One thing to note about the menu at Convivium is that the sweet potato pancake was the only vegan option on our visit. Since their mission is to grow vegetables, we assumed there would be multiple vegan options, but this was not the case.

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Vegan Pasta

L. May Eatery 

Expect a lovely dining experience at L.May Eatery. Casual or fancier, it’s a comfortable spot that feels special in a restored historic neighborhood of Dubuque, Main Street. 

Sourcing local ingredients is one of the key factors at L. May, and vegan options are marked on the menu. You’ll find a vegan option in every menu category, a huge bonus!

Order the house salad with vegan dressing and a citrus herb vinaigrette. It’s delicious. 

spinach and vegetable pasta at L. May Eatery in Dubuque

The Veggie Pasta was incredible. The dish consisted of house-made fettuccine noodles, ginger coconut milk, roasted cauliflower, squash, mushroom, and spinach. All sprinkled with a little nutmeg. It was delicious. 

Guess what?! … They even have an incredible vegan chocolate mousse on the menu. We were dining with non-vegans, and everyone agreed that this vegan mousse was delicious. 

vegan dessert at L. May Eatery Dubuque

Pepper Sprout

Before our visit, We reviewed the menu online and then again at the table but did not see any vegan options. We mentioned to our waitress that we were wondering if the kitchen could come up with some veggies, a potato, and a big salad, for some basic examples. The waitress came out a few minutes later and asked if a veggie curry would be OK. We said a veggie curry would be perfect. We typically order veggie curry when we visit Thai restaurants because we love a good veggie curry.

Suffice it to say that we have never had a veggie curry like the one that Chef Kim prepared for us at her restaurant, Pepper Sprout

Sidebar– when I read the name Pepper Sprout, I mumbled a few words from a Johnny Cash song- “hotter than a Pepper Sprout,”  but I couldn’t place the song. 

After Chef Kim came and greeted our table, she explained that her restaurant was named after the Johnny Cash song, Jackson. She and a college friend were cooking one night about 30 years ago in San Francisco and dreaming about opening a restaurant. They knew they’d name it after Johnny Cash somehow. And here we have Pepper Sprout in Dubuque! It is a must-visit for sure!

Back to the curry….this was the most unique (in a good way) curry we have ever had, and here’s why:

vegetable curry vegan

Chef Kim used portobello, chicken of the woods (oyster mushrooms), maitake, and shitake mushrooms.  She added garlic, shallots, carrots, yellow squash, broccoli, and tomatoes. She deglazed all the veg in white wine and added pepper flakes, cilantro, and a touch of brown sugar. She used both green and red curry. It was amazing. 

We thanked Kim Chef for such a great creation, and she mentioned that they prepare many vegan dishes for guests. So don’t be afraid to ask your waitress for a vegan opinion if it isn’t on the menu!

Also, look at how they prepare the leftovers! Underneath the tinfoil is saran wrap. It seems so much smarter than plastic take-out containers.

Vegan Pizza


We were excited to eat at Brazen. Located in the Historic Millwork District, once deserted, the area is being revitalized and is now a neighborhood where you can find retail space, coffee, breweries, wine, and gourmet food!

The chef/owner of Brazen was once on Bravo’s Top Chef and is a Le Cordon Bleu of Culinary Arts trained chef with an impressive resume of fine dining restaurants.

The concept of Brazen is really neat. They don’t have a freezer in the kitchen, so that some menu options can change every three days!

During our visit, the only vegan option was a pizza. We were hoping for something more creative than that, but the pizza did not disappoint! We chose the Crust + Vegan option. The ingredients were kale pesto, carrot, caramelized onion, apple, walnut, and a vegan creme fraiche.

The cocktail menu is beautiful, so we also recommend trying something new! My drink (pictured left) was the Chapman. The drink comprises Cruzan Black Strap Rum, Appleton Estate Rum, Vzipars, Apple Cider, lime, cinnamon, and walnut bitters. I’ve never had anything like it and would order again.

The dessert was unbelievable. Look at that chocolate cake!

Magoo’s Pizza

We wanted a quick lunch while we were out and about and found Magoo’s Pizza which offers vegan cheese. We ordered the vegetarian with vegan cheese, and it hit the spot. They also have a nice selection of salads. 

Magoo’s also has a Des Moines location, so we’ll likely check them out the next time we hit Des Moines.  

magoo vegan pizza

Thai Food

Pete’s Thai Kitchen

We love to eat at Pete’s Thai Kitchen. This is one of our favorite Thai restaurants, so we’re always happy to repeat! 

The ambiance is pretty, and the prices are very reasonable. They offer a large menu, and the vegan options are clearly marked with a notation that anything can be made vegetarian (or vegan).

vegan appetizer pete's thai kitchen dubuque

Our favorites include fresh appetizer rolls, vegan pad thai, red curry, and Thai wok noodles (Pad Se Iew). 

We highly recommend saving room for dessert and ordering the mango sticky rice. It’s so good!

sticky rice Pete's Thai Kitchen Dubuque

Breweries with Vegan Food

7 Hills Brewery

We were surprised by how big of a menu this 7 Hills Brewery offers. Also located in the Historic Mill District, this brewery has a full menu, bar, and craft beers. 

For appetizers, ask for the Hangry Sprouts to have no butter and omit the creamy lime dipping sauce, and you have a delicious appetizer. They also serve a Bruh Chetta, their twist on bruschetta – crostini, tomatoes, basil, garlic, dried cranberries, and balsamic glaze (ask the kitchen to omit the feta).

The menu at 7 Hills Brewery is meat-based, with not so much as an Impossible Burger on the menu, but the Forbidden Fruit Salad (omitting the feta cheese) will not disappoint you. It has local apples, blueberries, and candied pecans on many greens. The citrus vinaigrette is delicious. We were pleasantly surprised at this salad; it was a huge serving!

salad ad 7 Hills Brewery Dubuque

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  1. erinklema

    April 10, 2022 at 9:46 am

    Though I don’t follow a vegan lifestyle, I enjoy meatless meals like the ones you’ve shown in this post. For sure, I’d definitely dine at Brazen. Those cocktails and the chocolate cake look absolutely divine. Thanks to you guys, I now know where to eat if I visit Dubuque!

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      February 2, 2023 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks, Erin! You for sure would LOVE Brazen. Actually, you’d love all of the places we visited- very creative menu items. Dubuque has a lot to offer!

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