Vegetarian BBQ Joints Offer Fresh Flavors and Sauces

By: Karen Dybis | June 18, 2021
Veggie BBQ

Photo Courtesy of Ale Mary's.

Whether you like your barbecue with something sweet like a North Carolina sauce or spicy, there are lots of restaurants and carry-out dining experiences around Metro Detroit where you can enjoy this summertime mainstay if you are a vegetarian or vegan. Barbecue is the kind of food where everyone can enjoy it across an array of proteins, including jackfruit, tofu and more. 

At its core, barbecue is simply a food-preparation technique in which a protein is cooked on an open fire or on a grill. These foods can be smoked as well. What makes barbecue great is its beauty – think of those perfect grill marks – as well as that memorable charred flavor. Any protein is good on a grill or barbecued, including vegetables, fruits and plant-based meats. 

If you look on the web, there are thousands of barbecue recipes for people who eat vegetarian, vegan or other ways. Think about chargrilling kebabs with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and baby aubergine, the fancier word for eggplant. There are smoky cauliflower steaks. You can make your own veggie burgers or buy the prepared ones and put them on the barbecue for additional char. All of it is good for you as well as colorful additions to any table. 

And be creative! There are such things as carrot hot dogs, which you smother with mustard and put in a bun. Grilled Brussel sprouts are great on the grills. Grilled corn by itself or in a salad is magnificent. Zucchini also is wonderful when it is cooked outside. And who doesn’t love when a potato wrapped in foil is chucked into the coals or into a campfire for a great late-night meal? 

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Here are five Metro Detroit restaurants that offer a barbecue vegetarian or vegan option on their menus.  


This Michigan Avenue barbecue restaurant and bar gets lots of kudos for its sandwiches and for good reason – they are flavorful as well as sizable. The Genius is its vegetarian offering with what it describes as “tender, plant-based morsels” tossed in Slows’ Classic BBQ sauce and topped with coleslaw and pickles. There’s also mac-n-cheese and other sides that you can add that are vegetarian on its menu. 

Kimchi Box

Sterling Heights has its secret vegan/vegetarian hit in the Kimchi Box. Check out its BBQ Tofu Taco, which features BBQ tofu, sweet corn as well as cilantro, pickled red onions, salad mix, sesame and spicy mayo and is served on a flour tortilla. There’s also the Bibimbap, which can be made with BBQ tofu.


Unburger Grill

If you want a hearty meal, try one of the four vegetarian patty options at the Unburger Grill in Dearborn. They are black bean, spicy chickpea zucchini, Caribbean or the Ultimate. Try the Sweet BBQ Style burger, which features hickory BBQ sauce, onions and the house-made lime-cilantro slaw. It also comes with a bag of Great Lakes potato chips or a side. You also could sample the BBQ Jackfruit sandwich with house-made BBQ smothering shredded jackfruit and topped with pickles. 

Ale Mary’s Beer Hall

Royal Oak has long been home to this Vegan and Vegetarian favorite with its full menu of delicious options. For barbecue, you can try the Nashville Hot Chicken with sweet and spicy McClures pickle chips, coleslaw and vegan mayo. 

Red Smoke Barbecue

The menu at Red Smoke Barbecue has a variety of dishes that a vegetarian might like, such as fish as well as Lentil & Black Bean Burger. A touch of jalapeño gives this hearty veggie burger big smoke house appeal. It is served grilled and topped with your choice of American, Cheddar, Jalapeño Jack or Swiss cheese. You can also add lettuce, tomato and onion and a side of Cajun remoulade sauce.