Next to the day's special dishes, the chalkboard at Alluette's Café proudly proclaims a few phrases that may shock loyalists to the fried-chicken school of soul food: "Vegans Welcome," "This is a no Pork Cafe," "Organic & Natural Products," and "Fresh Local Seafood." Alluette Jones-Smalls has been cooking up what she calls "holistic soul food" in various ventures since 1993, but after she overcame the cancer that nearly claimed her life, she embraced the concept of fresh ingredients, free of toxic chemicals, with more vigor than ever.
Now, she's come back to her Charleston roots at Aluette's Café. She cooks everything up to order, which takes a little longer—but Travel + Leisure magazine makes it clear that it's worth the wait, calling the food "vegetable-centric, truly luscious, Southern food." O, The Oprah Magazine's Celia Barbour praised the shrimp as "quite possibly the tastiest … I've ever eaten, dusted with spicy flour and fried so lightly that each sweet crustacean bore a crisp, fragile shell." Alluette doesn't add sugar to any of her dishes or drinks—including her signature Aunt Mary's iced tea, which is sweetened with fruit juice.
Guests can admire the local artwork on Alluette's brightly painted walls as they wait for local shrimp over organic, seasonal greens or hormone-free grilled chicken with brown rice and lima beans. Alluette frequently invites live musicians, poets, and other artists to perform in the shop, and out on the patio, herbs and flowers uproot themselves to waltz for diners.
After 30 years of curating and perfecting recipes, founders Linda and Julie unleashed their culinary powers to create a Roly Poly Sandwiches menu of more than 50 rolls and sandwiches, plus a tempting selection of desserts. Slinging sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the sandwich artisans envelop a variety of inventive ingredients inside warm, floury tortillas, from scrambled eggs to pesto chicken to mustard-splashed tuna. Customized sandwiches may also be rolled to suit various diets, preferences, or carbo-loading competitive mimes.
The Sprout nourishes healthy minds and virile bodies with delicious vegan cuisine, smoothies, and juices all composed by way of fresh, organic ingredients that are sourced as locally as possible. Harvest a fresh feast from the café menu, ripe with raw, delectable dishes, such as the live granola, a sprouted medley of pumpkin seeds, almonds, and walnuts sweetened with dates, raisins, and agave nectar ($6.25), or the mock tuna, which tickles taste buds with sunflower seeds, cashews, dulse flakes, and an incredible impersonation of Don Knotts ($5.85). Protein-loving meat-abstainers can sink formerly carnivorous fangs into the Sprout burger, which comes with your choice of either a harvest patty (ginger-walnut-portobello) or a sun burger (sesame-tahini-corn-carrot), laid upon a sprouted Ezekiel bun with fresh veggies and slathered with veganaise or raw-cashew cheese ($9.25). Wash a garden-fresh meal down with a vitamin-rich smoothie, or cool the throat with a divine drink from the energy-boosting juice bar.