What Happens When A Girl From the  North, Who’s Allergic to Milk, Goes Down South to the Land of Milk and Butter?

I love to travel and explore new lands and even places I’ve been to again and again (yes, Disneyworld, but that’s my 2nd home)! A couple of years ago my husband and I vacationed in Charleston, SC and loved it. We didn’t have time to check out its sister city, Savannah, GA so this year that’s where we went on our annual wedding anniversary celebration. For much of the Charleston trip I existed on my homemade granola bars so I was nervous about finding allergy safe and dairy free food in Savannah. To my surprise I did! And our trip even included a return visit to the elegant Circa 1886 in Charleston, the one place I was able to eat at the first time there.

Here are the dairy free highlights:

Chipotle’s – Victory Drive, Savannah, GA

We purposely stayed at the Embassy Suites since rooms there have a cooking area. On the day of our arrival we stopped at Whole Foods on Victory Drive to pick up items that could be easily made in the room. In that same plaza is a Chipotle’s where we had dinner. I was extremely impressed with the staff . Immediately when they heard I had a food allergy the server removed his gloves, washed his hands, and put on new gloves. Chipotle’s offers a vegan dish, Sofritas, consisting of tofu, roasted tomatoes, onion, poblano and bell peppers, cumin, oregano, garlic and black pepper. I ordered this as a salad and my meal was made with fresh ingredients from the kitchen to avoid cross contamination. The server was knowledgeable of food allergies and took great caution to make sure my meal was safe to eat. Check out Chipotle’s allergy menu here.

The Sentient Bean – Savannah, GA

This little coffee shop and café touts itself as “Savannah’s only vegetarian restaurant” but much of its menu is actually vegan. Recommended by Chef Drew at the Embassy Suites where we stayed, The Sentient Bean offers breakfast all day, serves organic fair trade coffee and tea, offers no fried foods and makes everything from scratch. I ordered the Curried Tofu Salad made with baked tofu, cashews, cucumbers, carrots, currents, celery, curry, homemade vegan mayo and served on bed of greens with vegan crostini. It was delicious, fresh and filling.

Dean ordered the Zesto Pesto Panini made with pesto, red onion, mozzarella, tomatoes, and spinach. He said it was yummy but wished the Panini included more spinach. He enjoyed the brownie which was like a chocolate cake and the vegan peach cake I thought was just ok. I would have liked more peaches and less cake. Prices are very reasonable at the Sentient Bean and I was impressed with the staff that seemed knowledgeable about cross contamination and making sure I’d eat safely. Kudos especially to Ryan. Find a more in-depth review here.

Circa 1886-Charleston, SC

The highlight of this trip South was a visit to one of my all time favorite chefs and restaurants. Circa 1886, in the historic Wentworth Mansion, is a gem in the heart of Charleston.

I first met Executive Chef Marc Collins when we visited Charleston four years ago. It was the only restaurant that I could find dairy free food in Charleston. Dean and I often reminisce about that meal and we were not disappointed on our return visit. Chef Marc made my heart melt when he said, “cook dairy free, oh that’s easy,” and he personally reviewed the menu with me and discussed what I like to eat. Hesitantly, I asked if the Risotto could be made dairy free and to my surprise he said, “absolutely.” It was pure heaven! So smooth and creamy.

For my main course I was intrigued by what a banana glaze would taste like combined with Yucca Tash and Crispy Quinoa so I ordered the Swordfish. Again, Heaven! The swordfish was moist and tender and the banana glaze gave it a unique, slightly sweet taste.

There was more delicious food too, including items Dean ate and the Sweet Finishes to dinner. Please read my extensive review of Circa 1886 and you’ll understand why it’s USA Today’s #3 Most Romantic Restaurant in the U.S. You’ll also learn other highlights from my anniversary dinner, and why a dinner at Circa 1886 cooked by Chef Collins is well worth your time, money and hopefully, the highlight too of your travels in Charleston.

Where have you traveled in the Southern U.S.? What dairy free eats did you find? Share in our comments section.

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