Restaurant Review: Black Bean Co. in Charleston, SC!

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Yesterday my mom and I arrived in Charleston, SC for a “last hurrah” vacation before the end of summer.  Since going vegan (Two years ago!  Has it been that long already?), I’ve made it a habit to scope out places to eat before heading off anywhere.  I was particularly impressed by the vegan wraps on the menu at the Black Bean Co.  Since we were slated to arrive in Charleston right around when I normally eat lunch, Mom and I decided to give the place a shot for our first meal on vacation.

black bean company counter
It’s a cute little place, nestled in a brick building on Spring St.  Black Bean Co. bills itself as an “energy food restaurant” and puts a lot of emphasis on organic, local ingredients.  Of course I could get behind that!  One other thing that caught my eye was the note on the board over the dessert case: all desserts and treats there are vegan-friendly.  Score two for Black Bean!

black bean local wall
I had a hard time deciding which wrap to get.  There are 8 vegan wraps on the menu, along with salads that can all be made vegan on request.  Eventually I settled on the Super Asian: tofu with spinach, carrots, candied almonds, snow peas, and crispy noodles with a hoisin dressing.  (I’ll admit, it was the crispy noodles that got me.)  I went with couscous as a side; the other vegan side available was pasta salad with veggies.

black bean co super asian vegan wrap
I’ll admit my first reaction wasn’t positive.  I looked into the box the wrap came in and was disappointed by its apparently small size.  But guys, this wrap was deceptive!  I picked it up and found an amazing amount of food stuffed inside.  So much, in fact, that I was only able to eat half of it and had to save the other half for dinner. (Also, don’t be alarmed by the takeout-style serving.  If you want to throw something out when you’re done, they recycle it!)

The side of couscous, I ate all of, and it was very good.  There were nuts of some kind–I think they were pistachios–and raisins mixed in, giving it a lightly sweet zip that made it almost like a dessert.

The wrap…where do I start?  Hoisin sauce is great on its own, and so are crispy noodles, but tossed together in a wrap with all the other ingredients they were especially awesome.  The crispy noodles were placed right in the center of the wrap, so there was a sudden burst of crispness after biting through the soft green crunch of the spinach and the tender tofu.  And I really have no idea why the wrap itself was red, but it was soft, too, and not weird and salty like some I’ve had.

black bean co wall art

Art on the wall at Black Bean Co.

I didn’t have any dessert, but my mom picked up a peanut butter chocolate bar.  In the case, it looked like your basic, innocuous choco-pb-brownie-type treat.  The girl behind the counter warned us, happily, that it was “very rich,” so of course I had to try some.  Again, major wow for the taste buds!  It turned out to be a thick, two-layer bar with a fudge-like texture and bits of puffed rice in the peanut butter part.  Just a few bites was enough to feel like I’d had a full-on dessert experience.

I really enjoyed eating at Black Bean Co.  It’s the sort of place I wish there were more of in my area of NY, where you can just go, grab fresh vegan food, and be happy with what you’ve eaten.  It would also be a nice place to go and sit with a friend, have some coffee, and just hang out.  Give them a try next time you’re in Charleston; I know I may have to go back again before Mom and I head home!

You can like Black Bean Co. on Facebook here.

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About the Author:

Sam has been a vegan since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of vegan food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a member of Toastmasters International and currently serves as part of the Capital View Toastmasters club. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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