Is Chez Panisse Vegan Friendly? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

Is Chez Panisse Vegan Friendly? (The Answer Might Surprise You)
Joe Squatch

Joe Squatch

September 7, 2022

The number of people adopting a vegan or plant-based diet is increasing all the time, therefore, more than ever before, restaurants are expected to offer vegan options on their menus. 

This is particularly true for high-end, respected restaurants such as Chez Panisse. 

Is Chez Panisse Vegan Friendly? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

However, not all restaurants are embracing the shift toward veganism as you would expect and it can leave people wondering which restaurants will be able to cater to their dietary needs. 

In this article, we will be shining the spotlight on Chez Panisse and looking at whether it is a vegan-friendly restaurant or not.  We will be including both the dinner menu and the sample cafe menu in this article.

Is Chez Panisse Vegan Friendly?

The answer to this question is surprisingly disappointing.  In the interest of fairness, the real answer to this question is that it is difficult to say whether Chez Panisse is vegan-friendly or not because the format of the restaurant menu is fairly unique. 

The restaurant offers a single, fixed, four-course menu that changes each day. 

You are able to see five days’ worth of their menus at a time on their website.  At the time of writing this article, each menu for the next five days included at least one meat dish and at least one dairy dish.

However, Chez Panisse also operates as a cafe during the day and has a sample menu on its website. 

Although there is a disclaimer that the menu is just a sample and that items are subject to change, there are dishes available that appear to be vegan-friendly. 

There are also dishes on the sample cafe menu that can easily be modified from vegetarian to vegan if necessary. 

To answer the question of whether Chez Panisse is vegan-friendly, we would have to say, sometimes. 

Daily Dinner Menus

The dinner menus at Chez Panisse are very unique due to the fact that they change each day and are fixed meals rather than a list you can choose from. 

If you are adventurous and have no dietary restrictions, you could make a reservation and never check what food you are going to be given until it arrives in front of you. 

However, if you are vegan, that just isn’t possible as you will likely be paying for a meal that you cannot eat. 

Chez Panisse lists up to five days’ worth of fixed menus on the website which can allow you to make an informed decision before making a reservation. 

The menus that were available on Chez Panisse’s website at the time of writing this article featured at least one dish that was centered around meat but most commonly had at least two. 

In all of the meat-based dishes that were available, there seemed to be no way to make them vegetarian, let alone vegan-friendly. 

This is quite disappointing for a modern and high-quality restaurant, however, according to their website, their reservations remain in high demand.  

Because of the ever-changing nature of their menus, it is plausible that every so often they will have a vegan or even a vegetarian menu that can be modified. 

Customer reviews for Chez Panisse do suggest that the occasional vegan dish is added to a menu, however, they are few and far between and often included in a fixed-price menu that contains dairy and meat products.  

Cafe Menu

The cafe menu at Chez Panisse on the other hand is quite different from the ever-changing dinner menu. 

Although there is only a sample menu available on the Chez Panisse website and that menu is accompanied by a disclaimer that it may or may not be accurate, the dishes are very different from the dinner menu.  

On the sample menu that was available at the time of writing this article, there were a total of four dishes that, from the ingredients, appeared to be vegan-friendly. 

There were a further two dishes that could easily be modified to be vegan by removing the dairy accompaniments or toppings.  

Considering that this is simply a sample menu, it is possible that the current menu at Chez Panisse has more or fewer vegan options available. 

Is Chez Panisse Vegan Friendly? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

The fact that there are a possible six different vegan options available on the cafe menu suggests that it is a better option for any potential vegan diners. 

Additionally, it is not a set menu, therefore, you can choose whichever combination of dishes you like.  

Another positive aspect of the cafe menu at Chez Panisse is that the vegan dishes that are available are varied. 

There is a mixture of pizza, salads, and roasted vegetables with rice which means that you are less limited to one type of food and can even create a multiple-course meal.  


The range of desserts that are offered on both the dinner and cafe menus is not vegan-friendly, nor are the dishes easily modified.  The majority of the desserts that are served at Chez Panisse are based around ice cream, meringue, or cakes. 

None of these options can be easily substituted for vegan alternatives.  

Dish Modifications

According to customer reviews, dishes at Chez Panisse that are able to be modified to be vegan-friendly, such as salads that are topped with parmesan cheese, will be modified at your request. 

The wait staff is very happy to communicate alterations to the kitchen where necessary.  However, there are many dishes on both the dinner and cafe menus that cannot be modified to be vegan-friendly due to their nature. 

For example, the main component of the dish may be the meat, or the non-vegan component is dairy that is in the sauce and cannot be removed.  

Although the wait and kitchen staff will do everything they can to try and accommodate your dietary requirements, there are many dishes where it simply won’t be possible. 

If you are dining in the cafe, you can choose an alternative dish, however, if you are dining from the set menu, you will be stuck with the full cost and an empty stomach.

Frequently Asked Question

Will Chez Panisse Be Offering More Vegan Options In The Future?

To answer this question accurately, it is best to contact the restaurant itself and ask.  However, there is nothing to suggest that Chez Panisse has any plans to become a more vegan-friendly restaurant. 

Equally, there is nothing to suggest that it won’t become a more vegan-friendly restaurant. 

As veganism continues to gain more and more popularity and there is a rise in demand for dishes that are suitable for vegan consumers, the likelihood is that Chez Panisse will naturally begin to include more vegan options on its menu. 

There is likely already a market for a fully vegan fixed menu at least a few times a month, but they will get there in their own time. 

Final Thoughts

Chez Panisse is disappointingly not a particularly vegan-friendly restaurant.  There are very limited vegan and even vegetarian options, and there are even fewer options for dishes to be modified for vegans. 

Although the staff is very keen to help make alterations wherever possible.

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