Vegan soul food is tough enough to sell. When you open a vegan soul-food takeout restaurant in a location on North Tryon Street that’s so hard to find, it’s practically hidden, it helps to have a friend get the word out.
Especially if your friend is soul/R&B singer Erykah Badu.
Veltree Vegan Soul Food at 7945 N. Tryon St. (keep reading for some help on how to find it) is owned by chef Velvet Jacobs (known as Chef Vel) and her wife Tre’ona Kelty-Jacobs (known as Tree). Jacobs is a former personal chef from Washington, D.C., who cooked for Badu before opening a vegan catering business in Asheville.
Jacobs and Kelty-Jacobs opened in Charlotte late in the summer, in the space that used to be Zizi’s Vegan. As it happened, just as they opened, Badu was doing a concert in Durham. Jacobs took some of her food to Badu and Badu sent out an Instagram video of herself raving about the food.
That’s all it took for vegan and soul food fans to seek out Veltree.
Serving a limited menu of Southern comfort favorites like salmon patties, “krab” cakes and Salisbury “steak,” they’ve sold out by closing most days. The menus change daily and repeat each week with variations; to see the daily lineup, go to the @veltreevegan on Instagram.
The shop is small and takeout only, although there are a few comfortable chairs for perching. There’s also an event space two doors down that they open for Sunday brunch and for events like birthday parties.
How’s the food? We stopped by Wednesday for Jerk “Chicken,” a stewy mixture on rice that was packed with spicy heat and a hit of cinnamon and allspice (instead of chicken bones, watch out for bits of whole spices), very yellow and creamy Mac & Cheeze, shredded cabbage cooked just this side of crunchy and a pale but moist cornbread muffin.
How can you find it? If you’re headed north on North Tryon, now divided by the Lynx Blue Line tracks, make a u-turn at McCollough Drive and look for the brick two-story office park at Clark Boulevard. If you get to University Pointe Boulevard, you’ve gone too far.
Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (closed from 3 to 5 p.m.) Tuesday-Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Call 980-355-0075 to order ahead for pickup.