One of the friendliest buildings on North Davidson Street is a robin’s egg blue bungalow, catty-corner to the Johnston YMCA. In the spring and summer, flowers blossom in boxes along the front sidewalk, framed by a welcoming white porch. Some days, you might spot a dog tugging his human toward the back garden, confident that treats lie ahead. This is Oh My Soul restaurant Charlotte NC.
To understand the heart of this restaurant, as well as its introduction to the streets of Charlotte, you have to look back a few decades. Moreover, you must peer across the Atlantic Ocean to the colorful streets of South Africa.
Oh My Soul has three proprietors: Jake Davies, Tallulah Duffin, and Richard Duffin, all of whom hail from South Africa. Eight years ago, Jake moved to Charlotte, prompting regular stateside visits from Tallulah and Richard. Eventually, they followed suit.
“NoDa stole our hearts,” says Tallulah. “It is so unique and eclectic, absolutely everything we love. And the sense of community speaks volumes. Oh My Soul is one of a kind so we knew we would fit right in.”
When they moved here, they came bearing gifts for the Charlotte community. First, they brought the quality of “Ubuntu,” the belief that we are all defined by our compassion and humanity towards others. Second, they brought a commitment to enabling vegan lifestyles. And third, they brought Gran’s recipes.
Armed with these, the team set to work opening a Charlotte Oh My Soul location (the original location is located in Kwa-Zulu Natal), which would become the city’s first vegan deli and one of its top vegan restaurants.
“Our South African roots are our inspiration for our menu,” says Tallulah. “South African food is packed with flavors and, of course, some spice!” The menu is diverse, ranging from vegan twists on American classics to vegan twists on South African classics, encompassing every blend and iteration in between. There’s lots of pizzazz for the adventurous palate. But there are also easy entry points to vegan eating for the meat fanatics. “We switch it up every season. We’re always pushing the boundaries on veganism by bringing in new dishes that amaze our non-vegan customers,” says Tallulah.
The overwhelming majority of Oh My Soul dishes are made in-house. Quality and authenticity are paramount. Quality and authenticity are paramount, which is evident in the resulting food and craft cocktails. Diners taste the culinary passion of the staff and the global flavors from the restaurant’s urban garden in every bite.
The inside of Oh My Soul restaurant Charlotte NC looks like the love child of farmhouse chic and bohemian design. Tallulah oversaw the design and gave the interior the same treatment as the menu. She peppered the dining area with South African patterns and colors, while also making intentional decisions about conveying the restaurant’s core values, particularly related to veganism.
Behind the bungalow, Oh My Soul maintains an outdoor space that has been evolving from the day the restaurant opened. Centered around a 100-year-old oak tree, picnic and cafe tables now rest under rain/sun covers, festooned with colorful fabrics and soft lights. The Watering Hole, an outdoor bar, lies in wait for anyone craving a craft cocktail, South African wine, or local beer.
Blazing a Path
When Tallullah, Jake, and Richard first became vegan, their hometowns had little to offer. Meat substitutes were non-existent and dairy alternatives were rare. “We thought to ourselves, ‘how on earth are people going to transition if they have no vegan options available to them?’ So we decided to open the first vegan restaurant in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Our goal is to create a new compassionate wave for people to follow.”
Here in America, the team continues their spread of that wave, while dreaming of an even bigger one, one that spreads far and wide and adheres to the owners’ core mantra: my soul honors your soul.
Looking for more plant-based restaurants in Charlotte? Check out Local, Sustainable, Plant-Based – Oh My.