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Sunshine Vegan Eats is All Plant Based with an Urban Twist

Food & Drink, Food & Drink News

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Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Published on August 19, 2020
Sunshine Vegan Eats
Sunshine Vegan Eats / Photo x Chef Nikki

2022 Update:

Since opening in 2020, Sunshine Vegan Eats has continued to provide healthy options and fresh juices to WNY. Plus the menu has expanded to include even more plant based items and specials, coining the hashtag #getveganwasted. If you are looking to get your hands on one of Chef Nikki’s creations, Sunshine Vegan Eats is currently open daily excluding Tuesdays serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As far as takeout, they make contactless ordering easy and safe by exclusively offering takeout through DoorDash, GrubHub, or UberEats.

For more updates about Sunshine Vegan Eats in 2022 check out their restaurant listing below.

Sunshine Vegan Eats

893 Jefferson Ave Buffalo, New York 14204 • $$

VeganVegetarianPlant-basedSoul Food

Buffalo

Casual Table Service

Amazingly delicious food right in the heart of Buffalo, New York. We provide healthy options, fresh juices, and the best part is everything is plant based! ...

Read More...

Here’s the story of their opening in 2020

The newest vegan restaurant to hit Buffalo is located on Buffalo’s East Side, in the historic Fruit Belt neighborhood.

The new Sunshine Vegan Eats is located at 893 Jefferson Avenue and owner Chef Nikki Searles said her fast casual, animal-free restaurant concept located just outside the Fruit Belt neighborhood has been a booming success.

“It has been extremely, extremely amazing!” she said, in a recent phone interview. “When I first started out, I was busy. COVID hit; and it slowed down a little bit. Just from, you know everybody was nervous. People not knowing what to do. Nobody knew nothing. As things are changing back, I’m getting so much business – to the point that I have really outgrown my kitchen.”

A self-described gym rat with an infectious enthusiasm, Chef Nikki told me a car accident limited her mobility and she had to make changes to her diet in order to stay fit. Those changes ultimately meant switching to an all-vegan diet about three years ago. Not a big dairy fan and eating mostly seafood as her main protein, the vegan chef said transitioning to an animal-free diet was easy. In 2020, she suggested, it is easier than ever.

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sunshine vegan eats
Sunshine Vegan Eats / Photo x Chef Nikki
Sunshine Vegan Eats
Photo x Chef Nikki
Sunshine Vegan Eats
Photo x Chef Nikki


“If you was vegan, I’m gonna say 10 years ago,” she said, “it was different than what it is now. Because now, there are so many social media platforms where people share recipes, ideas. The transition now, to me personally, it’s an easy transition.”

While operating a meal prep business, Searles started woodshedding, then debuting vegan dishes on her menu – often to unsuspecting meal prep customers.

“I would slide in a vegan option, and I kinda wouldn’t tell the people!” she chuckled. “Sometimes you can’t tell people what they’re eating (is vegan), because automatically in their mind – it’s gonna be nasty to them. They just won’t want it.”

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She said she never had visions of opening a full restaurant, but “it kind of just happened”:
“One of my girlfriends was like, ‘Hey Nikki, you should open up a juice bar,’ and I was like nah; that aint really what I wanted to do. But once that seed was planted, I started looking around and I’m like – we don’t have many vegan options here in Buffalo.

“When I would go to a restaurant that had vegan options and regular options, I was like: Are you really respecting my whole lifestyle? So, I was just like, you know what, I’m gonna open up a vegan restaurant.”

Sunshine Vegan Eats
Impossible ‘Niyah / Photo x Brett Smith
Sunshine Vegan Eats
Shrimp and Waffles / Photo x Brett Smith


When I stopped in for takeout on a Sunday afternoon, a jazz band was getting set up to perform to socially-distanced customers at tables in the parking lot; makeshift outdoor seating due to COVID. After a smooth takeout experience, I sat down to the Impossible ‘Niyah — a sweet tangy philly cheesesteak, indistinguishable from the meat-and-cheese versions sold by a certain local Steak spot. 

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I also tried the vegan shrimp and waffles, a special that day. The crunchy and full-flavored “shrimp” had a unexpectedly pleasant cardamom flavor that paired well with waffles and sweet syrup.

Described on the official website as plant based… with an urban twist, Sunshine Vegan Eats and its charismatic chef-owner have made a very approachable dining experience that has to be tried, even by unapologetic, rabid carnivores. You know who you are.

Sunshine Vegan Eats

893 Jefferson Ave Buffalo, New York 14204 • $$

VeganVegetarianPlant-basedSoul Food

Buffalo

Casual Table Service

Amazingly delicious food right in the heart of Buffalo, New York. We provide healthy options, fresh juices, and the best part is everything is plant based! ...

Read More...

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/brett-smith/" target="_self">Brett Llenos Smith</a>

Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Brett Llenos Smith is a freelance writer based in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood who has been covering local food and culture for Step Out Buffalo over the past six years. As someone with a multi-ethnic background, he has a passion for exploring and understand the many diverse corners of Western New York.

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