Food & Drink

Cleveland's Vegetarian- and Vegan-Friendly Restaurants That Don't Suck

Published On 08/10/2016 Published On 08/10/2016
Aladdin’s Eatery
Courtesy of Aladdin’s Eatery/Gaelle Nasr

Aladdin's Eatery

Lakewood & other locations

Plant-based food can sometimes equal bland and unsatisfying (it's why it has that reputation in the first place, no?), yet nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to dining at Aladdin’s. This Lebanese-American franchised mainstay serves up hearty portions of flavorful food that are completely moreish. Although meat makes an appearance on the menu, veggie dishes are the star of the show, especially the vegetarian combo pictured above: a sampling of hummus, tabbouli, baba gannouj, falafel, and dawali. We’ll take more pita, please.

The Root Cafe

The Root Cafe

Lakewood

This funky Lakewood cafe is a hot spot among Cleveland’s creative types, who also happen to enjoy plenty of specialized, organic, and made-from-scratch food & drink options. From gluten-free pastries to vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, soups, salads, pizzas, and an entire menu section dedicated to varieties of beans and rice, The Root Cafe is a solid place to relax and enjoy some hearty, healthy meals. Don’t miss the Mexican cocoa, house-made chocolate milk steamed with cinnamon, cayenne, and vanilla, which you totally deserve after filling up on the "stuff" that's "good for you."

Tommy's Restaurant

Coventry Village

Since around 1972, when it started as a small soda fountain, Tommy’s has withstood the test of time by dishing out a laid-back menu that’s equal parts meaty, meat-free, and absolutely delicious. Don’t miss the wide array of creative falafel options, like the Wildflower, stuffed with vegetables, sesame sauce, mushrooms, and baba. The entire section of tofu and tempeh options won't steer you wrong for a meat-free sandwich, either. A word to the wise (and hungry): Tommy’s milkshakes -- which can be made vegan -- and fries aren’t to be missed, either.

Courtesy of TownHall/RPO Worldwide

TownHall

Ohio City

This Ohio City joint has something to appease all moods and tastes around the clock, from a morning brunch of green juice and grain-free granola, fruit, and yogurt, to a night fueled by truffle fries and craft beer (we’ll join you for the latter). Monday night is vegan night, featuring dishes such as beer-battered avocado tacos and wild mushroom chimichangas.  

Namaste

Namaste

Lakewood

Lakewood’s India Garden arguably offers some of the best Indian food anywhere in town, so it was a welcome addition when sister restaurant Namaste opened its doors last year. The restaurant features the spicy, complex flavors of Southern India with a heavy emphasis on vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian options. Start by digging into one of the many varieties of dosa, a thin crepe made of rice and lentils served with sambar and chutney. Next, you really can’t go wrong with any of the restaurant’s heaping dishes of curry, vindaloo, or biryani.     

Treehugger's Cafe

Treehugger's Cafe

Berea & other locations

This quaint cafe offers sustainable foods sourced mainly from local farms and vendors. Organic, vegetarian, vegan, raw, gluten-free, oil-free, GMO-free, and carnivore-friendly (phew!) dishes are all available, so literally every dietary restriction has a place at Treehugger's. Most importantly, however, all the food is delicious. Try the "Toucan" Veggy Grilled Cheese with fresh mozzarella, cheddar, tomato, avocado, caramelized onion, sprouts, and red pepper pesto served on homemade Tuscan herb bread. And don’t even think about leaving Treehugger’s without breaking off a piece of one of the big-as-your-face vegan cookies.  

Courtesy of Cleveland Vegan

Cleveland Vegan

Lakewood

There’s a number of restaurants that cater to a vegetarian palate, but vegan options can be much harder to come by. Luckily, Cleveland Vegan cafe and bakery opened its storefront location in 2014 after operating as a catering company for two years. Enjoy a range of creative options, including the Swiss chard enchiladas (pictured), with sweet potato, kale, and roasted pepitas wrapped in Swiss chard with homemade enchilada sauce and sour "creem," as well as the best-selling breakfast sandwich, a house bagel with chipotle "mayo," sauteed kale, avocado mash, house omelet, tempeh "bacon," alfalfa sprouts, and tomatoes.

Courtesy of BEET jar JUICE BAR/Olivia Crandall

Beet Jar Juicebar

Ohio City

Vegetarian, vegan, or carnivore, have you ever seen a more photogenic sandwich than the above Bravocado? We think not. Beet Jar opened its doors in 2014 and quickly gained a loyal following in the Hingetown neighborhood for its cold-pressed juice, raw desserts, and, oh yes, that beautiful sandwich. Avocado, coconut, red onion, greens, and creamy cashew spread are sandwiched between thick slices of toast to deliver one of the most delectably unique sandwiches you’ve ever attempted to stuff in your mouth.

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1. Aladdin's Eatery 14536 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107

This Lebanese-American franchise serves budget-friendly fare heavy on vegan and vegetarian options, as well as a several meat-inclusive dishes. Creamy and flavorful courses like hummus prepared with pureed chickpeas, tahiti, and fresh lemon juice are popular as starters, as is the grilled marinated steak served on a shish kabob, and deep fried falafel patties. And while the restaurant is part of a chain, dim lighting, homey and inviting orange color palette, and low ceilings all contribute to an intimate and personable dining experience.

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2. The Root Cafe 15118 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107 (Lakewood)

This friendly, hippie-ish cafe in Lakewood offers up hearty vegetarian fare in addition to coffee freshly brewed by local beanery, Rising Star. It's a solid lunch option; the extensive menu of sandwiches, pizzas, and baked veggie sides are satisfyingly filling enough to make you forget you were craving a BLT. Local and organic isn’t just a trendy slogan for Root Café: it makes hearty and inventive vegetarian and vegan sandwiches (try the Clevo!) that will entice even the most ardent meat-eaters in Greater Cleveland.

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3. Tommy's Restaurant 1824 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Spacious and furnished with potted plants throughout, this cafeteria-esque restaurant serves a mostly vegetarian menu that abounds in flavor combinations and cuisine options. Spanning everything from spinach pie with muenster cheese, to a tamale platter, and more than 10 "toasted cheese" options, this healthful spot contradicts bland judgments of meatless food.

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4. TownHall 1909 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113 (Ohio City)

Eclectic fare rules at this Ohio City hang out. The menu has an extensive list of customizable plates (DIY flatbread) and remixes on American bar food classics (kale jalapeno poppers). You'll feel fancy noshing on Kobe beef bolognese with spaghetti squash at the relative steal price of $11 a pop. TownHall's Bean Bar, where they churn out Kickstarter coffee, roasted fresh with coconut oil and butter, by the mugful, is a solid morning kick stop.

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5. Namaste India Garden 14412 Detroit Rd, Lakewood, OH 44107 (Lakewood)

India Garden brings the tastes of South India to "Downtown" Lakewood. The delightfully sophisticated aromas and flavors of the Karnataka, Kerala, Andara Pradesh and Tamilnadu regions feature vegan, gluten-free, seafood & vegetarian choices with their flavorful and aromatic dishes.

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6. Tree Hugger's Cafe 1330 W Bagley Rd, Berea, OH 44017

While most menu options at this cafe can be prepared vegan or gluten-free, the most popular item is the 3 bean nacho dip, a fact indicative of the savory menu at large. From fried green tomatoes, burgers prepared with "certified humane beef," to asparagus cheddar quiche, items here straddle the delicious line between fresh and tasty, and can be enjoyed in an equally inspiring green and wood-furnished space.

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7. Cleveland Vegan 17112 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107

Flavorful and innovative vegan takes on classic diner items are on offer at this sunny spot, which spans all of one room and services an exciting crowd of both meat- and plant-eaters. The brunch is most lauded here, and come the weekend you'll find most tables spilling with beet burgers, benedict bowls (made with no egg) and varied baked goods.

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8. Beet Jar Juice Bar 1432 W. 29th St, Cleveland, OH 44113

Specializing in raw foods and cold pressed juices, this cozy Hingetown all-organic and all-vegan cafe prepares most everything using fresh produce that co-owner Joseph Joseph picks up in the mornings. This includes everything from fresh nut milks and desserts, to a famous sandwich knows as the Bravocado, composed of avocado, coconut, red onion, greens, and creamy cashew spread.

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