Houston’s Essential Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants
Navigating Houston's vegan and vegetarian scene may have seemed intimidating in the past, but not anymore: This is 2020, and flavorful-yet-healthy restaurants have popped up all over the place. With burger dives doing the “Impossible,” a bank of restaurants focused solely on spreading the gospel of greens, and even BBQ joints getting down with the veggie, there’s never been a better time to go meatless in Houston. Here are some of our favorite plant-forward, earth-minded, and crazy-good, restaurants prove just that:
Proving health food totally doesn’t suck, this bright and airy contemporary kitchen is an Instagram-worthy wellness paradise. Snag a seat on the quiet patio and dive into gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, corn-free, peanut-free, and non-GMO eats that are both good and good for you. Breads and pastries are made from scratch in-house by Karen Man (the baking genius behind Oxheart), and crackers, cheeses, nut milks, and yogurt, are all made in-house, too. At breakfast, that means you’re eating teff toasts with almond butter and blueberry-lavender chia compote, and sweet potato hash with smoked macadamia nut cheese; while dinner satisfies the soul with green curry bowls and eggplant pistachio pesto cauliflower-crust pizza.
Over in the super-cool food hall Politan Row, former Sprout Kitchen chef Amanda Altman teams up with Nais Sanchez to bring you alarmingly tasty gourmet plant-based food. The duo honors Mother Earth with a solid stable of housemade juices, toasts and salads, and feel-good vegan comfort food, from choco-banana smoothies and beet hummus toasts to colossal raw salads and quinoa veggie bowls finished with cashew cream.
You’ll want to come hungry to this buffet-style vegetarian spot (which also happens to go fully vegan on Sundays and Wednesdays) located next to a beautiful Hindu temple. With an empty stomach, you can fill and refill your plate with Indian specialties including bhindi and chana masala, paneer tikka masala, vegetable kofta, and tofu curry. Pro-tip: The lunch and dinner buffets can be purchased for takeout if you don’t have the time to keep refilling said plate.
This 100% plant-based, fully vegan concept encourages you to “eat with a purpose,” which doesn’t seem too hard when it means eating “chorizo” quesadillas, tempura battered buffalo cauliflower, smoked jackfruit carnitas, and Beyond Meat burgers complete with special sauce and housemade cheddar. Don’t forget the maple coconut bacon doughnut, available on weekends only.
Vegan soul food has arrived, helping combat food deserts and offer locals (even the kids!) nourishing, soulful eats. Pop by this unassuming haunt to get comfort in the form of jambalaya, fried mushroom po’boys, and veggie boudin balls; or go for the big guns and get the jackfruit bbq ribs, served with mac & cheese, collard greens, and dirty (but totally clean) rice.
Rocking six locations around town, this Austin-based burger joint has made quite a name for itself in Houston; and not with just beef enthusiasts; Hopdoddy offers options for meat-free burger eaters, too. Cozy up to the Soul Burger, a spiced grain & veggie patty topped with goat cheese and fennel tzatziki; or go for the 100% plant-based Impossible Burger, finished with cheddar and house “sassy” sauce, made “cheesesteak style,” or gone entirely vegan with Vegenaise and vegan smoked gouda. You can also sub in either of the meatless patties on any burger of your choosing, and partner your burger with the oh-so-addicting green chile queso cheese fries.
This salad and sandwich shop’s vegan “taco meat” is a worthy plant-based swap, offering a punch of flavor to a 100% vegan baby kale taco salad finished with things like avocado, cilantro-hominy, tortilla strips, and pumpkin seeds. Other completely vegan options include chips & cashew queso, vegan gumbo, meatloaf, ceviche and lasagna, and sandwiches rocking things like vegan meatballs, curried cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and falafel and sweet pea hummus. Visit one of the five locations (menus vary), and see why this plant-minded shop is a local favorite.
Contemporary Indian eats that range from chutney samplers to a special vegetarian chef’s tasting menu (plus a prix fixe weekend brunch)? Count us in. Though Verandah’s pretty new in town, the team behind it -- husband and wife owners Sunil and Anupama Srivastava -- are not. The duo first gained a rep at Stafford’s Great W'kana Cafe before closing up shop to make fans inside the loop (it even snagged the No. 20 spot on Alison Cook’s “Top 100 Restaurants”). Dine on things like samosa chaat, kati rolls stuffed with spiced egg and ginger mushroom, 18-hour stewed lentils, tamarind-spiced baby eggplant, sundried tomato and cheese dumplings, and vibrant curries.
We know, we know: A barbecue joint is a far cry from “vegetarian,” but we have to shout out Feges for its commitment to offering some truly delicious garden-inspired eats on its menu. Skip the smoked meat and go for a three-side plate, stacked with your choice of offerings from Morrocan spiced carrots and sweet & spicy spouts to sweet potato and banana mashers. If you’ve got room for dessert, the rum raisin bread pudding is meat-free as well.
Old Spanish Trail
Part health food store, part vegetarian deli, this Southside spot has been attracting health-conscious locals since 1983. Stop in to pick up health and wellness products (from supplements to raw soap) and snag some great eats while you’re at it -- think soy and black bean burgers, vegan enchiladas and nachos, and grilled veggie wraps.
Though it’s not 100% vegetarian, this Indian fusion resto has plenty of plant-forward street eats on its Mumbai-style menu, plus an always refreshing Meatless Monday special. Get paneer masala curries, smoked eggplant dosas, and black garbanzo buddha burgers before hitting their bake lab for some diabetes-inducing, chocolate-saffron-and-cardamom-laced sweets. You can also start your morning with rice & almond flour coconut pancakes and crepe-like dosas filled with things like sautéed greens, pumpkin seed chutney, and avocado masala
TFK’s fresh/local/sustainable eats are completely crave-worthy and doctor-approved; that means you can feel good about eating all the vegan chorizo bowls, butternut squash pizzas, edamame dumplings, and inside-out quinoa burgers you could want. Also, you should get a “healthy” cocktail and some flourless chocolate cake. Doctor’s orders.
Locally roasted coffee and vegetarian goodness is the name of the game at this fan favorite cafe. Evening meals (after 5pm) consist of a rotating selection of globally-inspired vegan eats, including “not so” butter chicken, Creole-style red beans and rice, and Thai red curry; while lunch gives you the opportunity to smash things like vegetarian curried potato and muenster cheese panini or creamy garlic and mushroom soup.
Homestyle Asian fare goes fully vegan at this local veggie-first haunt. Get moo shu vegetable wraps, kung pao tofu, and vegan chicken curry; or hit their ever-popular buffet that is chock full of house favorites, plus things like chilled silken tofu, miso soup, vegan sushi, and house coconut cake.
This plant-based cafe and juice bar pumps out bistro-style sandwiches and raw sides that will give even the most ardent carnivores momentary meat amnesia. Veg out with 100% vegan eats (soy-free and with gluten-free options available), stuffing hand-cut dill fries inside quinoa burgers and portobello mushroom “cheesesteaks,” dipping crispy cauliflower nuggets in hot sauce, or going full beast-mode on zucchini, yam, & kelp noodle tiger bowls and “rawrittos.”
Vegetarian and vegans know this family-style Vietnamese spot is worth the trip to Asiatown. Their eggless egg rolls and vegetable pho are highly revered; and those looking for meat substitutes will be more than satisfied by their faux chicken, beef, and fish mixed with all things sweet, spicy, and hot.
This fully vegetarian fast-casual haunt brings the heat with South Indian fare that will have you completely OK with the fact that you’re not eating bacon. Snack on an excellent lineup of chaat, samosa, and puri and get a bigger than the plate masala or sag paneer dosa. Or, if you’re craving everything on the menu -- go for the thali, a traditional variety plate filled with all the good stuff. And mostly all of it will cost you less than a Hamilton.
This San Antonio import impresses with a solid roster of of soul satisfying eats of the vegetarian, vegan, and kosher variety. Nosh on avocado eggs Benny smothered in chipotle hollandaise, falafel bowls with quinoa tabouli, “chik-n” parmesan, and 100% vegan cupcakes. And do it all on the cheap.
This tiny Vietnamese cafe has a cult following thanks to its great prices, energetic owner/chef/front of house man, and excellent grub, of course. Homestyle Vietnamese favorites like banh bot chien and tofu spring rolls make excellent starters; while vegan and vegetarian phos, curries, banh mi, and vermicelli bowls will keep you happy. And to make you doubly happy, it’s BYOB.
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