Food & Drink

Houston's Best Restaurants for Vegetarians

Published On 12/21/2015 Published On 12/21/2015

Navigating Houston's vegetarian scene might seem intimidating at first (the city's BBQ chefs aren't exactly slow-smoking carrot ribs). But as it turns out, you can find a ton of delicious and inventive meat-free menu-fillers all across town. Here are 15 crazy-good restaurants that prove that:
 

Pondicheri

Pondicheri

Upper Kirby

Though it’s not 100% vegetarian, this Indian fusion resto has plenty of plant-forward street eats on its 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.

True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen

Galleria

TFK’s fresh/local/sustainable eats are completely crave-worthy and doctor approved. That means you can feel good about eating all the tofu chorizo burritos, butternut squash pizzas, and inside out quinoa burgers you could want. Also, you should get a “healthy” cocktail. Doctor’s orders. 

Doshi House

Third Ward

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.

Pepper Tree

Pepper Tree Veggie Cuisine

Greenway/Upper Kirby

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.

Green Seed Vegan

Museum District

This plant-based cafe and juice bar pumps out bistro-style sandwiches and raw sides that will give momentary meat amnesia. Get hand-cut dill fries to stuff inside loaded veggie burgers and portobello mushroom “cheesesteaks,” dip crispy cauliflower nuggets in hot sauce, or go full beast-mode on a protein-packed kale and quinoa bowl.

Quan Yin

Chinatown

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. 

Coltivare

Coltivare 

Heights

Its name being Italian for “grow” -- this rustic pizza place and garden is fresh as hell thanks to the bounty of herbs and produce that come straight from its 3,000sqft side garden. Start with walnut gremolata-dipped arancini, local beets, or a pickled butternut squash salad before indulging in a satisfyingly rich, balsamic-glazed ricotta gnocchi or mushroom and cauliflower topped pie. Your meat-loving friends just may be convinced to skip the house salumi.

Indika

Indika

Montrose

This older, slightly more mature sister to the aforementioned Pondicheri boasts plenty of vegetarian foodstuffs in the form of progressive Indian eats. Get deliciousness like saffron-laced red beet soup, sweet potato samosa chaat, cashew masala stuffed egg plant, and black bean biryani.

Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine

Montrose

Houstonians flock to this Montrose cafeteria-style staple, and it's not just for the fall-off-the-bone lamb shank. The colorful Mediterranean spread that awaits you as soon as you walk in the door also has plenty of stuff vegetarians will love, including but not limited to spicy hummus and creamy baba ghanoush, tabouli, crispy cauliflower, and falafel -- all of which you’ll scoop up with warm, freshly baked pita, and then some hot sauce, because Texas.

Shri Balaji Bhavan

Gulfton

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.

Oxheart Restaurant

Oxheart

Downtown/Warehouse District

Husband and wife team chefs Justin Yu and Karen Man are changing the way Houstonians think about faceless food through an array of intricately plated, brilliantly intense plates. With dishes like mung bean pancake stuffed with braised mustards, potato, and miso, their seasonally inspired six-course Garden tasting menu remains the gold standard for how to eat without meat.

Green Vegetarian Cuisine

Green Vegetarian Cuisine

Bellaire

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.

Cafe TH

EaDo

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.

Ruggles Green Woodlands

Ruggles Green

CityCentre/Heights/River Oaks/Sugar Land/Woodlands

Meat-free eats run the gamut from soups and salads to burgers and pastas at these popular fast-casual cafes. Treat yo’self to honey-fried goat cheese & arugula salad, absolutely loaded portobello mushroom and black bean tacos, quinoa mac & cheese, and wood-fired local veggie pies. Then finish it white chocolate bread pudding because you deserve it.

Hobbit Cafe

Upper Kirby

If Bilbo Baggins were in Houston, he’d be all over this cozy, Shire-like cafe. The restaurant stopped being strictly vegetarian in the '70s, but you’ll still find plenty of plant-friendly eats in portion fit for at least a couple of hobbits. Get everything from black bean burgers and zucchini and eggplant enchiladas to The Shire, an avocado, tabouli and tomato sandwich. And because vegetarians like mimosas, there’s also boozy brunch.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston writer who thinks she just convinced herself to do Meatless Mondays. Follow her @BrookeViggiano to see if she keeps it up.  

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1. Pondicheri 2800 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098

This Indian fusion spot in Upper Kirby serves a mix of street snacks and home-style foods all day long. The extensive menu includes a nice roster of dosas, thali sample platters, and curries, plus burgers and Mumbai-style frankie wraps. Pondicheri isn't 100% vegetarian (there are plenty of lamb and chicken dishes), but its menu is generally plant-forward. The airy space resembles an upscale cafeteria and includes a counter-serve bakery with Indian-spiced pastries and baked goods.

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2. True Food Kitchen 1700 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056

Why, yes, there are delicious vegan restaurants in Houston, the land of BBQ meats. True Food Kitchen, with all of its fresh, local, and sustainable eats, is the perfect example: a Galleria spot serving up grass-fed umami burgers, Texas red fish tacos, and gluten-free chocolate cakes that'll have you wondering why you're still baking with flour. The space is full of wooden tables circled by green, white, and yellow chairs, plus green booth banquettes, giving the place a stylish, earthy look to match its food.

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3. The Doshi House 3419 Dowling St, Houston, TX 77004 (Midtown)

This Third Ward spot offers internationally inspired vegetarian and vegan cuisine, served up in a cozy, welcoming cafe space sporting mismatched chairs and couches, plus a piano and some funky artwork. It's a local favorite, which is easy to understand once you try its rotating veggie dinner options, like the "not so" butter chicken, Creole-style red beans and rice, and Thai red curry. Or, settle in on your lunch break for a vegetarian curried potato and muenster panini.

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4. Pepper Tree 3821 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77027 (Downtown)

When you have one of those undeniable Asian food cravings (better yet, when you have one and you don't eat meat) head to Pepper Tree for some scrumptious, homestyle Asian fare that's vegan to boot. A local veggie-first spot, it has tasty menu items like moo shu vegetable wraps, kung pao tofu, and vegan chicken curry. The true star here is the all-you-can-eat buffet, brimming with options you'll want to keep piling onto your plate, like chilled silken tofu, miso soup, vegan sushi, and house coconut cake.

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5. Green Seed Vegan 4320 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77004 (Midtown)

This vegan (sometimes raw) restaurant is located right in the Museum District, and is serving up scrumptious and unique dishes that are so filling you won't even notice the lack of meat in your bistro-style sandwich or kale & quinoa bowl. It also boasts hand-cut dill fries you can stuff inside loaded veggie burgers and portobello mushroom “cheesesteaks,” plus crispy cauliflower nuggets that are perfect for dipping in hot sauce.

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6. Quan Yin Vegetarian Restaurant 10804 Bellaire Blvd, Ste E, Houston, TX 77072-2739

You're in for some seriously tasty vegetarian eats from this casual strip mall Chinese takeout spot. Hitting up Chinatown is well worth the scrumptious, family-style dishes on Quan Yin's menu, like eggless egg rolls and vegetable pho. And when it comes to meat substitutes, you'll be more than satisfied with your options: the team here is cooking up faux chicken, beef, and fish that deliciously reinvent popular Asian dishes.

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7. Coltivare 3320 White Oak Dr, Houston, 77007

This fresh-from-the-garden eatery (Coltivare means "to grow") in Heights puts a welcome spin on traditional Italian fare. Everything tastes incredible fresh, because many ingredients come directly from the garden on premises. There are plenty of shareable plates and charcuterie boards in addition to heartier paste entrees and wood-fired pizza. The space has a great neighborhood charm to it and is very romantic in the evenings.

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8. Indika 516 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

Chef-Owner Anita Jaisinghani opened this spot more than a decade ago, and since then it's become a staple in the Montrose community. The menu has been updated over the years to include street-food inspired dishes and local ingredients, but the classic Indian flavors have stayed the same. You'll find lots of vegetarian dishes in the form of progressive Indian eats, like saffron-laced red beet soup, sweet potato samosa chaat, cashew masala stuffed egg plant, and black bean biryani.

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9. Aladdin's Mediterranean Cuisine 912 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

Aladdin offers up a delicious hybrid of Greek and Mediterranean food, including lamb kabobs that are meltingly tender. It's not just kabobs that keep Houstonians pouring into this Montrose cafeteria-style spot, though -- there's also fall-off-the-bone lamb shank, and it's BYOB. You'll be greeted by a colorful Mediterranean spread when you enter, which includes plenty of meatless dishes that'll more than satisfy the vegetarians in your group, such as spicy hummus and cream baba ghanoush, tabouli, and falafel.

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10. Shri Balaji Bhavan 5655 Hillcroft St, Houston, TX 77036

Spice rules at this counter-service, takeout-only Southern Indian spot in Gulfton. Things go full vegetarian here, including a solid lineup of chaat, samosa, and puri, plus you can order a bigger-than-the-plate masala or sag paneer dosa. To be honest, you'll want try everything on the menu, and you're in luck: go for the thali and you'll get a traditional variety plate filled with all the good stuff. A bonus? Just about everything is under 10 bucks.

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11. Oxheart 1302 Nance St, Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown)

This 31-seat modern eatery from husband-and-wife team Justin Yu and Karen Man is the gold standard for tasting menus in Houston, with each course thoughtfully composed and painstakingly plated. The menus are vegetable heavy but crafted in a way where omnivores will really appreciate what meat is present. Just don’t forget to save room for Man’s celestial desserts.

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12. Green Vegetarian Cuisine 6720 Chimney Rock Rd, Houston, TX 77081

This San Antonio import serves up 100% Kosher-friendly, affordable vegetarian and vegan delights. You'll find a solid roster of of soul-satisfying eats, including avocado eggs Benedict smothered in chipotle hollandaise that are a brunch lover's dream, falafel bowls with quinoa tabouli, “chik-n” parmesan, and oh-so-delicious, totally vegan cupcakes. Those come in a range of scrumptious varieties, including a Hostess lookalike you'll want to get your hands on.

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13. Cafe TH 2108 Pease St, Houston, TX 77003

This Vietnamese eatery is packed for lunch because of its banh mi sandwiches and for dinner because of its banh mi bo tho, a beef stew that's so damn good you'll crave it even during Houston's hottest months. The aforementioned dishes, plus phos, curries, and vermicelli bowls, have given Cafe TH a cult following, even among the vegetarian crowd. Located in a strip mall, the tiny spot is BYOB and a great place for a cheap, casual, and hella good dinner.

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14. Ruggles Green 748 E 11th St, Houston, TX 77008 (Downtown)

This casual, counter-service vegetarian spot has locations all across Houston, ensuring you can get health-conscious eats while on the go in the Space City. The meat-free options here run the gamut from soups and salads to burgers and pastas. Some standouts on Ruggles' tasty menu include a honey-fried goat cheese & arugula salad, piled-high portobello mushroom and black bean tacos, quinoa mac & cheese, and wood-fired local veggie pies. Whatever you decide on, you'll want to top it off with the white chocolate bread pudding, because you're worth it.

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15. Hobbit Cafe 2243 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77098

Channel your inner Frodo at this beloved Lord of the Rings-themed eatery, which is cooking up tasty treats for carnivores and herbivores alike. Their black bean nachos and burgers are seriously scrumptious, as are the zucchini and eggplant enchiladas. As you dine inside the wood-laden cafe fit for Bilbo Baggins himself, you might very well be inspired to order The Shire, an avocado, tabouli, and tomato sandwich. You'll also want to check out the boozy brunch, because hobbits like mimosas, too.

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