Food & Drink

London's Best Restaurants for Vegetarians and Vegans

Published On 07/23/2015 Published On 07/23/2015
Dishoom

Dishoom

Shoreditch & other locations

Even the most devout meat eater will turn their cloak for Dishoom's Bombay classics like the pau bhaji, which is basically a bowl of mashed vegetables with a hot buttered pau bun. Yeah, it may sound boring, but trust us, this tastes amazing. Or check out the the house black daal, which is simmered for 24 hours, allowing the flavors to truly develop. Honestly, even the bowl of greens -- made with snap peas, broccoli, lime juice, and spices -- will leave you licking the plate clean.

Nopi

Soho

From food wunderkind Yotam Ottolenghi, Nopi’s Israeli heritage is apparent and accessible, with super-fresh ingredients and flavors that seem classic and imaginative all at once. The rotolo -- basically a savory cinnamon roll, but with pasta and spinach and mushrooms -- is a thing of beauty. Tasty, tasty beauty.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant

The Gate

Hammersmith & Islington

Although recently refurbished, The Gate has been doing its thing in Hammersmith since 1989. With a menu as diverse as its guests, The Gate takes inspiration from India, Mexico, France, Italy, Iraq, Indonesia, and more, giving you food that just tastes damn good, regardless of what's actually in it. Sometimes more is really more, with dishes like a tortilla filled with sweet potato, sweet corn, goat cheese, chili, lime, coriander, baked beetroot, feta, and parsley. It's all served with guacamole, sour cream, and black bean pepper salsa… and it’s totally worth trying.

Mildreds

Soho

This Soho institution has done the impossible: it's created a veggie dish that is so close to meat, it's basically indistinguishable. If you didn’t know you were in a veggie restaurant, you might mistake the pie as an animal product -- it’s that good. With no reservations and a history of pleasing both vegetarians and surprised carnivores alike, this place gets rammed with crowds lingering out the door like you see at most new “it” places.

Grain Store

Grain Store

Kings Cross

Chef Bruno Loubet likes his vegetables. This isn’t to say that he’s not a fan of meat -- he is -- but he also really likes to let the humble leaf, stalk, and tuber have a moment in the spotlight. Fill your face with the likes of beetroot, ricotta, and Parmesan ravioli, served with rocket salad, fried breadcrumbs, and sage. Stalk up on your five-a-day, many of which actually have cocktail pairings created by Tony Conigliaro (we knew there was a super upside to eating this healthily).

Vanilla Black

Vanilla Black

Chancery Lane

This place is truly the award magnet of vegetarian restaurants. For over 10 years, Vanilla Black has been putting out gorgeous vegetarian food that would make Picasso look talentless: we’re talking about structured, elegant dishes like artfully plated goat cheese, fennel pollen, and pistachio, served with apple puree, fennel, and rainbow chard. Everything here is carefully made in-house… you won't find any pasta bake, but rather, plates of skillfully crafted works of art, inviting to both the eye and the tongue, which may just leave you converted.

Manna

Primrose Hill

If ever there was a standby vegetarian favourite, it’s this one. Open for over half a century, it declares itself to be the oldest veg-only spot in Europe -- a crown it's held by being consistently inventive. Daily changing specials can include raw lasagna w/ courgette noodles and cashew cheese, or a “living” pad Thai, w/ mung bean sprouts, and an almond sauce.
 

Wild Food Cafe

Wild Food Cafe

Covent Garden

Hiding above the little courtyard of Neal’s Yard, this cafe combines community, health, and taste in one. Sit around the open kitchen watching the chefs turn humble vegetables into delicious treats, or snag a seat at the massive communal pine tables while enjoying dishes like tomato confetti courgette spaghetti or the Ayurvedic superfood salad.

Itadaki Zen

Kings Cross

This place ticks a lot of boxes -- Japanese, organic, vegan -- and best of all, it’s all absolutely delicious. Following the ideals of Eastern food medicine, the meals here will make you feel like a better person... well, maybe. If nothing else, you can eat knowing that you’re only fueling up with good-for-you dishes, even though the food also tastes great.

Nama

Nama

Notting Hill

These guys take things to another level: raw. Not wanting to kill any of the happy enzymes or "good germs," everything is only cooked at a very low temperature to preserve all the nourishment in each ingredient. While this may sound good for you but not tasty-tasting, we’re happy to report it tastes excellent, too. The menu is pretty multicultural, so find everything from pizza with "nut cheese" to sushi with "kolrabi rice" and more.

Tibits

Piccadilly Circus

While the sight of a vegetarian buffet where you pay by weight might call for some extreme skepticism, this is one that has to be tasted to be believed. With over 40 soups, salads, and hot & cold dishes to nibble at, this Swiss-owned place really takes the vegan and vegetarian way of eating to another level, with food that is actually delicious and means you can leave feeling full... and not have your wallet give you looks of shock and concern.

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1. Dishoom 12 Upper St Martins Ln, , London, WC2H 9EF (Covent Garden)

This Covent Garden spot is touted as London's first "Bombay Cafe,” a '60s Asian staple resurrected here across two floors with the traditional bentwood chairs, marble countertops, low-hung lights, and slowly turning ceiling fans. Dishoom really tick all the boxes: breakfast (bacon naan!), lunch, dinner, cocktails, snacks, Bombay-inspired decor that oozes cool without being overly kitsch, attentive staff, reasonable prices -- it's all that and big enough to never feel overly packed.

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2. NOPI 21-22 Warwick Street, London, W1B 5NE (Soho)

The first restaurant from vaunted chef and deli king Yotam Ottolenghi, Nopi is a light, white-walled, marble-floored space open all day to serve Middle Eastern-inspired sharing plates like slow-cooked pig cheek. The prices might be on the steeper side, but a dainty vegetarian cheesecake made of beetroot and thyme honey might have meatless eaters convinced.

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3. The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant 370 St John Street, London, EC1V 4N (Islington)

Eclectic ingredients and diverse backgrounds combine to create the inventive vegetarian fare for which this Islington spot is known. Where one dish has guacamole, another features a tantalizing trickle of ponzu sauce; not too far down the menu, you’ll see Yorkshire Wensleydale truckle cheese and other traces of classic British flair for good measure. The Gate proves that you don’t need to adhere to a specific genre in the kitchen, arguing instead that a nondenominational approach -- what they describe as an “Indo-Iraqi Jewish” style of cooking -- is just as good, if not better. The menu may be vegetarian, but the guests don’t necessarily have to be: even the most fervent of carnivores come to this stylish, contemporary eatery to sip bespoke cocktails and indulge in favorites like the three lentil pate terrine.

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4. Mildreds 45 Lexington St, London, W1F 9AN (Soho)

This tiny restaurant technically is designed for vegetarians, but the universally savory menu has made it popular with meat-eaters as well. The menu is internationally inspired and unique, with dishes like parmesan & pomegranate risotto cakes with saffron cream sauce, wilted spinach, and green beans. Reservations aren't accepted, so be ready to bond with your fellow leaf-munchers.

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5. Grain Store Granary Square, London, N1C 4AB (Kings Cross)

Grain Store, yet another restaurant by famed chef Bruno Loubet, serves up world travel-inspired eats from cuisines that span the globe, in a Granary Square-adjacent space. The menu centers around vegetables, reimagining them in inventive and colorful ways that excite the palatte. Think: a corn and multi-seed tamale, prepared with grilled vegetable salsa and pork belly, and for dessert, fresh strawberries topped with fennel pollen and goats' milk pannacotta. Reservations usually need to be made a month in advance, or, you can plan to arrive early and grab an aperitif drink at the associated bar next door.

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6. Vanilla Black 17-18 Tooks Ct, London, EC4A 1LB (Clerkenwell)

Focusing on vegetarian cuisine, this Chancery Lane spot comes alive via gorgeous plates like cauliflower dumplings dressed in pickled raisins, and tomato shortbread with sheep's milk and broccoli. To complement the dish aesthetics, matte yellow walls and dark chairs set a demure tone that'll make feel as if you're a guest at a regal dinner party.

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7. Manna 4 Erskine Rd, London, NW3 3AJ (Camden)

This cozy Primrose Hill spot claims to be one of the oldest exclusively vegetarian restaurants in Europe, and it’s certainly one of the best in London. With a menu that changes daily, it keeps its core concept of raw food fresh and inventive: expect flavorsome variations on lettuce leaf tacos with sunflower seed chorizo, and flaky arancini with coconut oil pepper cheese. Combined with a robust list of vegan and organic wines, it’s the perfect locale for an intimate date night (providing you did your homework and made a reservation beforehand).

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8. Wild Food Cafe 14 Neal's Yard, London, WC2H 9PZ (Covent Garden)

Sure, you could try to make kale chips at home, but let’s be honest: they won’t taste as good as the ones at Wild Food Café. Cozied up in Covent Garden, this colorful, ivy-kissed cottage is a neighborhood destination for raw vegan and vegetarian fare. Londoners flock to feast upon the Ayurvedic Super Salad and other elegantly presented Instagram-worthy plates, so we suggest arriving early if you’d like to snag a table at this walk-ins only lunch hotspot.

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9. Itadakizen 139 King's Cross Rd, London, NY WC1X 9BJ

Though Japanese food might be pretty minimalist at heart, this shop takes it one step further with a vegan approach that includes 16 gluten-free options. Grease is taken out of your usual favorites, resulting in courses like grilled spring rolls, kakiage tempura, and a sugar-free pumpkin cake made with tofu cream. The space is small but not packed, so come ready for an intimate dinner where the focus is the conversation and the dainty dishes placed before you.

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10. NAMA 110 Talbot Road, London, W11 1JR

This small raw shop in Notting Hill specializes in raw, heat- and meat-free courses of the purest order, serving up intriguing substitutes like a live cultured cheeseboard and a pasta dish made with zucchini noodles, almond parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, and marinated mushrooms. Mirroring the clean ingredients that go into the dishes, the space itself is minimalistic, calm, and light-filled, contributing to a thoroughly relaxing dining experience.

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11. Tibits 12-14 Heddon St, London, W1B 4DA

Swiss-based Tibits gives some dignity to the vegetarian movement via this posh, florally wallpapered spot that delivers on all your food cravings. Whether it's salty, savory, or sweet, a central food buffet that is priced by weight gives diners a choice of everything from gnocchi, to caesar salads, to gyoza dumplings. It even delivers on vegan versions of entirely British desserts like sticky toffee pudding. The popularity of the food here is such that the restaurant also offers for purchase a recipe book of the featured vegetarian items.

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