Food & Drink

The Best NOLA Restaurants for Vegetarians

Published On 07/02/2015 Published On 07/02/2015

There are very few people in this world who will enthusiastically pair the words “New Orleans” and “vegetarian” together. This is the city that fried seafood, pork fat, and roast-beef-debris gravy built, after all. However, there are some seriously tasty and inventive vegetarian options in New Orleans right now that would (gasp!) even please the most carnivorous of appetites. Here are our favorite spots to check out, if you’re looking for great veggie options in the Big Easy.

Bar Frances

Uptown

New Orleans doesn’t really need a new French Creole restaurant, so it was refreshing when Bar Frances opened with a Parisian French bent (Chef Brendan Cahill’s bona fides include having run an adorable restaurant in Paris). You’ll find plenty of modern continental influences on the menu at Bar Frances, but few realize that you can have an insanely delicious meal there that’s not just vegetarian, but vegan. The savory mushroom toast is a huge hit, as are the chilled sugar snap peas, gnocchi with charred eggplant, corn ragout, and basil, and their inventive beet (not beef) tartare with aioli, pickled mustard seed and sweet potato chips.

Tal's Hummus

Tal’s Hummus

Uptown

Here’s the deal: you’re around Magazine St Uptown, and you’re jonesing for Israeli food, but the wait at Shaya is just brutal. Well, Tal’s has been proving itself a rock-solid Mediterranean cuisine choice in the neighborhood, with decent falafel, tabbouleh, and hummus. While the pita might not have won a James Beard award, the fare is ample, filling, tasty, and wallet-friendly.

Cafe Abyysinia

Cafe Abyssinia

Uptown

It’s notable that there are only two Ethiopian restaurants in New Orleans, and neither have ever gotten the recognition they clearly deserve. We particularly love Abyssinia, which serves up beautiful injera loaded with your choice of toppings, from all spectrums of spicy (beware the wat -- it has a serious kick). There are ample veggie options, including braised greens and lentils, but really, it’s all about that deliciously weird, sour, spongy bread. Oh, and getting to eat it all with your hands never gets old.

Silk Road

Silk Road

Marigny

There’s a profoundly sad lack of quality Indian restaurants in NOLA. While Silk Road specializes in global offerings -- it’s not a boring tikka masala and tandoori buffet -- their vegetarian entrees, particularly the curries, are some of the best in the city. The vindaloo is equally fantastic, and available with either meat or veggies (so feel free to bring your carnivorous friends). And don’t forget the saag paneer, because hot cheese always makes us happy.

Little Korea BBQ

Little Korea

Uptown

Formerly known as the “Korean Taco Bell,” (their previous location on Claiborne Ave was once a Taco Bell), Little Korea offers traditional Korean fare like BBQ. Vegetarians, too, will delight in the abundance of great veggie and tofu options, from japchae to jjigae, mungbean pancakes, and a killer dolsot bibimbap, served sizzling in a hot stone pot as it was truly meant to be.

Bennachin

French Quarter

NOLA has some serious African roots, which makes it a little odd that we don’t have a plethora of traditional African restaurants. Sure, there’s plenty of Caribbean and Creole, and we have soul food for days (for life!), but continental African? Sadly, not so much. If there’s one shining beacon of African cuisine in the Big Easy (particularly East African), it’s Bennachin, which has been delighting Jazz Festers for years with their amazing plate of jama-jama and fried plantains. Seriously, it’s the best spinach dish in New Orleans. And the best part is that you don’t have to wait for Jazz Fest to enjoy it; you can hit Bennachin year-round.

Dreamy Weenies, New Orleans

Dreamy Weenies

French Quarter

Wait a second... are you trying to tell me that one of the best hot dog joints in the city specializes in VEGAN sausages? Shockingly, yes. There are plenty of great meaty offerings at this Rampart St tube-steak joint, which is both kosher and halal (you won’t find pork on the menu, but they do have beef bacon). If you’re looking for a cheap, satisfying, and genuinely delicious veggie/vegan option in the Quarter, Dreamy’s is the one to beat. Also, have you ever topped a hot dog with red beans and rice? It’s a game changer. We’ll take this -- and the lack of regret -- over a Lucky Dog any day.

Vessel NOLA

Vessel

Mid-City

Based out of the former church that was formerly Christian’s and also formerly Redemption (we’re hoping there’s no “location curse” here), Vessel is the new guy in town looking to do new things, and getting some great attention so far. Chef Nick Vella, who graced the kitchens of MiLA, Noodle and Pie and Cibugnu, is going with “coastal Mediterranean” for the menu and recently expanded its veggie offerings. As it stands, Vessel is a great option for vegetarians dining with carnivores; there’s plenty of game and seafood available, as well as veggie-friendly fare, from cast-iron okra to “risotto-style” black-eyed peas, grilled summer squash with basil, onion and pecorino, and corn on the cob with truffle butter.

Seed

Seed

Lower Garden District 

This Lower Garden restaurant is the top of the list for all things vegetarian, vegan, raw, and uber-healthy. Everything is vegan, so there’s no fear of someone sneaking bacon or shrimp into your food. Seed offers tons of options, including DIY salads, soups, comfort food -- which includes fried and cheesy items -- and a pretty lengthy dessert menu.

The Green Fork

The Green Fork

Lower Garden District 

Located right across the street from Seed, this smoothie and juice joint also serves up delicious vegetarian/vegan soups and sandwiches, which change up daily. There’s a big gluten-free push at the Fork as well, making it perfect for anyone with pretty much any dietary restrictions.

Carmo

Warehouse District

This Brazilian restaurant in the Warehouse District does serve seafood and chicken, but the focus is on the vegetarian and vegan side of things. The cooking techniques and exotic ingredients put a Latin-American spin on the fruits, vegetables, legumes, soy, and grains that make up Carmo’s menu -- and as a bonus, it serves beer, wine, and cocktails. Try the traditional caipirinha with your veggie delights.

Shaya

Shaya

Uptown 

Alon Shaya’s James Beard award-winning Israeli restaurant has plenty of meat, but the majority of the traditional Mediterranean dishes are vegetable and chickpea forward, using seasonal dishes and authentic spices for small plates. The best stuff on the menu can be sopped up with steaming-hot pita bread made in-house in the enormous wood-burning oven in the back.

13 Monaghan

Marigny

Open 'til 4am amongst the bustling music clubs on Frenchmen St, 13’s beloved “Tachos” (aka tater tot nachos) have filled the booze-laced bellies of many vegetarians and carnivores both over the years. 13 also has a full bar and serves breakfast all day.

Pizza Delicious

Pizza Delicious

Bywater

This NYC-style pizzeria in the Bywater offers vegan cheese for all its pizzas, and always has at least one vegetarian/vegan special available along with the cheese and margherita everyday pies. Vegetarians can also find pasta options and market salads for even more variety.

Breads on Oak

Breads on Oak

Riverbend

Right on the Riverbend, this organic bakery serves more than just great coffee and baked goods (which are all vegan, and several are gluten-free). Sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, soups, and quiches are made in-house.

Noodle & Pie

Noodle & Pie

Uptown

Ramen madness has come to New Orleans, and here it’s paired with pie, so everyone’s a winner. Especially vegetarians. In addition to the vegetarian miso ramen, Noodle & Pie offers several small plates and salad specials without meat or fish. And of course, all the pie is vegetarian (but not necessarily vegan, so be sure to ask about that).

Green Goddess

French Quarter 

Tucked in an alley in the French Quarter, this oasis serves lunch and dinner and provides creative cuisine and cocktails. There’s even a vegan Bloody Mary variation on the list, along with watermelon sangria and two different boozy SnoBall ice cocktails. Perfect for the summer.

The Big Cheezy

The Big Cheezy

Mid-City

Grilled cheese is back and the Big Cheezy is leading the way. Although many of the restaurant’s specialty sandwiches do have meat in them, those ingredients can be taken out on request. And of course, there’s the option to have a cup of tomato soup on the side of whatever cheese-laden concoction you order.

Arabella Casa di Pasta

Marigny

Got a craving for pasta? Head over to Arabella, housed in the space next to Kajun’s Pub on St. Claude St. Choose your fresh, house-made pasta style (gluten-free and vegan options are available) sauce, and any add-ins. There are also small plates and salads.

Juan's Flying Burrito

Juan’s Flying Burrito

Lower Garden District/Mid City/CBD

Juan’s three New Orleans locations provide great, cheap food alongside enormous margaritas served by highly disinterested, heavily tattooed punk-goth-hipster types. The vibe is relaxed and the veggie and vegan options are plentiful. Expect a wait, but it’ll be worth it. There’s a lot of menu items covered in cheese, but if dairy ain’t your thing, there’s still plenty to enjoy.

Sign up here for our daily New Orleans email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the Big Easy.

Nora McGunnigle is a freelancer living and writing in New Orleans. Follow her adventures on Twitter (@noradeirdre) or Tumblr (noremcgunnigle.tumblr.com).

Scott Gold is a writer in New Orleans who has a deep and abiding love for injera bread and exhibits an inappropriate amount of glee when he gets to eat with his hands. Follow him on Twitter @scottgold

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Bar Frances 4525 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

PJ Rosenberg and Mark Latter, of the Magazine St. wine shop Bin 428 (and Latter also owns NOLA landmark eatery Tujages) have paired up again with Chef Brendan Cahill to open up a spot that would fit in perfectly in gay Paris -- which is exactly where Cahill was cooking before moving to New Orleans. There are some big hits on the menu, including a brilliant pan roasted chicken, mushroom toast, and chilled snap peas, all of which have been designed to complement the restaurant’s carefully cultivated wine list.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Tal's Hummus 4800 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

Tal's is a quick-serve Mediterranean restaurant known for its smooth and garlicky hummus as well as its pita sandwiches, whose fillings include grilled beef kabob, falafel, and grilled chicken. The pita sabich, made with hard-boiled egg, fried eggplant, Israeli salad, and tahini, is a lunch must.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Café Abyssinia 3511 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Garden District)

This family-run restaurant on Magazine St is one of the (very) few Ethiopian restaurants in New Orleans. The menu includes lamb, beef, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian dishes, which should be eaten the right way: with your hands. All spectrums of spicy are represented on the menu, so brave the wat at your own risk.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Silk Road 2483 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70117

There’s a profoundly sad lack of quality Indian restaurants in NOLA. While Silk Road specializes in global offerings -- it’s not a boring tikka masala and tandoori buffet -- its vegetarian entrees, particularly the curries, are some of the best in the city. The vindaloo is equally fantastic, and available with either meat or veggies. And don’t forget the saag paneer, because hot cheese always makes us happy.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Little Korea BBQ 2240 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (Uptown)

Formerly known as Korean Taco Bell (its previous location on Claiborne Ave. was once a Taco Bell), Little Korea serves up large platters of Korean BBQ, as well as a variety of hot soups (the kimchi and tofu stew is a hit) and bibimbap. The Magazine St. location is larger than the original, and many tables are outfitted with grills for tableside barbecuing.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Bennachin Restaurant 1212 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

Bennachin is a shining beacon of African cuisine in the Big Easy, known most for its jama-jama and fried plantains that are sold at Jazz Fest. However, the restaurant itself is a cozy joint where you'll find the namesake dish, bennachin, a jambalaya-like stew served with sautéed spinach, and other meat and vegetable dishes that are unique to New Orleans.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Dreamy Weenies 724 N. Rampart, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

This French Quarter hot dog joint is known for its New Orleans-style hot dog, a seven-inch, quarter-pound frank loaded with red beans and rice. Topped with a variety of sauces (curry, BBQ shrimp, and house-made chili, to name a few), Dreamy Weenies' creations are not for the faint of heart.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Vessel 3835 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA 70119 (Mid City)

Vessel, or at the least building that it occupies, has had quite a history. Once a Lutheran church, the Iberville Street landmark was home to the iconic restaurant Christian's from 1973 until Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed the building with flooding. In 2016, Vessel opened in a renovated building that still retains its church structure. The menu is Mediterranean in nature, featuring flatbreads and dishes like olive oil-braised chicken and Gulf snapper crudo.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Seed 1330 Prytania St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (Garden District)

Even if you aren't one for vegetarian food, Seed will make you a believer in all things plant-based. Everything at this Lower Garden District restaurant is vegan, and the menu features creative dishes like Southern Fried Nuggets, which are made with deep-fried tofu and chickpea flour and served with your choice of dipping sauce. Seed also makes a strong case for spiralized noodles, especially when dressed in avocado pesto.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. The Green Fork 1400 Prytania St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (Garden District)

All organic ingredients go into the juices, smoothies, and food cooked in-house at the Green Fork. The takeout hub is a great place to get a healthy snack, or a meal, in a city with a whole lot of fried food.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Carmo 527 Julia St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (Warehouse District)

The food at this eclectic restaurant draws inspiration from across the globe, crafting recipes from the Caribbean, Central and South America, West Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Gulf South. Most ingredients are sourced locally -- especially the seafood -- and are meant to accommodate vegan and vegetarian diets.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. Shaya 4213 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

This Uptown spot doles out "modern Israeli cuisine," and is run by the same man behind the ever-popular Domenica and PIZZA Domenica, and there's just as much fanfare. A massive, custom, wood-fire pita oven dominates the kitchen, which cooks up modern versions of Mediterranean fare like hummus, tabouli, baba ganoush, and stuffed grape leaves, not to mention a pomegranate-lacquered, fall-off-the-bone lamb dish that will blow your mind.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
13. 13 Monaghan Bar & Restaurant 517 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

This late-night bar serves the type of food that's perfect at 2 am: tater-tot nachos, bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, pita bread pizza, and grilled cheese. It's known for its vegetarian-friendly bar food, most of which is topped in cheese.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
14. Pizza Delicious 617 Piety St, New Orleans, LA 70117 (Bywater)

Located on Bywater's Piety Street, this New York-style slice shop was started by two Long Island guys who, surprisingly, had never made pizza before. The menu incorporates local produce and features daily pizza specials like an Italian sausage pie with caramelized onions and peppers.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
15. Breads on Oak 8640 Oak St, Ste A, New Orleans, LA 70118 (Uptown)

Right on the Riverbend, this organic bakery serves more than just great coffee and baked goods (which are all vegan, and several are gluten-free). Sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, soups, and quiches are made in-house.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
16. Noodle & Pie 741 State St, New Orleans, LA 70118 (Uptown)

Ramen and pie is the speciality at this Asian fusion restaurant. The move at Noodle & Pie is to start with a few small plates (okonomiyaki fries, deep-fried Brussels sprouts, Korean fried chicken) before moving on to a bowl of shoyu chicken ramen and finally, a slice of pie -- like the spicy Thai peanut butter cup with chocolate crust -- for dessert.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
17. Green Goddess 307 Exchange Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130 (French Quarter)

Tucked in an alley in the French Quarter, this oasis serves lunch and dinner and provides creative cuisine and cocktails. There’s even a vegan Bloody Mary variation on the list, along with watermelon sangria and two different boozy SnoBall ice cocktails.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
18. The Big Cheezy 422 S Broad St, New Orleans, LA 70119 (Mid City)

New Orleans needed a dedicated grilled cheese restaurant and so came The Big Cheezy. Variations on the classic sandwich include fillings like mac & cheese, goat cheese with bacon, and alligator sausage. Because nothing goes with grilled cheese better than tomato soup, there's an option to order a cuppa on the side.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
19. Arabella Casa di Pasta 2258 Saint Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117

If you've got a hankering for pasta, Arabella is the place for you. House-made pasta comes in plenty of styles (including gluten free and vegan) and sauces at this Saint Claude Ave restaurant.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
20. Juan's Flying Burrito 2018 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (Magazine St)

Juan's Flying Burrito serves up Tex-Mex fare with a Creole twist, and there's plenty of Mexican and domestic beer available. If tequila's more your speed, have no fear: it's got more than 15 different varieties available, as well as a selection of top-shelf margaritas.

Clickbait