A few years ago, vegetarians barely got a look-in on the restaurant scene in London, or anywhere else for that matter. Fast-forward to now and not only do most restaurants offer a decent selection of delicious meat-free dishes to choose from, but the number of all-vegetarian and exclusively vegan restaurants has exploded.
We’re thrilled to have done away with our guide to the ‘best vegetarian-friendly restaurants in London’ since nearly every restaurant in the capital now caters to vegetarian diets. And it’s not just starters and side dishes for non-meat eaters now either – hooray! Vegetarian cuisine has evolved so much over recent years that instead of something boring or lacking in flavour and texture, vegetarian diners can expect bold flavours, creative combinations and carefully considered dishes. Goodbye, mushroom risotto – we still love you, but when there are dishes like cauliflower shawarma, aubergine schnitzel and chickpea pancakes to be had, we’re opting for those.
It’s true that most vegetarian restaurants in London are casual eateries serving better-quality versions of things you might cook for yourself at home, but there are a few fancy veggie restaurants too. Critically-acclaimed restaurants such as Vanilla Black and Farmacy owe their success to extremely talented chefs who specialise in crafting imaginative plant-based cuisine. In fact, some are so impressive that even the most avid carnivores are making reservations there. So, whether you’re a full-time meat denouncer, or just looking to cut down on the amount of meat and fish you eat, there’s something for you in our round-up below.
To make things easier we’ve divided the restaurants into different categories so no matter what type of vibe you’re looking for, you’re bound to find one you love. From fine dining vegetarian restaurants to top lunch spots, there’s a little bit of everything on offer for our plant-loving pals at these vegetarian restaurants (or veggie-friendly places, where not wholly vegetarian). Check them out!
Fancy vegetarian-only restaurants
Traditionally, fancy restaurants serve elegant European food that’s often centred on a fine cut of meat followed by something rich and creamy for dessert, but thankfully that’s no longer the case. Plenty of fine dining restaurants now offer vegetarian (and vegan) options, and there are a number of fancy restaurants in London that are exclusively vegetarian. See below for our top picks.
What: The founders of Vanilla Black were tired of seeing the same vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu of all the restaurants they visited, so they decided to do vegetarian cuisine their own way. The chefs here eschew the use of pasta or meat substitutes, choosing instead to serve up dishes such as celeriac profiteroles with dill and raisins.
Where: Vanilla Black, 17-18 Tooks Court, Holborn
What: Mildreds has been going strong since the eighties and now has four locations across London. The menu is both interesting and comforting thanks to dishes such as mock chicken tandoori slathered in a flavoursome tikka marinade, and its beetroot and white bean burger with pickled red cabbage, gherkins and aioli, served in a brioche bun.
Where: Mildreds, 45 Lexington Street, Soho; 9 Jamestown Road, Camden Town; 200 Pentonville Road, Kings Cross; Thomas Tower, 1 Dalston Square, Dalston
What: Its deceiving line-up of burgers and ice-cream sundaes is perfect for carnivores looking to ditch the meat and dairy, as Farmacy is actually entirely vegan. (We know this round-up is all about vegetarian restaurants, but we couldn’t help but include it.) The juicy burgers are made from millet, black bean and mushroom so you can enjoy all the taste with zero guilt.
Where: Farmacy, 74-76 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill
What: The prettiest location for this mini-chain has got to be Seymour Place in Marylebone (though there are also sites in Hammersmith, Islington and St Johns Wood). Whichever location you visit, you can look forward to an excellent selection of internationally inspired vegetarian food. We recommend the wild mushroom risotto cake, and the spicy, bean-stuffed tacos.
Where: The Gate Marylebone, 22-24 Seymour Place; The Gate Islington, 370 St John Street; The Gate Hammersmith, 51 Queen Caroline Street. The Gate St John's Wood, 87 Allitsen Road
What: Even the most dedicated carnivores have been known to cheer at the bountiful menu at Manna, which brims with meat-free salads and pastas alongside Indonesian tofu satay, spicy potato cakes with coriander chutney, and long-standing favourite fennel and pumpkin-seed bangers with red-wine jus. Once vegetarian, Manna is another restaurant that’s recently gone 100% vegan, making it more accessible than ever before.
Where: Manna, 4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill
Casual vegetarian-only restaurants
The steep rise in folks choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet has meant an explosion of new plant-based restaurants that are as suited to quick, weekday lunches as they are to evenings out with friends. We’ve rounded up our favourite casual vegetarian restaurants below (and a couple of vegan-only eateries too):
What: This relaxed, all-day restaurant is designed for veggies and vegans, with over 40 daily changing dishes, all charged by weight. Pop in early for a breakfast of fresh juices, pancakes and pastries, or stop by later to enjoy the likes of roasted tandoori cauliflower, cheesy leek and potato pie, and desserts such as vegan raspberry cheesecake.
Where: Tibits Bankside, 124 Southwark Street; Tibits Soho, 12-14 Heddon Street
What: When it comes to maximum flavour and satisfaction for minimum cost, there’s nowhere better to dine than Sagar – the South Indian vegetarian restaurant that tops many a list of the best vegetarian restaurants in London. Diners can look forward to decent, dependable regional dishes including curries, fluffy rice, home-baked breads and outstanding dosa.
Where: Sagar West End, 17a Percy Street, Fitzrovia; Sagar Covent Garden, 31 Catherine Street
The Vurger Co
What: Full disclosure: this one is also fully vegan, but its plant-based fast food is so good we just had to include it. Whether you opt for one of its burgers, which are stacked with patties made from things like aubergine, chickpeas and onion, and ‘beyond meat’ coupled with vegan cheese, or a portion of its Kentucky fried 'chicken', we defy you not to be impressed.
Where: The Vurger Co, Unit 9, Avant Garde, Richmix Square, Shoreditch
What: Bright and bold in every sense, Rasa N16 has been a favourite among vegetarians since opening over 20 years ago. Keralan chef Das Sreedharan’s menu specialises in the meatless cooking of the Nair community, so expect to find an array of dishes far removed from the usual curry-house repertoire, such as pimped-up poppadums, crispy dosa and a variety of punchy homemade pickles and chutneys.
Where: Rasa N16, 55 Stoke Newington Church Street
What: Like its forerunner, Tibits, Ethos is a great little spot for vegetarians seeking a wide variety of healthy, colourful food in a casual setting. Conveniently located just off Oxford Street, Ethos is a great spot for hungry shoppers or workers to fill up on eclectic dishes such as Hyderabadi Scotch eggs and Thai corn fritters.
Where: Ethos, 48 Eastcastle Street, Fitzrovia
What: Organic and vegan Japanese restaurants aren’t ten-a-penny, but Itadaki Zen in King’s Cross is one such eatery. The menu is made up of sushi, tempura and tofu dishes aimed at healing the body, so you could just walk out feeling full and in better health than you were when you walked in.
Where: Itadaki Zen, 139 King's Cross Road
222 Veggie Vegan
What: Despite its out-of-the-way location on an ugly stretch of the North End Road, this longstanding vegan restaurant has endured thanks to its low-fat, low-salt, non-GM and mostly-organic food. Dishes range from the likes of soup and mezze to seitan stroganoff and tofu cheesecake, and the buffet lunch is well worth a punt.
Where: 222 Veggie Vegan, 222 North End Road, West Kensington
Wild Food Café
What: A menu made up of colourful, seasonal, foraged or locally-sourced vegan dishes makes this popular eatery a beacon for the plant-based community and Instagram fanatics alike. The food is as pretty as the interiors and generally very healthy, so you can indulge in the likes of curried butternut squash with barbecued jackfruit and saffron pine nut mayo with your halo intact.
Where: Wild Food Café, 269-270 Upper Street, Islington
What: This casual Soho diner is rather unique in that it serves a 100% gluten-free Italian menu, which is veggie, vegan and allergy-friendly. That doesn’t mean it’s all salads and juices though, with indulgent Italian dishes including vegan carbonara topped with asparagus and avocado cream.
Where: Leggero, 64 Old Compton Street, Soho
Happily, restaurants that don’t offer decent vegetarian options are now few and far between, but we think these ones are especially great for groups containing vegetarians and meat-eaters:
Berber & Q
What: When we mentioned cauliflower shawarma before, we were talking about this one from Berber & Q. Healthy and hearty, this stand-out dish has become super-popular since being introduced it to the menu – and for good reason. A whole roasted cauliflower is given the star treatment with a shawarma-spiced butter, tahini sauce, pomegranate molasses, dried rose petals, pine nuts and parsley.
Where: Berber & Q, Arch 338, Acton Mews, Haggerston
Smoke & Salt
What: Smoke & Salt pay as much attention to their treatment of vegetables as they do meat, which leads to beautiful cooking. Although their menu changes with the season they always have incredible little plates of veg on offer. A recent favourite of ours has been the new potatoes which were served up with a fragrant chimichurri sauce and rich, creamy gorgonzola.
Where: Smoke & Salt, 49 Brixton Station Road
Pollen Street Social
What: Jason Atherton’s restaurant in Mayfair is proof that Michelin-starred food doesn’t need meat to be outstanding. There aren’t just a couple of vegetarian and vegan options at this hip hangout either – there’s an entire menu for each. This is the kind of place where a dish as simple as braised broccoli stem with lemon purée, toasted almonds and seaweed will have you oohing and aahing from the first mouthful.
Where: Pollen Street Social, 8-10 Pollen Street, Mayfair
What: Open all day from breakfast onwards, this popular Clapham bistro sports a vegetarian section bursting with delicious dishes. Creative takes on classics, such as its three cheese mac and cheese with cauliflower nut crumble and smoked jalapeno mayonnaise, make it an easy choice for groups in search of great meat, fish and veggie dishes.
Where: The Dairy, 15 The Pavement, Clapham
What: The genius team at Kricket have combined two of our favourite things to create a dish that has vegetarians queuing up: vegetables and batter. Adding a crunchy coating to salty samphire makes Kricket’s legendary samphire pakora beautifully savoury, and the texture is completely moreish. We think this makes the perfect bar snack, so even if you’re just popping in for drinks don’t miss out on this treat.
Where: Kricket Soho, 12 Denman Street; Kricket Brixton, 41-43 Atlantic Road; Kricket White City, 2 Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane
Madera at Treehouse London
What: Londoners in search of a stylish, rooftop hangout that serves up fresh, flavourful plant-based food need look no further than Madera at Treehouse London. The options for non-meat eaters are as plentiful as the meat and fish offering, so whether you’re in the mood for a Mexican-style avocado and roasted garlic pizza or guac and plantain chips, you won’t be disappointed.
Where: Madera at Treehouse London, 14-15 Langham Place, Oxford Circus
OXO Tower Restaurant
What: It’s been around for years, but OXO Tower Restaurant isn’t one to rest on its laurels. Here you can dine from a vegetarian/vegan menu which sees dishes such as deep-fried smoked burrata with butternut squash, granola, pickled squash, buttermilk and maple, served alongside a lemon meringue soufflé with pistachio ice cream and ricotta cannoli. The views are pretty awesome too.
Where: OXO Tower Restaurant, Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, Southwark
Looking for meat- and dairy-free restaurants? Check out our guide to the best vegan restaurants in London