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London's best restaurants for vegetarian food

These days, London's veggies are spoilt for choice with a handful of top-notch vegetarian restaurants featuring handsome meat-free menus

Limp lettuce and tasteless tofu are a distant memory for London's vegetarians. From the very best restaurants in London to London's best cheap eats, check out the crème de la crème of London's veggie scene. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

The best vegetarian restaurants in London

222 Veggie Vegan

Don’t be misguided by the name – everything at this North End Road eaterie is 100% vegan, and even raw foodists are welcome. For mains, a tropical mix of raw pumpkin and courgette noodles with fresh coconut and zingy lime sauce soon won us over, especially when coupled with such smiley service. It’s hard to escape pungent dairy substitutes for pudding; the chocolate gateau was too far removed from the gooey loveliness non-vegans are used to.

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West Kensington

Ethos

There are reasons why Ethos might make you wary. It’s near Oxford Circus, it’s a self-serve buffet and you pay for your food by weight. (That’s the weight of the food, not your weight.) Adding to the gimmicky potential, on any given day the main menu might include more than a dozen dishes from the diverse cuisines of Japan, Southeast Asia, Italy, Korea, India, Mexico and Lebanon – and anywhere else that does brilliant vegetarian dishes – plus a few of their own creations. You can choose as few or as many as you like, building your own bespoke meal. The world tour of dishes becomes a mini-adventure in flavour, colour and texture.

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Fitzrovia

The Gate

The only thing not modern and breezy about this vegetarian restaurant (a former Victorian butcher’s) is the ornate, listed tiling on one side of the room – a unique feature that reflects the equally original menu. Food here has a Middle Eastern twist, far more ethnic than its Hammersmith sister. Pick from either the meze menu – fritters bursting with salty feta flavour; tart mushroom ceviche; featherlight artichoke tempura – or the carte, which refreshingly avoids using meat substitutes.

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Finsbury
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Itadaki Zen

Japanese, vegan, and organic? No wonder Itadaki Zen is the first of its kind in Europe. But despite operating from a narrow pool of ingredients, the predominately noodle/tofu/seaweed menu impresses with its range of tastes and textures. Grilled spring rolls with soft mashed tofu filling were a welcome change to the usual greasy, stringy sort, while the ‘kakiage’ tempura for main had the same salty, crisp, golden, gorgeous smack as chips on Brighton pier, and came with fluffy rice.

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St Pancras

Kin

This small vegetarian café, opened in summer 2014, has plenty to recommend it: a bright, pleasant space with skylight at the back, a display counter at the front bearing the photogenic food offerings of the day, friendly and attentive staff. And the promise is partly made good by the food itself, which majors on salads, sandwiches and baked goods both savoury and sweet. 

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Fitzrovia

Manna

Even on weekday nights this relaxed yet rather formal restaurant has several tables reserved by off-duty Primrose Hill: friends catching up, yoga bunnies sharing boyfriend woes, romantic dates and birthday get-togethers. Few customers are confirmed vegetarians, which is tribute to the quality and heartiness of the cooking.

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Primrose Hill
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Mildreds

Only Lady Luck can get a table at Mildreds during peak hours, so if, like the rest of Soho, you want dinner at London’s coolest vegetarian restaurant, be prepared to wait – you can’t book. It’s more the style of the place that attracts the crowds than its food; laid-back (but quick and friendly) waiters sport funky hairdos and tattoos, and noisy diners sit elbow-to-elbow on squishy banquettes.

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Soho

Palm Vaults

Venue says: “Independent cafe and catering company.”

If the setting wasn’t plant-based enough for you already – all tumbling vines and sprouting shrubs – how about their a wholesome menu of veggie snacks and cakes? The menu at Palm Vaults changes daily, but stars of the show when we visited included a warming spinach dhal, and avocado on toast with the added twist of delicious vegan ‘bacon’ on top (it’s made from coconut as opposed to little piggies). Finish up with courgette cake and coffees made colourful from matcha, beetroot, lavender and the like.  

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Hackney

Rasa

The original branch of the Rasa chain is still going strong, serving the vegetarian dishes from Kerala with which it broke the anglicised curry-house mould in 1997. Get stuck into the unusual dishes, such as the wonderful moru kachiathu – a turmeric-infused, sweet-sour runny yoghurt dish made with mango and green banana – or a simple rasa kayi: mixed veg in a full-flavoured gravy.

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Stoke Newington
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Sagar

Popular with students and aficionados of South Indian vegetarian cuisine, Sagar has gained renown for its keenly priced homely cooking – so much so that the owners now have four outposts across London. Unlike many cafés on King Street, this, the original branch, is an attractive, upmarket-looking place, furnished with blond wood fittings and a restrained display of Indian artefacts.

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Hammersmith
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Find more vegetarian restaurants in London

Find great vegan restaurants in London

The best vegan restaurants in London

When it comes to vegan-only restaurants, London has got herbivores covered. But what about when you're eating as a group, and only some of you are vegan? Do you all go to a vegan café, or do you all go somewhere mainstream but boring, where your vegan chum has to eat yet another 'veggie-side-as-main-course'? The answer of course is neither. Find hand-picked mainstream restaurants, covering cuisines from Japanese and Thai, right through to Peruvian, which 'cater for all'. 

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By: Tania Ballantine

Comments

20 comments
Max B

WARNING - DO NOT EAT AT VANILLA BLACK !



If I could rate this place zero I would. The staff do not know the definition of the word service. Do not give this place your business!


Time for a juicy review story....


Firstly, we requested a booking of 8pm, which was not available. So we were offered 9pm. On turning up to the restaurant at 9pm, all the tables were set and the place was relatively empty. On the face of it, we should have been seated at our requested booking time. There is no way that the restaurant had been full 1 hour earlier. Not to worry, on to the meal, which will serve you up with a juicy story of incompetence and bafflement.


The meal... On seating, I requested the gluten free menu, due to allergies, which was provided. Once we had made our decisions we went ahead and ordered. A few items from the gluten free menu for myself, and the set menu for everyone else. The server then told us that we could not order this, and that the set menu had to be for the whole table. We told her that was clearly not possible as the set menu had gluten containing items. According to the server, it was not possible to make a gluten free version of the set menu. So, we asked what the reason for this was, and she told us it was a rule of the restaurant she could not change. So who could? Oh, the manager of course!


We requested the manager, and she came over. Once explained the situation she said, like a robot, that the set menu had to be for everyone at the table and it was a rule. When asked what this was, if it was a policy she said "No, it's not a policy, its a rule". Ok, cue 3 people completely baffled by her statement. Obviously, she either did not have a grasp of the english language, or had not been educated to a basic level. I even said to her: "You know, a rule is a policy.", to which she replied: "No, it's not a policy, it's just one of our rules". Geeeeeeeeees, I decided to move on, she clearly was not going to get it.


Next we go from language ignorance to complete idiocy. As the set menu had to be for the table, we posed the following question to the manager: "So, if I went and sat at that table over there I could order the gluten free menu, and my friends could eat the set menu." To which she replied "Yes". Our bafflement transformed into incredulousness. We were all speechless. She then said condescendingly: "I'm sorry you're disappointed". The lack of insight she had was unbelievable. I actually had to correct her, and told her we weren't disappointed at all, just shocked with disbelief. How on earth had this prize idiot managed to make her way to restaurant manager.


Finally, I told her "Are you sure about this? You do know you are going to get 3 bad reviews because of this", and she replied: "That is ok". You literally just can't help some people! We got up and walked out, and found a nearby place where we had a great time.


Despite the pure idiocy of the manager, we were exceedingly cordial and polite, although looking back I wish I hadn't been! This is literally the worst restaurant experience I have ever had. The only thing that would be worse is eating at the infamous Amys Baking Company in Arizona which was on Hells Kitchen. This place is #2 on the list of WORST RESTAURANTS EVER that should be out of business!


Visited August 2017.
Charlotte D

If you're looking for great Vegetarian dishes in East London www.morethancarrots.co.uk has you covered. 

Tracy D

Orchard closed about 18 months ago. If you are going to recycle a list at least check it is still valid..

Alex T

The Elmore Jam supperclub chefs always have a veggie option for their guests 4 courses menu tailored for special dietary requirements - awesome!!!
www.elmorej.am

Rani K

If you are looking for great atmosphere and fresh food then check out Old School Vegetarian Restaurant in West London, Hounslow. Cuban themed with a variety of food to suit all and the best milkshakes around!

Ian H

New generation?! Wild cherry closed down about five years ago! Some research might be nice next time?


There is a new restaurant in its place now, called The Larder.

Tara

Gujurati Rasoi in Dalston is excellent - fresh, tasty, homely veggie Indian cuisine in a light, airy, kitcheny environment. It's a hidden gem, open Wed-Sat evenings.

Charly Lester moderator Staff Writer

Unfortunately I'd rate Ethos as one of the worst meals I've had in London ... great concept, atmosphere and location, but it was like a cheap party buffet, and the desserts tasted like saw dust :( 

Megan W

Food for Thought, obviously. And Riverside Vegetaria in Kingston.

Joanna B

@Megan W Food for Thought closed earlier this year (June?). So sad. 

Zoe M

" whole meal"- vegetarian cafe in Streatham! yum yum yum 


its an local legend- having been run since the 70s. my parents took me there when i was little and i still visit now! 

Ami L

EZ and Moss on Holloway road does a lovely veggie/vegan brunch

Roman Thomas

What about The Karma Free Pizza Co in Harrow?...came in the top 3 of veggie restaurants..actually voted by Londoners..Riviera came 1st and Mildreds came 2nd... The Karma Free 3rd,and are only a year old..but their vegetarian,vegan and gluten free pizzas are mastered to perfection!

the Benj

What about A Taste of Heaven in Tulse Hill?! www.atohrestaurant.co.uk It is new vegetarian and vegan restaurant. Fantastic food and lovely staff it's worth a visit

KPI

MUST try : Chennai Dosa (veg) in East Ham. Unlimited Buffet Breakfast for 5 quids. Chini Chor for the BEST ever Punjabi Veg food in Hounslow West.

Anthony

I can recommend Saravanaa Bhavan - an Indian vegetarian restaurant in East Ham. (I think there are also other branches around London.) It's not the plushest of eateries by any means, but what it lacks in décor, it more than makes up for in very tasty and authentic food. It's best to order a number of dishes and share them amongst your party - sort of like an Indian tapas. Make sure you include the Gobi 65 - tandoori-covered cauliflower - which is delicious. http://www.saravanabhavan.co.uk