Limp lettuce? Tasteless tofu? Fear not, the bad old days of London’s vegetarian restaurant scene are over. Now, meat-free diners have an extensive array of the city’s best restaurants, street food stalls and cheap eats to sate themselves with. Hell, it might even convert a dedicated carnivore or two. Look below for Time Out’s round-up of the crème de la crème of London’s veggie scene.
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The best vegetarian restaurants in London
Don’t be fooled by the name – everything at 222 is 100 percent vegan. It’s also deliberately low in fat and salt – so if you’re going to indulge in the likes of pumpkin and courgette ‘noodles’ with lime and ginger dressing, seitan stroganoff with brown rice, tofu cheesecake or vegan ice cream, this is the place. The lunchtime buffet’s a bargain too.
A Scandi-chic veggie café serving a creative global menu and Climpson’s coffee in serene surroundings, Bühler & Co is primarily a brunch spot – eggs every which way, gussied-up French toast, quinoa cakes, meatless fry-ups. There are specials and a lunchtime counter too, plus more ambitious dishes for weekend suppers – think green curry laksa with silken tofu. A slice of the good life in Walthamstow.
A self-service veggie buffet (where you pay by the weight of food) that delivers the goods from breakfast to lights out, Ethos scours the globe for culinary inspiration. Kick off with a gluten-free egg and spinach protein pot plus a slug of beetroot juice, lunch on Japanese miso-roasted aubergine, quorn lasagne or a ‘good green salad’, and finish with a ‘healthy’ black-bean brownie. Don’t miss their most famed dish: the aloo scotch egg.
Owned by well-connected glamour-puss Camilla Al-Fayed (of Harrods fame), Farmacv sells ‘clean indulgence’ to an eager audience of moneyed Notting Hillbillies and aspirational hedge-fund wives. It’s a happy, joyful, ‘free-from’ kind of place (no dairy, no sugars, no additives), with plant-based treats ranging from ‘clean curries’ to macro ‘earth bowls’. Even the most virtuous dishes taste luxurious, especially when eaten in such chic surroundings.
If the very idea of ‘healthy eating in Notting Hill’ fills you with dread, fear not: this cute café from Aussie-born ‘farm girl’ Rose Mann is a little ripper. Colourful interiors and non-stop sunny service are matched by a menu that promises everything from acai bowls to baked aubergine with tahini dressing, superfood salads and BBQ jackfruit tacos. Veggies can happily bypass the odd piece of chicken.
Ironically housed in a former Victorian butcher’s, this branch of veggie innovator The Gate puts on a breezy modern face – apart from a swathe of ornate listed tiling that reflects the equally original menu. Share a meze platter (salty feta fritters, mushroom ceviche, featherlight artichoke tempura) or plunder the global carte for aubergine schnitzel, raw pad Thai or wild mushroom risotto cake.
The Hemsley sisters are spiraliser-wielding rock stars on the ‘clean eating’ stage, and their first café – a chic, sleek vision in brushed gold, blonde wood and herb-green upholstery – is resolutely on-trend. It’s also a snug fit for Selfridges Body Studio. Buy into the H&H brand via organic gluten-free dishes without refined sugars or hydrogenated fats, and raise a cheer for their health-conscious vegan cooking.
Café by day, wine bar by night, ‘East London’s answer to delicious well-being’ champions holistic dining, biodynamic drinking and organic ideology without over-egging the eco issues. Apart from the odd chunk of salmon, the menu’s largely vegetarian and vegan, so expect superfood combos and smoky tempeh sandwiches alongside caesar kale salad and quinoa tabbouleh with raw falafel – all great with a cocktail or a cold-pressed juice.
Attached to the Hornbeam Centre (a thriving community hub), this cheery daytime café in E17 keeps it local by buying most of its ingredients from the Organiclea workers’ cooperative and organic growers in the area. Cakes and snacks feed the daytime crowd, while veggie/vegan lunches bring everything from seasonal soups to tofu and chickpea patties or dhal with rice and onion pickle. Terrific value.
A popular Indian vegetarian spot on Islington’s Chapel Market, serving an all-you-can-eat buffet in karmic (some might say preachy) surrounds. Since the buffet’s the only option, vegans should tread carefully, although everything ticks the veggie boxes – think vegetable curries, dhals, colourful salads and feather-light parathas. A stalwart for cheap dates, early-evening carb-loading and bargain lunches (cash only).
Find great 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'.
Just what is it that makes this fair maiden so special? Is it her laidback, effortlessly cool service? Her laidback, effortlessly cool vibe? Or her food which, given the setting, is improbably impressive? A bit of all three? Ding-ding, you win. It’s no surprise, really. Henrietta is the first restaurant in aeons from brilliant, boundary-breaking chef Ollie Dabbous (‘da-boo’, but you knew that). He’s in the process of closing his first two gaffs, leaving him – for now at least – to focus all his attention on just one baby: this one. It is a hotel restaurant, yes, but one with soul. The boutique building – a knock-through of two Covent Garden townhouses – is the latest from the boys behind the Experimental Cocktail Club and hip hangout Le Grand Pigalle in Paris. And perhaps that’s why, on the night of my visit, it felt like a place to kick back, to unwind. There was a carefree, summery vibe, evoking an upmarket Mediterranean villa. Walls are pale and festooned with mirrors; floors are hexagonally tiled; there’s a soft-toned fresco of a ‘big cat’ on the ceiling. Because who doesn’t want a cat on the ceiling? Staff had passion and personality. They even had the odd facial piercing (tatts may be an obsolete barometer of a venue’s un-uptightness, but cheek studs are still fairly progressive). They knew the menu inside out; one even promised, with a wink, that a dish would, yes, be ‘life-changing’. He was talking, of course, about the madeleines. People get weirdly excited about