May 2019: We’ve added a whopping 25 new entries, including the Islington branch of Wild Food Cafe, fast food joint Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner, the London branch of Cambridge favourite Stem + Glory, and Japanese vegan stalwart Itadaki Zen.
Gone are the days of meat and two veg – suddenly, everyone and their nan is a vegan and London is an ethical foodies’ paradise. And it’s not just hemp and chia seeds: from dumplings to fried chicken and pizza, some of the most indulgent food in this city is available animal-free. With so many of our favourite restaurants offering bang-tidy vegan options, plus an ever-growing number of ace vegan-only joints, picking where to eat can be a bit overwhelming. So we tried them all and created the ultimate list. Here are the very best.
Got you in the mood for more plant-based fare? Check out our roundup the best restaurants for vegetarian food.
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The best restaurants in London for vegans
Sibling to cured fish specialist Ceviche, Old Street’s Andina is where you go to feel whole again. Yup, we’re talking vegan-friendly dishes made with ancient Peruvian superfoods. Try the salt-baked beetroot with black quinoa, or the sautéed brussel sprouts salad with peanut sauce. Superfoods just got seriously super.
The owners of this gorgeous-looking Clerkenwell joint want us all to ‘make friends with food’ – and we’re certainly sold on the place, with its low-key backstreet vibe, pretty plants and cleverly contrived gluten-free cooking. Look for nutritionally balanced dishes ranging from vegan cooked breakfasts to salads and light main dishes with homemade bread. Cold-pressed juices and shots of organic wheatgrass are on-message too
Run as a not-for-profit workers’ cooperative, this ethical vegan-only café and bookshop in Hackney is a top spot for budget plant-based food that’s healthy too. The ever-changing line-up of salad plates features a whole host of ideas involving perfectly dressed kale, beetroot, pesto and other hip favourites. For comfort food, try the ‘beef-style’ seitan and soya mince burger – and don’t leave without trying a syrupy vegan pastry from the counter.
It’s love at first whiff once you step inside this casual offshoot of swish Jamavar. There’s plenty of noisy chatter too, while the smoky aromas lead you toward killer Indian cooking. Veggie dishes are flagged up with a green leaf symbol, and plenty of options are also vegan-friendly: try the lentil sprout curry, the vegetable ‘istew appam’ or the tandoori charred broccoli with tomato dust (minus the cheese). Bombay Bustle is also darned affordable by Mayfair standards.
Vauxhall’s green-living, eco-minded community café – a former squat – depends on a rolling roster of cooperative members/cooks from different nations, who take turns to prepare and serve globally minded vegan/vegetarian food at rock-bottom prices – check the website to see who’s at the stove. Cakes and other temptations might thwart your healthy mission, but there are always lighter options on the regularly changing menu. Cash only. BYOB (no corkage).
C&R has been doing its thing for two decades now and is as good as ever. Squeezed into a narrow Chinatown alleyway, this Malaysian café-diner dishes up terrific value and excellent food. For vegans, there are mains like the vegetarian noodle soup, the tofu and vegetable stir-fry, or the mixed vegetable Malaysian curry.
Although this small but sexy Peruvian hotspot in Soho is known for its marinated meat and fish (hence the name), it also actively caters to those who choose to eschew animal-based products – they even do a vegan ceviche with beetroots, spring onions and butter beans. Otherwise, look for items such as the quinoa and avocado salad and the green pumpkin curry.
Chisou’s owners may have shut its original haunt in Princes Street, but this new, bigger site near Bond Street was definitely worth the move. Cold dishes are its strong suit. For vegans, there are cucumber, avocado or plum sushi rolls, alongside a salad of assorted seaweed. On the hot side, there is also a tofu steak and vegetable tempura. It’s top-notch sushi in a truly lovely spot – and it’s worth shelling out for.
A smoky small-plates joint occupying Peckham Rye’s old ticket office, the Coal Rooms isn’t vegan by default, but they’ll happily amend any of their veggie dishes to fit a plant-based brief. There’s also the vegan main of carrot and chilli tacos with chimichurri. Some of the best seats are at the counter, but the dining room is super-cool and reassuringly calm by Peckham standards.
The animal-free sister restaurant to nearby Comptoir Mezze, Comptoir V in Kensal Green features the same Middle-Eastern-themed décor and menu, minus the meat – with playfully named plates such as the 'it's no jerk' burger and ‘return of the mac’. Try the spicy beetroot houmous, both creamy and fiery, or the tempura-battered ‘dynamite shrimp’.
Having built a cult following at the original Boxpark site, charismatic plant-food champion King Senathit (aka King Cook) has migrated further east to this larger space. It’s essentially a trendy canteen: you order and pay at the counter, then collect your food on a tray when your number’s called. This place is known for its globe-trotting bowls for £8.50 (plus toppings), served on big beds of carbs. The ‘noodle bowl’, a stir-fry of udon noodles and green veg that was both sweet and fiery, was a highlight.
The menu at this much-loved Soho hangout changes regularly, and they always have a few vegan-friendly dishes on offer. Their plant-based tapas plates may be small, but the flavours are huge – and often unexpected. For committed vegans, that might mean white asparagus with kale and caperberry dressing, roasted aubergine with hazelnuts and tomato ‘honey’ or crispy cauliflower with piquillo sauce. Delicioso.
Any venue from boundary-breaking cocktail wizard Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr Lyan) is bound to be off-piste, but Cub is something different. Located above the repurposed Super Lyan bar, this is more like a multi-sensory foodie ‘experience’ with bizarrely alluring drinks and plenty of thrills for the vegan brigade. Dishes are made using sustainable ingredients and often use food that would otherwise be thrown away. We love Cub’s super-savvy staff and rockin’ house-party vibe too.
Lawyer-turned-cook Asma Khan is now rated as one of the capital’s top chefs, and her first permanent site, in Carnaby, is a showcase for home-style food and family recipes inspired by her Calcutta childhood. There’s always plenty of vegan stuff on offer among the mutton, venison and prawns – try the chana chaat, the Bengali spiced croquettes with beetroot or the Hyderabadi tamarind dhal.
This sleek, glossy offshoot of Dinings in Marylebone follows the original’s Japanese fusion ethos to the letter. Vegans are also in for a treat, with plenty of plant-based items on the menu, alongside the occasional bespoke special. From grilled shiitake mushroom with yuzu soy (aka vegan sushi) to a salad of assorted seaweed with miso vinaigrette or braised hokusai cabbage with fresh truffle, soy milk and kombu, this is really innovative stuff.
A tribute to Bombay’s 1930s jazz age with colourful booths, a swinging soundtrack and photos of iconic musicians on the walls, this Kensington branch of Indian hotspot Dishoom also puts out a full vegan menu alongside its regular offer. Start the day with a ‘vegan Bombay’ fry-up, or arrive later for chole puri, ‘no-butter bhutta’ (corn on the cob, Chowpatty beach-style) and chana chaat – a tumble of chickpeas, couscous and baby sprouts studded with pomegranate seeds.
Owned by well-connected glamour puss Camilla Al-Fayed (of Harrods fame), Farmacy 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, no meat, with lots of plant-based stuff lurking in its signature ‘earth bowls’. Judging by the ridiculously glossy good looks of most of the customers, the idea seems to work.
Understated, sleek and minimalist, this Islington branch of the Gate still manages to feel super-comfortable and its veggie-based menu is a good fit for the surroundings. Global themes and influences loom large, and there’s always plenty for vegans in the mix – from tofu red Thai curry to wild mushroom risotto. Also note the ‘health and wellness’ specials. The restaurant also hosts a monthly, five-course ‘secret vegan supper club.’
Calorie-counted dishes and vegan tasting menus ensure that Alexis Gauthier’s classy Soho townhouse restaurant satisfies the healthy brigade as well as fans of Gallic-style gourmandising. The current ‘les plantes’ offer, for example, promises everything from carrot tartar to black truffle tortellini to a strawberries and dark chocolate tart. Gauthier, a vegan himself, has placed an emphasis on veganism for environmental reasons. ‘Our duty as human beings to leave the planet in a better state than we found it’, he says on the restaurant’s website.
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 Selfridge’s Body Studio on Oxford Street. 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 (puy lentil and beetroot salad with maple vinaigrette, anyone?).
This restaurant, on the upper concourse of Coal Drops Yard, is the work of Pip Lacey, she of ‘Great British Menu’-winning fame (class of 2017), who trained at Murano. Many options on the menu, which changes regularly, can be adapted for vegans – so speak to your server. There is currently courgette flower tempura and British asparagus with balsamic vinegar (minus the stractiella), alongside a small plate of piquillo peppers and, for dessert, pineapple tempura with coconut sorbet.
Vegans can always count on one thing at this super-cute Middle Eastern café in Fitzrovia: incredible falafel. Otherwise, rejoice in the likes of the roasted mauve aubergine with BBQ tahini crust and a jewelled rice salad. The menu changes seasonally and we’re hooked on the friendly vibe too.
The Sethi clan (Gymkhana, Bubbledogs, Bao etc.) have struck gold again with this small but stylish no-bookings Marylebone restaurant dedicated to ‘hoppers’ – those bowl-shaped savoury crêpes from the Sri Lankan breakfast table. Fillings and toppings can be tailored to vegan requirements, although the menu also extends to ‘string hoppers’ (steamed rice noodle pancakes), dosas and karis (Tamil for curry) – squash and sweet potato, for example.
‘Bold heat and umami’ is the lure at Ikoyi, a rustic-chic terracotta-walled eatery in Victoria specialising in Nigerian jollof cuisine – although the kitchen uses this as a jumping-off point for cooking that transforms West African food into boundary-pushing hyper-gastronomy. There is a vegan tasting menu available on request, which could include the likes of slices of plantain festooned with desiccated raspberry dust.
Japanese, vegan and organic? What’s not to love – and, rest assured, we do love this cool little miracle near King’s Cross station. Only the slurping of udon noodles disturbs the Zen-like tranquillity, as punters dip into a virtuously healthy menu that makes the most of a few key ingredients (expects lots of tofu and seaweed). Laid-back staff go with the flow, while zealous foodie workshops make Itadaki even more lovable.
Jamavar’s vibe suggests a smart colonial-era gentlemen’s club, but don’t let that put you off. What makes it worth a serious punt is the food – a succession of luscious, delicately spiced dishes bursting with purity and depth of flavour. And yes, you can eat like a vegan here, especially if you stay with the small plates. Try the chatpata salad (masala quinoa, vegetables, chopped apricots and chilli-honey dressing) or crispy lentil dumplings with green chutney and heritage carrot pickle. Pricey but worth it.
This modern Thai restaurant serves up Bangkok-inspired food which are, on the whole, stunning. The menu is littered with vegan options, like the massaman, panang or green curries. There is also the coconut lemongrass salad and vegan spring rolls. This place is full of bold, exciting, unapologetic flavours, served in a simple, stylish space by genuinely lovely staff.
This branch of the modern Indian small-plates mini chain has a number of dishes that can be adapted for vegans, including the astounding house bhel puri (an Indian snack staple of puffed rice and crunchy chickpea noodles). There is also the samphire pakora, drizzled with sweet-sharp tamarind, and the butternut squash with a dhal base in place of the makhani sauce. There is currently no vegan dessert option, though.
This townhouse, on a quiet Chelsea street, is the first solo project from Rohit Ghai, one-time exec chef of JKS restaurants (Trishna, Gymkhana, Hoppers), Bombay Bustle and Jamavar. It’s modern Indian but not faddish. The menu can be easily tailored for vegans – just speak to a member of staff. Options include the aloo tikki (crispy potato cake), the apple dhokla (made with fermented batter), the salli curry with soya, and the khichadi with wild mushrooms. There is mango and passionfruit sorbet for dessert, too.
The popular Hackney Burmese has transferred from an awkward, pokey space to a large, airy site on the eastern fringes of Shoreditch. For vegans, main dishes include the tofu soup with rice noodles, the lentil chow chow, and a veggie version of the shan noodles. Most of the salads are vegan too (try the zingy ginger salad), and there is sorbet for dessert. Service is friendly and the food here is great value.
This small-plates restaurant from the team behind now-closed Ellory usually has four or five vegetarian options, which can usually be tailored to vegans, on its ever-changing menu. Flavours are clean and bright, ingredients unfussy. Staff are welcoming and know their food, too.
The London outpost of a small chain that focuses on vegan dishes inspired by pan-Asian cuisine, Loving Hut in Archway professes to use organic vegetables and non-GMO products, with ingredients sourced locally where possible. You'll probably recognise much of the menu – including BBQ veggie ribs and crispy aromatic veggie duck, as well as a vegan cheesecake.
You’d think that a ‘no-choice’ restaurant would mean no choice, right? Wrong. The peeps at this trendy Michelin-starred Shoreditch hotspot also create pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan menus every day. From the latter, you might find pumpkin, kale and chestnuts with a pumpkin vinaigrette, a plate of calçots with violet artichokes, and a tiny ‘sandwich’ of cinnamon crackers with blueberry compote to finish.
A slice of California in the City, Malibu Kitchen promotes guilt-free ‘clean eating’ within the swanky surrounds of The Ned’s hotel/club complex. The menu favours veggie and vegan over meat and fish, although there’s something for everyone here – think courgette and almond flatbread, poké bowls and zesty colourful salads. For that full-on LA trip, wash it all down with some lip-smacking green juice.
From the crew behind Dalston’s Salvation in Noodles, this chummy Vietnamese hangout in Notting Hill is a sleek Hanoi-meets-London mash-up specialising in Vietnamese BBQ with all the trimmings – although vegans can easily find satisfaction beyond its chicken thighs and pork shoulders. There are savoury banh xeo crêpes with tofu, a version of pho with the same stuff, and a rice-based ‘com’ bowl loaded with grilled aubergines and minced soya beans.
It’s 1967. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Ravi Shankar are spreading love, peace and good vibrations at the Monterey Pop Festival in California; meanwhile, a modest veggie restaurant is taking its first steps in Primrose Hill, England. More than 50 years on, Manna is now vegan, with a host of plant-based goodies on its bountiful menu: check out the lettuce-leaf tacos, roasted vegetable tart, and butternut squash and quinoa salad.
‘Clean eating’ feels like fun at this second branch of Maple & Co. Order downstairs, then take your ‘lunch box’ upstairs to a blond-wood dining area dotted with fairy lights. Vegans should go topping-free (or plump for tofu), which allows more room for the nourishing salads – try the ‘Twisted Greek’ (cucumber, cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers, and kale) or the ‘Mexican Standoff’ (a mix of bulgur wheat, black beans, grape tomatoes, diced bell peppers, onion and a coriander lime pesto dressing).
How come this down-and-dirty homage to red-blooded burgers and X-rated booze in East Dulwich (one of their many branches) is on a list of vegan-friendly restaurants? Well, the guys at Meat Liquor are savvy enough to include some plant-based options among their Dead Hippie patties and chilli dogs. Look for ‘VG’ on the menu and you’ll find everything from Satan Fingers (battered seitan slathered in chilli sauce) to the awesome Burgaloo (a house-made patty of spiced potato, beetroot and black beans).
One for the (vegan) ladies who lunch on Parson’s Green in Fulham, Megan’s is famed for its ‘open, deconstructed’ kebabs but you don’t have to go down the doner/chicken route – there’s a plant-based riff involving charred cauliflower and peanut dukkah, as well as one with vegan ‘chorizo’ and pine nuts. There are plenty of vegan possibilities when it comes to flatbreads and pizzas too. Very cute, very cosy.
There are many Buddhists in Vietnam, so it’s no surprise that this café-restaurant in Hoxton is big on vegan dishes. In fact, the extensive menu has around a dozen regular options, from Vietnamese tofu curry served in a clay pot to stir-fried mock ‘beef’ tofu with black bean sauce. Just be sure to check that your chosen dishes are 100 percent free of animal-based ingredients such as fish sauce.
Forget leaden brown food and stone-age bread, Mildred’s is all about creative meat-free cookery – an idea it’s been peddling in Soho for nigh on 30 years. Get the vegan juices flowing with the pea and shallot ravioli, the Sri Lankan curry or the Mexican black bean burger, with takeaways at the salad bar adding some extra healthy thrills. It’s a no-bookings place but you won’t mind queueing for good stuff like this.
Fusion queen Anna Hansen (ex-The Providores) is behind this cool Clerkenwell hangout – so expect a roster of eye-opening vegan ingredients on her eclectic global menus, alongside Asian, Antipodean and British flavours. Current vegan-friendly hits include crispy sushi rice with tofu tartare and a salad with grilled cauliflower, saffron-poached quince and pomegranate.
Laid-back, local and open all day – no wonder they called this leisurely chilled-out brasserie Neighbour. Although the revamped seasonal menu is heavy on burgers, there’s always plenty of plant-based stuff on offer – the salads, in particular, are 100 percent vegan (kale and roast sweet potato with avocado, walnuts, chickpeas, tahini and lemon dressing, say). Brunch includes smashed avo and chilli on sourdough.
Like your plates small and your options smaller? Then you’ll love Nest with its seven-dish no-choice seasonal menus, restricted opening times and low-intervention wines. While meat and game are the big players, the dedicated veggie offer can easily be adapted for vegans (just let the guys know in advance). Full marks to Nest’s three fizzingly enthusiastic owners for its cosy neighbourhood vibe, funky soundtrack and Paris-meets-Hackney interiors.
Venue says Join us for Sunday Roasts - built around our In House Meat at the time - currently Yorkshire Beef before we move on to Hogget in February
Walk into this upmarket sit-down sibling of the Ottolenghi deli-café chain in Soho and you’ll always find at least one seasonal vegan salad and main dish on the menu – perhaps roasted onion squash with tahini, pine nuts and za’atar. But give them a couple of days’ notice and they’ll raid the archives for something special to wow you. One thing’s for sure: it’ll never be boring.
This no-bookings joint just off Carnaby Street bashes out small-sized plates of handmade pasta with gutsy sauces. There is vegan and gluten free pasta available, so just ask. Sauces include slow-cooked tomato and wild mushroom with garlic. It’s peak London: staff take orders on iPads, floors are painted concrete and the music is loud and eclectic.
Hold the front page: Pizza Pilgrims’ £6 ‘marinara’ is already 100 percent vegan, and it’s available at every branch of this trendy pie parlour. Using a bespoke PP base that’s proved for 24 to 48 hours, it comes lovingly topped with tomato sauce, olive oil, oregano and garlic. There are olives for nibbling and some of the branches, including in London Bridge and the City, offer carciofi fritti: deep-fried artichoke hearts with rosemary salt.
The London outpost of the UK’s first vegan pizzeria is housed in Camden and offers a range of interesting toppings – from smoked tofu to beetroot carpaccio – on Neapolitan-style, sourdough bases. The restaurant is modern, with a relaxed vibe. Be sure to try the Oreo pizza for dessert, too.
A vegan-friendly restaurant called Rabbit? Really? Yes, this fashionable Chelsea sibling of Notting Hill’s equally brilliant Shed is happy to roll out the green carpet if you ask in advance. Previous dishes have included red endive with black carrot and candied walnut, tempura cabbage crisps and wild mushroom ragù with celeriac and truffles, plus pear, white chocolate and hazelnut sherbet to finish. Not your usual bunny food!
This Fitzrovia restaurant from celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi is full of plant-based options. The small plates menu, in particular, is a vegan gold mine. Lap up the purple sprouted broccoli with peanut sauce, the confit mushrooms and fermented black vinegar or the asparagus with wild garlic. Rovi is something quite special.
This Camden diner serves up hefty portions of US-style junk food. It’s all about the carbs here, with dishes like the Dirty Burger – made using a soya mince patty, fake bacon and cashew cheese – and the Rudy’s Reuben, a vegan version of the classic US über-sandwich usually made with corned beef or pastrami, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. It’s frill-free comfort grub.
Like many of the capital’s coolest restaurants, Sambal Shiok started out as a street food stall. Don’t be put off by the meaty mains, there is still plenty on offer for vegans. Try the laksa with aubergine and sautéed potato, or the rice plate with tofu, shiitake mushrooms and Sichuan pepper. It’s cheap and cheerful: soak up the vibrant colours, effervescent staff and mainstream pop on a loop.
Santo Remedio may be known for its meat, but the Mexican restaurant is also geared for vegans. Many of the vegetarian dishes can be altered to take out animal products (often by removing the cheese), so speak to a member of staff. Sample the hibiscus flower enchilada, or the baby potato tacos with avocado salsa. It’s low-lit and inviting, with a homely feel.
Venue says A vibrant Mexican restaurant with an upstairs tequila and mezcal bar, serving authentic regional Mexican cuisine and cocktails.