The world is your (faux, of course) oyster when it comes to veggie-centric vacations. From plant-based fine dining to street food hubs selling curry and kimchi, whatever your budget we’ve got the globe’s best vegetarian eating spots covered
Opened in 2017, abcV is a collaboration between chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and homewares store ABC – evident in both the restaurant’s fresh interior design and its ethos of interior wellness. Dishes are vegetarian, non-GM, sustainable and largely organic but also exciting, balancing punch, crunch and colour with feel-good flavours. For breakfast and brunch, there are dosas with sambal or maple syrup; at lunch, cumin-spiced avocado lettuce cups, bowls of ancient grains and Ayurvedic wild rice; for dinner, the angel hair soba in tomato miso, sprinkled with nasturtiums is almost too pretty to eat.
Even all-American junk food has been cleaned and greened in the Big Apple, however. Vegan cafe chain By Chloe, which has seven NYC sites and opens its first London venture this autumn, is strong on burgers, including the tempeh-lentil-chia-walnut Classic. Alternatively, Screamers vegan pizzeria puts a meat-n-dairy-free spin on the traditional New York slice: try the Bianca, which is topped with almond ricotta, pepperoncini and NUMU mozzarella, or the BBQ Jack, which comes topped with vegan cheese, barbecued jackfruit and Canadian fake’n.
Where to stay: Recently opened 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is committedly eco-luxe: 54% built from reclaimed materials and 100% wind-powered, there’s a plant wall in the lobby and hemp mattresses in every room; its cafe is largely veggie too. Sleek doubles cost from $299, excluding breakfast. More info: nycgo.com
Not so much a classy vegetarian restaurant as just a classy restaurant Vanilla Black (read our full review here) has made its name by pushing the boundaries of plant-based fine dining. The fact its dishes are meat-free is secondary to their taste, texture and general deliciousness. The sceptical should try a multi-course menu, perhaps running from cucumber, sticky rice and ginger purée via cauliflower dumplings to cep mushroom fudge. If you can’t bag a table here, try Mildreds, the great aunt of London green-but-good eating, which was serving interesting veggie food long before anyone thought to smash an avocado. The Soho restaurant original opened in 1988 and has since been joined by other branches; the latest, a thoroughly modern glass-and-concrete joint, opened in Dalston earlier this summer. Globally-inspired offerings include Vietnamese mock duck and southern deep-fried buttermilk ‘chicken’.
For veggie grazing on the run, head to the Barbican’s Whitecross Street Market. The Buddha Bowl van parks up most Thursdays and Fridays, serving hearty, healthy tubs of massaman curry, carrot and kimchi pickle, flash-steamed greens, organic brown rice and (optional) halloumi. If the queue’s too long, try the Turkish breads and roast-veg wraps at The Iskele or the fresh, daily-varying salads at Sunny’s Olive Tree.
Where to stay: Hyde Park’s La Suite West is fully meat-n-dairy-free; you can even order an alternative cream tea, with vegan finger sandwiches and scones with coconut cream. Double rooms cost from £151, b&b (lasuitewest.com). More info: visitlondon.com
“Veggie for veggies, veggie for non-veggies”. That’s the mantra of The Green Spot, which has made it chic to shun meat in more-usually-carnivorous Catalonia. The calm, airy dining space – designed by Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld – is a minimalist theatre in which vibrant veg dishes dazzle: sweet potato tagliatelle with macadamia nut sauce, purple carrot salad with papaya and feta, wood-fired Indian black pizza, and kimchi quesadillas.
Also worth seeking out is Teresa Carles. The name behind the brand is a one-woman food revolution, having spent over 30 years concocting healthier, meat-free versions of her traditional family recipes. She now runs a handful of restaurants in Spain. Her eponymous Cocina Vegetariana serves good value tapas (pickled plant-based tuna; lotus-flower chips) as well as specialities such as the Mar & Mountain, a plate of quorn and boletus edulis meatballs with coconut ‘calamari’ and a ratafía-tinged sauce. In contrast, Carles’ Flax & Kale outlet caters to flexitarians – the menu is 80% veggie, 20% oily fish, such as bacalao negro with Teresa’s signature black-garlic dashi.
Where to stay: Azul B&B occupies a handsome modernist building in the heart of Eixample, complete with high ceilings, big windows and beautifully tiled floors. Its biological breakfasts burst with fresh fruits and salads speckled with herbs from the garden; the owners run cookery courses too. Double rooms cost from £64, b&b. More info: barcelonaturisme.com
In 2017, Brussels’ cool cocktail speakeasy, Hortense, took its mastery of mixology into the kitchen, hooking up with chef Nicolas Decloedt to open Humus & Hortense. This gilt-edged grand-cafe-style space serves a seasonal, organic, fully plant-based twist on traditional Belgian fine dining. The full monty is a six-course tasting menu (especially if you add on wine and cocktail pairing) that might include refreshing cucumber and elderflower escabeche, aubergine with fermented cream, smokey meat-like roasted radicchio and shiitake, and butternut panna cotta. The signature crackers, made from ancient varieties of wheat, and served with pumpkin humus and purple salsify, are worth the trip alone. Decloedt also participates in Le Brunch Clubs, which see seven city chefs create a unique vegetarian tasting menu (see brusselskitchen.com for future events).
At the more casual end of the scale Moonfood, with its big windows flooding a Scandi-vibed den of wood and concrete, is Brussels’ first vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, organic cafe. It’s self-serve, and you pay by weight, making it easy to try a bit of everything, from veg lasagne (raw courgette layered with tomato pesto and macadamias) to fat slabs of pistachio matcha crumble and ‘white chocolate’ cake.
Where to stay: Chyl is a sustainable shop (refill your own bags and jars) and veggie café that’s taken its ethos upstairs, opening simple guest rooms furnished with organic sheets and natural fabrics. Double rooms cost from £63, excluding breakfast. More info: visit.brussels/en
Despite its reputation as rather cream tea-obsessed, elegant Bath has long been a bucket-list weekend destination for veggies since its home to specialist local cook school Demuths and its range of vegan and vegetarian courses (also check out our guide to independent restaurants and cafes in Bath here). Praise indeed: at its 20th Anniversary Awards, vegan organisation Viva! voted Acorn the UK’s best Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurant. Dining here is impeccably fine, and creative. Care is lavished on every ingredient: ‘donkey carrots’ – traditionally supposed fit only for mules – are slow-cooked and fire-charred into a gourmet starter; Wye Valley asparagus with mushroom parfait holds its own as a main; a cep linguine with truffle cream leaves you wondering why anyone eats meat at all.
Things are a little more rustic but no less more-ish at Beyond The Kale’s two outlets; stop by for a breakfast bowl, an organic juice, a slice of tomato and basil tart with cashew cream cheese or a satisfying wodge of plum and ginger cake with whipped coconut cream frosting.
If it’s a spice kick you’re after, however, make your way to Indian Temptation, an all-veggie subcontinental restaurant. Its generous Temptation Thali is good for the indecisive: steamed idli and a crisp masala dosa come with a range of tangy curries and dips, including garlicky spinach and sambar. Add the bhel poori, a crunchy salad of puffed rice, vegetables and chutneys, if you have room.
Where to stay: Berdoulat & Breakfast occupies a handsome Georgian townhouse, restored with impeccable attention to detail. The Turkish breakfast – including pomegranate salad, flaky feta pastries, figs and grilled halloumi – is an innovative morning treat for veggies. Double rooms cost from £165, b&b. More info: visitbath.co.uk