Looking for vegetarian restaurants in the UK? Want to find the best vegan restaurants in London? Read our expert foodie guide to the best plant based restaurants in the UK serving vegetarian and vegan menus. Starting with London’s best vegetarian restaurants, moving on to the best from the UK, including The Allotment in Stockport, Root in Bristol and Forest Side in Cumbria.
Click the link above for the best meat-free restaurants in the capital, with a few of our favourites highlighted below.
Bubala, London E1 (Spitalfields) – for Middle Eastern vegetarian small plates
Chantelle Nicholson at Tredwell’s (Covent Garden) – for vegan tasting menu
Genesis, London E1 (Shoreditch) – for vegan fast food
Best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the UK
Acorn Vegetarian kitchen, Bath
I think plant-based food is so popular right now because some really talented people are suddenly making it attractive and tasty,” says Bath-based chef Richard Buckley. “After years of poorly made curries and bowls of mush, you can finally get fresh, delicious food in nearly every city and it just happens to be made from plants.”
Plant-based recipes take centre stage in Richard’s new vegetarian cookbook featuring recipes from his award winning Bath restaurant Acorn (check out our guide to some of the best places to eat and drink in Bath) – from roast Jerusalem artichoke with sunflower seed butter and pink grapefruit to cauliflower heart with almond beignet and white truffle. Richard believes that plants deserve to be given the royal treatment and to be served with the sophistication so often missing from plant-based cuisine.
“We believe plants are the most delicious and nutritious part of any meal,” says Richard. “We focus all of our creative energy on creating the most intelligent, lip-smacking, innovative plant-based dishes we can. We start with the plant and dig deep into its make-up to find interesting ways to serve it as a meal.”
acornvegetariankitchen.co.uk; Plants Taste Better by Richard Buckley is published in March (£25, Jacqui Small).
Owned by chef Josh Eggleton, of Michelin-starred pub The Pony & Trap in Somerset, shipping-container restaurant Root puts 13 vegetable dishes at the forefront of its seasonal menu, with two meat and four fish options, almost as an aside. Head chef Rob Howells says: “The emphasis is no frills and simplicity, taking the key component and using as much as possible so there’s no waste at all or very little. With increasingly diet-conscious and food-aware diners, plant-led diets will become increasingly commonplace.”
Purezza opened in Brighton (read our foodie guide to the best places to eat in Brighton, here) in 2015 as the UK’s first vegan pizzeria and it has become so popular with vegans (and non-vegans), that owners Tim Barclay and Stefania Evangelista have recently opened a second site in Camden. The couple started Purezza simply because they couldn’t find decent Italian vegan food but they also identified the growing trend of people reducing their meat consumption and a greater awareness of where food is coming from. As well as meat-free pasta dishes and burgers, Purezza serves 15 different wood-fired pizzas made with hemp flour doughs and a low-fat mozzarella-style vegan cheese the owners developed using a blend of organic Italian brown rice, chickpeas and oil. purezza.co.uk
The Allotment, Stockport
“Our aim is to give people an extraordinary meal and experience using the finest local vegetables,” says Matthew Nutter, chef/owner of The Allotment, a vegan restaurant in Stockport’s Old Town. Bestsellers include a shiitake mushroom parfait with pickled red onion, and a confit aubergine with pomme purée, jus and oyster mushroom.
Matthew says: “For both dishes, I wanted to create a meaty nostalgia in the average meat eater. The shiitake parfait was developed over three years, using the techniques used to make a chicken liver parfait. The aubergine took two years to perfect, and again the idea was to provide customers with a peppered steak texture and taste while eating a plant-based main course.” allotmentvegan.co.uk
Stem and Glory, Cambridge
For the best plant-based food in Cambridge, make a detour down a residential road to reach Stem and Glory. The bright space dotted with white tables and plants gives a vibe as fresh as the food on offer. For something hearty order the Keralan curry with chunks of roasted cauliflower in a rich tomato and coconut sauce, served with sweet raw carrot and coriander ‘rice’.
Small sharing plates are spot on, from a warm salad of golden beets, charred baby gem and sweet orange and mint dressing, to smoky aubergine with fragrant quinoa tabbouleh.
Desserts are not to be missed, so order a slice of the raw blueberry and banana cheesecake packed with nuts and dates to takeaway, or dig into the well-balanced blood orange cake soaked generously in maple syrup and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and creamy soy yogurt.
Book ahead for lunch on a Sunday when the restaurant buzzes with families tucking into their signature hazelnut and mushroom nut roast served with sweet maple roasted parsnips and spiced red cabbage.
Forest Side, Grasmere, Cumbria
“Vegetables, herbs and fruits are the real stars of any dish – everything else on the plate has a role to play but they are only extras to the leading lights found growing in our kitchen garden, local hedgerows, coasts and forests.” That’s the cooking philosophy of Kevin Tickle, the head chef at Michelin-starred Forest Side on the road from Grasmere to Keswick.
Cumbrian-born Kevin’s food is clean, modern and precise, with the majority of vegetables travelling only a few steps from the hotel’s kitchen garden. “Plant-based cookery isn’t a fad for me, it is at the heart of my cooking,” says Kevin, who used to cook at nearby L’Enclume. Among the dishes on his vegetarian dinner menu at Forest Side are burnt kale, horseradish, kohlrabi and pickled green walnuts, and charred alliums, smoked potato custard and toasted oats. “Vegetables are always my starting point,” says Kevin. “Everything else is paired with them. Vegetables are the seasonal elements of any dish – their texture, taste and look can make or break a plate of food.” theforestside.com
Award-winning Glasgow café/bar and music venue Mono celebrated its 15th birthday at the end of 2017, and the team was humbled by the attention the anniversary attracted, according to general manager Ian Crawford, who’s also head honcho of the El Rancho record label. With a menu including tofu ‘fish’ and chips, jerk-spiced jackfruit burritos and vegan mac ’n’ cheese, all food at Mono is free from animal produce, right down to the raw chocolate and avocado cheesecake.
“From day one, our ethos was, and still is, to promote an alternative choice to a meat and dairy diet without shouting about it or being exclusive,” says Ian. “With the rise in veganism around the world, and in particular in Glasgow (read our guide to the best places to eat in Glasgow, here), the choice and options for vegans is incredible and we believe that plant-based diets will continue to grow and ethical businesses will flourish.”monocafebar.com
This legendary restaurant has been serving 100% vegan and vegetarian food since it opened in 1962. General manager Barrie Henderson has seen a huge growth in interest in vegan food, particularly over the past five years. He says: “Many people are switching to more sustainable food sources.”
His bestselling dishes include butternut squash stuffed with herbs and pearl barley, served with garlic-creamed spinach and sautéed cavolo nero, and a vegan Thai crêpe filled with red lentil pâté, bean sprouts, smoked tofu, sugar snap peas and baby corn. hendersonsofedinburgh.co.uk
The Warehouse Café, Birmingham
On the first floor of a converted warehouse near Birmingham’s Moor Street railway station (here’s our foodie guide to Birmingham), this eco-friendly café is also committed to sustainability and recycling – it even has a scheme using allotment produce gifted by customers. A not-for-profit social enterprise that serves vegan and vegetarian food, it has been a feature in Birmingham for 30 years and has recently moved to bigger premises in the same building due to its growing popularity. The Warehouse Café’s most popular dishes include halloumi ‘fish’ and chips, and a katsu curry of black sticky rice, shiitake mushrooms, roasted butternut squash and panko-battered tofu. thewarehousecafe.com
Anna Loka, Cardiff
In Sanskrit, Anna Loka means something like ‘food health’ and this vegan restaurant sticks to that mantra by sourcing ethical, cruelty-free ingredients and making everything in-house. Owner/chef Adam El Tagoury is a Hare Krishna monk whose beliefs extend to prioritising nutrition and flavour. As well as meat-free burgers and Buddha bowls, he also serves dishes such as beetroot carpaccio with celeriac remoulade and walnuts, and pan-fried seitan with mustard-seed mash, wilted greens and sage jus. anna-loka.com
Paradise Palms, Edinburgh
A live music and leftfield cabaret lounge, a cocktail dive and record shop, this neon-lit space ploughs its own furrow. In food, too. As lifelong vegetarians, Paradise Palms’ owners, half-brothers Trystan O’Brien and Andrew Rennie, were determined to create a meat-free menu as indulgent as the filthiest ‘dude food’. “It’s close to our hearts, environmentally right, and we very much wanted to show that vegan and vegetarian food can be as naughty as anything,” says Trystan.
Hence their soul-food-inspired menu of BBQ pulled jackfruit subs, chipotle mac ‘n’ cheese and southern fried halloumi. “Soul food has its roots in a plant-based diet,” says Trystan. The drinks list is almost entirely vegan or vegetarian, too. Paradise only stocks two products that use isinglass, the fish product used to clear beers and wines: “We do an almond milk White Russian and no animals are harmed in the making of our Buckfast daiquiris.” theparadisepalms.com
It has the same communal benches, bar-ordering and top craft beers, but Bundobust’s second site – a large basement with gritty atrium views of the surrounding city centre – differs from the Leeds original in more than just location. “We started as a bar that does food but, in Manchester, we’re definitely a restaurant,” says co-founder Mark Husak.
This emphasis on food is testament to the skill of head chef, Mayur Patel. His menu of Gujarati snacks and dishes is at another level. The chaat (samosa, chickpeas, potato and more, bound in a sweet ‘n’ sour tamarind chutney) or the Bundobust tarka daal, have such depth of flavour that Mark says, “Some meat-eaters don’t realise there’s no meat until they finish their meal.” bundobust.com
Andy Rea is the culinary brains behind the Mourne Seafood Bar restaurants, but while Home, which he owns with Steve Haller, uses some meat, its vegetarian and vegan menus make it a flexitarian’s dream. “We wanted veggie dishes to be the star,” says Steve. The kitchen’s mantra is: “Source local and use global influences.”
Cheeses from County Tyrone’s Five Mile Town or Abernethy butter feed into dishes such as salt and chilli tofu with miso slaw or kale and quinoa tabbouleh with aubergine and mint yogurt. “Home embraces cultures where veggie food is the staple diet,” says Steve. homebelfast.co.uk
Quince & Medlar, Cockermouth
When Colin and Louisa Le Voi bought Quince & Medlar in 1989 it created a stir. “Everyone thought we were nuts to buy a vegetarian restaurant,” recalls Colin. But 28 years later, the restaurant is still here.
The Le Vois trained at legendary Lake District hotel Sharrow Bay, but were relative novices in vegetarian cooking when they took charge. “It’s been a wonderful meat-free adventure,” says Colin. Try his cheese and mushroom pâté soufflé or baked beets, borlotti and horseradish under a herby suet top with wasabi mooli halloumi. quinceandmedlar.co.uk
The first time olive ate at Saramago – an airy, fetching atrium café in Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts – it took several minutes of reading the menu to realise it is actually vegetarian. “We feel that good food is good food regardless of whether it’s animal-free or not,” says general manager Lisa Bolland.
Consequently, Saramago (named after the Portuguese communist writer José Saramago), doesn’t feel obliged to shout about its meat-free menu. It asks diners to judge it on the quality of its excellent, globally-inspired small plates such as roasted cauliflower with salsa verde or griddled leeks with romesco sauce. “Lots of vegetables are under-celebrated and classed as sides. Small plates allow us to showcase them in inventive ways,” says Lisa. cca-glasgow.com
Planet India, Brighton & Hove
The Rupani family’s sensational vegetarian food is available at its original Brighton café – a comfortable, colourful bolthole full of trinkets and holiday snaps – and its grander, still quirky Hove restaurant. Go for the pea and paneer curry or the legendary dhai bhel puri. planetindia.co.uk
Words by Mark Taylor, Tony Naylor and Ellie Edwards
Photographs by Restaurants Brighton, Sarah Koury, Stephanie Gibson, Yoni Choi, Kim Lightbody, Gareth Sambidge