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.
Best vegetarian restaurants in London
90° Melt, London E1
If the President of the United States ever arrives in the UK, he might want to visit this east London diner. Run by entrepreneurial ex-banker Nidhi Sharma, the Mile End restaurant serves creative and wholesome vegan versions of American comfort-food classics – think grilled cheese melts, battered corn dogs, cauliflower ‘buffalo’ wings and vegan pancakes (pictured below). But the pièce de résistance of a meat-free meal at 90° Melt is the signature Donald Trump saucy melt, combining house-smoked chipotle sauce, roasted peppers, baby corn, grilled onions and cheese. 90degreemelt.co.uk
Wildflower, London SE15
The kitchen at Wildflower is overseen by head chef Joseph Ryan, who previously cooked at Salon in Brixton Village and Frank’s, the restaurant and bar on the 10th floor of a Peckham multi-storey car park. Located just below Frank’s, Wildflower also commands an equally fine south-facing view over an otherwise unseen aspect of Peckham Rye. The kitchen’s offering centres around affordable, yet highly crafted, vegetarian and vegan food. Among the dishes on the daily-changing menu are coconut dal, onion squash, fried sambal, yogurt and flatbread; soba noodles, pickled red cabbage, szechuan sesame broth, spring onions and mint; and sweet potato and sage gratin, toasted oats, beetroot relish and watercress. wildflowerpeckham.uk
Wulf & Lamb, London SW1
It’s no surprise that Sloane Square vegan restaurant Wulf & Lamb has gained such a big following given head chef Franco Casolin used to work at the groundbreaking vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black. Among Wulf & Lamb’s most popular dishes are the chilli ’non’ carne (made with kidney beans and mushrooms served on herb rice with cashew soured cream and lime) and the Wulf burger, a ‘meaty’ patty made with marinated seitan and cashew aïoli.
“We believe that food should be delicious, guilt-free and make you feel good,” says owner Rosanna von Zweigbergk. “With the growing interest in the benefits of a plant-based diet, more and more people are discovering that vegan food isn’t restrictive or boring but very tasty, indulgent and diverse.” wulfandlamb.com
Temple of Seitan, London E9
With a second site in Camden opening on the back of the success of its pop-ups and the Hackney mothership, Temple of Seitan is a restaurant and takeaway that’s widely regarded as the mother of all plant-based fast-food joints. Since it launched three years ago, Temple of Seitan has gained a fanatical following for its delicious Temple Spicy Burger (crispy seitan fillet, cheese, coleslaw, jalapeños with hot sauce and chipotle mayo) and the proudly poultry-free version of KFC’s double-down fried chicken sandwich. templeofseitan.co.uk
Ethos, London W1W
In a nutshell: A strictly vegetarian, self-service, pay-by-weight dining spot just minutes from Oxford Street.
What’s the vibe like? Nordic décor, a cosy fireplace in one corner, and half a dozen silver birch trees surround the seating area.
What’s the food like? All the cold salads were well-seasoned and interesting – cauliflower triumphs in a creamy tahini dressing; green apple and paper-thin fennel is wonderfully fresh; butternut squash has those gloriously crisp, caramelised edges in a feta and spinach salad; and baba ganoush is earthy, rich and smooth.
Desserts are almost exclusively cake-based, and, unusually, the best are those that completely omit dairy. Try the black bean brownie: vegan and free from both gluten and refined sugars, it has an earthy, treacle-like flavour and the same fudgy texture as a regular brownie.
olive says… Although Ethos serves everything from Korean to Italian, Thai and Japanese food, we didn’t experience any flavour clashes, so pile your plates high.
Marco Casadei opened London’s first ever vegan pie and mash shop in October 2017 and it has been an instant hit. Among the go-to dishes is the seitan and ale pie, a take on the classic steak and ale version, which uses handmade wheat gluten instead of beef. “Young Vegans is all about creating delicious plant-based food that is easily accessible to all, including the most die-hard carnivores,” says Marco. youngvegans.co.uk
The Gate, London W6
From miso-glazed aubergines with toasted cashews to stuffed plantains, the menu at London’s Gate restaurants – in Hammersmith, Islington and Marylebone – could not, in its fusion of global flavours, be any more on-trend. However, its owners, Adrian and Michael Daniel, have been cooking this way since 1989.
For the London-born sons of Indian parents of Iraqi descent, as Michael puts it, “Using chilli and spices is in our DNA. We grew up on a fusion of Arabic and Indian with local influences, so it was easy to mix cuisines”. The Daniels are pioneers in other ways, too: the Gate Islington was the UK’s first accredited, autism-friendly restaurant. 28 years in, they’re as focussed as ever. “If food doesn’t pass my test, it’s not served. If the passion goes, we’re gone.” says Michael. thegaterestaurants.com
Soho Vegan Market, London W1
Want to try the best vegan street food in London? The current enthusiasm for vegan food shows no signs of waning and this new weekly market is bringing plant-based street food to the fore, with a rotation of the best vegan traders in London.
Head to Rupert Street in Soho for Vegals’ smoked carrot and cashew cream cheese bagels, jackfruit tikka masala from Spicebox, and Eat Chay’s chilli lemongrass soya Vietnamese bánh mì baguettes. Saturdays, 11am-4pm. streetfoodunion.com
Mr Falafel, London W12
This simple takeaway-café on Shepherd’s Bush Market dispenses crisp, herb-laden falafel of staggering lightness. Packed into wraps with his zippy pickled veg, delicious additions such as fried cauliflower and dressed with various tahini, garlic and pomegranate syrup sauces, they abound in flavour. mrfalafel.co.uk
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.”
“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.”
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
“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.”
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
Güd, Altrincham, Greater Manchester
In order to cook flavourful vegan food you have to think in a way that’s alien to most chefs. That’s why, says John Waddington, owner of street food stall güd, so few restaurants serve quality vegan food: “You need to pack in flavour because you don’t have all the fats and sugars present in meat and dairy – you have to be creative in achieving a depth of flavour.”
Now a fixture at Altrincham Market, John’s dishes – spiced chickpea and root vegetable stews, Mexican black bean burger – are thrilling local vegans and surprising meat-eaters, too. Not that everyone gets it: “People say ‘this looks nice’, then ‘oh sorry, I’m not vegan’ and walk away. I’m perplexed by that”. gudvegan.co.uk
When it first opened in 2006, Milgi’s owners, sisters Gabrielle and Rebecca Kelly, were fresh out of art school and their bar and restaurant retains a bohemian atmosphere. Milgi went meat-free in 2010 in order to avoid loaded terms such as vegetarian.
“We want to change the perception of what plant-based food can be,” says Gabrielle. Try the seasonal curry, laverbread potato cakes with eggs and steamed greens or the Mexican stack. “We’re as inspired by local Middle Eastern or Indian delis as local ingredients,” says Gabrielle. milgicardiff.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
There are four 1847 restaurants and all offer modish dishes in chic, Scandi-style settings. “We’re not trying to improvise meat or use substitutes. It’s all about the vegetables,” says chef Matty Bowling of dishes that include socca flatbread with mushrooms, chilli yogurt and quinoa, or a potato terrine with charred broccoli, potato dashi, salsa verde and quince. by1847.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
Alley Café, Nottingham
This loft café is intent on stepping lightly on the planet, but it’s far from monastic. By day it serves interesting vegetarian sandwiches (eg. smoked tofu, pesto and artichoke hearts), as well as burritos, burgers and vegan chocolate torte. By night the Alley’s organic wines and beers flow freely as it goes late with comedy, live music and dub sound system specials. alleycafe.co.uk
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 and Tony Naylor
Photographs by Restaurants Brighton, Sarah Koury, Stephanie Gibson, Yoni Choi, Kim Lightbody, Gareth Sambidge