London’s Best Vegan Friendly Restaurants
Last Updated: 15th April 2019 | Main Image: The Spread Eagle
Veganism has been leafing quite a mark on the London restaurant and bar scene of late.
Gone are the days where wanting to avoid animal products meant that you probably wanted to avoid eating out all-together. Or when it was just vegetarian Mildred’s and The Gate keeping people fed. Now over half a million people aged 15 or over would class themselves as vegan, and the food scene is taking note.
It’s not even that there are more exclusively vegan restaurants (although there definitely are), it’s also that chefs are quietly adapting their menus to include more vegan options. Should you wish, you can sit alongside your meat-eating friends, and enjoy babaganoush and M’sabacha chickpeas with a thick wedge of warm, fluffy Kubaneh bread at The Palomar; or an intricately spiced chickpea curry with a side of pickles and basmati rice at Dishoom. All of a sudden, our animal-free friends are faced with actual choice, and lots of it.
As well as all the newfound anxiety that can bring.
So, with the hope of making things a little easier – at least with where to go – we’ve written a list of our favourite vegan restaurants in London right now. With the hopes of appealing to all preferences we’ve split things up into exclusively vegan restaurants, vegetarian restaurants great for vegans, and meat serving restaurants also dishing up some pretty tasty fare.
EXCLUSIVELY VEGAN RESTAURANTS:
Itadaki Zen | King’s Cross
Sometimes life can get a little bento out of shape, although it’s rarely something a trip to Japanese Itadaki Zen can’t fix. As the name suggests (Itadaki which means ‘to take the food life’, and Zen which means ‘to fix’) the restaurant was built from a belief in the medicinal value of plants and plant-based food, both for your body and for your mind. And so, from their clean-cut wooden space in King’s Cross, they serve up a menu of animal-free Japanese dishes like their vegetable spring rolls (specially made with Okara, making them easier on your stomach); marinated seaweed; homemade kimchi; and mixed vegetable tempura. Alternatively, if you’re in the market for something a little more substantial, they have a number of set menus to choose from, curated around a signature dish. For instance the Tempura Course which includes a stater chosen that day by the chef, a six piece sushi selection, mixed vegetable tempura as your main, and a dessert. For drinks they have a very select number of wines and beer, as well as Baekse-ju, a fermented rice-based drink boasting an impressive ten different oriental herbs. Talk about decadent.
Address: 139 King’s Cross Rd, WC1X 9BJ | Opening times: Mon, 6-1opm; Tues-Fri, 12-10pm; Sat, 6-10pm; Sunday, closed | You can find out more or make a booking via their website here.
Club Mexicana at The Spread Eagle | Homerton
Oof, as the name suggests, it’s a vegan fiesta. It’s London’s first 100% vegan pub – which means not only is all of their food entirely plant-based, their drinks, fixtures, and fittings are too. It’s actually one of London’s oldest pubs, however in 2018 it had a refurb and it’s now also one of the best looking. Byzantine blue walls are complemented by mustard velvet sofas, and a mosaic of pictures hung up in gilded frames. You can grab a pint, or a glass of red wine and prop yourself up on a velvet stool at their big central bar, or pop a squat at one of their slightly more intimate tables should you prefer. Wherever you are, however, you’re free to feast on the Mexican-inspired menu including deep-fried avocado with a miso-lime dip; baja tofish (a sort of vegan fish finger) with pickled cabbage, salsa verde, sour cream and chillies; or MFC (Mexican-fried chick’n) tortas (burger) with mustard mayo, pickled cabbage & dill. Desserts include a lemon and blueberry taco stack (fried corn tortillas with whipped vanilla cream, lemon curd and blueberry coulis); their chilli chocolate muffin (with peanut caramel sauce and whipped cream); or deep fried ice cream. All of which we’d recommend. And then a nap…spread eagled.
You can read more about Club Mexicana at The Spread Eagle here.
Address: 224 Homerton High Street, E9 6AS | Opening times: Mon-Thurs 4-11pm; Fri 4pm-2am; Sat 12pm-2am; Sun 12-10.30pm | You can find out more, or make a booking, via their website here.
Black Cat Cafe | Hackney
Photo credit: Charlie and Freya
If you’re Vegan and you happen to cross paths with Black Cat Cafe you’re in nothing but good luck. It’s a friendly, unpretentious place that in more ways than one feels more like a community space over a restaurant. As well as a number of very simple wooden tables which run in strips down the middle (and which, should you choose to sit there, you’re likely to end up sharing), you’ll find a bookshop in the corner selling fanzines, political literature, and vegan cookery books. The all white-walls are also awash with multi-coloured flyers about the local area. Those trombone lessons you wanted to start…sorted. It opens mid-morning so it’s perfect for a coffee and a vegan pastry, otherwise they stay open past dinner offering a selection of sandwiches, salads, and soups; as well as long list of larger, heartier dishes like burgers, curries, lasagnes, pot pies, and pasta bakes (leaves and hand-cut chips included). Top it all off with a vegan cookie or thick slice of cake for dessert and you’ll probably be just about ready for a cat nap.
Address: 76A Clarence Road, E5 8HB | Opening times: Mon-Fri, 10am-9pm; Sat, 11am-9pm; Sun, 11am-8am | You can find out more or make a booking via their website here.
VEGETARIAN RESTAURANTS, ALSO GREAT FOR VEGANS:
Mildreds | Various
Here is where it all ve-gan. Or at least it was in 1988, in Soho, that restaurateurs Diane Thomas and Jane Muir took on the challenge of transforming London’s rather backwards (and brown) vegetarian food scene into something a little more….palatable. They took on a former sex club (fit with an S&M padded cell in the basement) and were given six months. However thirty years and four sites later (Soho, Camden, King’s Cross, and Dalston), they’re still one of London’s best Vegetarian – and now vegan – restaurants. The spaces are relaxed, brightly lit with a lot of wood and leafy greens. Cuisine-wise they span many a continent offering everything from Persian spiced chickpeas with tomato black lime and rose petal harissa, to Sri Lankan sweet potato curry with green beans, roasted lime cashews, pea basmati rice, and coconut tomato sambal. They also have a pretty spectacular vegan dessert menu, with toffee apple crumble and peanut butter, caramel, and dark chocolate swirl brownie as highlights. Elasticated waistbands recommended if you will.
You can read more about Mildreds Dalston here.
Address: Camden: 9 Jamestown Road, NW1 7BW; King’s Cross: 200 Pentonville Road, N1 9JP; Soho: 45 Lexington Street, W1F 9AN; Dalston: 1 Dalston Square, E8 3GU | Opening times: varies across the sites | You can find out more, or make a booking, via their website here.
The Gate | Various
Welcome to the vegetarian pearly gates: Hammersmith, Islington, St. John’s Wood and Marylebone, all of which also do a expert job at vegan-friendly fare. Space-wise they’re all pretty laid-back, brightly-lit, and bistro-esque. Islington in particular stands out, with its handsome wood-slatted bar, surrounded by gun metal stools and hanging filament lights. Food-wise, you’re pretty spoilt for choice. Not only does the menu span cuisines (Asian, Mexican, Indian, and more), every dish is also meticulously thought out and beautifully presented. Like their Sumac Aubergine Schnitzel, a grilled aubergine stuffed full of caramelised shallots; and then topped with preserved lemon, chilli, and coriander and sprinkled with flaked almonds, before being served alongside a beetroot and chickpea salsa and Yemeni chilli sauce. For dessert they have vegan takes on mille-feuille (layers of puff pastry and custard), tiramisu, and peanut butter brownie. Plus they do brunch and Sunday lunch, both so good you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven.
You can read more about The Gate Marylebone here.
Address: Islington: 370 St John Street, EC1V 4NN; Marylebone: 22-24 Seymour Place, W1H 7NL; Hammersmith: 51 Queen Caroline Street, W6 9QL; St. John’s Wood: 87 Allitsen Road, NW8 7AS | Opening times: varies across all sites | You can find out more, or make a booking, via their website here.
MEAT SERVING RESTAURANTS, SERVING PLENTY OF VEGAN DISHES
The Palomar | Soho
It’s like speed dating with a line-up of incredibly talented chefs, except they’re doing all the impressing – chopping, grilling, and plating for your enjoyment – while you just sit, propped up at the 16-seater zinc bar, feeling fabulous. You might kick things off with that Kubaneh bread with tomato and tahini, or a plate of babaganoush, embellished with coriander and pomegranate seeds. Their M’sabacha chickpeas are vegan, served with a drizzle of tahini and zhug, as well as their their fattoush salad of tomatoes, cucumber, and sumac. Of course, as per most first dates, you’ll probably be reaching for the drinks list – where you’ll find plenty of delicious-sounding tipples like their ‘Au Revoir Shoshana’ of gin, pink grapefruit, rose sherbet, lemon juice, sumac tincture, and soda water.
You can read more about The Palomar here.
Address: 34 Rupert Street, W1D 6DN | Opening times: Mon-Sat 12-11pm; Sun 12.30-9pm | You can find out more, or make a booking, via their website here.
Honey & Co. | Fitzrovia
It’s a husband and wife-run Middle-Eastern joint in Fitzrovia. Itamar Srulovich (the husband) previously worked at Ottolenghi, whilst Sarit Packer (the wife) worked at Nopi before they decided to set up on their own. The restaurant is pretty simple: tables, chairs…the usual eating out kind of stuff; although the bright blue floor tiles and wall of pickles upon pickles give you a little taster of the exciting things to come. Style-wise it’s small plates, shared among the table, with vegan highlights including Yemeni-style falafel with tomatoes and tahini; creamy hummus with flatbreads; carrots with orange, pistachio tahini, and coriander; and roasted mauve aubergine with a BBQ crust, jewelled rice salad, and lime.
Address: 25 Warren Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 5LZ | Opening times: Mon-Fri 8am-10.30pm, Sat 9.30am-10.30pm, Sun closed | You can find out more, or make a booking, via their website here.
Dishoom | Various
Photo credit: John Carey
All restaurants need to take a leaf out of Dishoom’s book. They’re on it with dietary requirements. Gluten-free, nut-free, animal-free. And all-anxiety free. In fact, forget the days of foraging for a Ve in small print, instead they have an entirely separate menu detailing exactly what works for you. Like their vegetable samosa (pea, potato, cinnamon, and cloves); Chloe-Chawal (spiced chickpea curry with basmati rice); and Crunchy Pomelo Salad (kale, pink pomelo, pistachios, mint, coriander, and date and tamarind chutney), all of which can be found all over London at every one of their now five sites.
You can read more about Dishoom here.
Address: Kensington: 4 Derry Street, W8 5SE; Shoreditch: 7 Boundary Street, E2 7JE; King’s Cross: 5 Stable Street, N1C 4AB; Carnaby: 22 Kingly Street, W1B 5QP; Covent Garden: 12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9FB | Opening times: varies across sites | You can find out more, or make a booking, via their website here.
Sushisamba | Liverpool Street & Covent Garden
Surprisingly for a restaurant with sushi in its name, Sushisamba is also rollin’ with the rising numbers of vegan folk these days, with a dedicated menu to save you sifting through the usual sheet. Edamame beans with volcanic salt; heritage carrot and asparagus ceviche with olive oil caviar; and Moqueca Mista (coconut and lime vegetable curry with chimichurri rice), are just a few of the dishes you’ll have to choose from. All with a 360 degree view of the city on the side.
You can read more about Sushisamba in the City here and Covent Garden here.
Address: The City: 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY; Covent Garden: 35 The Market, WC2E 8RF | Opening times: varies between sites | You can find out more, or make a booking, via their website here.
Foxlow | Balham & Clerkenwell
Once upon a time there was Foxlow, he was vegan and couldn’t find anything animal-free to eat. Until World Vegan Month when his loyal friends the chefs decided to celebrate with a vegan exclusive menu, much of which has stayed around for good. Like their beetroot, orange and spelt salad with dill and almond yogurt, and the spice-roasted cauliflower with chickpeas, wilted spinach and curried aubergine sauce, all of which you can eat at any of their three slickly-designed restaurants. With the clink of a knife and fork, Foxlow became Foxhigh, and they all lived happily ever after.
Address: Balham: 15-19 Bedford Hill, SW12 9EX; Clerkenwell: 69–73 St John Street, EC1M 4AN | Opening times: varies between sites | You can find out more, or make a booking, via their website here.
Throw your hands in the air and tapas your feet, because Brindisa – Battersea, Soho, Shoreditch, London Bridge aaand South Kensington – has cooking sin animal down to a V. You can book yourself in for lunch or dinner at one of their laid-back, very cool eateries (concrete walls, terracotta tiles, and potted plants) and feast on some padrón peppers and hand-stuffed green olives with fresh orange & oregano to start. Next, they have a number of delicious salads like their Escalivada of roast aubergine, peppers, and onions with a black olive dressing, and their Calabaza y Zanahoria of pumpkin, heritage carrots, and crispy shallots with a chestnut and honey dressing, both of which you can mop up with a mix of toasted breads topped with fresh herbs, tomato, and olive oil. There’s also fried aubergine dipped in honey, patatas bravas (of course) and much more. And, from January to March, they offer a vegan Calçotada feasting menu in honour of the renowned Catalan tradition – a big boozy affair in recognition of the humble calçot onion. You can celebrate across all six sites, eating vegan food, knocking back cocktails, and generally – ahem – tearing it up…
You can find out more, or make a booking, via their website here.
Main image: Club Mexicana at The Spread Eagle | Credit: Jade and Nina Sarkhel
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