The best vegetarian restaurants in London

The best vegetarian restaurants in London

London’s restaurant scene has come a long way since the days when a token vegetarian dish would lurk somewhere towards the bottom of a menu. Today, the British capital is one of the easiest cities in the world to get a meat-free feast, with a whole crop of cafes and restaurants singing the praises of wholesome, tasty vegetarian fayre.

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The predominantly herbivorous menu of Farm Girl is an excellent example. Having crossed the globe from its Melbourne birthplace, this small chain (with four London outlets) provides cheery interior spaces in which to sample their tropically-inspired all-day breakfasts, including the oft-mentioned acai bowl. Lunch offerings include the coconut ‘BLT’ sandwich, jackfruit tacos, and chicken (yes, chicken) ‘schnitz’. Effortlessly switching between daytime café and evening wine bar, The Hive Wellbeing in East London’s Bethnal Green focusses on simple food matches. The chefs use organic produce to create great flavoursome dishes worth sampling on their own merit rather than just their eco-credentials. By day, try the on-trend mashed avocado on toasted sourdough, while by night pick from the bar’s impressive number of organic and biodynamic wines, and a handful of craft beers too.

Farm Girl

Farm Girl

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Offering soul food with a difference, the food at 222 Vegan Cuisine is low-fat, low-salt, and freshly-prepared to order

Photo: Brooke Lark

Photo: Brooke Lark

Kensington’s 222 Vegan Cuisine, as you might already suspect, is not only vegetarian but fully vegan. Offering soul food with a difference, the food is low-fat, low-salt, and freshly-prepared to order. The popular lunchtime buffet is a good way of checking out what exactly the kitchen here can create, be it the chef’s special vegetable stir-fry, pumpkin noodle salad, or dairy-free chocolate torte for those with a sweet tooth. Europe’s first organic and vegan Japanese restaurant, Itadakizen, close to King’s Cross Station, has an authentic wooden interior that manages to wipe away the hubbub of its central London location. As with 222 Vegan Cuisine, all the food is prepared by hand and comes exquisitely plated, leaning heavily on root vegetables, and soya. Palm Vaults in Hackney, meanwhile, is an independent café with a full gambit of veggie favourites on its menu, from cooked breakfasts and spinach dhals to cakes and nut-milk coffees. The pastel interior is brightened by the plant-clad ceiling and the half a dozen freshly baked cakes that adorn the countertop. With more variants of hot chocolate than you have fingers on one hand (and double that in loose-leaf teas and dairy-free coffees) Palm Vaults is also a fair bet for a quick and quirky caffeine hit.

Photo: Eiliv Sonas

Photo: Eiliv Sonas

Photo: Louis Hansel

Photo: Louis Hansel

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It’s a hard-hearted person that spots the sign for Snackistan inside Persepolis Persian delicatessen in Peckham and doesn’t crack a smile. This ever-busy café bustles with a clientele that varies between traditionally-robed Afghan expats and hipster office workers.  It’s particularly popular as a lunchtime haunt thanks to its tasty wraps and meze offerings, which expand on the Iranian theme to incorporate dishes from across the Middle East and North Africa. It may be small, and it may have origins in Switzerland, but the menu at Tibits is an expansive one that spans the world, making it more than a match for larger competitors around Mayfair and Bankside. The nettle soup may not be everyone’s cup of tea (as it were), but there are also a whole host of dishes that don’t automatically shout ‘veggie’ or ‘vegan’, including pesto gnocchi, mac and greens (Tibits’ take on macaroni and cheese), and focaccia with anchovies, olives, and fresh rocket.

Photo: Ella Olsson

Photo: Ella Olsson

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Wild Food Café specialises in natural plant foods – ingredients harvested by foragers who minimalize any damage to the environment

With a restaurant in Neal’s Yard (Covent Garden) and another in Islington, Wild Food Café specialises in natural plant foods – ingredients harvested by foragers who minimalize any damage to the environment. But if this makes the Wild Food Café sound holier than thou, be assured that while its dishes are heavenly, you won’t be expected to abandon your leather shoes at the door. Instead, you’ll find a shortlist of pizzas, sides, and mains, including courgette pappardelle pasta, and a Mayan salad of quinoa, smoked coconut chips and activated walnuts. It would be difficult to get more central than Holborn’s Vanilla Black, which has one of the most varied menus of any London vegetarian restaurant. Incredibly vegan-friendly –  half of the menu items are free from animal products – Vanilla Black certainly adds a touch of class to proceedings, going as far as offering a five-course tasting menu. Not to be confused with Damien Hurst’s now-defunct restaurant Pharmacy, Farmacy in Notting Hill promises ‘eating as nature intended’. What this means in practice is a menu free from additives, refined sugars, and chemicals, which includes veggie classics such as the black bean and mushroom burger, and garden green pesto with spelt spaghetti.

Vanilla Black

Vanilla Black

Vanilla Black

Vanilla Black

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