egan food, once something apparently for joss stick-burning, tie dye-wearing folk, is now proving itself to be more than just a rehashed millennial fad, and with even the most obstinate meat eaters curious to give it a go, it looks like it’s here to stay.
These days, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to fully vegan and vegetarian restaurants, especially in the capital. The question is no longer “where?” but “which?” and for the past few years, @thisvegancity have been pulling together their favourite finds.
Here, the two hungry vegans behind the guide, Laura Pearson and Emma Ewbank, have narrowed down their tried-and-tested list of the best vegan restaurants in London to their 25 favourites. Tuck in.
Put the Deliveroo app down, get out of your trackies, put on something fancy and get ready for a truly special dining experience at Gauthier Soho. Alexis Gauthier, known for his work on MasterChef and who for years held a star at his eponymous restaurant, confessed his midlife crisis could have resulted in him purchasing a Harley Davidson but, instead, he decided to go vegan and turn his already successful fine dining restaurant into something fully plant-based. With a 10-course tasting menu, expect to be wowed with strawberry and aquafaba “cloud” candy floss — blow-torched before your very eyes — lovage and pea sorbet arriving on a bed of dry ice, and black truffle berlingot, which is supremely silky.
Overdone it on the vegan junk food? Redeem yourself at Redemption. Now in two locations, including Covent Garden, it offers an eclectic menu and playful mocktails. Choose from the array of healthy bowls, risottos, pulled jackfruit, sweet corn fritters to name a few. You can eat alfresco if the weather allows, as the back of the restaurant glass doors are flung wide open in the summer, with diners spilling out onto the pretty courtyard of Neals Yard.
Stem & Glory
In the heart of the City, with its clean, light, Danish-inspired interior, this restaurant plucks flavours from around the world. Start your journey with the Spanish albondigas meatballs, then move to Thailand via Mexico for the mains with green Thai curry or jackfruit blue corn tacos, finishing up in Vienna with the incredible chocolate almond torte. Vaccination passport not required.
Here’s another hit from the vegan man of the moment, Alexis Gauthier, but one that doesn’t quite pull on the purse strings as much as his fine dining restaurant. This breakfast and lunch cafe and, most excitingly, sushi bar is in the basement and on the terrace of department store of Fenwick’s of Bond Street. It works all kinds of magic with beetroot and carrots, creating remarkably realistic looking tuna and salmon sashimi pieces that also taste the part. If faux-fish is not for you, fear not; there is a bounty of brunch options that are equally delicious.
Lower ground floor, Fenwick of Bond Street, 63 New Bond Street, W1S 1RQ, 123vegan.co.uk
Vegan hero, BLM-activist and reasonably fast driver Lewis Hamilton has backed this neat little chain of burger bars dotted around London. The decor screams “Instagrammable” with plants and neon lights, and the menu is 100 per cent riffing off McDonalds, but if fast-food is what you are after it doesn’t come better than this. Using the Beyond Meat range for their Big Stack, Chickn’ patties or nuggets, hot dog and Filet-No-Fish, all your junk cravings will be satisfied here.
If you want to rub shoulders with a vegan celeb or two, Om Nom is the place. This Islington restaurant, which also has a mindfulness and yoga studio, counts Russell Brand and Jay Shetty among its patrons. For every meal or yoga class you attend, Om Nom will donate money to feeding a child a hot, healthy nutritionally balanced meal in the developing world. It helps that the Eastern-inspired cuisine is damn good, too.
Islington Square, 116N Upper Street, N1 1QP, omnom.com
Clean Kitchen Club
Bursting onto the vegan scene only a year ago, set up by YouTube star Mikey Pearce and Made in Chelsea’s Verity Bowditch, Clean Kitchen Club started by delivering food during the pandemic. It now has a bricks and mortar base in Camden as well as outposts at the Boxparks in Wembley and Shoreditch. The meatball wrap is our favourite, but try the Compassion Burger, with all profits given to causes helping to stop factory farming. Other menu options include katsu bowls, mac ‘n’ cheese and doughnuts.
Launched by Nobu London chef Michael Paul and nutritional therapist Alina Gromova-Jones, this new kid on the block in Hampstead is serving up healthy eats, free from the bad boys of refined sugar and the like. The menu has a broad Asian influence, with teriyaki rice bowls, ramen, curries across the main menu, and sweet treats such as miso brownies choc-chip cookies to finish.
Itadaki (‘to take the food of life’) Zen (‘to fix or mend’) is a small, understated Japanese restaurant with a Korean twist in King’s Cross. With quirky decor including a Japanese garden at the front and walls lined with cute trolls and trinkets, it serves up food faithful to a real Japanese experience, with classics such as grilled onigiri, vegan sushi, noodles, and tofu-steaks. If you can squeeze in dessert, we loved their mochi ice cream.
The Fields Beneath
Taking its name from a book — which you can geek out on, if the history of Kentish Town is your thing — this small but mighty cafe has bags of charm in addition to pure vegan goods. Home baked pain au chocolat, salads and cakes are among the favourites, while the breakfast baps filled with squidgy potato hash brown, a tofu egg and mushroom bacon with a kick of spicy tomato sauce and chilli relish are heavenly. Since last year, it also sells plants and natural wines.
Ethical vegan? This is your homeland. Unity Diner aims to promote the vegan lifestyle and animal welfare, with profits going directly towards animal rights work. They even opened up an animal sanctuary in the Midlands at the end of last year. In addition to that the food is delicious, with a crowd-pleasing menu of burgers, hot dogs, loaded fries and more.
60 Wentworth Street, E1 7AL, unitydiner.co.uk
This is authentic Italian food that could even persuade Joey Tribbiani to become vegan. It’s all beautifully presented, serving favourites such as risotto, parmigiana, gnocchi and pizza. Everything is organic and gluten-free. We also suggest checking out the artisanal vegan cheese selection — you won’t find supermarket cheese on these pizzas.
What The Pitta
We were never one for a kebab at 2am, but trust us when we say the vegan döner is among the most sublime wrap you will ever get your mitts on: spiced soya pieces with salad, tzatziki (made from soya yoghurt), homemade hummus and chilli sauce all wrapped in delicious freshly made bread. This is a bold claim, but we’d consider ordering this as our death row meal. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Gyros, baklava and the obligatory box of chips are also available.
SUPERNATURE x SITE
Environmental vegan? You’ll love this thoughtful and future-proof restaurant in Hackney. It uses British seasonal produce, supports regenerative farming and has even created a low-tech mushroom farm in its basement using neighbours’ coffee waste as a substrate to grow oyster mushrooms. This is no greenwashing. Supernature is more of a daily brunch offering, with small plates and homemade breads served on weekend evenings.
The name of this place stands for We Are Vegan Everything, and they certainly are. Delightful, varied menu with not a burger in sight, you can expect nori-marinated carrots with cream cheese and watercress, or seitan spaghetti carbonara and a tofu-based Malaysian curry for a heartier affair. Wave goodbye — geddit — to your willpower for dessert, too, with croissants, cakes and even a peanut butter hot chocolate. Check out their supper clubs, as well.
222 Vegan Cuisine
This small, beloved restaurant in Fulham was been serving up plant-based cooking way before kale became cool. Opening its doors in 2004 as a vegetarian restaurant, it is now fully vegan and has an understated confidence that can only come from over a decade of experience. Tofu and bean pancakes, almond cheese, stroganoff raclette and the spaghetti polpette are among our favourites. Make sure you leave room for dessert as the menu is extensive and, trust us, you’ll want to try all of it.
The cash was splashed on this Notting Hill based establishment before it opened, and the re-branding of veganism began where others would follow. The owner Camilla (daughter of Mohamed Al-Fayed) has created a beautiful, airy space that champions healthy, seasonal, sustainable food. Comfort food classics with a twist in a beautiful environment make this a very special dining experience.
The Retreat Kitchen
The perfect spot for brunch after a weekend wonder through Richmond Park. Fill up on chickpea omelettes, smoky beans on toast, fresh berry pancake stack or a vegan sausage roll that will blow the one from Greggs out of the water. The counter is always piled high with brownies, cakes, croissants and flapjacks, creating an irresistible take away option for a late summer picnic, too.
Wulf and Lamb
Situated in the pretty cobbled street of Pavilion Road just off Sloane Square (and now with a second site in Marylebone too), the must-try here is the The Wulf Pie. A pulled jackfruit and lentil stew, it achieves the difficult task of being meaty and delicate at the same time. The mash is superbly silky. Elsewhere, menu options range from gyoza stuffed with smoked tofu, kimchi and king oyster mushrooms to steamed bao with baked aubergine, vegan mayo, carrots and spring onion.
Building its reputation over the years as a veggie and vegan establishment, this restaurant is now almost fully vegan, situated in Hammersmith (with branches also in Islington, Marylebone and St John’s Wood). Offering beautifully presented dishes with French and Italian influences as well as clever takes on British classics, The Gate is the perfect place for a special occasion. While food is on the expensive side, its atmosphere is a relaxed one, with friendly staff always willing to share their favourites from the menu. It’s always packed, so be sure to book ahead.
51 Queen Caroline Street, W6 9QL, thegaterestaurants.com
Ruby’s of London
To be in a cake shop where every single item is vegan is rather novel, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Ruby’s in Greenwich Market. You’ll find it all here, from beautifully decorated cupcakes and honeycomb doughnuts to whole layered cakes in both traditional and unusual flavour combos (banana pineapple passion, sweet and salty pretzels and popcorn, and beyond). They also cater for birthdays and weddings and can make anything gluten-free on request.
The Full Nelson
This tiny slice of a restaurant in Deptford brings together goth dive bar vibes and some of the best vegan burgers we’ve tasted. You’ve got the usual chick’n and beef-style burgers with the excellently named Deptford Death Sauce and a whole selection of fries — our favourite being the Coney Fries with lashings of sauerkraut, pickles, fresh and crispy onions, ketchup and mustard, which is a meal in itself.
Crepes and a zero-waste store: it’s a winning combo. Pipoca means popcorn in Portuguese and if you have no idea why it’s called that, don’t worry, because neither do we. What we do know is they serve enormous savoury crepes filled with portobello mushrooms, tomato chutney, garlic, herbs, pesto and vegan cheddar and more. And, of course, they do everyone’s favourite sweet crepes too. In 2020 they expanded upon their zero-waste store offering into selling virtually all vegan goods. Pick up your favourite vegan cheese on the way out.
This pretty veggie and vegan spot on Embassy Gardens is not just a restaurant, but also a hair salon and spa. You might want to indulge and make a full day of it, with services from massage and osteopathy right through to botox. After you are fully zen from your treatment, relax in the beautiful flower-adorned space of the cafe which offers an a la carte menu as well as bottomless vegan brunches, a vegan brunch basket and vegan afternoon tea.
Situated on south London’s lovely Northcote Road, VE Kitchen is a welcome addition to an area that hasn’t exactly catered for vegans in the past. Serving Moving Mountains burgers, the menu also features hot and cold bowls designed to balance, energise or shred. As such, the friendly spot is the perfect place for both the health nut and the junk-food vegan to dine.