Whether you’re going for dinner with your partner, best mate, or family member who happens to be vegetarian, you want to make sure that they’re going to be able to have options. After all, they already have enough on their plate with everyone asking them why they gave up meat - if that definitely includes bacon - and you know, actually finding things to put on their plate that doesn’t involve the words ‘stuffed mushroom’. Don’t worry, this guide will help. These are some great London restaurants that will cater to vegetarians, carnivores, flexitarians, and everything in between.
It’s an inevitability that there will be a meal in the future that Mangal II will be spot on for. It’s also an inevitability that their delicate handmade mushroom manti dumplings with sweet preserved tomato and yoghurt will be fought over by non-meat and meat eaters alike. But that’s a good thing, right? The fact of the matter is that this modern Turkish restaurant in Dalston is very good. Very good for dates with someone who runs 10k a daily and considers making their own granola fun. Or just as good with all your family who want to see at least three herbivores on their plate.
Your pal is always telling you horror stories of fake sausages that taste like something a showbiz dietitian would force on Beethoven the St Bernard in the midst of a comeback. Take them to Mr. Bao in Peckham, where the shiitake mushroom bao is not only the best thing on the menu, but the kind of fluffy, teriyaki-packed bun we’ll travel across London for. On top of serving an excellent veggie bao, this proper little charmer of a restaurant has rustic wooden tables, holiday-feel tiling, and everything from fried chicken with miso mayo to plum wine negronis on the menu. It’s an especially good shout if you’re rolling with someone who’s vegan as they’ve got a whole separate menu available.
Much like Billie Eilish’s career and the return of scrunchies, Padella’s popularity really shows no sign of slowing down. But it’s with good reason that you’ll pretty much always find a long queue outside of this London Bridge spot. Their handmade pasta is top notch and conveniently two of the best pastas here are the 8-hour beef shin ragu pappardelle and the meat-free ricotta and sage butter ravioli. There’s also a top-notch almond tart and plenty of vegetarian starters to choose from, just be sure to let them know that you won’t be wanting any parmesan on your pasta.
Look, we’ll be honest. It’s pretty hard to do proper fine dining in London without having to Google ‘sea buckthorn?’ and ‘breeds of British pigeon’ to be sure booking that special occasion spot won’t end in tears for your beloved vegetarian. But Mere in Fitzrovia is different, because, as well as their classic £77 tasting menu, they also have a £68 vegetarian tasting menu - ding, ding, ding, yes it’s also cheaper. Not only do their sommeliers seriously know their wine, they can do equally magical things to an aubergine to a great cut of Herdwick lamb and the setting is quiet but perfect for a grown-up anniversary or dinner with your parents.
Dalston is a pretty useful area when it comes to restaurants that will please all hungry people. There are a tonne of brilliant Turkish options, a few Ethiopian spots and there’s also Oren - a Greek and Israeli-influenced small plates restaurants doing all manner of delicious vegetables, fish, and meat straight from its charcoal grill. Be it an understated tomato salad, marinated artichokes with oregano and top notch olive oil, or a velvety hummus - this place does the simple things very well. Come on a date. Come with friends. Come and order the grilled sweetbreads, if you’re allowed to.
You’re totally fine living meat-free to support your partner. Sure, sometimes you secretly run down to your local chicken shop at 2am like a Colonel-possessed-werewolf, but mostly you’re, you know, absolutely fine. But when you’re not, there’s Master Wei. Our favourite dish at this casual Xi’anese spot in Bloomsbury is the traditional cold liangpi noodles that come packed full of soft tofu and are covered in a chilli oil that we’re addicted to in a very not-casual way. But if that craving for some meat hits, get involved in their spicy beef biang biang noodles. Either way, you’re set for an excellent and totally affordable meal for two.
They’re helping to save the planet whilst committing to never eating a kebab after their fourth pint, and you’re the dickhead that took them to a steakhouse called The Sad Moos last time you met up. Offer an apology in the form of dinner at Rovi. This Fitzrovia spot is the best of the Ottolenghi restaurants - a chef who should probably be awarded some kind of gold plated beetroot for how he can turn some simple celeriac into one of the best things we’ve ever eaten. From beef carpaccio to onglet skewers, there’s always some meaty things on the menu here, but really you want to get involved in some tempura that’ll make you forget that chicken nuggets even exist.
There are vegetarian options all over the menu at Noodle & Beer, including a couple of favourite things to eat at the Chongqing noodle and Sichuan spot in Spitalfields. You’ll find said things in the small eats section of the menu. Firstly, the tian-shui mian (udon noodles in a sweet, spicy, sesame sauce) and also the lang-ya tu dou (chips). Obviously these aren’t just any chips, they’re brilliantly spicy stir-fried chips. There are noodle soups, dried noodles, and other bits too. The hong-tang ciba (stick rice cakes) are an excellent way to finish.
If you aren’t a vegetarian and someone tries to sell you on Eat Vietnam, you might be a little skeptical. It’s a Vietnamese grill restaurant in Deptford where the whole seabream, marinated quail, and tender pork kebabs coming off the grill are, quite simply, sensational. And that all sounds great, if that’s what you eat. But even if meat and fish isn’t your thing, Eat Vietnam is excellent. There’s bánh xèo chay (crispy Vietnamese pancakes with tofu and mushrooms), bánh cuốn nhân chay (soft rice batter rolls filled with taro, mung beans, and wood ear mushrooms), and of course, phở, bún, and a whole lot more.
Part of the reason Oklava is on this list, is because it sounds like some kind of sexy breed of artichoke that will be discovered in the depths of Peru come 2035. But mostly, this Shoreditch spot is in this guide because they do a roast cauliflower covered in chilli and pistachio that we’d jilt 90% of London’s burgers for. If you just rolled your eyes at us then you don’t deserve to eat it. Our game plan for this Turkish spot is to go with a small group, order a bunch of things for the table, and potentially some of the lamb sausage if you’re desperate for some carnivore action - but with this many excellent vegetable options and silence-inducing halloumi, it’s hard to go wrong.
Much like having a neighbour who fosters extra fluffy puppies or a post office that always has short lines, you absolutely want Pophams to be in your neighbourhood. And if it isn’t, the marmite pastry and sea salt twist will make you more than willing to pretend you do. By day this industrial but comfortable bakery is all about Ozone coffee and some of London’s best pastries. By night you can expect a short list of very decent pastas, the better of which tend to be their vegetarian offerings. Keep this place in mind for breakfast, brunch, or lunch with a vegetarian, as for every bacon and maple syrup danish, there’s a passion fruit and mango custard croissant that you should absolutely get involved in.
Think of Hunan as your own personal magic genie of a restaurant. There isn’t a menu at this classic Chelsea spot, they just ask your wishes - or, you know, preferences - and then they make you a casual 12 courses of excellent Chinese food. Simple. As well as being able to ask for vegetarian or vegan options, you can also choose your own spice limits and let them know anything you definitely don’t want on your plate in case you have a vendetta against lettuce or something. The restaurant itself is a little plain and dinner will set you back £70 per person, but it’s completely worth it for a special occasion meal that suits everyone. Or just to eat a spinach and sesame roll that comes with one of the most chuggable meat-free sauces in this city. Magic lamp, eat your heart out.
Granger & Co.
Much like if someone told us they didn’t like getting breakfast in bed, or having someone stroke their hair whilst cosmically pissed, or looking at pictures of unlikely animal friendships - we’d be deeply concerned if someone said they didn’t like Granger And Co. in Clerkenwell. This all-day restaurant is entirely inoffensive, affordable, and minimalist enough to feel like you’ve slipped inside one of Frank Stella’s daydreams. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the menu is full of go-to vegetarian options like their grilled cheese and kimchi open sandwich, vegan coconut yoghurt granola, and the black bean szechuan chilli braised tofu bowl. Meanwhile, you can have the seriously good crispy chicken burger or the prawn, XO and ’nduja fried rice. See, that’s why everyone should like Granger And Co.
If we say ‘Dishoom’ your first thought might be queues. Or maybe their cool slightly vintage decor. Or maybe just how the lamb chops make you feel. But in times of restaurant decision crisis, what Dishoom should really be known for is their long, cater-to-all menus. As well as their host of gluten-free and dairy-free options, there’s also a huge vegan menu and countless vegetarian options served from breakfast to closing. Basically you can come here with a pescatarian, vegan, vegetarian, meat-eater and someone who just thinks that coriander is the anti-christ and you’ll all leave happy. All six of the Dishoom locations have their allergy and preference menus but as their King’s Cross spot is the biggest, you’ll probably cut down some inevitable queuing time here.
Brasserie Zédel is part 1920s Paris time machine and part affordable, huge hideout from the chaos of Leicester Square. Our go-to here is the cheap and cheerful steak haché et frites for £9.75, but this old school spot also has a vegetarian menu that you can ask one of the servers for. Everything from the stuffed red peppers to their must-order pousse spinach and cream cheese pastry with salad are just as tasty as their standard all-day menu. And importantly, it’s just as cheap. Thanks to their in-house cocktail bar, live band, and jazzy pink table cloths, this place is one of London’s best date night spots, but just be sure to book ahead.