There was a time when eating out and avoiding meat meant having to pay for an overpriced seasonal side salad that you’re 99% sure Bugs Bunny would have told to fuck off. But despite what your weird uncle that’s convinced Quorn is the antichrist might think, there’s never been a better time to be a vegetarian in London. From one of the city’s first all-vegetarian spots to a little Japanese restaurant that just so happens to have a walnut and miso udon that we challenge anyone not to love, these are the best places in London where you definitely won’t encounter anything that resembles an accident at a chickpea factory.
Heads up, some of these spots have some vegan options but you can use our full guide if you’re looking to eat plant-based. Or if you’re looking for somewhere that’s good for vegetarians and meat-eaters, we have a guide for that too.
Look, we all want to be at a yoga retreat in California with eight kinds of roasted cauliflower to choose from. But seeing as this is London, Rovi is about as close to vegetable heaven as you can get. This place is one of our highest rated restaurants, partially because of the entirely lovely space, but mostly because of the things they’re doing with vegetables. The shawarma is some kind of celeriac revelation. The stem tempura is some of the best we’ve ever had. And, well, if the hot tomatoes with yoghurt and urfa chilli had their own phone, we’d have them saved in our contacts as SALIVATION STATION. Basically, you’re in safe hands no matter which vegetable dish you go for here.
Even your closest carnivorous mates would ghost a steak for Bubala’s huge chunk of halloumi that’s covered in black seed honey. This place is exclusively vegetarian, but trust us, even if you come here with the Big Mac’s number one fan, they won’t notice once they try the stupidly good fried aubergine with date syrup, or the confit potato latkes, or even the shiitake mushroom skewers. Near Spitalfields market, it’s a proper little charmer of a restaurant, complete with enough foliage and zen beige walls to make it perfect for anything from a cool catch-up over some drinks and a light bite to a casual date night.
We’re not sure who started the myth that being vegetarian means that you’re an incredibly ripped, vision of health. No, you know how to put away a Mars Bar just as well as the next person. And, realistically, you rarely want eating out to involve things that have the health benefits of downing four pints of Berocca. Luckily, the huge - seriously, they’re 18 inches - pizzas at Yard Sale are about as far from a salad as you can get. They have several vegetarian options, from their garlic roasted aubergine and parmesan crumb creation to jalapeño-covered Pepe Le Pew, but our personal favourite is their TSB - a beast of a pizza, covered in tenderstem broccoli, vegetarian-friendly manchego, pine nuts, garlic, and just enough olive oil.
Honestly, if you told us you didn’t like Mr Bao, then we’d probably look at you like your trousers are on back to front and ask you if you hate puppies too. This Taiwanese restaurant in Peckham specialises in bao, obviously, and is pretty much impossible to hate. Much like the setting, the menu here is small and sweet, so although there aren’t countless options, vegetarian or otherwise, all you need to know is that the best bao here is their shiitake mushroom bao with teriyaki and miso mayo. If for some reason you don’t like the sound of that - again, do you hate puppies too? - the tofu bao with squash kimchi is also a winner, and you can’t go wrong with their smacked cucumber or sweet potato chips either.
Hey, you know what’s nice? Yes, tzatziki. But also, smiling. And that’s exactly what we do every time we go to Lemonia, a great little Greek restaurant in Primrose Hill that’s been open for over 40 years. Thanks to its classic look and endearing quantity of plants, this neighbourhood spot is almost always packed, so it’s particularly perfect for a big, buzzing birthday situation where you can get involved with everything from their tahini to their damn good pourgouri - a soft, spiced, and crunchy wheat type thing. Just be sure to book ahead to ensure easy access to their dolmades.
A casual neighbourhood restaurant with tasting menus often translates to meat, meat, more meat, and two types of scallop. Casa Fofó in Hackney is the exception though. Yes, they do have the kind of ceramic crockery that will make you question whether it’s normal to be physically attracted to a bowl, but this place manages to avoid any of that pretentious side eye similar spots are renowned for. The best part is that they have an entirely vegetarian seven-course tasting menu that isn’t wildly expensive at £39, and dinner here makes for a top, cosy date night.
The excellent Levantine-inspired food at South Kensington’s Ceru is suitable for kids, people avoiding gluten, vegetarians, aliens - honestly, even the royal family could pop by and you’d find them with yoghurt on their chin, happily digging into a feta fritter. Light, bright, and with affordable deals, this place is perfect for literally everyone. They have countless vegetarian options available, but you’re definitely going to want to get involved in the houmous, pomegranate salad, and pretty much anything that comes with the mint and dill yoghurt.
As a vegetarian, a lot of fine dining restaurants can leave you feeling like you’re stuck nibbling a haute cuisine carrot whilst singing Somebody To Love into the ether. We hear you. But this fine dining spot in Fitzrovia offers a full vegetarian tasting menu that is so good, you’ll end up noting down what’s in each dish in the desperate hope you’ll be able to create a parsnip mousse at home. Although this place can feel a little serious, it’s a great shout for dinner with the parents or a business meal where you know everyone will be catered for.
The Barbary does brilliant Middle Eastern-style food, and it’s also good for vegetarians. There are plenty of veg-friendly items to order, which are arguably the best things on the menu, and it also helpfully means non-meat eaters don’t have to miss out on one of the best restaurants in London. The whole restaurant is counter seating, so order the deep-fried halloumi and a cocktail and watch the cooks and bartenders make your dinner in front of you. All of these factors make The Barbary an excellent spot for date, but come early or be prepared to queue as it’s no bookings.
Nopi is not all vegetarian, nor is it cheap, but what you will get for your cash is a relaxed, upscale experience with food that you actually want to eat. It’s chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s high-end restaurant, and for vegetarians, the sharing plates are where it’s at. The food skews towards Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, with familiar things like burrata paired with blood orange, or zucchini with cardamom yoghurt. Take a vegetarian here for a birthday or a date, and the bright and airy room is brilliant for brunch as well.
The Gate is one of London’s original and best all-vegetarian restaurants. The food jumps around the world from Thai green curry to a roasted heirloom beetroot tart, but the common thread that ties everything together is that it’s all vegetarian and all very tasty. The Gate is properly laid back for a nice brunch, but also feels fancy enough that you could bring a date and charm them over a plate of couscous fritters.
Because vegetarians have a right to eat exceptional food at pretty restaurants too, Morito on Hackney Road dedicates a whole section of their menu to our veggie friends. And that section contains the menu’s knockout dish: the labneh, which is smooth yoghurt topped with veggie and nutty good stuff. Order a side of the warm flatbread and get deep into it.
Mildred’s is the Soho restaurant experience for vegetarians. The whole menu is 100% meat free, and the restaurant has become a classic because it’s one of the only veggie restaurants around that can actually be fun on a Tuesday night. The busy but laid-back dining room gives out pure Soho vibes, and the food is comforting and satisfying. Get the mushroom and ale pie, which can legitimately stack up to any in town.
Unless you’ve mastered use of a spiraliser (and if you have, we’re judging), chances are good that your attempts to avoid meat have often meant eating a bag of Walker’s Cheese & Onion for dinner. Luckily, there is a middle ground between those two sad options, and one of them is casual pasta restaurant Padella, where you can happily skip the meat options for things like goat’s cheese ravioli in herb butter and cacio e pepe. Each dish is a fiver so you can order a few, and it’s so much better than staring at a plate of zoodles. Get there early, or prepare for a queue.
Not eating eating meat or fish and attempting to eat Japanese food is kind of like being a monk and trying to meet up with a friend at a strip club. Unless you’re cool with looking the other way on a lot of things, it just ain’t happening. The noodle restaurant Koya Bar is an exception to that, and the vegetarian dishes here are genuinely the best things on the menu. We’d happily come here any day to sit at the bar and eat the walnut miso udon noodles or the curry udon soup. There can be a wait for a table or a seat at the bar when it’s busy, but it usually moves quickly.
Much like someone trying to convince you to join a Crossfit class, converting carnivorous friends or family members to eat meat-free is not an easy sell. Make it easier on yourself and take them to Ottolenghi, where the food is vastly vegetable-based (with the occasional bit of meat or fish) but is all so good that meat eaters themselves will ponder swapping sausages for things like grilled broccoli and roasted squash salads. Most Ottolenghis have cafe-style seating but the best location is at Spitalfields, which has a full-sit down restaurant.
There comes a point in every Londoner’s life when you’re tired of work, friends, and your cat’s stupid face, and you just want to eat a damn burrito. Mestizo is the place for exactly that, and besides doing some very decent tacos, they do lots of good vegetarian things beyond the usual cheese, beans and rice. Order the sauteed cactus tacos, the courgette flower pancakes, and maybe consider undoing the top button of your trousers while you’re at it. Mestizo also has a ridiculous selection of aged tequilas that will put your favourite whisky to shame.
Turkish food is already a good call for non-meat eaters, but the food at Oklava definitely takes it up a couple of notches. You’ll eat roast cauliflower with chilli and pistachios, crispy fried artichokes, and the best halloumi of your life in a trendy, modern restaurant that has casual hangs and date night covered. In our experience, they’re particularly accommodating to vegetarians, and will cook the veg separately to the meat on the grill if you just ask.
Indian food is automatically better than 99% of every cuisine out there, and for vegetarians, that figure rises to 99.99%. There’s so much choice in London that it can feel a bit bog standard, but it’s worth going down the Indian route and making the trip out to East Ham or Wembley to Saravana Bhavan, which has some of the best South Indian-style food anywhere in town. The whole experience is a bit of an adventure, and part of the fun is feeling like you could be in Tamil Nadu (or the West Midlands, at the very least). Get a few idlis and a dosa, and maybe some spicy rasam. It’s where all of our Indian friends go and if you want to go the whole hog, pop into one of the local Asian sweet shops afterwards for dessert.