photo credit: Merritt Smail
The Best Places To Eat Vegetarian And Vegan Food In Miami
Where to eat when you want more than just crispy brussels sprouts.
Even though we are a city known for our love of roasting animals in backyards, Miami does have some vegetarian options, which extend way beyond your neighborhood juice bar. A vegetarian can actually eat really well in Miami right now, and these restaurants are proof. Some, but not all, of these places are strictly vegetarian or plant-based. Others just happen to serve a lot of really great vegetarian dishes. But what they’re definitely not are merely restaurants with larger-than-average salad sections or any place with a little patch of wheat grass on the counter. These are restaurants where the best things to eat truly are meatless.
Vegan Cuban Cuisine
You’d think that a vegan Cuban restaurant would be helmed by millennial hipsters, but most of the staff at this Kendall stripmall spot remind us of the tías you see taking orders and making coladas at any Miami cafeteria. And that’s probably why the experience feels like going to a cafeteria—not a vegan cafe. The “beef” empanadas here are on par with some of Miami’s best fried empanadas (yes, even the meat ones), and the croquetas are crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and super savory. Even their flan delivers the same flavors and textures as the traditional ones. The Cuban sandwich here, while not quite traditional with its mayonnaise and bread-and-butter pickles, is addictively good and is definitely an interpretation any cubano aficionado should try.
Planta Queen Coconut Grove
Planta Queen is a vegan restaurant in Coconut Grove with a sister restaurant on South Beach. The dishes here aren’t perfect reproductions of the Asian foods they claim to imitate, but they’re still really, really good. Perfect example: a vegan version of crab rangoon that doesn’t quite taste like crab rangoon, but is still one of the best fried dumplings in Miami—even before a dunk in the outstanding sweet and sour sauce. The compressed watermelon and miso-glazed eggplant nigiri are also tastier than a decent amount of Miami’s fish-based sushi. But what we really love about this place is the setting, which feels chic, modern, and like somewhere you want to take that vegan cutie you matched with on Tinder.
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Awash Ethiopian Restaurant
Miami-Dade County has exactly one Ethiopian restaurant. We’d like more, but hey, at least our one Ethiopian restaurant is incredibly good. You’ll find Awash Ethiopian in Miami Gardens, and it’s usually full of people tearing chunks of spongy injera bread and using it to scoop up piles of beautifully seasoned and spiced vegetables. There are meat options at Awash, but a vegetarian can feast here thanks to the Awash vegetarian combo—which comes with portions of all-vegetable options, such as collard greens, cremini mushrooms, red lentils, split peas, and cabbage and carrots. Get an Ethiopian coffee to finish things off, unless you’re trying to go to sleep in the next eight hours.
The Vegan Marie
The Vegan Marie is a vegan restaurant and shop in Little Haiti where the food options change just about daily. It's one of those places where you find out what's on the menu by having a conversation with the chef, who'll happily tell you what they have that day. It could be a spicy seaweed wrap, or a filling platter of legumes, chickpeas, veggie balls, and perfectly ripe avocados. But it'll probably be very tasty. The space is sort of a cross between restaurant, botánica, and market. They also sell a housemade cocktail called Chiré Pantalèt (translation: you don't want to know). It's a dangerously good mixture of sugarcane moonshine, passionfruit, and ginger that you most definitely want in your fridge.
The Plantisserie is a place you can hit up whether you’re looking for a quick meal or need some dinner supplies to cook at home. The Little River market/deli has plant-based empanadas, lasagna, ropa vieja, and a very good shepherd’s pie. It’s all available to-go or for indoor and outdoor dining. If you’re in more of a rush, they also sell frozen versions of most of their entrees, as well as vegan pizza, lentil burger patties, organic wines, and some more pantry items that will probably cause you to spend $25 more than you planned.
Love Life Cafe
The best thing about Wynwood’s Love Life Cafe is the options. They have a lot of them—all plant-based—including pizza, burritos, tacos, bowls, arepas, burgers, and salads. The next best thing is that it pretty much all tastes good. Their veggie burger is stacked tall with guacamole, pickles, plant-based cheddar, and a “superfood patty.” The El Chamo Bowl is a lovely mix of brown rice, black beans, shredded jackfruit, plantains, avocado, guasacaca sauce, and cilantro aioli. And at the time of this writing, Love Life is also doing a pop-up called Shido (which is operating out of their restaurant), with a plant-based Japanese menu that includes sushi rolls stuffed with things like plantain, avocado, spicy tomato tartar, and pickled radish. It’s all available for takeout, indoor, and outdoor dining.
Minty Z is a vegan dim sum spot in Coconut Grove that serves some really tasty and meat-free dumplings, bao, and more small plates great for sharing with a date or a couple of friends. Whoever you’re with, you’ll probably agree to order another round of the carrot and black sesame bao, an excellent and squishy little orange bun filled with a slightly nutty black sesame filling. Other good things here include a kimchi hot dog, vegan shrimp shumai, sesame seitan wings, and a painting of a sloth eating noodles.
The entire menu at Diya is vegetarian and there are a lot of vegan options too. The Sunset Harbour Indian restaurant has a selection of small plates like samosas, tandoori paneer, dosas, chana masala, and more. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, which is good for casually watching luxury cars run stop signs. And they also have an adjacent bar called BackRoom you can check out for drinks after you eat.
Hadekel 1 isn’t one of those restaurants where vegetarians will be exiled to a tiny corner of the menu. Aside from one sandwich with tuna, everything else at this small Aventura Israeli spot is vegetarian-friendly. They close around 4pm most days, so this is a good breakfast and lunch option, especially if you’re in the mood for an excellent eggplant pita sabich, a Jerusalem panini bagel, or shakshuka. All of the above are really good, plus they have pastries and coffee strong enough to make you want to go down that terrifying corkscrew slide outside the Aventura Mall.
Planta (the sister spot of Planta Queen) is an upscale, photogenic vegan spot in South of Fifth. This place makes pretty good meatless versions of sushi, burgers, pizza, queso, and other things they’ve somehow MacGyver’d out of plants and fruit. Like most photogenic South Beach spots, it’s a little pricey, but it can be a good option if you want to dress up and have a fancy (but meatless) dinner. We like the food at the Grove location a bit better, but this is still a good South Beach option with a different menu.
Manna Life Food
Manna is a narrow Downtown restaurant, and another one of those places good for a quick, casual breakfast or lunch. They’ve got the usual suspects: açaí bowls, smoothies, and veggie bowls. But they also have a great coconut meat ceviche served with arepa wedges, burritos wrapped in nori, and a selection of arepas—which are arranged more like a flatbread and piled with falafel, avocado, and more tasty things. It’s chill enough in here to read a book on your lunch break and usually quick enough to get back before that meeting you’re probably going to be late too anyway.
Under The Mango Tree
There are a lot of health food restaurants in Miami, places where the legions of post-spin-classers go to drink something green and eat an açaí bowl. Under The Mango is probably our favorite of such places—and definitely South Beach’s best version of this type of place. The small but cozy cafe has a menu full of things that’ll make you feel better about your recent intake of fried food. There are açaí and smoothie bowls, a spicy kale melt, juice, and enough caffeine options to get you motivated to sign up for another spin class, even though the one this morning almost made you pass out.
The Last Carrot
The Last Carrot is a little family-owned spot that’s been operating in Miami since the ’70s. They have a little restaurant in Coconut Grove with some counter seating good for solo dining and a few small tables—both inside and outdoors. They serve veggie pitas, smoothies, and small mountains of vegetables they call a salad. It’s a decent option for a post-workout meal or a quick work lunch where you and your coworker can say mean things about your boss over an avocado pita.
Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin
Vegetarian Restaurant By Hakin is a little restaurant and market in North Miami open for breakfast, lunch, and, during the week, dinner. It’s all vegan food here, and surprisingly flavorful vegan food too. They have good versions of Philly cheesesteaks, banh mi, and burgers. They also serve some vegan versions of Caribbean dishes like ackee and saltfish with “vegan fish.” It’s a low-key spot with a comfortable dining room and shelves full of holistic medicine, and is a solid option for a healthy weeknight dinner or easy takeout.
Nothing at Carrot Express is going to blow your mind, but it’s quick, reliable, and there are eight locations around Miami—so, hopefully, it’s convenient to wherever you live or work. They have salads, wraps, burgers, and a pretty tasty vegan picadillo bowl—all probably better than the lunch you forgot to take with you this morning.