Let’s talk about food. As you can see this post is way longer than usual which says a lot about my priorities I guess (whoops). Anyway, since I moved to London I haven’t only been studying but I’ve also dedicated time to the really important things in life – like trying new places on the hunt for the perfect vegan meal. Even though vegan options aren’t hard to come by nowadays, finding a restaurant with a really good vegan menu can be a bit more tricky, especially if you don’t fancy going through the trouble of altering dishes on the menu or sticking to sides (nothing against jacket potatoes and chips though!). Luckily London is a great place for vegans and even has entirely vegan restaurants and cafés – and places with great vegan options. From markets to fast food places and vegan roast dinner, London has it all. As I have spent quite some time discovering these places over the last years I thought why not share my results in blog post. It would hardly be fair to keep these discoveries to myself, right?
In my experience, Asian restaurants generally tend to be very vegan-friendly. Even if the only vegan thing on the menu is spring rolls, you can usually ask for a stir fry or pad thai without meat and eggs. But of course not all Asian food is created equal so I wanted to share my favourite places with you. One of my absolute favourites is East Street, a restaurant with a mixed Asian cuisine tucked away in a street right by Tottenham Court Road. In fact I just had dinner there half an hour ago which I why I was a bit reluctant to start writing a post about food now (do you know the feeling when you’re so full you can’t even look at food) but my friend said it was good idea to write about it ‘still with the taste on my tongue’ so oh well, here we go. East Street is designed to make you feel like you’re attending a traditional food market, with huge neon signs hanging from the ceiling and train station announcements playing in the bathrooms. It is also very cosy thought and the food they serve is amazing, especially their pad thai (see the picture above!) Although East Street has always been vegan-friendly, they now got a separate vegan menu so extra points for that!
Another restaurant that I love is Dishoom, an Indian restaurant that can be found in several locations across London (and now in Manchester and Edinburgh as well!). I am not the only one in love with their food though so I would recommend going there for an early lunch if you want to avoid waiting for a table. Dishoom serves traditional Indian food and delicious drinks, including pink fizz. At this restaurant, you can dine in a cosy yet posh atmosphere and get slightly high off incense. If you ask the staff, they will hand you a separate vegan menu. Ordering my main I worried whether it may be too spicy and when asking a waiter he disappeared into the kitchen and came back with a little taster of that same meal – costumer service on point! The food at Dishoom is absolutely delicious and even my friend who is originally from India is loves it so that’s saying something.
One of my favourite Chinese restaurants is Ping Pong which can be found in several locations across London although I’ve only tried the Southbank one so far. Ping Pong is quite unique as it only offers dim sum and you have to create your own meal by selecting a few smaller dishes. Again, they will give you a list of vegan options if you ask – I usually go for the sticky vegetable rice, dumplings and spring rolls. Next to the food, this place has the best cocktails, my favourite one being the lychee and rose martini. Yep, I would hands down just go for their drinks even if I didn’t enjoy their food. Ping Pong is the place that converted my mum to a lover of the Chinese cuisine, it’s just that good. Another place that most of you probably know but that has to be on this list is Wagamama, a British chain restaurant that can be found in many different locations. Recently Wagamama introduced a vegan menu and although I personally keep ordering the vegan pad thai every time that I go, I have heard from reliable sources that the other options on the menu are just as good.
Onto Italian restaurants. Like Asian restaurants, Italian restaurants usually offer meals you can easily veganise but it can be hard to find a good place that does more than just pasta and tomato sauce for vegans. One of my favourite places is Zizzi’s. Not only do they offer student discount on weekdays, they also have a fantastic vegan menu including vegan garlic bread, bruschetta, pasta with lentil bolognese and even vegan pizza. I usually go for their pasta and garlic bread and can wholeheartedly recommend these options. I wasn’t sure about their vegan pizza cheese but then I’m generally not a fan of cheese and cheese substitutes so I don’t know if I can judge. If you go to Zizzi’s make sure to get their vegan chocolate tart for dessert, it’s the ultimate proof of how good vegan food can be.
Like Zizzi’s, Carluccio’s can be found in several locations across the UK and they have amazing vegan options. The photo above shows one of their pasta dishes, made with an artichoke sauce. I recently tried to recreate this sauce and I mean, I came close (should I go and train to be a chef?) but not quite there. Carluccio’s also do a great mushroom bruschetta and are a great spot for Christmas dinners. Carluccio’s do not have an entirely separate vegan menu but they’ll always have a few vegan dishes included in their regular menu and I’d honestly give my last quid for their pasta.
The absolute classic is of course Temple of Seitan, a vegan fast-food restaurant in Hackney. They recently opened in a second location, Camden, and therefore named that restaurant Temple of Camden. I have to admit that I didn’t try Temple of Seitan until pretty recently but I wish I would have done so earlier – their vegan burgers are insanely good. I also tried their mac & cheese which wasn’t my cup of tea frankly speaking but the chocolate biscuits made up for that.
One of the newest addition to the vegan restaurant scene of London is ‘By Chloe‘, a vegan fast-food restaurant in C0vent Garden. By Chloe can be found in various cities across the US and I believe their London restaurant is the first one in Europe. Not only does this place offer amazing vegan food (especially their burgers, chips and cakes, see photo above), the interior is beautiful, with a huge neon slogan ‘Guac save the Queen’ (I mean, guac is the solution to everything isn’t it) and comfortable swinging chairs. This restaurant is as instagrammable as it can get.
Luckily being vegan doesn’t mean missing out on a Sunday roast. There are a lot of great places offering vegetarian Sunday roasts but vegan ones are a bit harder to come by – I don’t often go for a Sunday roast because Sundays are usually the days where I catch up on all the uni stuff that I should have done during the week (you feel me) but when I do I picture myself with my imaginary husband and children going for a roast every Sunday (winning the lottery is part of the 5-year-plan, obviously). Anyway, my favourite place for a vegan roast is The Old Queen’s Head in Islington – you can see their vegan Sunday roast in the photo above and let me tell you, it was amazing. Another place that does a great Sunday roast and really yummy vegan pub food in general is ‘The Elephant and Castle‘, a pub that jokingly claims the station was named after them, not the other way round. Apart from their Sunday roast, their vegan burger is on point! The only thing I haven’t so far is a place that does vegan Yorkshire pudding. If you happen to know one or have a recipe please let me know!
There are so much more places that do great vegan food. One of my absolute favourites is ‘The Real Greek‘ – this Greek (duh) restaurant recently introduced a separate vegan menu and it’s basically what your dreams are made of. Not only does the menu include classics like dolmadakia, fava, beans and grilled aubergine, it also includes a vegan moussaka and many other veganized traditional dishes. I love to take people who are visiting London to this place because not only is their food amazing, the way they serve it is too. A very well known veggie restaurant is Mildred’s which can be found in several locations across London – I tried Mildred’s for the first time this summer when exploring King’s Cross and Euston and I loved it. They do a mix of traditional British dishes, curry and creative starters – the chargrilled artichokes with garlic dip are amazing. Other places that are great for vegan meals are Wahaca, a Mexican chain restaurant that does not have a vegan menu but you can veganize a lot of their dishes and Farmacy, a vegan restaurant in Notting Hill that has a beautiful interior and great desserts. If you’re looking for a quick snack, Pret a Manger and Leon are your friend, both do amazing vegan options. If you want to try something different, grab lunch at Skip Garden in King’s Cross, they do soup and other lunch meals and grow most ingredients themselves. Last but not least, let’s talk about La Suite West, a hotel that does an amazing vegan high tea. I went there for my birthday last year and it was incredible – the vegan high tea included scones with coconut cream and jam, little sandwiches, strawberry tarts and other pieces of cake as well as a glass of bubbly.
On to the essential things – coffee and cake. One of my absolute favourite places is Cupcakes & Shhht near Elephant and Castle. This place is all vegan and let me tell you, these guys know how to make cake. Their brownies are delicious and so are their drinks – last time I went I had a beetroot latte and loved it. This café is small but very cosy and apart from the cake, they also have a breakfast and lunch menu. Cupcakes & Shhht also create cakes for events and weddings and if I ever get married this will be the place I’ll go to for the wedding cake. If you want some inspiration head to their instagram page! Another place I can recommend is Élan Café – if you live in London I am sure you have heard about it already, it’s been very popular since it opened and if you go at a busy time prepare to queue outside. Nevertheless this café offers a unique experience, serving yummy cakes in the most beautiful scenery – the whole café is decorated with flowers and there even is a pink flower wall. Although this place isn’t specifically vegan they always have delicious vegan cake on their menu.
What else is there? Cookies and Scream is probably the most famous vegan (and gluten free) bakery in London. I think they have closed their Camden Market location but as far as I know the Islington one still exists – Cookies and Scream do utterly delicious brownies and great hot chocolates. Even though I’ve never been to the bakery I’ll mention next, I have tried Ms Cupcakes‘…well, cupcakes … at multiple food festivals, including VegFest. I’ve always loved them and they also do an amazing ‘blondie’. Now that I’m writing about it I feel like I definitely have to pay visit to their bakery in Brixton! Another place is love is Lumberjack in Camberwell – this café is very hidden away and not something you’d stumble upon when visiting London. However, their selection of vegan cakes and drinks is amazing and the space is perfect for meeting up with a friend or working remotely. This might be quite random but I love the way they serve their chai lattes – with proper spices and a little sieve. Last but not least, Drink, Shop & Do deserves a place on this last. If you have been following my blog you read about me trying this place in summer and I’ve been desperate to go ever since. Drink, Shop & Do serves vegan cake in a cosy and creative setting and also has a great selection of tea.
One of my favourite places for vegan brunch is the Gallery Café (first photo). They serve an amazing vegan English breakfast with all the condiments. I also love the atmosphere at this place – it is very cosy and family-friendly and partly has a glass roof making it perfect for cold but sunny winter days. Another place I love for breakfast is Le Pain Quotidien – they do a great avocado toast and also offer fresh soup for lunch every day. This place should actually be on the café list too because they do they most delicious vegan chocolate tart and apple pie as well as hot chocolate!
Last but definitely not least, London is home to some amazing food markets. I won’t go into too much detail as most of these will probably be familiar to you – Borough Market, Camden Market and obviously Boxpark do some great vegan food. My absolute favourite options are the vegan burgers at Camden Market and the vegan kebabs at Boxpark. Borough Market has a stall with vegan and gluten-free cake. Now on to the potentially less popular markets – Broadway Market actually has a separate vegan market that is tucked away in the yard of a primary school. When I went there for the first time (and last time, Hackney is just very far from where I live) I could hardly decide what food to go for – in the end I settled for a delicious curry and the sugar ‘dougnuts’ you can see in the photo. An absolutely highlight of visiting this market was running into Rose from ‘Cheap Lazy Vegan’, a Canadian youtuber who happened to visit London during that time. Other great places for vegan food are Mercat0 Metropolitano in the south of London and Greenwich Market – especially the latter came as a surprise. Greenwich Market is basically every vegan’s dream – not only can you get vegan lasagna, you can also buy vegan cake and vegan ice-cream!
What are your favourite vegan(friendly) restaurants in London? xx