London has always had a wealth of vegetarian food when it comes to eating out, and currently the offering is off the scale. Fancy schmancy tasting menus, spicy South Indian curries, health-giving delis - heck, even the faceless chain restaurants have upped their veggie game. We've rounded up some of the most best meatless restaurants and stand-out plant-based dishes available for your eating pleasure.
Mildreds vegetarian and vegan restaurant
Serving Soho vegetarians for nigh on 30 years, Mildreds is a proper meat-free institution, and offers plenty of vegan options too. Food is interesting and hearty with a succession of pies and a rotating burger of the day. There's also amazing global salads to be had at the bar. Prepare to wait or head to one of the newer sites which tend to be slightly less busy.
Mildreds has four locations across London: Soho, Camden, King's Cross and Dalston.
The Gate vegetarian and vegan restaurant
Another old timer on the veggie scene, The Gate describes itself as Indo-Iraqi Jewish food with French and Italian influences, all presented as veggie (or vegan) gourmet dining. We describe it as yum. Chilled out vibes, mezze, miso aubergine, mozzarella; what more do you want?
The Gate has three locations across London: Marylebone, Islington and Hammersmith.
Benares Indian restaurant: vegetarian options
Indian food can usually be relied upon to look after vegetarians and Michelin starred Benares is a great example of this. Though it caters to omnivores, chef Atul Kochar's talent for pairing complex and subtle flavours and his love for vegetables means here you are spoiled for choice with a full vegetarian a la carte. Get the paneer.
Benares, 12a Berkeley Square, Mayfair, W1J 6BS.
Manna Restaurant: oldest vegetarian restaurant in London
To our knowledge, this is the oldest vegetarian/vegan restaurant in London at 50 years old. Many make the pilgrimage to Primrose Hill for Manna's nourishing, Californian style food. Meze is a good way to go, but there are comforting large plates like loaded nachos, bangers and mash and even vegan Sunday roasts too — all plant-based and possibly the better for it.
Manna Restaurant, 4 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, NW3 3AJ.
Vanilla Black: fancy vegetarian dining
One of the fanciest fully veggie restaurants out there, Vanilla Black is sure to impress. Dishes are refined, innovative and forward thinking, without a cop-out tomato pasta bake in sight. Try celeriac profiteroles, roasted courgette with bread mousse or malted barley and potato cake instead.
Vanilla Black, 17-18 Took's Court, EC4A 1LB.
Ganapati: South Indian vegetarian options
Without wanting to teach grandmothers about sucking eggs, South Indian cooking is really where you want to be for fantastic vegetarian food. They know their way around a vegetable patch, that's for sure. This place in Peckham is much loved and though not fully vegetarian, it's everything you need. The vegetarian thali is a must and will keep you full for the rest of the day.
Ganapati, 38 Holly Grove, SE15 5DF.
Roast: vegetarian burgers
Roast dinners? What are we thinking?! But, bear with us as this Borough Market restaurant has launched what we think could be the best veggie burger around. Avert your eyes from the nose-to-tail butchery and focus instead on the Ultimate Veggie Burger – a quinoa and beetroot based patty sandwiched between a charcoal brioche bun with pickled carrot chutney and an avocado tahini dressing. In recent years they've upped their commitment to veggie food so even if you're not a burger fan, there will be plenty to tempt you on the dedicated vegetarian/vegan menu.
Roast, The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, SE1 1TL.
Expect nothing less than amazingly spiced food using off the wall ingredients and combinations you'd never thought of from Ottolenghi offshoot Nopi. There's an entire section of vegetable mains, plus all the sides are meat-free too. Courgette and manouri fritters with cardamon yoghurt or the Valdeon cheesecake with pickled beetroot, almonds and thyme honey speak for themselves. We have our eyes on the roasted aubergine with almond yogurt for next time.
Nopi, 21-22 Warwick Street, Soho, W1B 5NE.
Wild Food Cafe: plant-based dining
Describing itself as "a plant based eatery and wellbeing oasis", the Wild Food Cafe fulfils just about every veggie stereotype going with its open-armed, happily hippy-dippy vibes. But importantly, food is good as well as raw, organic, foraged and nutritious. We had an amazing chocolate tart here and the burger is decent too. Go open minded.
Wild Food Cafe, 1st floor 14 Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP.
Tonkotsu: veggie noodles and ramen
Sometimes what you need is a big bowl of noodles, and we can't think of a better ramen offering than at Tonkotsu. The miso and shimeji mushroom ramen uses a stock that is deeply, deeply savoury with perfect bouncy homemade noodles, packed with veg and that deliciously seasoned egg on top. Get some sweet potato korokke on the side.
Tonkotsu has eight locations across London: Soho, Bankside, Battersea, Haggerston, Hackney, Notting Hill, Oxford Street (inside Selfridges) and Stratford.
Club Mexicana: vegan Mexican food
Actually, these guys are vegan, but we're splitting hairs. The food here is so good, you'll come even if you're a hardened meat eater. It's bright, vibrant and pretty darn naughty too. Loaded nachos, deep fried cheese bites and tacos for days – who said vegan food had to be healthy?
Club Mexicana has three locations across London: Shoreditch, Camden and a pub residency at The Spread Eagle in Homerton.
KERB Camden: vegetarian street food
There's many a good veggie thing to be had at the KERB in Camden (probably London's veggie spiritual home) but you're really here for the halloumi fries from Oli Baba's stall. Deep fried Cypriot cheese drizzled with za'atar yoghurt, pomegranate seeds, mint, sumac and then sharply sweet pomegranate molasses. Get some fresh and healthy fattoush on the side if you can't handle the guilt.
KERB Camden, Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF.
Honey & Smoke: vegetarian mezze
The ex-Ottolenghi husband and wife team have opened this restaurant as a smokier version of Honey & Co (also great for vegetarians). The entire mezze section is meat and fish-free featuring delights such as grilled Turkish figs in a walnut sauce, babaganoush with a burnt aubergine dip and Greek flogeres pastry stuffed with cheese, honey and sesame seeds. We're drooling already.
Honey & Smoke, 216 Great Portland Street, W1W 5QW.
Lele's: vegan cafe and aperitivo bar
Passionate vegan and veggie cook Valentina has brought happiness to the meat-free of Clapton, making this cafe and aperitivo bar (well she is Italian) a popular spot in the process. Brunch is excellent with the veggie full English a key player. Food is locally sourced, bright, light and healthy on the right side of hearty. Dogs welcome too.
Lele's, 50 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0RN.
Bala Baya: veggie Middle Eastern options
Londonist writer Lydia Manch recommends the vegetarian dishes at Israeli restaurant Bala Baya - particularly the cauliflower:
"Middle Eastern restaurants are usually great at making vegetarian dishes the star of the menu - thanks to a generous way with big flavours like tahini, chilli, pomegranate and citrus. Bala Baya's nailing the vegetarian offering, with the highlight being the caramelised cauliflower dish - charred and scattered with yoghurt and syrup, or stuffed into a pita at lunchtime with salad and pomegranate molasses. There's no shortage of great cauliflower dishes in the city at the minute - we also love Berber & Q's cauliflower shawarma - this is up there with the best".
Bala Baya, Arch 25, Old Union Yard Arches, 229 Union Street, SE1 0LR.
Palatino: vegetarian pasta dishes
If people think vegetarians get a raw deal by being presented so much pasta on menus they should head to Palatino. Here, meat lovers and eschewers alike will swoon over dishes like tonarelli cacio e pepe (wonderfully simple and not often found outside of Italy until recently), nettle agnolotti with ricotta and fried courgette flowers with honey vinegar. One of our faves right now.
Palatino, 71 Central Street, EC1V 8AB.