London’ best vegan restaurants
This Veganuary, we’re looking beyond fake meat to celebrate the wide array of vegan food on offer across the capital, from sweet pastries and Ethiopian injera, to fake sushi and Chinese takeaway. London local and passionate vegan Serena Lee rounds up her top ten places to grab a plant-based bite…
Where: 45-47 Parkway, London NW1 7PN
This unassuming vegan pizzeria has won awards at the World Pizza Championships, PizzAward in Naples, and more – all up against traditional, non-vegan pizzas. And while its wood-fired, sourdough pizzas are truly delicious, Purezza also offers a range of tasty Italian vegan fare including lasagne and calzone, making it a desirable pitstop for hungry plant-based foodies. It has locations in Brighton and London, and the latter is a just short walk from Regent’s Park, so in the summer it’s perfect for grabbing a takeaway, wandering up to the park with friends and enjoying one of London’s most beautiful green spaces.
Where: 35 Piccadilly, London W1J 0DW (Multiple store locations and market stalls on weekends)
Vegan doughnuts are a dime a dozen in London these days, but Crosstown’s are firm favourites. While its range isn’t entirely vegan, it has a fantastic grip on what makes a good vegan doughnut without compromising on flavour or quality. What’s more, it often releases limited-edition flavours to mark special events in the calendar – so keep an eye out for those. Otherwise, its long-standing chocolate truffle is always a reliable option as is the lime and coconut, which has the perfect balance of a creamy filling with zesty icing. Don’t be put off by the price (£4.50 a pop) – they really are worth it.
Where: 139 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB
Vida Bakery is highly recommended for custom vegan birthday cakes, but it also serves the vegan community daily as a sweet treat paradise offering cupcakes, rainbow cake slices, cookies, hot drinks, and more. It’s a dairy-, egg- and gluten-free café founded by the talented Dani and Vane, who helped to launch what we know as London’s vegan scene today. Stop by if you’re visiting Shoreditch – Vida is on Brick Lane and is hard to miss with its colourful window displays.
Where: 4 Princes Street, London W1B 2LE, plus multiple locations across Central London
There are so many of vegan-friendly burgers outlets across London now that’s it hard to narrow down the best of the bunch, but a favourite is Neat Burger. Backed by sporting superstar Sir Lewis Hamilton, Neat Burger aims to bring vegan fast food to the masses (and doesn’t leave you feeling stuck to the couch afterwards like many fast-food eateries do). With six branches already up and running in London, the chain aims to open an additional 16 in 2022, with hopes of cementing its place as a household name for quick and easy vegan fast food. Burgers, fries, hot dogs, shakes and nuggets – as well as lighter ‘burger bowls’ – are all on offer. Remember to add tater tots to your order, too. They’re irresistible.
Where: Fenwick, 63 New Bond Street, London W1S 1RQ
Upmarket department store Fenwick hides a secret in its basement: the recently launched, 100 per cent vegan casual dining restaurant, 123V. Chef Alexis Gauthier has concocted an expansive menu that offers not only plant-based staples including falafel salads, rice bowls and vegan burgers and quesadillas, but also the most impressive array of vegan sushi in the capital. ‘V-tuna nigiri’ is made of succulent watermelon while the ‘V-salmon nigiri’ is based on compressed carrot. The ‘V-prawn tempura’ is also an absolute must – try them all with a grand sushi set, worth every penny of the £23 price tag. The whole concept is health-focused – think vibrant colours and nourishing, hearty meals. It even boasts a vegan wine and cocktail list, so it’s the perfect refuelling point after a spot of shopping in one of London’s most-loved locations.
Where: 1 Canalside Here East Estate, London E20 3BS
Mother Works is a local gem. Stroll alongside the canal through Hackney Wick to Here East, a media campus by the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to find this unassuming café, which serves some of East London’s best healthy food. Go for its açaí bowl (adding a generous portion of peanut butter), a smoothie and its seasonal special – most recently a green shakshuka sabzi with tofu and cultured cashew cheese.
Where: 5 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1D 6PB
Opened in 1999, Vantra was a pioneering fully vegan eatery in London. Its food has remained consistently high quality in both nutritional value and in flavour, and it’s still a popular London location. Dishes are served buffet-style (opening image) and all meals are made from plants – you won’t find mock meats or oil-based ‘cheese’ here. An all-time favourite is its mushroom stroganoff, but its smoothies, hot drinks and desserts are all delicious, too. Owner Mui Phong describes Vantra as a “tranquil sanctuary”, and the experience here will leave you feeling as if you just had a good night’s sleep, despite being right in the bustling heart of the city.
Loving Hut Archway
Where: 669 Holloway Road, London N19 5SE
Before the influx of new, competing vegan establishments opened up across the capital, there was Loving Hut, a veteran vegan restaurant that’s been feeding Londoners for more than a decade. With an extensive buffet menu comprising Chinese takeaway classics such as prawn toast and soy-based ‘meat’ in the traditional Chinese style – and manned a friendly team – it’s a tasty and reliable urban vegan option.
Where: Southbank Centre Food Market, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
Ethiopian cuisine is naturally very vegan-friendly, with a plethora of dishes based on pulses. Here, set dishes offer something for everyone, and the draw for many diners new to Ethiopian food is injera: the spongey, fermented bread used to scoop up lentils and mop up delicious sauce. If you’re looking to eat the rainbow, look no further: Ethiopiques’ colourful combinations will fill you up, and for a fair price, too.
What The Pitta
Where: 53 Brick Lane, London E1 6PU, plus Camden and Croydon locations
Offering Turkish-inspired vegan street food, What The Pitta is a cult favourite amongst herbivores and omnivores alike. It offers vegan döners, gyros, mezze boxes with incredible dairy-free tzatziki, as well as falafel wraps and London’s best baklava – plus its bread is freshly-baked (which makes all the difference). There’s now also an option for a 20-piece box of nuggets to rival McDonald’s. It’s the kind of food that proves vegans don’t have to miss out on anything – it’s all here in London.
London’s vegan experiences
Being vegan isn’t all about eating plant-based food. Try these alternative experiences in the heart of the city
Luxuriate in the Vegan Suite at the Hilton London Bankside
The Hilton London Bankside has introduced the capital’s first luxury vegan hotel suite. The room features a headboard and cushions made from Piñatex (a ‘leather’ made from pineapple cellulose), hand-embroidered by artist Emily Potter, plus sustainable bamboo flooring, vegan-friendly bedding and eco-cotton carpeting. Each small detail has been designed to create a boutique and luxurious experience for the plant-based traveller. And it doesn’t stop there. Specially curated menus in the OXBO restaurant 9open for breakfast and weekend brunch) and Distillery bar - as well as in-room dining - are ready and waiting, and feature delicacies such as pumpkin and sage ravioli, butter bean and piquillo pepper ragoût and blackcurrant bavarois.
Conscience clubbing with Morning Gloryville
Get your groove on, as the world’s original sober daytime rave party, Morning Gloryville, takes to the stage with monthly experiences and wellness parties in London. Unlike your typical dance party, these start at 10am and last for up to six hours, to promote what co-founders Samantha Moyo and contemporary dancer Nico Thoemmes call “conscious clubbing”. Founded in 2013, the parties (which were originally held in Shoreditch) have now spread to 14 cities all over the world, from Sydney to San Francisco, Brighton to Bangalore. Expect energising music, mesmerising visuals, free massages, organic coffee, smoothie bars, plant-based foodie treats, yoga, and personal motivation from trained and costumed performers to help get you raving your way into the day.
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