Vegetarian food has come a long way in London since the first veggie place opened in 1966. There are now tons of options, including more and more high-end places looking to cater to the discerning animal-loving eater. But what about those without the deep pockets? Thankfully, even in an expensive city like London, budget-friendly veggie food is still available. Here is our guide to some of the best places to try.
Omelet with harissa and plantains at Persepolis Photo by Jennifer C. Smith-Parker
Linked to the Radha-Krishna Temple, this pleasantly busy establishment serves vegetarian and vegan Indian thalis, salads, and sweets. The display cases tempt customers with a large variety and, when asked, staff behind the counter patiently explain each dish. All products at Govinda are meat, fish, and egg-free and a wide selection are suitable for vegans. The convenient location is particularly great if you choose takeaway to eat in Soho Square. Finally, the price can’t be beaten. A spinach roll, burger, small salad, and carob ball will cost under £10. Top it off with a delicious-looking lassi and you’re set.
On a loud, nondescript road filled with fried chicken shops and off-licences, the yellow-painted Persepolis is literally a vegetarian beacon of hope. The cosy interior, a small shop jam-packed with Persian sweets and foodstuffs, leads into an even smaller café with sitting area. Behind the small counter, Sally Butcher works magic with plantains, eggs, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, wraps, beans, and so much more. As for refreshment, the cardamom and mango shake is thick and creamy and the Iranian cordials, pomegranate, sour cherry, rose, and mint, offer subtle sweetness. Of course, just when you think you can’t stuff anymore food in, there is the Persepolitan Vegan Knickerbocker Glory or Hot Paklava Meltdown to put you over the satisfying edge.
Pumpkin salad with goat cheese, crispy black cabbage and pine nuts Photo by Jennifer C. Smith-Parker
Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Tucked away on a side street in rambunctious Shoreditch, PortSide Parlour beckons drinkers with its cosy, dim interior, with leather banquettes and dark wood. But there is an amazing food side to this establishment, where even carnivores will be quite happy. The plates are meant to be tapas-style, but the presentation is no less than if full entrees were served. The pumpkin salad with goat cheese, crispy black cabbage and pine nuts, and the blue cheese croquettes will make your eyes close with bliss. The welcoming staff explain the ingredients used, but are also certain to remain unobtrusive. The drinks are worth a mention too.
Gokyuzu restaurant in Green Lanes | Photo by @Caleb_Parker
This small spot among the row of restaurants in the Primrose Hill neighbourhood offers a nice selection of salads, sandwiches, and sides as well as coffee and pastries. The tables outside are particularly pleasant in warm weather. Ripe Kitchen focuses on healthy eating but don’t think that comes at the expense of good food, the food is fresh and tasty. The portions are generous. Afterwards, stroll off those calories in nearby Regents Park or mosey on down towards Camden.
When it’s 9:30PM and the line out the restaurant door just keeps getting longer and longer, you know you’ve hit the food jackpot. This family-run establishment in the heavily Turkish Green Lanes neighbourhood is also very veg-friendly, with huge plates at unbeatable prices. Service is efficient and the food is on point, with the smoked aubergine dip and baskets of overflowing, warm pita bread making mouths water. Gökyüzüattracts a diverse crowd, from hipsters to local families to students. Istanbul, you have serious competition.