Vegetarians usually face a bit of a challenge when dining out in Iran, as Persian cuisine is heavily based around meat. But healthy eating and the benefits of a veggie diet have reached the boundaries of Iran, with a number of such restaurants in the capital city. Here are eight of the best vegetarian eateries in Tehran, where you can try traditional dishes without having to sacrifice your diet.
Persian for “earth”, Zamin is perhaps the only 100% vegan eatery in Tehran. With only a handful of tables, this log cabin-esque restaurant has an extensive menu of plant-based burgers, pizza, sushi, kabob, and even traditional Persian stews – a standout is the ghormeh sabzi, a tasty recipe of various herbs and kidney beans. The small grocery section by the cashier is equipped with gluten-free crackers, quinoa, and other vegan pantry items.
Tehran Province, Tehran, Pardisan. T: +98 21 8837 3924
Ananda Vegetarian Restaurant
This enchanting haunt has been delivering flavorful meat-free dishes for over a decade, proving that vegetarianism can be both healthy and delicious. Set in a tranquil zen garden in the Pasdaran neighborhood, Ananda offers a veggie take on traditional Persian dishes like stuffed peppers and grape leaves. A handful of yummy vegan options and an equally pleasing café menu make this a worthwhile stop, even for meat-eaters.
Tehran Province, Tehran, District 3, South Ekhtiyariyeh, No. 18, Iran. T: +98 21 2255 6767
Situated on the bustling Shariati Street, what Banyan Tree lacks in peaceful ambiance, it more than makes up for in its dishes. The kitchen prides itself on never using frozen or canned ingredients, and choosing only wholegrain pastas and bread and brown rice. Be sure to try its vegan-friendly version of the sinfully delicious Persian comfort food, fesenjoon, a sweet-and-sour stew made with pomegranate molasses, crushed walnuts, and – in this case – tofu.
Tehran Province, Tehran, District 3. T: +98 21 2263 1017
Iranian Artists Forum
Although you might enjoy the atmosphere more than the food at the Iranian Artists Forum’s vegetarian restaurant, there’s no denying that any such option in Iran is a treat. Popular with the art crowd, the restaurant features an entirely meat-free menu, making it a great spot to grab a bite in a beautiful outdoor space, before soaking up some culture either in the gallery or the theater.
Tehran Province, Tehran, Baghe Honarmandan، Iranshahr St. T: +98 21 8831 0457
Pure Vegetarian Cuisine
Found among the bountiful cafés in the A.S.P. Towers, this lovely little restaurant has French-inspired interiors, friendly English-speaking staff, and a cozy vibe that keeps customers returning. Dishes from the vegetarian and vegan menu are not only tastefully presented but also perfectly seasoned. Breakfast options are available, while those who visit on a Wednesday night will be treated to some live music as well.
Tehran, 64th St, ASP Towers, Iran. T: +98 21 8860 3990
Not a vegetarian restaurant per se, Tilit is the only place in town, however, that offers a veggie alternative to one of Iran’s most-beloved national dishes – dizi, a traditional stew of beans, potatoes, and lamb, cooked in a clay pot. Served in true Iranian fashion, with various pickled vegetables, yogurt, fresh herbs, and bread, the food is perfect for a pit stop after a day exploring downtown Tehran. It’s recommended to call a day in advance for the tofu-substituted dizi.
Mezbah, Tehran. T: +98 21 3398 4684
Don’t head to Khoshbin (aka Hassan Rashti) if you’re looking to enjoy a leisurely meal. With a quick table turnover, this understated restaurant is an institution among Iranians, who come for the authentic Gilaki cuisine (from the northern Gilan region). Alongside the kabobs marinated in pomegranate molasses are typical northern dishes such as smoked white fish, mirzâ ghâsemi (smoked eggplant with egg), and bâghlâ ghâtogh (lima beans with egg), making it ideal for pescetarians and ovo-lacto vegetarians.
Tehran, Saadi St. T: +98 21 3390 2194
Charmy’s is a cozy vegetarian joint, serving up an array of creamy pasta dishes in a snug setting with an open kitchen, making it feel like you’re eating in a friend’s home. Using only fresh ingredients, Charmy’s has mastered the various sauces of its simple yet tasty pasta dishes. The grilled eggplant is a favorite here, as is the virgin grape juice mojito.
2/1 Alborz 1 Alley Hafez St, District 6, Tehran. T: +98 21 66 49 85 10