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​​9 Must-Know Vegan And Vegetarian Restaurants In London

Once upon a time, London kitchens paid little more than lip service to vegetarians. Bar a few earnest trailblazers, an evening out was likely to be spent in the company of a token mushroom risotto. Having the full run of a menu was an exercise in pure fantasy. Vegans? Forget it.

How things have changed. It could be argued that the capital’s most pioneering cooking is now produced by the plant-based crowd, who run slick operations in every borough. Here is our edit of London’s best vegetarian and vegan restaurants, from old favourites to fresh faces.

Naïfs

Peckham has emerged as something of a mecca for modern vegan cooking, and we say this friendly, intimate bistro is the best of the bunch. The brainchild of three Cornish brothers and one of their partners, Naïfs offers a well-priced set menu from Thursday to Sunday that changes monthly. Expect invention without pretension – the current line up includes fried king oyster mushrooms with wild garlic mayonnaise, and a smoked lentil pate with kimi fig jam and pickles.

56 Goldsmith Rd, London SE15 5TN

Mallow

Launched by the team behind long-time veggie favourite Mildreds, this seasonal sister restaurant is in good hands. There is stiff foodie competition in Borough – especially here, within the market – but Mallow’s all-day dining concept holds its own. The plant-based menu hits a sweet spot between the junk food imitators and the whole foods brigade, with offerings like porcini chestnut croquettes and beetroot sweet potato tortelloni.

1 Cathedral St, London SE1 9DE

Rasa

In London’s notoriously fickle restaurant scene, stories like Rasa’s are worth celebrating. Now something of a Stoke Newington institution, this vegetarian Indian restaurant has been serving fragrant Keralan cuisine from its Church Street location since 1997, after founder Das Sreedharan was left uninspired by the capital’s take on his home country’s cooking. Look for the powder pink façade – there is a pescatarian spin off, Rasa Street, over the road.

55 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16 0AR

Tofu Vegan

We’re not sure whether the wonderfully literal name should have helped or hindered this plant-based Chinese restaurant, but it’s been a runaway success regardless. The wontons in the house special sauce are the stars of a comfortingly lengthy menu, but you can’t really go wrong here – even committed carnivores will find lots to love. The original is on Islington’s Upper Street, but there are now outposts in Golders Green and Spitalfields.

105 Upper St, London N1 1QN

EDIT

A January opening seems fitting for this new Hackney farm-to-table restaurant – it is vegan Christmas, after all. Expect modern British plant-based cooking, from a wild mushroom fricassée with creamed barley and wilted chard to a salt baked turnip with lentil ragu. The head chefs are former The Gate and Super Nature (cue in-the-know vegans nodding in approval) so expect them to hit the ground running with this low-impact concept.

217 Mare St, London E8 3QE

Bubala

It came as no surprise to anyone when this Middle Eastern pop-up turned into a permanent Spitalfields restaurant, only to quickly earn a second spot in Soho. Defer to the Bubala Knows Best £39 set menu for a whip through the hits, from halloumi with black seed honey and fried aubergine with zhoug and date syrup to the obligatory pickles, laffa bread and labneh (here with confit garlic and za’atar). A few swaps and tweaks and it’s suitable for vegans, too.

65 Commercial St, London E1 6BD

Gauthier

When French Michelin-star chef Alexis Gauthier turned vegan in 2016, it only seemed right that his fine dining restaurant should eventually follow, no matter how painful the process (he has since told The Guardian that he lost 5,000 customers, but gained 100,000 new ones). Housed in a regency townhouse, the experience is a far cry from the bustle of most Soho joints. Book in at 5pm for a more succinct version of the full tasting menu, priced sensibly at £55.

21 Romilly St, London W1D 5AF

Tendril

An alumnus of The Dairy, Chiltern Firehouse, and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, Rishim Sachdeva’s CV reads like a who’s who of the London restaurant scene. A six month stint at Soho pub The Sun & 13 Cantons was enough to persuade the public into crowd-funding a permanent home for his own venture, Tendril, and it’s here that Sachdeva has poured all of that experience. Inspirations are varied, and there’s something to please any palate.

5 Princes St, London W1B 2LQ

Peachy Goat

Italian cooking doesn’t lend itself neatly to plant-based adaptation – there’s all that fresh egg pasta and mozzarella to account for. This relaxed café-cum-restaurant in Herne Hill has given it a seriously good shot, with a host of Italian-inspired dishes like pumpkin gnocchi with miso butter, delica pumpkin and sage oil alongside crowd-pleasing veggie burgers and fries. Don’t miss the hazelnut praline cannoli or mini biscoff doughnuts, aka bomboloni, for dessert.

16 Half Moon Ln, London SE24 9HU

Words by Cat Olley

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