London’s very best vegan restaurants
While a few years ago the idea of veganism brought about images of lentil-munching, hemp-clad hippies, plant-based diets have hurtled into the mainstream. The increase in veganism has been staggering — a 360% rise in the U.K. and a 600% rise in the U.S. since 2014 – and today London is one of the best places in the world to discover the joys of a plant-based diet. Here are the best places to eat vegan food in London.
By CHLOE doesn’t need much introduction stateside, and now this vegan fast-food hotspot has arrived in London. The Classic burger, with a tempeh, lentil, walnut and chia seed patty, is fresh and tasty, but better still is the Guac, a black bean, quinoa and sweet potato patty with guacamole and chipotle aioli.
By CHLOE has created a few dishes exclusive to London: veganised British favourites like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie. The ‘fish and chips’ is exceptional — crispy battered tofu with a nori seaweed layer, served with mushy peas and tartar sauce. The first U.K. By CHLOE only opened this February, but five more restaurants are in the works — a confidence that’s not misplaced in this climate.
Based in upmarket Mayfair, COYA’s new vegan menu shuns meat substitutes like seitan or soy to be proudly plant-based. Fusing traditional elements of Peruvian cuisine with creative vegan cooking, the standout dish might be the risotto-style pumpkin, and the simple sides balance out the richness of the mains.
For dessert, COYA serves up a dark sphere of Inka chocolate mousse, a tart lime sorbet, candied walnuts and a fragrant mango coulis. It’s the type of dessert to eat if you think a vegan diet can’t be decadent and, like the rest of the menu at COYA, proves that vegan diets are interesting, intricate, flavourful and subtle.
The Gate has long been London’s most famous vegetarian restaurant chain, but now it’s leaning towards veganism. While the menu is varied, there’s an inclination towards Asian/Middle Eastern nuances, and the miso-glazed aubergine is outrageously tasty: roasted aubergine so tender it melts in your mouth, topped with toasted cashews and ponzu sauce.
The Tofu Tikka is a wise choice for fans of Indian food who miss paneer-style cheese; chunks of smoked tofu are marinated in tikka spices and chana salsa. For dessert, the soft cappuccino cheesecake with a crumbly hazelnut base and mocha cream is a revelation.
What The Pitta
Finishing a night out with a meat-packed doner kebab might be a very British tradition, but thankfully What The Pitta’s cruelty-free vegan kebab hits the spot just as well. Replacing the meat are succulent chunks of soya that are marinated in Middle Eastern spices, then grilled for a gorgeously smoky taste. Piled on top is crispy salad, chilli sauce, homemade hummus and vegan tzatziki (made with soya yoghurt), all wrapped up in a chewy flatbread.
Other tasty delights on the menu are Lamacun, a Turkish-style pizza topped with minced soya, vegetables and spices, and for the more health-conscious among us, the Couscous Salad Box is an excellent choice. Be sure to leave room for the syrup drenched vegan baklava!
Wulf & Lamb
Wulf & Lamb is one of London’s newest vegan restaurants, but this minimalist eatery has already proved itself on one point: serving up the best vegan macaroni cheese I’ve ever had. Every mouthful is a moreish delight: the sauce is creamy and gooey, the pasta light and fluffy and the crunchy top the perfect golden brown.
Other tasty dishes include the seitan Wulf Burger, the Wulf Pie (pulled jackfruit and lentil stew with mashed potato and baby carrots) and the Chili ‘Non’ Carne. The desserts are good, too: the mango and passionfruit cheesecake comes served on a bed of nuts and is topped with raspberry crumble and eggless mini-meringues.
Fed By Water
Fans of pizza, pasta and risotto will be thankful for the ambitions of Fed By Water, a trendy vegan Italian in Dalston, East London. Though it began as a “regular” restaurant, Fed By Water soon transitioned to fully vegan, and promotes a healthy Mediterranean diet with food that’s been cooked in purified water.
The standout here is the plant-based cheese platter, which left me feeling overwhelmingly positive about the future of vegan cheese. Made with either soy or cashew, there are variations of several cheeses, but the best is the turmeric-coated smoked scamorzette – the creamy, smoky taste and smooth texture were identical to the real thing.
Mooshies is a vegan burger bar that’s proudly all about the veg. Despite their whimsical names, the burgers here aren’t trying to be meat, and the result is lip-smackingly good food that’s actually pretty healthy. The What’s Ur Beef? burger is excellent, but even better is the Pulled Mooshie, where BBQ jackfruit makes an uncannily similar alternative to pork.
Ask a vegetarian why they aren’t vegan and you’ll invariably get the same answer: “cheese”. Producing a delicious vegan cheese hasn’t been easy, but the mozzarella-style sticks at Mooshies are outstanding: coated in crunchy batter, they’re stringy, gooey and seriously cheesy.
For something different, head to Tibits, an upscale vegetarian buffet-style restaurant that’s the brainchild of Swiss brothers Christian, Daniel and Reto Frei. Most of the food is already free from dairy and eggs, but every Tuesday Tibits goes fully vegan. Choose from a dizzying array of dishes — there are over 40 salads, hot dishes, soups, juices and desserts.
Every dish is perfectly flavoured, from the velvety daal to the piquant vegetable tagines — but the salads are where Tibits excels most. I dithered over earthy beetroot, celeriac with walnuts, kale and swede, apple-fig-tofu-pear and the orecchiette pasta salad, before loading my plate up with all of them.