Around Town: Veganuary
Here's our updated round up of the best good (plant-based) food across London, in our special edition of Around Town (with new openings for 2022).
Despite the meatiness of Chinese cuisine, Tofu Vegan have reimagined traditional dishes and created a fully plant-based menu full of vibrant spice and fresh flavours. Drawing on inspiration from their chefs from Sichuan, Dongbei, and Canton, the menu brings together a diverse range of flavours and textures. Many of the dishes are tofu and mushroom-based, with others using convincing mock-meats and fish. Their spicy wontons alone are reason enough to visit.
With creative dishes that are focused on bringing out the colourful flavours in vegetables, rather than plant-based meats, Omni is shaking up London’s vegan food scene in the best of ways. After running plant-based pop-ups for the past few years, the Omni founders opened the doors of their own restaurant in the summer of 2021 in Peckham. With its friendly atmosphere, flavourful sharing plates and innovative cocktails, you’ll be sure to hear someone raving about this place soon enough, if you haven’t already...
The now-vegan Michelin-starred French chef Alex Gauthier is the mastermind behind 123V. The restaurant is in Fenwick’s building on New Bond Street and reimagines an array of international cuisines and expertly brings all their flavours together in one place. From beautifully-crafted vegan sushi to loaded burgers and quesadillas this spot is sure to hit the spot for any craving.
Breakfast and Brunch
Blue Brick Café
East Dulwich, SE22
A hidden gem beloved by locals, this East Dulwich eatery is everything you want on an easy Sunday morning – delicious full breakfasts, plenty of caffeine, and fresh juices – all in a cosy, homely atmosphere with lots of natural light. With different combinations of vegetarian and vegan full English favourites, meals can be matched to any hunger state. The homemade ‘sausages’ are a fan favourite, and the mushrooms and spinach on toast are a healthier hit to any hangover.
Blue Brick Café
Bethnal Green, E2
As part of wellbeing charity St. Margaret’s House, the Gallery Café would fit well into the ‘Conscious Cafés’ section, but their winning breakfasts make them an East London brunch staple. There’s a full English to be had, of course, but pancakes, porridge, and superfood breakfast bowls are also on offer, and all can be washed down with good coffee, or the increasingly popular turmeric, chai, matcha, and beetroot lattes, all served with oat milk as standard.
Café Van Gogh
This 100% vegan, low waste restaurant is a non-profit charity, and a living wage employer, who offer on-the-job training programmes for those facing problems finding work through traditional routes. The regularly changing specials combine plant-centric eating with comfort food to great effect – their recent seitan ribs special went down a storm with locals. Many also get a kick out of the décor – follow a spiral staircase to find a dining area overlooked by its namesake’s starry night sky.
Café Van Gogh
A newcomer to the vegan restaurant scene, this spot faces plenty of great competition in Shoreditch, but has quickly won over Londoners with a wide and varied menu – and a pledge to donate all profits to animal rights organisation Surge. The all-vegan diner was set up by the campaigning superstar known as Earthling Ed, and with pancakes, waffles, burgers, sandwiches, and salads, this could be a great place to satisfy every member of a group.
Walthamstow, E17 (Re-opens Jan, check website for details!)
Another low-waste non-profit, this organic and seasonally focused vegan café is much more than a place to eat – it’s a real community hub for Walthamstow and beyond. They host a market stall and veg box scheme in partnership with Organiclea, provide training facilities, host workshops on social and environmental issues, and much more. Even better – the food is great, thanks to its fresh and organic ingredients. This is another place to ‘vote with your wallet’, and know you’re making a positive impact with your diet, and to the local community.
The Full Nelson
Deptford, SE8; Peckham, SE15
A tiny wood panelled pub tucked into Deptford Broadway, this unassuming spot serves a great selection of veggie and vegan junk food, with impressive burgers, and some seriously more-ish loaded fries. With flavours inspired by the Southern US, this might be one of the only places you can try a vegan corndog this side of the Atlantic. There’s a solid brunch offering (featuring chick’n waffles), which can be washed down with a boozy iced coffee or Bloody Mary. A more limited, but equally delicious version of the menu is also available from the kitchen of The Four Quarters in Peckham.
The Full Nelson
The Vurger Co.
Shoreditch, E1; Canary Wharf, E14
For an earthier vegan burger that keeps its vegetables at the forefront, head to The Vurger Co. Served on vegan brioche buns, or bun-free as a salad bowl, these burgers are a new and improved version of the vegetable and bean burgers of the vegetarian dark days – and with two permanent locations, Londoners are loving it. The Vurger Co. gets extra points for fully compostable packaging, and organic/fair trade drinks offerings.
The Vurger Co.
Temple of Hackney & Temple of Camden
Hackney, E9; Camden, N1C
Lovingly referred to simply as ‘Temple’ by Londoner’s dedicated vegan junk foodies, or ‘a vegan fried chicken shop with queues down the street’ by the papers, Temple of Seitan remain at the forefront of London’s vegan food revolution. They have far outlived the ‘vegan fried chicken shop’ gimmick, and both the Hackney and Camden locations remain abuzz at all hours. And with good reason. This is where you’ll find some of the best vegan fast food in the city – the two pieces, popcorn bites, and wings, have an ultra-satisfying fried chicken style coating that can’t be beaten, and the burgers are equally as mouth-watering.
Temple of Seitan
Soho, W1F; Camden, NW1; King's Cross, N1; Dalston, E8
No selection of London’s best vegan offerings would be complete without a nod to Mildred’s. The original charming Soho spot has been open since 1988, but dated it is not. Just varied enough without being overwhelming, the menu includes veg-centric curries, a fantastic classic mushroom pie, and some really incredible desserts. Both celebrating classic dishes that happen to be vegan, and vegan-ising new favourites, any of the 4 Mildred’s locations is a great place for those making the transition to veganism, or a mixed-diet group. Or, well, anyone who appreciates good food. Read more in our review here.
The Next Level
Impressive on so many levels, CUB is a figurehead for London’s whole food culture, not just for its vegan/vegetarian leanings. Founded in part by Doug McMaster, the dedicated pioneer of Brighton’s Silo, the UK’s zero waste restaurant, CUB’s commitment to sustainability is visible across the whole restaurant. The table tops are made from repurposed yogurt pots, to create a beautiful white surface marbled with silver from the foil, and the serving platters are made from compressed plastic bags, not that you would ever know - the restaurant is ultra-sleek and contemporary. What isn’t recycled, however, are the flavours on the menu. Mind-boggling combinations, such as pumpkin seeds and oil, white caramel, and douglas fir, are detailed to you by the chefs who visit your table, and help make this an experience for all the senses. They also focus on using overlooked parts of plants and food by-products, such as broccoli stems and pineapple weed. The priciest on this list, CUB might be a special occasion visit, but a special occasion it will be.