Venetia Falconer, podcast creator and presenter of Talking Tastebuds, shares her favourite plant-based restaurants around London.
London is fast becoming the vegan capital of the world. Not only does oat mylk seem to be the go-to of every barista the city, there are now meat-free ‘bleeding burgers’, indulgent dairy-free donuts and entire events dedicated to solely to plant-based living. Whether you’re after a quick and casual bite to eat, fancy date night or an entire evening of dancing fuelled by plants, this metropolis has you covered.
PICKY WOPS PIZZA
If you’re thinking about going vegan but the questions ‘but, cheese’ or ‘but, bacon’ arise in your mind, then look no further than Picky Wops, who are taking taking things up a notch at Peckham Levels. Founded by two Italians who are as passionate about reggae artist Protoje as they are pizza, these guys know how to make dough. They use ‘high grade’ flours, so if you’re prone to feeling a little bloated after an entire pizza, this may be the base for you (there’s also a plantain base if you’re gluten free). What’s more, the vegetables on the pizza are seasoned to perfection, the cheese tastes like the real deal and you can have a stuffed crust. Need I say more?
Ven recommends: The Vegan Temptations (ricotta, kale and blueberries) with extra mushrooms on a hemp base.
Don’t be fooled by the friendly, neighbourhood feel of this restaurant, your mind is about to be blown. Located just behind Kensal Rise station, this Middle-Eastern themed establishment offers the usual suspects like beetroot hummus, shakshuka and aubergine zaalock. They are truly delicious, but the dynamite shrimp and battered BBQ mushroom ribs are really worth writing home about…(Please NB reader, I think my parents’ would have been a tad concerned if I had sent them a letter about mushrooms. Instead, I opted for a voicenote via whatsapp, but the call is yours).
Ven recommends: Return Of The Mac. It comes with the ribs, but get an extra portion on the side for good measure.
BLACK CAT CAFE
This Hackney cafe is an absolute gem. If you’re someone who can’t feel satiated after eating vegan food, this is the place for you. Portions are hearty and honest, just like the establishment itself, which is proud to push plants and be a voice for the voiceless. Black Cat describes the food as ‘scratch-made comfort food’, with awesome ‘fishless’ fish curries, big healthy salads and sub sandwiches with cold-cuts. The vibe is relaxed, and very dog friendly.
Ven recommends: The sausage rolls. Oh my wow.
Many of the newest vegan restaurants in London are fast food orientated (please see byChloe and Genesis – darn tasty, but perhaps not ideal to have sriracha mayo dripping down your chin for a fourth date with your future wifey). Enter: Vanilla Black. Fine dining, veganised. Tucked away in the City Of London, just a few minutes walk from Chancery Lane station, this is the perfect place to enjoy plant-based food that smashes the stereotypes. Expect candlelit white tables, delicately presented plate swooshes and sublime organic wines.
Ven recommends: Fried Shiitake, pine nut puree and crispy enoki with marsala and pine salt.
EAT OF EDEN
Anyone who knows about this restaurant, is a regular. And for that reason, you may have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it. This is the Brixton’s epicentre for wholesome, healthy Caribbean inspired food, affordably priced. A must visit.
Ven recommends: A sharing platter and all the ackee.
If you have a mother/brother/cousin lover who suffers with lachanophobia (an unwarranted or irrational fear of vegetables) in your life, this is the place for them. Club Mexicana make flavour packed, completely banging, Mexican inspired street food. Their burritos are badass and their nachos are the stuff which dreams are made of. They are my go-to festival fuel (they do the rounds over the summer), but you can find their permanent base at The Spread Eagle pub in Homerton. A non-vegan friend of mine recently went and ordered the fish tacos. He genuinely couldn’t believe it wasn’t fish and has been harping on about it ever since.
Ven recommends: Three words: Christmas set menu. Dear Santa, I’ve been so good this year…
FOR EVERYTHING ELSE, THERE’S VEGAN NIGHTS
Held every first Thursday of each month at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane, this is the place to discover the best vegan street food, cruelty free clothing and beauty products. The crowd is cool, the vibe is friendly, the bars are open. Dance the night away after indulging in steamed Bao buns from Eat Chay and salted chocolate chip cookies from Palm Vaults, dunked in black sesame ice cream from Black Mylk.