When I started my inquisitions into the vegan food scene of London, I was startled by the magnitude of the offerings. In a ranking of“ Best Cities to be vegan in“ London ranked the 8th place, being above New York City (to my surprise). Due to this magnitude it was impossible to go to each and every one of these restaurants and cafés, however, here is a sweet selection of the locations that were the most appealing to me!
MY TOP CHOICES
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Best for raw, gourmet food
Essence cuisine is one of Matthew Kenney’s various plant-based restaurants, that are located everywhere from New York City to Sydney. He is a chef who has committed himself to creating a lifestyle company evolving around plant- based food This involves an array of modern and state of the art restaurants all over the world in the most sought after locations, or the world’s first culinary educational center dedicated to a plant based kitchen and lifestyle. It is called Plant Lab- what I would do to take a course there! Essence cuisine is located in Shoreditch- the interior is sleek with a metallic touch here and there. At the counter, coffee, cocktails and smoothie bowls are made, whereas the kitchen is located downstairs. This is where the magic happens. I ordered raw vegan dishes only and was blown away by the stimulation of my taste buds. The raw ravioli with kimchi cream filling were an absolute dream- it was a top and bottom of coconut meat wrapper and in the middle was the kimchi cream that gave this amazing dish the ravioli flavor. I was very inspired by the spicy carrot sushi roll, as the marinated carrots acted as a rice replacement, which is something I was still looking for to not only have cucumber and avocado in my nori. Also, the nori was much thinner than the one I have at hime, which I absolutely loved as well. The highlight must have been the desserts: we ordered the nut cheese board, which had a variety of cashew cheese with pear chutney and three different types of crackers- this made me want to get into vegan cheese making. The chocolate caramel brownie was an absolute dream- the caramel actually did taste like caramel, the chocolate ganache was a pure dream of chocolate as well. My personal highlight were the raw pancakes, it was my silver lining that despite transitioning into the raw vegan lifestyle I will not have to give up my love for pancakes The pancakes themselves consisted of coconut and banana and were made in the dehydrator, served with berries and vanilla. All in all I can only speak highly of essence cuisine, I did not get a chance to try the cocktails but they sure did sound amazing. Oh and before I forget, the smoothies bowls are very delicious as well! I could eat here every day. Gourmet raw vegan dining!
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Best for raw, innovative food
Nama is an all raw vegan restaurant in Notting Hill, that also offers food courses, such“Aspiring Raw Chef“.“Fermentation Made Easy“,“Raw Aspriring Pastry Chef“. Eating raw means eating whole, high energy foods that are not heated above 42 degrees celsius/ 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This preserves all the nutrients and allows for the food to practice all its healing power on your body (more about my transitioning to a raw vegan diet maybe in another post?- let me know!). As my own diet currently consists of 90% raw, vegan food I was so excited to go to a restaurant that offers innovative dishes and recipes that suit my current lifestyle.
The menu is a pure delight! In fact it is so good that I went back to it for 5 consecutive days, trying to decide what to get, before we finally went to have breakfast and lunch (BRUNCH hahah) at nama foods. Could you imagine a full English breakfast without any animal products PLUS being raw?! Well, nama foods has all of that and much more. As I am not that big of a fan of this “style“ of breakfast, I eventually went for the coconut porridge and the toast with rawtella and bananas. The coconut porridge did not contain any oats, as one might think when hearing porridge. It was an even healthier version. Even though oats can be consumed on a raw vegan diet, they are not the perfect morning food, as they are very mucus forming. Hence, the“porridge“ at nama foods made with activated almonds, apples, coconut dates, cinnamon, vanilla and lucuma and topped with hemp seeds, cacao nibs and blueberries, served with almond milk is THE perfect morning energy booster you needs without compromising a mucusless, raw diet! Then we also had NAMA’s artisan almond and walnut toast with a rawtella (hazelnut/chocolate spread) and bananas- this was so so good, I have such a sweet tooth when it comes to pancakes and these could replace my banana pancakes (not raw) any time! After some time passed we also had lunch. I went for the Truffle Pasta- zucchini pasta (somehow they managed to make these better than I make them at home- I need to work on my recipe) with cultured cashew truffle cream, chestnut mushrooms in Jerez, aged cashews, crispy shallots and black autumn truffle. THIS WAS AN ABSOLUTE DREAM! Whenever I went to a restaurant before going vegan, I always looked out for truffle pasta and ALWATS got it if I spotted it on the menu. Now that I know that you can enjoy the same taste on a raw, vegan diet and do not have to make cut backs I need to try to make this recipe myself one day! To drink I had the Holy Mayan Cacao, as it was something I never got before- it had a mild chocolate/hazelnut taste with spicy aftertaste. I was contemplating to get a Dandelion coffee as well, since I have never had one before and heard so much about it. To my lunch I got a ginger JARR Kombucha, which was delicious as well, but is not the healthiest due to its fermented nature. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and think there is no harm in drinking it as long as it remains a rarity. The staff at nama was so welcoming and warm, offering their advice on what to get or how a dish is made. As you can probably tell by the endless words on NAMA foods.. I am in love!
Unfortunately Nama foods is closing in April 2018, the news made me very sad.
Location: 110 Talbot Rd, London W11 1JR, UK / Notting Hill
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Best for superfood bowls
Roots Juicery is located in the vibrant and lively Fitzrovia, which is full of cute little places just like this. Apart from serving the best açai bowl I have had in London over the course of the past 4 weeks, and delicious cold pressed juices- Roots Juicery is also committed to turn the focus away from processed foods to alive, raw and organic produces. The ingredients used for their bowls, juices, sweets and lunch dishes are organic. What struck me the most about this cold pressed juicer is that all of the juices are served in glass bottles! This is a rarity these days, where PET bottles have the upper hand, If you bring back your used bottle for the next juice, you get a 10% discount- if that isn’t promising a sustainable and zero waste lifestyle I do not know what is. Of course I was unable to try everything off the menu, even though I wished I could as the salads and the banana bread caught my eye. The acas bowl, however, was very rich and filling, You could taste and see that a lot of açai was used, which I always find to be the best indicator in terms of acas bowls. The next time I come back I definitely want to give the dragon fruit bowl a try! I went for a green juice with celery, leafy greens, green pepper, batavia, lemon and coriander. The texture of this juice was just amazing- very smooth and refreshing…it did taste VERY healthy, but that is something I generally like and love about drinking cold pressed juices (especially green ones). All in all, I can only recommend Roots Juicery, it must be one of my favorites in London.
Location: 1 Charlotte Pl, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1SA, UK / Fitzrovia
Raw Press Juicery
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Best for salads and take out
At Raw Press, as the name already says, you can also get cold pressed juices in its entirety- ranging from green juices, to ones focused on roots to nut milks in different flavors. Other than delicious juices (served in plastic bottles though) you will find an overwhelming menu full of vegan, sometimes gluten free. sometimes raw goodness! It took me a few minutes to decide. Eventually my friend and I decided to share an acai bowl (topped with blueberries, peanut butter, waffle toast, berry chia jam and granola). There are, however, five other delicious-sounding bowls to choose from that vary in base and toppings alike! Later, I got blueberry waffles with maple syrup and coconut yogurt, which were divine as well. As a snack my friend got nachos, which had several dips, including cashew cream cheese, which was my personal favorite. Then, Raw Press also has a huge selection of raw sweets such as bounty bars, flapjacks, carrot cake, raw brownies and several energy balls. It is also the perfect spot to grab some lunch on-the-go or to stay in, work a little and eat a lot. They offer a wide selection of salads that changes daily, where you can customize your bowl to your liking- including salads such kale & chickpea salad, moroccan carrot salad or courgette with basil-pistachio pesto. Water is offered with charcoal to filter, cleanse and alkalize (LOOVEE). All in all, it is the perfect spot to indulge on sweets and salads for breakfast or lunch.
Location: 32 Dover Street London W1S 4NE / Mayfair & 3 Ellis Street London SW1X 9AL / Chelsea
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Best for breakfast
Mother works was founded by 3 siblings who want to bring their health journey closer to each and everyone of us with their café. I could not agree more that what makes the vegan lifestyle and a journey of health-betterment more easy and enjoyable is visiting restaurants and cafés that provide you with new food inspiration, allow you to sit back and simply enjoy your meal without preparing it and being surrounded by people, who are also eager to embark on a similar journey. The atmosphere and interior of MOTHER was very laid back and cozy- some plants racks with neon signs, coffee table books, alkaline water, some jars filled with super foods, racks stacked with bananas behind the counter and a menu written on a blackboard. The seating was wooden as well, allowing for an intensified close-to-nature experience, in addition to all the plant-based goodness of course.
The menu was filled with delicious sandwiches- avocado, peanut butter, coconut BLT, non-tuna mayo, pulled jackfruit and many more, an açai bowl with two different variations of toppings, smoothies and juices. On the special’s menu of the Saturday I visited MOTHER works, were a stack of gluten free banana pancakes with a sliced banana, syrup and homemade “nutella“. These were hands down the BEST vegan pancakes I have ever had- they were chewy yet still fluffy, ad just the right amount of banana flavor and were not draining in coconut oil (I NEED THIS RECIPE!). Additionally I had the açai bowl topped with “Chunky Monkey“ – berries, banana, cacao nibs, peanut butter, coconut flakes and some date syrup. As I craved some greens, I also ordered the “Lean Green“ smoothie with coconut water, banana, avocado, spinach, lemon, mint and spirulina- a very healthy tasting and vitalizing smoothie! All in all this must be one of my favorite locations and definitely a place I have to come back to more than once!
Location: 1, Canalside, Here East Estate, London E20 3BS, UK / Hackney Wick
Açai Berry the Amazon Boost
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Best for a quick, healthy bite
At “Açai berry“, the specialty, as the name already suggests is açai bowls. It seems to be more an off-the-counter and quick stop place rather than a café/restaurant you would want to remain at for a long time. However, as it is located in the Kingly Court, there is plenty of seating outside as well that can be made use of once the weather is right! The base of the bowls was made of 100% acai berry puree, which had a very intense flavor and the rich purple the acai berry is so well known for. In terms of toppings you could choose your bowl from the menu (approx. 7.50 pounds), but then also add your favored toppings on top, such as goji berries. Peanut butter, chia seeds and the like. Other than bowls, smoothies were also offered, which I did not come in the delight of. All I could tell was that the açai berry was a staple ingredient in each smoothie. The only thing I have to criticize and was slightly disappointed by was that the bowls were served in a plastic container, despite staying in. In case one knows that in advance, one can bring their own stainless steel container/bowl and get the bowl made into that.
Location: 11, Kingly Court, Kingly St, Carnaby, London W1B 5PW, UK / Carnaby
Best for delicious cooked vegan soul food
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Ella Woodward has garnered popularity and a wide reaching followers hip through her recipe and plant-based, whole food blog Deliciously Ella. This first seemingly innocent endeavor, brought to life to gain independence from medications, soon turned into a business that now stands for a recipe app, several cookbooks, granolas and snack bars sold in grocery stores as well as three Delis across London. The Delis serves everything from breakfast, smoothies, cold pressed juices to coffee and sweets to lunch and dinner. The delis have a very comfortable and cozy atopshere, where walls are decorated with prints of plants, wooden furniture and some spots of color through tiles and flowers here and there.
I visited the Deli once for breakfast, where I ordered the pancakes with chocolate and banana and a green smoothie (Unfortunately also only served in a plastic cup when staying in, however, Ella announced on her Instagram stories that some time in March the Dei will serve the cold pressed juice in glass bottles and the stay-in smoothies in glasses as well! Go NO PLASTIC! ). The pancakes were very delicious and satisfying. In case you have never made banana or oat pancakes yourself, do not be disappointed by them being a little flat and rather chewy- it is perfectly normal! The Smoothie had some greens in it, but the taste was dominated by the sweet banana and peanut butter. It was tasty, but I also like to drink a green smoothie and actually taste that I am drinking greens- the slight bitter and maybe sometimes not too delicious taste, if you know what I mean?
When we stopped by for lunch I had spicy broccoli with quinoa, which was really good and stimulated my taste buds just in the right way! I couldn’t find this on the menu any more, so it must have been taken down. The second time I got the Cauliflower and Butterbean falafel with lemony broccoli. The broccoli has a really nice fresh and crunchy flavor. The falafel and hummus were also spiced very nicely, after which I was super full! *
Location: 18 Weighhouse St, Mayfair, London W1K 5LU, UK / Mayfair
Haunt/Biff’s Jack Shack
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Best for drinks and comfort food
Haunt is a laid back and down to earth a vegan bar and eatery, where Biff’s Jack Shack serves a VEGAN AF dinner menu full of vegan junk food. On the menu you will find jackfruit burgers and wings in different flavors, for example as with blue cheese or cinnamon sweet chilly. Of course, there are “filthy“ fries as well. Since I never was a huge fun of wings in that sense, I went for “The Jacksu“, which has Katsu sauce, Japanese pickles, lettuce and a tempura/crispy broccoli floret served on a toasted brioche bun. The crispy fried jackfruit patty was absolutely delicious and the combination with the slightly sour pickles was also amazing! The only thing I lacked was a little but more freshness- maybe a tomato or some more of that lettuce. As a side we went for the“
Vegan AF Poutine“, which was similar to the original Canadian dish- fries loaded with cheese, porcini mushroom gravy, Seitan bacon and some seeds. I absolutely went crazy for the gravy on these! All in all this was probably one of the best, if not the best vegan burger I have ever had!
Location: 182 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 7UY, UK / Stoke Newington
Temple of Seitan (Camden)
Best for a fast food experience MINUS the meat
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At the Temple, as the name already indicates, the main attraction is Seitan. Seitan is made of wheat gluten and is very similar in consistency to meat. Therefore it poses the perfect meat replacement, especially for people testing the vegan waters. At the Temple of Seitan you will get the perfect and full fast food experience ranging form burgers, wings to fries and Mac and cheese MINUS the meat, eggs and dairy. The strategy and marketing of the Temple is very clever and I think it is perfect for people transitioning- the burgers are wrapped in paper, the fries are served in cardboard holders, just like you would get them at McDonald’s or Burger King. Even though all the packaging used is compostable, it would be even more ideal to have them served on plates. However, I think this is part of the experience they want to create and I absolutely admire that in raising awareness to a vegan diet where no real cut backs have to be made. I went for the“Temple Burger“ with the crispy Seitan fillet, bacon (V), cheese (V), lettuce and ranch mayo, regular fries (or chips here in the UK). Additionally, I got a small Mac and cheese to share. Everything was absolutely delicious and satisfied these (bad) cravings I had for a burger. I couldn’t really say which burger is better- Temple of Seitan or Biffs jack Shack. The consistency of the pattie was very different, yet both really good. What I can say, however, is that if you want the same fast food experience minus the meat- Temple of Seitan is the plane to be. Oh, and they also had deliciously looking cookies!
Location: 103a Camley Street N1C 4PF, UK / Camden & 10 Morning Lane E9 6NA, UK / Hackney
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Best for pastries and Sundays
I came across the Gallery Café through my cravings for (vegan) croissants and was so happy to find out, once I was in the cafe, that they do not only offer plain croissants, but almond and chocolate croissants as well…heaven. Back to the cafe though- it is also very cozy, laid back and has a beautiful conservatory with windows facing a beautiful terrace and back garden. Apart from coffee and amazing looking baked goods, like my sought after croissants, the café also offers a full on English vegan breakfast, porridge, sandwiches, burgers, juices and smoothies. It seemed to be a very popular place with a clientele of all age groups. On the weekends no laptops are allowed- so just sit back, eat and enjoy the plant based goodness as the Gallery Cafe instead.
Location: St. Margarets House Settlement, 21 Old Ford Road, London E2 9PL, United Kingdom/ Cambridge Heath
Best for catch-ups (and pictures)
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Grind is a group of fun, hip and Australian inspired espresso bar with several sites all over London. Some locations serve coffee and espresso infused cocktails only, whereas at other locations you are able to enjoy brunch, lunch and dinner. On the menu you will find sourdough bread with jam or avocado, smoothies and juices, some vegetables and of course coffee! The Grind blend is absolutely amazing and was made especially for espresso coffees and to work well with milk. In terms of milk alternatives they offer almond, oat (my go to’s) and soy. What made me go to several of the Grind locations (Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Soho) was the not only the amazing coffee and matcha lattes, but simply the branding and concept of it. The interior always has some of that nice-looking millennial pink, marble countertops and a fun neon sign such as „French lessons given downstairs“ or“Love is the drug“. The atmosphere is always buzzing with life, good music and amazing drinks! It is safe to say that I am obsessed…even though I slowly start to realize that my body cannot handle caffeine that well anymore, it is after all quite acidic and dehydrating so always make sure to balance the coffee out with a glass of water. This didn’t keep me from buying the Grind tin though…I guess I am left with the matcha then.
Location: Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Soho, Exmouth, Covent Garden, Holborn, Royal Exchange, Whitechapel
Best for relaxed coffee breaks
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The Attendant is also focused on providing Australian brunch cafes with high quality and seasonal products, The Australians really did pave the path in coffee culture, didn’t they? The brunch menu is described as being“wholesome, produce driven“ and seasonal and fresh. In terms of coffee the“Attendant“ makes an effort in furthering the sustainable coffee trade by paying higher prices for a higher quality. I can only give a big YES to this…we often underestimate the importance of seemingly “small“ decisions, such as what kind of coffee you buy and drink. The atmosphere in the Attendant cafés is absolutely lovely- many plants hang on the walls and stand on cupboards, creating an urban-jungle like feeling. It is great to sit down to read, have a catch-up chat or even to have small meetings. The milk “menu“ (lets call it that) had all the alternatives you could wish for. I eventually went for an almond milk matcha. Later, after reading for a while, I also got avocado on toast. The bread was very crispy and the garnish on the avocado (some seeds and lemon) was absolutely delicious! If I would have gotten the chance I would have visited Attendant more than once- I loved the interior, the atmosphere and the menu!
Location: 75 Leather Lane London, EC1N 7TJ/ Clerkenwell & 27a Foley Street London W1W 6DY / Fitzrovia & 74 Great Eastern Street London, EC2A 3JL/ Shoreditch
Please note that all the price indications are made in relation to the restaurant/cafe type i.e comparing coffee to coffee places and juicery to juicery. Also, it is normal that for restaurants to offer nutrient-dense, exotic ingredients and organic produces to be at a slightly higher price, your body will thank you!