Carnivores beware: tastily cheap, meat-free food spots below!
By Steph Dye (follow Steph on Twitter: @HelloIAmSteph)
We find it difficult to understand ourselves but some people, for whatever reason, choose not to eat meat. However, the restaurants chosen below are not exclusive for vegetarian diners. Even the most die hard meat eaters are likely to change their tunes when dining out at some of these delicious, meat-free spots. The best bit: you will come away with your wallets as full as your stomachs! It’s time to ditch the dried up salad and try out some of these great, budget vegetarian restaurants.
Whilst all of these spots will come in at under a tenner, some of them are more expensive than others so check out the ‘£’ for further details. £ = Serious bargain, will even give change from a fiver | ££ = mid-range, but still enough change from ten pounds to leave a tip | £££ = May cost just over a tenner for a filling meal but is still incredibly worth it.
#1 | Koshari Street | Egyptian | Covent Garden | £
What is it?: Pretty much carbs upon carbs upon carbs, this Egyptian national dish – that gives the restaurant it’s name – is a local street food delicacy, sold from the road side and hole-in-the-wall vendors. Consisting of lentils, rice, vermicelli, chickpeas caramelised onions and your preference of spicy tomato sauce, it makes a tasty, filling lunch for on-the-go-eating, with just a handful of tables if you prefer to stay.
How much is it?: £3.50/£4.50/£6.50 for small/medium/large portions, plus only £2.65 for a side salad.
Where is it?: 56 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4EA
When is it?: Monday-Saturday, 11.30am-9.30pm; Sunday, 12pm-8pm.
Try the: Koshari (obviously) but go for the ‘mad’ heat strength sauce for a kick as hot as the Egyptian sun.
Middle Eastern and African food is great… want to see some more suggestions?
#2 | 222 Veggie Vegan | West Kensington | ££
What is it?: Guilt free in both ingredients and price, 222 Veggie Vegan is a west London haven for the fussy eater. Serving up a variety of foods and flavours from around the world, there should be something to suit any taste. Using a mixture of meat substitutes and vegetables, the dishes might be animal product-free (the restaurant is entirely vegan, despite the name) but are no less hearty because of it.
How much is it?: The a la carte, evening menu is fairly expensive with main course between £9.50-£11.95, so stick to the lunch buffet, which costs just £7.50 for a box to take away or £9.50 to eat-in.
Where is it?: 222 North End Road, West Kensington, W14 9NU.
When is it?: Monday-Sunday, 12pm-3:30pm (lunch), 5:30pm-10:30pm (dinner).
Try the: Lunch buffet, a selection of raw salads and hot dishes that changes daily. You can help yourself to as much as you like, making it excellent value.
#3 | Kin Cafe | Oxford Circus | £
What is it?: Open for breakfast and lunch, this friendly cafe spot Kin, round the back of Oxford Street, is a perfect place for a week-day shopping break, whether you are meat-free or not. The offering is largely European, with a variety of salads and raw meals for warm days and soups and stews when you are in need of comforting, all of which changes daily.
How much is it?: Both the breakfast and lunch choices cost around the same amount: from about £3-£7.
Where is it?: 22 Foley St, W1W 6DT.
When is it?: Monday-Friday, 7.30am-5:30pm.
Try the: If you can get in on a Friday, go for the burger special, which started off as a one-off but became so popular with regulars that it is now served weekly! The stew (£4.50) is generally also great and intensely warming, perfect for the colder months.
#4 | Indian Veg | Angel | ££
What is it?: Haunt of the nearby student crowd and locals alike, this vegetarian buffet boasts highly unusual, slightly questionable claims about the merits of vegetarianism in a simple, cafe-style setting. Originally set up in 1985, the restaurant has always been popular due to it’s rock bottom prices and delicious, ever-changing menu.
How much is it?: £6.50 for unlimited salads, curries, bhajis and paratha. You can also bring your own alcohol — with no corkage fee.
Where is it?: 92-93 Chapel Market, Angel, N1 9EX.
When is it?: Open all week, 12pm-11.30pm.
Try: A bit of everything, as whilst there is no meat, there are plenty of things to choose from and the constantly changing menu means you can always get a different meal.
#5 | Mildreds | Soho | £££
What is it?: Open for almost 30 years and one of the most famous names in Soho, Mildreds is still going as strong as it was when it opened. The food is a mix of vegetarian dishes from across the world, as well as doing a solid range of burgers. It’s difficult to go wrong!
How much is it?: Main courses are more expensive at about £12 per dish, however the burgers are more reasonable, costing £7 or £8 each. If you fancy sharing with friends, get a few small plates, £6-£7 each, to mix and match.
Where is it?: 45 lexington street, Soho, W1F 9AN.
When is it?: Monday-Saturday, 12pm-11pm.
Try the: The Polish burger, with beetroot, white bean and dill, topped with iceburg lettuce, mayo, pickled cabbage and gherkin in a foccacia bun, £8.
#6 | The Riverside Vegetaria | Kingston | £££
What is it?: Set up in 1989, The Riverside Vegetaria is an eclectic mix of all things vegetarian and vegan. Whilst everything is meat-free, the meals – which are influenced by flavours from around the world – are still meant to be robust, so even the hardiest of carnivores will leave feeling satisfied. The restaurant also puts a huge emphasis on local produce and tries to use mostly organic product.
How much is it?: A two course meal will probably put you back just over £15, as starters cost between £5.95 and £7.50, mains are £8.95 to £10.95 and desserts are £4.50 to £6.75.
Where is it?: 64 High Street, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 1HN
When is it?: Monday-Saturday, 12pm-11pm; Sunday, 12pm-10pm.
Try the: Masala Dosai (£9.50) – crispy lentil pancakes filled with fried potato and your choice of either mild or hot spices. The pancakes are also served with coconut chutney and vegetable curry for dipping, as well as a salad.
#7 | Ethos | Oxford Circus | £££
What is it?: An exciting, creative take on vegetarian food that will have you saying “meat? Meat who?” The method of paying at Ethos is also unusual, as you pay for the buffet-style food by weight. There’s a large amount of hot and cold options as well as gluten free and vegan offerings. If you are after healthy eating, this is your place.
How much is it?: You pay for food per 100g. Lunch is £2.60 per 100g, dinner is £2.85 per 100g and you can take away for £2.30 per 100g.
Where is it?: 48 Eastcastle Street, W1W 8DX.
When is it?: Monday-Friday, 8am-11am, 11:30am-3pm, 3pm-5:30pm and 5:30pm-10pm; Saturday 11:30am-5pm, 5:30pm-10pm; Sunday, 10am-1pm, 1pm-4pm.
Try the: Well, everyone loves halloumi so the halloumi bites are a must. The spring green scotch eggs with spicy ketchup are also delicious.
#8 | Sakonis | Wembley | ££
What is it?: A family restaurant that specialises in vegetarian food from across India. A local favourite that has built up a strong following of regulars, the restaurant has made it’s name by focusing on a few favourites and doing them really, really well. Whatever you choose, you know it’s going to be good.
How much is it?: Starters are between £2.99 and £5.50, mains cost between £2.99 and £7.99.
Where is it?: 127-129 Ealing Road, Wembley, HA0 4BP.
When is it?: Monday-Friday, 12pm-9:30pm; Saturday-Sunday, 9am-10pm.
Try the: Chilli Paneer (£7.99) which is one of the more expensive dishes on the menu but a firm favourite and definitely worth it.
#9 | Tibits | Picadilly | ££
What is it?: Another restaurant that serves food by weight, the buffet at Tibits is made up of over 40 dishes, as well as specials such as a daily soup. Choose from a selection of hot and cold dishes and eat as much as you like!
How much is it?: The price is per 100g: £1.70 for breakfast, £2.40 for lunch and £2.70 for dinner.
Where is it?: 12-14 Heddon Street, W1B 4DA.
When is it?: Monday-Wednesday, 9am-10:30pm; Thursday-Saturday, 9am-12am; Sunday, 11:30am-10:30pm.
Try the: The benefit of a buffet is that you can try a little bit of everything, the dishes are always subject to change so you can also go back to the restaurant and have a different meal every time!
Want more all-you-can-eat suggestions? Check out our list!
#10 | Sagar | Hammersmith | ££
What is it?: All of the chefs from this restaurant are from a small town, not far from Bangalore. For this reason, they are pretty much experts in South Indian cuisine. The decor in Sagar is pretty standard and no-frills, however all of that is made up for in the delicious food.
How much is it?: A hearty main will cost between £5-£7, however if you are looking for a more comprehensive dinner, choose one of the Thalis, which costs between £13.95-£15.95. The platter of lentil curry comes with a selection of sundries, breads, rice and a dessert!
Where is it?: 157 King Street, Hammersmith, W6 9JT.
When is it?: Monday-Friday, 12pm-3pm, 5:30pm-10:45 (apart from Friday, when it closes at 11:30pm); Saturday, 12pm-11pm; Sunday, 12pm-10pm.
Try the: Masala Dosa (£6.95) a delicious lentil pancake filled with spiced potato, onion and carrot.
A lot of the vegetarian joints above take inspiration from Indian cooking. Looking for more? Check out our list of the top seven budget Asian restaurants.