Let’s be honest – the words ‘Europe’ and ‘vegetarian’ aren’t particularly synonymous with one another.
Whether it’s Germany’s sausage offerings, les escargots in France or the fact that they seem to eat nothing but hunks of meat and bread through the whole of Eastern Europe, it’s a hard knock life for those of us who just want to enjoy a holiday through the continent…without eating dead stuff.
BUT FEAR NOT! We have trekked high and low through Europe to bring you the best in its vegetarian cuisine. From edible artworks in Amsterdam to a vegetarian haven in the middle of Prague, you’ll never have to settle for just hot chips and bread in Europe again.
This place makes me want to cry magical tears of happiness. I can’t believe it exists.
Basically, you’re presented with works of art…made of food. The theme at the moment is Vincent Van Gogh; the food recreates his still-life paintings and the cocktails are as wacky as the man who cut off his own ear – think prosecco and absinthe, or drinkable vinegar and roses.
Even better – you pay whatever you think the dining experience was worth (but let’s be honest, it’s just about the most ingenious thing in the world).
De Culinaire Werkplaats, Fannius Scholtenstraat 10, Amsterdam
If you want to draw a vegetarian audience in, naming a restaurant Avocado is a pretty good way to go about it.
The only full-service vegetarian restaurant in Athens, Avocado serves everything from traditional Greek platters to vegetarian paellas – and their dishes have adorable names like “Life’s A Rainbow”. Way too cute.
Avocado, Nikis 30, Athens
The best thing about Germany is the beer; right? RIGHT. So how about this restaurant, which combines 100% vegan food and a microbrewery? I’m telling you, THIS IS WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF.
They do brewing courses on the weekends, too – vegetarian quiche and home-brewed beer on a Saturday afternoon? Sign me up!
Vaust, Pestalozzistraße 8, Berlin
I found Brussels one of the most difficult cities EVER for vegetarianism. I had a twenty-four hour stop there a couple of months ago on my way to Australia, and ended up eating sweet waffles, then a savoury waffle, then a hot chocolate, then cheesy fries, then Spéculoos right out of the jar, then beer, then wine. That counts as my five-a-day, right?
It was only later that I discovered Dolma; a vegetarian shop, restaurant and bakery right in the middle of town that has all sorts of vegetarian and vegan delights (and most importantly, things that are made out of ingredients other than pastry and refined sugar). You can get a buffet for 18 € and they even have a selection of veggie/vegan desserts. Mm mmmm.
Dolma, Chaussée d’Ixelles 329, Brussels
Hungarian food is basically meat, meat and more meat. Meat x 10. Meat squared. You get the picture.
The brilliant people behind Napfényes have captured traditional Hungarian cuisine, but taken out all the dead creatures and put in delicious (and healthy!) replacements.
They’ve even got a raw section if you’re into that kind of thing; catering for everyone! So much fried (non-dairy) cheese; my mouth is already watering.
Special mention goes to their vegan milkshakes which are the most inventive and enticing I’ve ever seen. Almond milk, dates, cardamom and rosewater? Yes please!
Napfényes, Ferenciek tere 2, Budapest
There’s nothing better than a restaurant that can do amazing vegetarian breakfasts, and I think I’ve found my one true love in Cornucopia. They do everything from breakfast to dinner, but they had me hooked at ‘homemade vegetarian sausage’ and ‘buckwheat crêpes’. Well done, Dublin. Ten points.
Cornucopia, 19-20 Wicklow St, Dublin 2
Embracing Edinburgh’s reputation as Scotland’s arty epicentre, Henderson’s is – as well as a vegan café – a bakery, deli and art gallery.
They have live music every night, and the menu features food as diverse as enchiladas, a spinach galette and a vegetarian take on the classic Scottish haggis. Brilliant.
Henderson’s 94 Hanover St, Edinburgh
France is notoriously hard to get a vegetarian feed in, and you’d be genuinely hard pressed to find any vegetarian meals (bar crêpes) in a restaurant outside a trendy area in Paris – so you have to take what you can get.
In the heart of Normandy’s historic town of Honfleur lies La Lieutenance, a beautifully historic restaurant that does serve meat – this is France, come on! – but always makes sure to have vegetarian options for starters and main courses.
La Lieutenance, 12 Place Sainte-Catherine, Honfleur
Another hip-as-heck restaurant with a gallery attached; Miss Saigon gives vegetarian diners a taste of the world.
With dishes from three different countries every night – this week sees native Portuguese, Greek, Tunisian and Lebanese food to name a few – it’s not surprising Miss Saigon has made its way onto plenty of ‘Best Vegetarian Restaurants in the WORLD’ lists.
If that’s not reason enough to send you there I’m not sure what is.
Miss Saigon, Rua Cais das Naus, Lt. 4.01.01, Parque das Nações, Lisbon
This might be my favourite restaurant in the whole world. I kid you not. You have to get there really early because they don’t take bookings and it’s unbelievably popular, so if you arrive after 7pm you might as well pitch a tent outside the restaurant.
ANYWAY, annoying booking policy aside, everything about this place is perfect. I’ve taken devout meat-lovers and vegetarians there, and everybody loves it. Even going back onto their website makes me want to weep; it’s incredibly simple food – from pasta to stir fry to burgers – done perfectly, with vegan and vegetarian options and KILLER cocktails to go with.
Hot tip: if you’d like to win my heart, take me to Mildred’s and I’m yours.
Mildred’s 45 Lexington St, London
Another city that is not particularly kind to vegetarians, this is a hidden gem that has converted avid meat-eaters many a-time.
With highlight of the menu being tofu-beetroot burgers and exquisite Thai curries – with a “heavenly” carrot cake on the dessert menu – you don’t need any options in the Czech capital; Estrella all day, err’day!
Estrella, Opatovická 159/17, Prague
It’s admittedly pretty easy to get a vegetarian pizza in Rome, but this is a dedicated restaurant serving local Italian food that caters to us plant-lovers.
Aubergine parmigiana is a menu highlight – basically aubergine crumbed in Parmesan cheese and then smothered in pesto, which is about as perfect a meal as you can get.
Arancia Blu, Via Cesare Beccaria, 3, Rome
ALL YOU CAN EAT. VEGETARIAN. BUFFET. Undoubtedly the six most beautiful words in the English language. As well as an exciting menu of all sorts of tofu delights, halloumi burgers and exotic stews, Chutney does a buffet from 5pm.
I suggest not eating for about three days, then really going to town on the mix of traditional Swedish (but not fish, duh!) and eastern foods – you’ll be in heaven.
Chutney, Katarina Bangata 19, Stockholm
The last thing you’d expect to find in the middle of Warsaw would be a Spanish-inspired vegetarian café. But lo and behold, there it is, Momencik – an entirely vegan Spanish/Mexican owned food joint.
There’s gazpacho, nachos and a huge range of burritos for the main course, along with a huge selection of homemade lemonades, smoothies and cocktails including one that they call the John Lemon (10/10 pun). Off you trot to Momencik.
Momencik, Poznańska 16, Warszaw
It started out as a canteen-style vegetarian restaurant in 1981, but Food For Friends has evolved into a more refined ‘proper’ restaurant, that serves generous portions of genuinely exciting vegetarian food using beautiful, quality ingredients.
If you have a meat-eating friend who can’t wrap their head around eating a plate of food without some meat on it; take them here and sit smugly while they admit that yes, vegetarian food can actually be amazing.
Try the halloumi salad and the cheese soufflé, and don’t skip dessert or cocktails – they’re really good here.
Food for Friends, 17-18 Prince Albert St, Brighton
- Mathilda Edwards