The best spots to eat modern vegan food in London. Period.
There is no denying it, vegan food is on the rise. And no more quickly is vegan food on the rise than in London. There are so many restaurants, cafes and pop-ups (literally) popping up that Sara, Sam and Hoxton Mini Press partnered up to give us all the low down on what’s hot in the capital.
The brilliant places in this guide (both vegan and vegan-friendly) will tempt even those more traditional foodies with original food pairings and stylish, fresh interiors.
Created with the expert insight of blogger Sara Kiyo Popowa and original photography from Sam A. Harris, this is a pithy, unashamedly opinionated guide to the very best ethical vegan eateries in all of London: from junk food to fine dining, superfood bowls to sweet treats. It’s a must for anyone that cares about the planet as much as their taste buds.
Why buy a guide book, though, when most of the information is available online? Because well-informed opinion is what matters. These books cut through the digital clutter and offer confident recommendations from people in the know. Read on to uncover a few of the team’s “must-see” spots…
THE BEST PLACES FOR:
Brunch: Kick-off the day at I Will Kill Again (East) with coffee and a slap-up savoury brunch. Or try Lele’s (East) for drool-worthy comfort food like the stack of pillowy pancakes or scrambled tofu on sourdough.
A date: Stoke your romantic glow at Kin + Deum (South) with aromatic Thai curries and tasty small plates. Or head to Genesis’ cosmically decked-out diner (East) and tuck into photogenic burgers and luminous cocktails.
Convincing non-vegan friends: Chow down on some dumplings, bao, and spicy dan dan noodles with a beer or two at Mao Chow (East). If you fancy Indian, Spicebox’s (East) chick’n korma and shroom keema will have the most die-hard meat-eater converted to the joys of plant-based eating.
6 Vegan London hotspots
I Will Kill Again & Dark Arts Coffee
Vegan-friendly, Craft coffee and comfort food
As the name of this café’s in-house coffee roastery suggests, some deliciously dark art is being practised in this formerly derelict building just off Homerton High Street. As coffees are stirred and magic cast over the spiced seitan-chorizo stews and the adobo lemon cream and buckwheat waffles, you’ll soon fall under the spell: the mix of innovative comfort food and black humour is an irresistible, and refreshing, combination. When you’ve had your fill, order a homemade vegan brownie for the road – you’ll be glad you did.
1-5 Rosina Street, E9 6JH. Nearest station: Homerton darkartscoffee.co.uk@iwillkillagain
Vegan, Relaxed neighbourhood café
Imagine a friendly neighbour who invites you into their floral-patterned living room, pours you a strong coffee, then cooks you a plateful of the best French toast scattered with edible blooms. It may sound like a dream, but if you find yourself in this corner of Hackney, head to Lele’s to get your fill of delicately executed café classics. Avo or mushrooms on toast, weekend ‘hangover fixes’. Don’t forget the ever- shifting range of cakes and buns baked in-house. Four-legged friends will be delighted to find their own jar of biscuits among the potted plants and mismatched vintage furniture.
50 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0RN Nearest station: Hackney Central leleslondon.com @leles_london
Kin + Deum
Vegan-friendly, Modern Thai cooking
At the point just before London Bridge turns into buzzing Bermondsey, you may spot what looks like a cosily lit, tidy living room. Feel free to enter and join a lovely family affair where a sister-brother team of second-generation Thai restaurateurs merge traditional recipes with their young and savvy take on Bangkok street food. Glass noodle spring rolls and grandma’s shiitake mushrooms, fragrant tom kha and aromatic massaman curry – all the crowd-pleasing dishes and flavours are here, in a fresh-tasting, quietly brilliant form.
2 Crucifix Lane, SE1 3JW, Nearest station: London Bridge, Other locations: King’s Cross, Soho, Camden kindeum.com@kindeum
Vegan, Organic fast-food diner
Step through to another dimension, where hot dogs, cheese sticks, superfood cocktails are organic, photogenic, and bathed in pink neon light. While Genesis manages to pull off a kitsch comic-book interior that many places could only dream of, their wholesome approach to ingredients (including avocado oil for deep frying) and the world- and street-food-inspired menu guarantee that this place is about far more than good looks. Go for their classic ‘dirty’ dishes and make sure you finish with a milkshake or soft-serve – one of the best in town.
144 Commercial Street, E1 6NU Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street eatgenesis.com @eatgenesis
Vegan, Innovative Chinese small plates
This one-chef, one-waitress hole-in-the-wall will rock your world and possibly blow your mind if the ‘Chinese moonshine’ is on the menu. Sit yourself at the bright yellow table (there’s just one, so prepare to make new friends), order everything, and get ready for an onslaught of bold and layered Sichuan- pepper-fuelled flavours. Umami-rich dan dan noodles, crispy oyster mushroom bao, the chef’s secret blend of ‘meaty veg’, and the sticky Chinese doughnuts, will have you scrambling to visit again. Bring your non-vegan foodie friends that need wowing.
159A Mare Street, E8 3RH Nearest station: London Fields mao-chow.com @mao_chow
Vegan, New-generation curry house
Wind down Walthamstow’s Hoe Street to find this modern spin on the British curry house. Street snacks, jalfrezi and chick’n korma, but not as you know them. Flavours are layered and natural, with crunchy, fresh textures exploding in your mouth. If only all Indian food could be like this. Come at night and the psychedelic, branded graphics and vibrant colour-blocked dining room may have you feeling like you’ve stumbled into a Varanasi alleyway after a particularly strong bhang lassi. Bring on the banana chai doffle.
58 Hoe Street, E17 4PG Nearest station: Walthamstow eatspicebox.co.uk @eatspicebox
Sara Kiyo Popowa is a north London-based artist, recipe developer and photographer. Known as Shiso Delicious on Instagram (101k followers, @shisodelicious), she is a keen advocate of plant-based food and a low-waste lifestyle. She is also the author of Bento Power (Kyle Books, 2018).
Sam A. Harris is a travel and food photographer who lives in east London.
Hoxton Mini Press is a small, indie publisher based in east London. They are dedicated to making collectable photography books that are accessible and affordable.
An Opinionated Guide to Vegan by Sara Kiyo Popova and photography by Sam A. Harris is published by Hoxton Mini Press, find out more here