Life can be tough for a globe-trotting vegetarian. Your diet of leafy greens and tofu may be easy to sustain at home, but once you venture out into the wider world you can’t escape the fact that humanity loves its meat. One glance at a foreign menu can leave you bewildered, crying softly into the plate of shredded lettuce from which you had to hand-remove bits of bacon and cubed ham.
Vegetarians (and vegans) of the world, fret no longer! The world is full of delectable meat-free food—you just need to know where to look! To help in your culinary travels, here’s a list of the best places for a hungry herbivore to find some grub. Bon appetit!
El Invernadero – Madrid, Spain
Touting the benefits of his “Green Revolution,” Michelin-starred head chef Rodrigo de la Calle has created a veritable plant utopia in El Invernadero (The Greenhouse). This cozy, four-table establishment in the Chamberi neighborhood features a “Vegetalia” menu of superfoods, with vegetables, flowers, mushrooms, and mountain lichens. Fermented and fresh, seasonal produce are the stars here, where de la Calle urges diners to embrace the unusual.
Miss Saigon – Lisbon, Portugal
If you’re looking for spiced tofu with lime or a beet burger with quinoa, you’ve come to the right place. From its riverside perch near the Garcia de Orta Gardens, Miss Saigon offers a seasonal, fair-trade, non-GMO dining experience. The menu, offering only lunch, features three different dishes every day with influences from around the world.
Herman’s – Stockholm, Sweden
Cozy casseroles, organic coffee, well-tended gardens, and panoramic harbor views? This veggie buffet in Stockholm’s Katarina-Sofia neighborhood is the place to be no matter what you eat. Founded by Herman Ottosson in 1992 and passed on to new owners in 2006, Herman’s focuses on the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. All waste produced in the kitchen is recycled, and even the company car runs on biofuel. With a culinary theme that changes weekly (from Tex-Mex and Middle Eastern to Scandinavian and Mediterranean), Herman’s will certainly keep you on your toes—the in the most delicious way possible!
Harvest Bistro – Vienna, Austria
Harvest Bistro aims to create a living room-like space where diners can relax and find peace through all their senses. (Unfortunately, this does not mean that you can come in your PJs and leave your popcorn bowl on the couch.) Situated across the river from downtown Vienna, the restaurant boasts an organic, seasonal soulfood menu. Dishes include lentil and smoked tofu salad with pears and walnuts in a balsamic dressing.
Vegabond – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opened in 2014, this canal-side lunchroom/grocery store near the Anne Frank House is uncompromising in its dedication to the vegan lifestyle. With a menu that includes mango passionfruit smoothie bowls with raw granola, Vegabond is a vegan Mecca. (Don’t even get us started on the chips and salsa verde with homemade cashew sour cream…or the doughnuts!) The grocery store is stocked with all your plant-based essentials: vegan spreads, snack bars, ice cream, pizza, and that most crucial of home-cook ingredients, liquid smoke.
Il Margutta – Rome, Italy
Just steps from Villa Borghese Park and the Piazza del Popolo, the popular Il Margutta offers imaginative vegetarian twists on Roman classics. This art gallery/bar/restaurant is packed at lunchtime, with locals flocking to the fragrant offerings of the all-you-can-eat buffet. There is also an a la carte menu featuring items like risotto with buffalo mozzarella, powdered spinach, glazed grapes, and goji berries—and linguine with basil jelly and parmesan mousse. How’s that for inventive? There’s even a street food menu offering take-away goodies like pesto arancini (deep-fried rice balls) and strawberry tiramisu. That’s right: strawberry tiramisu. Are you hungry yet? (Gluten-free menus are available on request.)
Joia – Milan, Italy
In a city known for haute couture, it’s no wonder that its vegetarian food is haute cuisine. This sleek, sophisticated Michelin-starred restaurant is about as Milanese as it comes. Sicilian risotto with oranges, bergamot, and wild fennel pesto looks more like a painting than a meal. Come dessert time, the chocolate fig cake with guayava cream and banana ice cream (not to mention the hazelnut “froth”) will leave you wondering how you arrived in Shangri-La without having bought a plane ticket.
Maitrea – Prague, Czech Republic
Warm spinach crepes with baked eggplant puree. Udon noodles with ginger sauce. Rhubarb pie with orange caramel, freeze-dried raspberries, and whipped cream. If you’re not salivating yet, you’re not human. At Maitrea in the heart of Old Town Prague, the meditative atmosphere and aromatic menu promise diners a flavorful, harmonious dining experience. Plus you can sip your Aztec hot chocolate by the fire and congratulate yourself on the foresight to wear your stretchy pants to dinner.
Cookies Cream – Berlin, Germany
If you can navigate the maze of Mitte back alleys and find the correct unmarked door, you’re in for an unforgettable fine dining experience. Proof that being lost is often the key to success, Michelin-starred Cookies Cream certainly delivers the unique fare. Parmesan dumplings with Perigord truffle stock? Quail’s egg in brioche with Port wine shallots, truffle juice, and potato foam? Yes please.
Cafe Paradiso – Cork, Ireland
There aren’t many award-winning restaurants that offer gourmet vegetarian food and guest rooms. This Clark’s Bridge establishment on the River Lee is just such a place. Opened in 1993, the restaurant has received international acclaim for the innovative dishes of founder and executive chef, Denis Cotter. The dinner and pre-theater menus include such tantalizing tidbits as deep-fried squash blossoms with ricotta pea filling, and rosemary custard with blackberries and pistachios.
The Gate – London, England
Established in 1989, The Gate is widely recognized as the best vegan and vegetarian restaurant in London. Its three locations—in Marylebone, Islington, and Hammersmith—offer a wide range of menus for everything from brunch, lunch, and tastings to Sunday roasts. The creative dishes include miso-glazed eggplant, wild mushroom risotto cake, and, to satisfy that ever-lurking sweet tooth, Bailey’s cheesecake with chocolate sauce. Cue the choir of angels.
Ottolenghi – London, England
It’s clear from his string of critically acclaimed restaurants and bestselling cookbooks that Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi is such a culinary talent that he belongs on another planet. His five London establishments—Rovi, Nopi, Islington, Spitalfields, and Notting Hill—offer a range of dining environments and edible masterpieces. You’ll be powerless to resist a breakfast of brioche French toast with cinnamon sugar, orange yogurt, and berry compote, or a dinner of basmati and wild rice salad with mango, papaya, Thai basil, and peanuts.
Le Grenier de Notre-Dame – Paris, France
When a restaurant’s riverside location directly across from the Notre-Dame Cathedral is simply an added bonus, you know you’ve come to the right place. Started in 1978 as the first vegetarian and macrobiotic restaurant in Paris, Le Grenier works with family-run businesses in northern France to use only seasonal, organic ingredients in their wide range of dishes. Diners can enjoy vegetable tarts and gratins, pasta with ginger and emmental cheese, and baked apples stuffed with quince jelly—all while gazing out at the glittering Seine and feeling particularly Parisian.
Haus Hiltl – Zurich, Switzerland
How many vegetarian restaurants in the world are 120 years old? One. Since 1898, Haus Hiltl (and its small army of offshoot locations) has cooked up over 100 different delicacies for its buffet and a la carte services. Salads, Mediterranean grilled veggies, Thai curries, chutneys, and desserts are just a handful of the establishment’s legion of offerings. With take-away options, a bar area, and a fancier sit-down restaurant, Haus Hiltl can cater to your every dining whim.
Zakaim – Tel Aviv, Israel
For Chef Harel Zakaim, this vegan boutique restaurant is a way to recreate and celebrate the Iranian food of his childhood. The menu features empanadas packed with mangold onions and potatoes, and flame-charred eggplant with tomato sauce, chili, garlic, and tahini. In the deli, customers can find such treats as cherry tomato jam, roasted eggplant spread, and house-made ricotta. If we’d grown up with meals like that, we never would have left home.
Pure Veggie House – Hong Kong, China
We know how it is. You spend your day traipsing along Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor, meditating in the Tai Chi Garden, and communing with the zoo’s buff-cheeked gibbons. You’re exhausted—and starving. The solution? Pure Veggie House. This central Hong Kong eatery combines rich flavors with a serene, elegant dining atmosphere. The food contains no MSG or preservatives and the menu features dishes like curry pumpkin stew with okra, and matsutake mushroom pouches with black truffle sauce.
Bodhi – Sydney, Australia
Royalty among delicious Down Under eats, Bodhi has been family-owned and –operated for three generations. Hunkered under a canopy of ancient fig trees, the award-winning restaurant specializes in dim sum and Pan-Asian cuisine. Dishes include chickpea-battered cauliflower with roasted spiced peanuts and pickled apple, tempeh sliders with Indonesian sticky soy glaze, sweet Japanese pumpkin dumplings, and mango salad with crispy tofu, puffed vermicelli, green papaya, cucumber, and peanut crumb.
Yellow – Sydney, Australia
With awards like Chef of the Year and Australian Gourmet Traveller Top 100 in its back pocket, Yellow has left its colorful mark on the Sydney culinary scene. Located in the iconic Yellow House in Potts Point, the vegetarian bistro focuses on crafting dishes from locally grown heirloom vegetables. Guests can savor a plate of white peas with smoked cream and savoy cabbage, then finish the meal with a Pink Lady apple terrine with burnt onion and honey. The a la carte dinner accompanies five- and seven-course vegan and vegetarian tasting menus.
Chirimoya – Salta, Argentina
Come for the anthropomorphic vegetable artwork, stay for the lentil meatballs. At Chirimoya, even the wine and beer are organic. Just steps from the foothills of the Andes, the restaurant alone is reason enough to visit this medieval city known for its red-rock valleys and Spanish colonial architecture. Oh, and the smoothies are pretty killer, too.
El Huerto – Santiago, Chile
Opened in 1980, El Huerto celebrates the bounty of the garden. Whip out your comically oversized cutlery and tuck into a steaming vegetable quesadilla, or embrace your adventurous spirit with a bowl of seaweed ceviche.