Going meatless can feel pretty intimidating at first. “What about protein?” “What will you order if you go out to eat?” “Do you have to live off of salads and bland tofu now?”
Easy, gang: there are many flavorful, nutritious vegan and vegetarian recipes out there. Columbus alone has tons of restaurants that cater to plant-based diets (and we’re not talking bowls of kale, either). You just have to know where to look. And we’ve made it easy for you by pulling them all into one place.
You’ve probably heard about Acre’s delicious takeout options and their drool-worthy brunch, but do you know it’s also a haven for veg heads and vegans alike? This farm-to-table hub in Clintonville and Grandview has perfected their tofu technique and allow you to add the protein to their tacos, bowls, and wraps. Our personal favorite? The Thai bowl with coconut brown rice, carrots, broccoli, and curried cauliflower.
This café has a simple brunch and lunch/dinner menu made up of wholesome, organic ingredients, many of which were grown in Ohio. And, with a large proportion of vegan and veggie dishes, they certainly don’t discriminate when it comes to dietary preferences. These people are the legumes and tofu kings (long may they reign) of Columbus. Grab a vegan veggie burger from one of their three locations as proof!
While Harvest’s hearty appreciation for cheese doesn’t make it the best option for vegans, vegetarians can rejoice with a long menu full of unique and simple salads (Kale Caesar Salad with hazelnuts, anyone?), sandwiches (mmm Portabella Philly) and, the stars of the show, crisp, gooey pizzas with a slight char. And with mostly local and organic ingredients, you can eat these beauties guilt-free. Come early or expect a wait. Harvest’s German Village, Clintonville, and Grandview locations are always hoppin’.
Okay, so Pattycake Bakery isn’t exactly a restaurant — not unless you decide to make a meal out of cookies, cakes, and whoopie pies (who are we to judge?). But we couldn’t make a list of vegan-friendly stops in Columbus without giving this sweet spot a shout out. Stop by Clintonville on the weekend for one of their legendary Sticky Buns.
The Angry Baker has pastries down pat, that’s no joke. But this delicious café, with locations in Old Town East and University District, is more than a pâtisserie; they also offer a variety of hearty breakfast options, sandwiches, bowls, salads, and tacos, many of which, like their Vegan Reuben, Vegan Tacos, and Biscuits with Mushroom Gravy are (if you can’t tell by the title) vegan-friendly. Ironically enough, The Angry Baker is the perfect fix to your hanger problem.
While The Little Kitchen has yet to open a brick-and-mortar location, but don’t count them out. This tiny truck’s food is packing a delicious, plant-based punch! You can find the truck at local festivals, farmers markets, and, if you’re lucky, sometimes near your office. The menu changes weekly, so be sure to follow along on their Instagram for updates.
Recently converted to the vegan lifestyle but craving a burger? Eden Burger is here to save the day! This cute N High St. restaurant uses only plant-based ingredients to craft their delicious handhelds. They’ve also got milkshakes on the menu, so don’t forget to hit up a Cycle614 class before dinner!
At Aladdin’s, vegetarian and vegan options are anything but limiting. The Lebanese-American joint serves up savory food that is full of flavor, like their crispy falafel and filling Mujadara Plate with lentils, brown rice, and caramelized onions. And you can eat this deliciousness all over the city at their locations in Clintonville, Worthington, and Grandview.
Customers can feel in control at Brassica, a Mediterranean restaurant in Short North, Bexley, and Upper Arlington, where you create your own meal on a pita or bed of rice or lentils. That’s right, you decide if you want protein (like their delicious falafel), and other toppings like their delicious roasted carrots and cauliflower. Add some tahini, hummus, and a house-made pita and you’re in for a delicious ride. Fitt Tip: avoid the Short North parking hassle and hit up their new Upper Arlington location on Lane Ave.!
Posted up in a century-old warehouse in the heart of East Franklinton, what you’ll find at Strongwater is a menu full of delicious meals suited for omnivores, carnivores, vegetarians, celiacs, and vegans alike. And the options are so tasty, who’s to say what’s best? We’re talking vegan tacos and sandwiches with fried green tomatoes so good you’ll want seconds (thirds?).
Named after a popular southern Indian wrap made out of what can be equated to fermented pancake batter (just try it.), Dosa Corner on Old Henderson Rd. specializes in quick, simple, flavorful, and vegetarian food. Consider this place a meatless and interesting (and waaaayyy healthier) alternative to Wendy’s or Subway. If you don’t feel like carb loading, try one of their curry or rice dishes.
True: Alchemy makes a mean smoothie. But that’s not all they’re good at! This juicery on Parson’s serves up some mean toast topped with everything from local PB and J to avocado with house-made pesto. And don’t get us started on their salads — Strawberry Coconut Kale, Quinoa Fried Rice, Curried Chickpea… the list goes on. All vegetarian with lots of vegan options. Be sure to stop by their new, spot in Grandview!
This little nook of a restaurant in the heart of the Victoria Village neighborhood packs a big punch with their simple, fresh northern Italian-inspired menu. While the food isn’t strictly meatless, Chef Johnny Dornback has some serious respect for plant-based ingredients and often allows them to stand alone in his dishes. The the roasted spaghetti squash with spiced walnuts or the shredded zucchini with slivered almonds and melted pecorino cheese, for instance. Yum!
If you’re in the mood for healthy, fresh Asian food, Lemongrass is a must. This Short North restaurant specializes in pad Thai, sushi, and other Asian-inspired dishes, many including seafood and pasta. Well over half the menu is vegetarian, and most dishes include coconut milk, making them vegan-friendly as well. Their Veggie Spring Rolls and Pad Thai with tofu are crowd favorites (and frequenters of our daydreams).
We know what you’re thinking. A hot dog shop… on a list of vegan-friendly restaurants… really? Really! Yes, Dirty Frank’s is best known by carnivores for their late-night cravings. But never judge a book by its cover. Dirty Frank’s also offers vegan and vegetarian options at both their locations in downtown and West Broad. In fact, almost all of their 40+ dog options can be made with tofurkey, veggie Polish sausage, or veggie bratwurst. It truly is a hot dog palace.
Did you know vodka is vegan? Shots, shots, shots! But seriously, every Monday night, Woodhouse Vegan sets up shop inside Oddfellows Liquor Bar in Short North to bring a deliciously curated, meat-free menu to the masses. And take it from us, you’ll want to clear your schedule at the start of the week — they’re serving up some of the tastiest eats in the city. But the menu isn’t alway the same, so you’ll need to check out their Instagram to see what’s on the menu if you’re making the trip!
Ever heard of veganomics? Neither have we… until we went to Banana Leaf on Bethel Rd. And, let us tell you, they’re experts at it. This Bethel Road hot spot specializes in vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free Indian food or, as they call it, “veganomics”. The best deal in the house is the grand buffet, served both at lunch and dinner, which includes variations of potato pakora for an appetizer, vegetable curries, daals, steamed rice, special rice, chutneys, vada (a lentil flour donut), and a dessert (halwa). It’s vega-licious.
With bright yellow, lime green, and lavender walls, you can’t help but smile when you walk into Clintonville’s Portia’s Café. And that’s before you even try their food. This vegan and vegetarian eatery is known for having some of the best, purest food in the city. By that, we mean their menu is almost completely organic, local, raw and GMO- and gluten-free.
**Updated by Madeline Crider, September 2018