The Bonnington Cafe is a homely, community-run, vegetarian restaurant in South London. The ex-squat cafe is tucked in a delightful square behind the heavy traffic of South Lambeth Road. If you find it, you will be treated to more of an experience than just a meal. Each night there is a different chef who gets to run the restaurant so the food varies. Prices are very cheap (three courses for £13) and the food is made fresh on the premises every day. Often there'll be local musicians who play in the evening to entertain you too. Overall a little gem of a place that maintains the hippy spirit of its beginnings.
This meat-free eatery in the heart of London is my current favourite for a face-scoffing session – and coming from a life vegetarian, that’s something.
What makes Tibits special is the fact it’s a buffet. This means the variety of dishes you can have on your plate is much wider than in your average restaurant. The food is incredibly fresh and colourful, making it hard not to overload. Curries, salads, stir fries, grains, pulses, seeds, steamed and fried vegetables, pasta, tofu and cheese are all present, but the abundance of choice doesn’t mean for a second that the quality is compromised. Since it’s all good, wholesome stuff, I usually decide that it’s OK to indulge myself a bit.
My plate piled high, I go to the till to have my dinner weighed and pick up my free bread roll. It usually comes to about £8. It’s the same procedure again with desserts – although my quirky dad likes to put his on the same plate as his main to save time (he doesn’t mind at all if his soya yoghurt runs into his lentil dahl).
The drinks are OK value considering you’re in the centre of town. I usually wash it all down with one of their posh herb teas.
Despite the buffet set-up, Tibits maintains the relaxed feel of a normal restaurant thanks to an attractive décor and unobtrusive lighting and music. It’s very spacious, and there are toys in the downstairs bit for the children.
The staff, mostly young and European, seem happy in their work and are helpful and smart.
Overall, Tibits is a relaxed and classy joint where you really will enjoy your food.
This is a truly brilliant little pub that almost fooled me into thinking I was sitting in my grandma's front room. Comfy seats, a warm fire and delicious ale (all from small, independent UK breweries) - what more could I need?
I arrived feeling delicate the afternoon after a big night out, and a couple of hours of its relaxed vibe and a few pints of yummy stuff sure did set me straight again, no problem.
Foodwise, I was most impressed to hear they offer a veggie scotch egg with a lentil batter instead of pork, as well as other meaty stuff.
This is the type of pub everyone wishes they had around the corner.
139 Highgate Road, London NW5 1LE
+44(0)20 7485 1511
Tube: Kentish Town or Tufnell Park (Northern line)
Google maps: tinyurl.com/4nnpsuv
The Diwana is my favourite Indian restaurant in London. There are three reasons: the first is the fond memories it evokes of childhood trips to London, which invariably featured a re-fuel here. The second is the quality of the food - speaking as a British Asian it is the only place in London I have found which rivals my grandmother's cooking (although in case she ever reads this, it still comes off second best). The third is the value for money. If you go at lunchtime, for roughly £8 plus a drink, you can enjoy the sumptuous vegetarian buffet. This features dahls to die for, delicious saags, soul-nourishing channa massalas, more salads than you could possibly wish for, home-made raitas, freshly baked naans, pooris and parathas, and a fantastic selection of deserts. The gulab jaman are especially good here. The menu is of the same high standard but for the full experience I would wholeheartedly recommend going at lunch. If you do, don't eat any breakfast, and don't make dinner plans. You will be too full and in too high a state of food nirvana to want to eat another bite for the rest of the day.
121 Drummond Street, London, NW1 2HL
+44(0)20 7387 5556
Google map: bit.ly/f9NPgj
If you like your meals healthy and are on a tight budget, Greens and Beans is the place for you. This small but friendly place offers fresh organic vegetarian meals at great prices!
Fantastic local curry house. A tiny little place in a run-down back street in SW8. Fantastic east-African food with real flavour and very cheap. Bring your own drink. Regularly changing specials. Particularly good for vegetarians.
Wilcox Close, London, SW8.
Nearest tubes Stockwell and Vauxhall.
Nearest bus routes 2, 88, 77, 87, 196.
A quiet Indian restaurant specialising in food from Kerala ('God's own country') in South India.
The food is authentic and tastes home-made. Every time I feel home sick, I head to Oxford Circus. A little shopping followed by a delicious hot meal is the cure for my blues!
Try the buffet (different prices depending on whether you choose dessert or not). I love the 'Mango Lassi' as a refreshing drink on a hot summers day.
Kerala Restaurant, 15 Great Castle Street, London, W1W 8LT. Nearest tube Oxford Circus
Rasa vegetarian restaurant in Stoke Newington is great - delicious variety of interesting Keralan dishes and all completely vegetarian. For carnivores, there's a non-veggie version opposite.
Church Street, Stoke Newington, Hackney, London
Tucked away in a converted church near Hammersmith tube, this is the best British veggie restaurant we've found. Particularly fantastic are the wild food menus, which include everything from nettles and wild mushrooms to strange salad ingredients and inventive elderflower puddings. It's pretty good value for top-notch food and even has an original mural covering one wall!
It's a favourite haunt. It does a really nice buffet with a good variety. Plenty of nice vegetables. Polite and pleasant staff. The 'meat' dishes look and taste authentic. We took some devoted-meat-eating friends there a few months back and bundled them in without their seeing the word 'vegan' on the outside. They didn't believe us when we confessed they'd just heartily enjoyed a vegan meal!! Great! A recommended evening would be to go there for the main and then over Soho Square to Soho Street and Govinda's for desert (very yummy!), though the latter closes at 8pm.
Old Compton Street, Soho.
Tooting is curry heaven and Kastoori is its nirvana. The restaurant is run by the Thanki family (from Gujarat via Uganda). For vegetarians, like us, this is the best of all restaurants. Start the meal with delicate, filled puris, follow up with marsala dosa (filled super-thin pancakes) served with spicy sambar. Mr Thanki and his staff will help you choose your meal. This ensures that you do not over-order, which is easy to do. Finish off with kulfis (Indian ice cream) and the final surprise of a modest bill for such a wonderful feast.
188 Upper Tooting Road, SW17
Tel: 020 8767 7027
Rani serves the most wonderful Gujarati vegetarian cuisine and prides itself on making all the items on the menu. The owner is invariably on hand to welcome you into the warm and friendly environment. Waiting staff are knowledgeable, attentive and, if needed, will help you work your way to making the difficult decision as to what to choose from such an extensive, well-priced menu. If this is too difficult, they have a yummy range of set menus, or go on Sunday when it is buffet lunch. They are child-friendly, too!
7 Long Lane, Finchley Central
Tel: 020 8349 4386/2636
This restaurant serves a wide selection of vegetarian Indian food. The food is Gujarati with African influences due to the time the family spent in Uganda. Absolutely beautiful food, try the kofta or the green banana curry, and the pani puri is amazing.
188 Upper Tooting Road, London, SW17 7EJ; tel: 020 8767 7027
Nearest tube: Tooting Broadway
South Indian food of the highest quality. Be prepared to queue as this place is very busy with locals.
They do 6ft dosas! Try their Chilli fried idli with lemon rice - my favourite. The food is spicy but really tasty - and it is cheap cheap cheap. All dishes are fabulous. It’s a veggie restaurant and 100 yards down they have a non-veggie one. The veggie one is better - and this from a confirmed carnivore. Service is average but the food more than makes up for it. Feels like you are actually eating in India. Enjoy!
Various locations in London - East Ham, West Croydon, two in Manor Park and two in Wembley. For more information see www.chennaidosa.com/contactus.htm
Royal Teas is a wonderful café slightly off the beaten track in Greenwich. They do wonderful hot chocolate, teas and coffees. Coffee beans are ground there and then and you can by loose tea and coffee beans there too.
All of their food is vegetarian and is fantastic - and this is coming from a committed carnivore.
It is also very good value, with prices much cheaper than Starbucks and other chains that are also to be found in Greenwich.
In addition to all of this it is in a wonderful part of Greenwich. I recommend going for a walk round Royal Hill and up towards Black Heath, you can stop off here for a nice drink on the way back.
76 Royal Hill
0207 8691 7240
Very inexpensive casserole type veggie foods in dining room of old house. Open when the Centre is open which is weekdays mainly. Best to come around 5-7pm. Very inexpensive, salads available, mainly pasta and veggies with tomato sauce.
Russell Square tube to Southampton Row. Turn left at Russell Hotel and walk along Row to left turn into Queens Square.
Just off Totenham Court Road a bit north of the University of London hospital buildings is Drummond Street, which is full of Indian vegetarian restaurants. Chutneys is particularly good. Try the sev chat.
Euston and Warren street are the closest tube stations
Budget priced, filling and very good vegetarian food in the heart of town. On the menu is always a light option, a lunch option, a dinner special, soup, and quiche and a salad. The food is very healthy and wholefoody but you won't leave hungry. You could eat there all week and not get bored. Prices range from £3 to £6.50. It gets very busy, and is very cosy so be prepared to queue at times and especially to share a table. Also bear in mind that it's bad etiquette to reserve seats before getting your food! You can also do take-away.
31 Neal Street; Tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square
It's a vegetarian restaurant serving cuisine from southern India. The food is invariably delicious and cheap, even cheaper at lunchtime when they have an excellent buffet. It's not licenced but you can take your own booze (bought at the supermarket next door if need be). You can't reserve tables, so be prepared to queue at busy times. They also do food to take away. A terrific alternative to the overpriced chain food outlets on Euston Station, as it's only a couple of minutes' walk away.
121-123 Drummond Street, NW1; 020 7387 5556; Euston
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