Words: Shamim de Brún
The ante of vegan and veggie food in Dublin has well and truly been upped. For decades the scene was filled with a handful of solitary renegades, ploughing their own furrows and serving up delicious, healthy fare amidst the backdrop of meat and two veg.
While some restaurants in Dublin offer up chips as a vegan option, most restauranteurs with cop-on understand that offering a classic portobello mushroom burger or risotto just won’t cut it these days.
With the planet dying, more and more people are turning to vegetarian options to put their money where their morals are. Even if it’s only on a meatless Monday. If the proliferation of beyond meat has taught us anything, the vegan “craze” has more staying power than the conglomerates would have you believe.
In fact, there were three full-on veggies on our panel. We know we got some proper insider scoops here.
All the answers have been stripped of flesh, peeled, stewed, chopped, and presented harm-freely into your waiting paws. Let us place The Ultimate Food Guide to Dublin’s best Vegan and Vegetarian food:
It is no secret that Umi does the best falafel in the city. For many years falafel has been the only sandwich filling available in airports throughout the land sans meat. But these, by and large, have been atrocious. Dry and acrid. Especially in Ireland. Umi saw that the people of Ireland needed to be exp[osed to the quality falafel could offer, and they served it up with no frills. We as a society fell head over heels.
When they started out, they were fully vegan no cheese allowed. But in recent years, they have added a bit of halloumi to the menu to the giddy excitement of cheese lovers everywhere. You can still get many vegan options and engage in the perpetual debate over which of the god-like salads is the best. Richie from Bahay ranked this high on his go-to veggie spot list.
Order: The Sharing Platter
Location: Mary Street, Dame Street, George’s Street, and Rathmines
Opening Times: Varies by location so check the website for full details.
Pasta is a mainstay in the diet of most veggies. As it is even with most meat lovers. Pasta is, in many ways, proof that a deity exists. Their homemade in-house pasta is divine, no matter how Sprezzatura dresses it up.
There are so many options on the list that suit vegetarians. But there are also always a few things lurking around to fulfil the vegan quotient. And they are not an afterthought. Always flavour-forward and budget-friendly, Sprezzatura is a perfect neutral ground if your group runs the gamut from vegan to carnivore. Plus, all their wines are sustainably sourced.
This was high on Rob Hughs from Big Fan’s list. He lives right between both Sprezzatura locations and always pops in when he feels like eating a vegetable.
Order: The Ravioli
Location: Rathmines & Just off Camden Street
Opening Times: Varies by location but do check out their website for info
Kinara’s almost formidably expansive and tantalising menu is full of vegetarian and vegan goodness. While not uniformly vegan or vegetarian, there are massive swaths of the menu. While they have always eaten meat in Pakistan, vegetarianism has been an enormous part of their culture. The authenticity of this restaurant brings that to the fore.
Kinara tops Mick O’Connell of Neighbourhood Wine fame’s list of best veggie spots in the city. He said, “I think, in general, Eastern cuisines lend themselves to making exciting veggie dishes. But Kinara, which is in kind of contrast element, is bloody good for veggie stuff.”
Order: The Curry
Location: Malahide, Clontarf and Ranelagh
Opening Times: Varies by location so please check their website for more info
VFace offers vegan adaptations of all the popular takeaway classics you’re likely to crave when hungover but leaving your ethics intact. Their Chiccy Fillet would cure your soul of deep despair. And their chips are chipper-level quality.
This was one of the top picks from Gillian Boyle, Drinks Consultant and veggie herself. It really hits all the spots you need it to. She said it was “really exciting.”
Order: The Chiccy Fillet
Opening Times: Thursday to Sunday from 12:00
Aobaba is known for many things. It’s one of the best value places to eat in the city but it is also a gold mine for the vegan and vegetarian inclined. Almost half of their menu is vegetarian by nature. Because they use rice noodles as standard and not egg, most of their ramen is also vegan by happenstance.
Aobaba was one of Alex from Bahay’s top picks this year. She said, “they do a deadly vegetarian Pho also. I suppose she is just amazing.” And we have to say we agree. Just remember to get cash out, it’s cash only.
Order: Veggie Pho
Location: Capel Street
Opening Times: Every day from 12:00
People can often forget how good Japanese restaurants are for vegan diets. It gets obscured with all the raw fish hoo-ha surrounding sushi. Shojin-Ryori cuisine is the diet favoured by Japanese zen Buddhist monks following the Buddhist precept against killing. It’s pretty common across Japan, and many Japanese restaurants globally have a rake of things that fit this outlook.
Maneki’s vegetarian sushi is banging, always comes with a decent miso soup, and if you leave the egg out, it’s fully vegan. Perfection. It’s a favourite of Michelin-level chef Tara Gartlan who placed this spot as the top of her list for when she’s entertaining the vegetable inclined. She said, “All of it is delicious.”
Order: Veggie Sushi and Gyoza
Location: Dawson Street
Opening Times: Every day from 12:00
For the uninitiated, The Saucy Cow is a joyful place full of fun and saucy flavours. The menu is structured like any burger shack, but with alt meat subs instead. The oyster mushroom chick bites are a mainstay that all snack-happy people should try. Opt for them instead of chips, and you won’t be disappointed.
Tara Deery thinks Saucy Cow is “just brilliant” and called it “definitely the best thing to happen to the veggie world”. However, Alex was more exclamatory, saying, “The Saucy Cow is a big love. Those Saucy Cow burgers *chefs kiss”.
It’s a testament to how good they are that they ranked among the best burger spots in Dublin, including all the meaty ones. So if you’ve never had their BBQ Buckfast burg, you should fix that.
Order: The Buckfast BBQ Burger
Locations: 19 Crane Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin, D02 R891
Opening Times: Tuesday 16:30 – 21:00 and Wednesday to Sunday 12:00 – 22:00
Glás is for the treat-yourself-inclined ethical eater in your life. It errs more on the side of haute cuisine while being a fully vegetarian restaurant, with about half their meals clocking in as certifiably vegan. They hit the scene with a bang in October 2019 before being listed on the Michelin Guide. The team behind Glas (which includes First Dates Maitre’D Mateo Saina) have also expanded into Rathmines with their concept store, Glas Deli.
They ranked on Rob from Big Fan’s list as well as Sommelier Tara Deery. Tara said it was her go-to veggie place if she was ” going somewhere fancy. It’s got a great veggie-tasting menu, and they’ve got a banging wine list. So you can go into the tasting menu, get loads of really delicious burgundy and have a happy time”. What more could ya want?
Order: The Miso Parsnip
Location: Chatham Street
Opening times: Monday-Thursday 16.30-22.00 Friday-Sunday 12.00-22.00
For more information, visit the Glas website.
You can’t have a veggie vegan list in Dublin without a hefty nod to the place that made it happen for the rest of them. Cornucopia set up shop long before Instagram made eating vegan cool or pop stars hopped on it as a way of virtue signalling to gen z. They have never faltered in their quality.
Since 1986 they have become a pioneer of conscious food consumption in the city with their cookbook Cornucopia at Home, one of the first of its kind on many Irish shelves. Their hearty fare was appreciated by Tara Gartlan, Holly Dalton, Gillian, as well as Patrick and Russell of The Gastro Gays.
The Gastro Gays said it best when they called cornucopia “an enduring classic, and we appreciate how they started veggie, but over the years, they have just embraced going almost entirely vegan. I think things are heading that way anyway and just really consistent. A key player in that scene, always busy, always popular, really central, can’t go wrong”.
Order: The special of the week, and definitely a soft serve 99
Location: Dublin 2’s Wicklow Street
Opening times: Monday-Tuesday 9.00-20.00 Wednesday-Saturday 9.00-21.00 Sunday 10.30-21.00
For more information, visit the Cornucopia website.
Shouk is a force to be reckoned with in vegan veggie eating. Reservations have been like gold dust for so long that it’s easy to think they are golden ticket level. And to be honest, you wouldn’t be wrong. Thank the deity of your choice. They also deliver. Gotta love a delivery you can’t snag a ressie for. Kevin from Nomo picked this as his top spot, citing their delivery as a family favourite.
Shouk also came in top for Gastro Gays with them exclaiming, “Oh, it’s so good. It’s just Middle Eastern flavours. Absolutely banging great quality ingredients. Great. It’s All about flavour and experience when you’re having it. And we’ve only ever had a takeaway, and then we actually eat it in the car because it smells so good”
Richie from Bahay and Rob from Big Fans picked it as top of their respective lists while placing pretty high on Tara Derry’s, Alex’s and Holly Daltons. You can’t argue with stats like that. This Middle Eastern gem burst onto the veggie scene with a force usually reserved for rockets orbiting space. With little to no marketing, they became a word-of-mouth go, and since then, people have been queuing up in the legions to get a taste of their epic hummus. And we would expect no less from Dublin’s Ultimate Veggie Spot.
Order: The Mezze Platter
Opening Times: Wednesday to Sunday 12:00-22:00. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Elsewhere on CHAR: Dublin’s Ultimate Pizza