Vegan Restaurants Brighton – Our top 5
Too often, commentaries on vegan or vegetarian food exclaim, ‘You won’t even miss the meat!’ – something that feels tantamount to reviewing an Indian restaurant and assuring people that they won’t even miss the pasta. Aware that any open-minded food lover can appreciate different types of cuisine, here we present the We Love Brighton guide to the top restaurants in town that embrace veganism not as a limiting factor but as an alternative, sustainable and exciting way of eating in its own right.
These are restaurants where the ‘vegan option’ doesn’t mean ordering the veggie burger without the cheese, and where no one will ever be forced to apologetically order a portion of chips and an undressed side salad in lieu of a balanced meal. This lot will show you just what’s possible with a plateful of plants.
Terre à Terre has long been a hero of Brighton’s vegetarian scene and one of the lynchpins behind the city’s reputation as the best in the UK for vegans (although the official title was actually usurped by Glasgow last year). Despite the slightly dated décor the place is impossibly classy. They have the kind of menu you need a culinary glossary to decipher and serve up dishes so elaborately presented they’ll have you registering for an Instagram account.
A large percentage of the menu is fully vegan and the restaurant is incredibly accommodating, with vegan options available for many other dishes and a largely vegan wine list. The Terre à Terre menu takes influences from all over the world, with East Asian, North African, Middle Eastern, Mexican and Mediterranean flavours all featuring heavily. From the very first nibble of marinated sesame hoisin tofu, through the crunch of a garlic potato rosti with sumac butterbean sauce, to the parting mouthful of decadently boozy vegan chocolate truffle, you’ll lament the fact that at some point the meal must end.
This isn’t just one of the best restaurants in the city for vegans, but one of the best fine dining restaurants full stop… and don’t they just know it.
71 East Street, Brighton, BN1 1HQ
This Seven Dials establishment is every bit as sweet as it sounds, without having fallen foul of the tweeness characteristic of some of Brighton’s independent cafes. There’s no cutesy china and no pink cupcakes, just delicious vegetarian food, fresh juices and quality teas and coffees. The chef is Sicilian and, along with tasty vegan sandwiches and vegetable bakes, the Mediterranean influence shines through in dishes such as homemade bread served with sweet and sour caponata, roasted mushrooms with toasted polenta, and vegan lemon cake.
The Almond Tree can likely also lay claim to serving up the most wholesome Sunday roast in Brighton: a slab of delicious homemade spiced vegan nut roast that’s accompanied by nine types of vegetables and served with a jug of slow-roasted tomato and basil sauce. (It made me feel almost human the day after a hen-do, so it must be seriously full of goodness.) Read our full review HERE.
109c Dyke road, Brighton, BN1 3JE
Food for Friends has been serving up vegetarian cuisine since 1981 and in some ways its reputation as a Brighton institution overshadows the modern-day reality. By all accounts the contemporary incarnation of Food for Friends is unrecognisable from the original hippie haven. It’s now a chic yet relaxed, smart yet unfussy restaurant with Farrow & Ball walls and pendant lights – the smart-casual of the dining room décor world.
The vibe may be different but the food is still exciting and unpretentious, and the sophisticated menu is vegan-friendly. The Middle Eastern influences are obvious in dishes like baked aubergine stuffed with bulgur wheat and pistachios, and the sharing mezze starter platter which is piled so high with vegan dips, salads and fritters it could leave you with no room for your main. Reserve a little space for pudding whatever happens though; the doughnut-like coconut and black sesame arancini served with mango sorbet is the perfect example of a vegan dessert that makes no apologies for being dairy-free.
17-18 Prince Albert Street, Brighton, BN1 1HF
Wai Kika Moo Kau is a vegetarian hotspot and one of North Laine’s friendliest cafes. Patrons’ artwork hangs on the walls and you’ll find you’re proud to count yourself as one of the regulars before you even realise you know the menu off by heart. The place is always packed with a happy mixture of students sitting down to a mini vegan breakfast (an absolute bargain at £3.50), parents with pushchairs, day-trippers, and local workers grabbing a takeaway veggie soup or a spicy tofu wrap on their lunch break. You can try going in for ‘just a cup of coffee’ but you’ll never resist the selection of vegan baked goods supplied by Eden Homemade Cakes.
Wai Kika’s dinner menu manages to be both reassuringly healthy and satisfyingly hearty: homemade sweet potato and soyabean burgers; nachos loaded with bean and lentil chilli; and vegan mezze or tapas platters with falafel, dips, marinated tofu and grilled peppers. If you have room for a sweet treat after your meal try the avocado and chocolate mousse – as velvety and indulgent as any cream-laden dessert.
11a Kensington Gardens, Brighton, BN1 4AL
It seems like every vegetarian and vegan in the city must have visited Iydea at some point, either the original café on Kensington Gardens or the new, larger Western Road venue. Both are counter service and you build your perfect plate or box of food from the (all veggie) options in front of you. About 50% of the main courses are vegan, with typical offerings including sweet potato lasagne, nutty vegetable crumble or Thai curry. Once you’ve decided on your main you can select two sides – hot or cold – to accompany it, maybe sweet potato and garlic mash or balsamic tomato and onion salad. Finish with toppings such as coriander and garlic drizzle or toasted tamari seeds.
The line moves quickly and the stunning array of options can easily bewilder new initiates. You’ll likely find yourself crippled by self-doubt about your spur of the moment choices: ‘Does Asian coleslaw go with gumbo roti? DOES IT?!’ Really though, it won’t matter what you choose; at the end of the line you’ll be handed a plate or box absolutely crammed with fresh rainbow goodness.
105 Western Road, Brighton, BN1 2AA
17 Kensington Gardens, North Laine, Brighton, BN1 4AL