New Orleans is not exactly knowns as a vegan foodie destination… but it should be.
Before my road trip around the Deep South everyone warned me that I’d have trouble finding plant-based food options. I’m happy to say it isn’t a lost cause though – especially NOLA. Among all the crawfish gumbo and roast beef po’ boys there are lots of amazing vegan restaurants in New Orleans. Whether you want to try veggie versions of local specialities or explore international cuisines, the city has it all.
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The Big Easy has never been short of creative energy, supplied in large quantities by musicians, painters and writers from all walks of life. Creatives are often at the forefront of burgeoning social movements – and in the recent past one of them has been veganism. I know I’d be a lot less open to alternative lifestyle choices if my blogging career wasn’t an alternative lifestyle choice in and of itself.
When I realised just how much of a veggie goldmine New Orleans was I decided it would be unfair to keep it all to myself. You guys have been telling me to make more videos which is exactly what I did. Before you read this article watch the video below. In it I’m going to take you all around New Orleans and show you first hand what each place looks – and tastes – like!
Every single one of of these vegan restaurants in New Orleans is worth visiting, but Seed was definitely my favourite. It’s actually fully vegan and doesn’t serve any animal products whatsoever, which I loved. The airy interior is decorated with large paintings by Ally Burguieres and the surrounding Garden District is equal parts swish and laid-back. Ally owns a boutique next door on 1330 Prytania Street called Cocoally. If you’re anything like me you’ll want to by every single thing in there – from adorable graphic tees to cotton tote bags with slogans like “Eating fruit makes you cute.” or “Go vegan. Toucan can, you can too.”
Let’s get back to the food though. From beet carpaccio to seaweed caviar this isn’t your regular vegan canteen. My friend and I ended up sharing five different dishes when one each would have been enough because we had such a tough time deciding! If you only try one thing make it the artichoke cakes. Seed is also the perfect place to try Southern specialties like gumbo, grits or po’ boys.
2. Green Goddess
Green Goddess is the perfect place to visit with your omnivore friends, because aside from an extensive vegan menu they also offer many meat-based dishes. I had the rolled uttapam – a savoury South Indian pancake cooked with tomato, onions, peppers and panch puran. It was filled to the brim with a vegan curry and topped with a young coconut slaw, tamarind chutney and crunchy boondi. Yes. Please. Other great options include a veggie Cuban luau, lemongrass tofu or pecan orange mushroom pâté.
3. 13 Monaghan
Pretty much everyone I met recommended 13 Monaghan to me as the perfect vegan junk food destination. The restaurant is right on Frenchmen Street and stays open till 4am, should you want to indulge after a night about town. They have local beers on tap and vegan-friendly sandwiches on the menu but the real star are their tachos. What on Earth are tachos you ask? Don’t worry, I didn’t know either but I’ve more than made up for 23 years of ignorance now. Tachos are golden baked tater tots presented like nachos with lots of scrumptious toppings. I tried the Original with vegan chili, cheddar cheese, jalapeños, salsa and sour cream – they can be made vegan on request.
4. Verti Marte
If you’re looking for another late night food takeout in New Orleans, Verti Marte is it. The corner shop is open 24/7 so you can literally swing by whenever. My friend and I stumbled in drunk at 2am and just told the guy behind the counter to give us two boxes of food – one regular and one vegetarian. My friend got a beef burrito that nearly made her cry with joy and I was similarly taken with my mac&cheese and spinach bake. There are definitely more vegetarian options here than there are vegan, but enough to make it worth a visit.
5. Dat Dog
This hot dog chain is… off the chain! Dat Dog have not one but three vegan hot dog options. There’s spicy chipotle, smoked apple sage and my favourite field roast Italian made with aubergine (eggplant), fennel and garlic. They cost $7.95 each and you can get as many toppings as you’d like. Yes, vegan buns are available here as well. If you’re not veggie you could also get the Son of a Saint dog – $1 from every sale goes to Son of a Saint, a non-profit that works with fatherless boys in the area.
6. Silk Road
Alright, let’s spice things up a little bit. Silk Road is an Indian restaurant in the Marigny neighbourhood and is part of Balcony Guest House, the lovely B&B I had the pleasure of staying at. Their locally-sourced menu is full of vegetarian options – if I were you I’d definitely try one of their sumptuous curries. Oh, and they currently host free wine tastings every Thursday evening from 6-9 pm with live acoustic jazz and great specials!
7. Gumbo Shop
The Gumbo Shop is a bit of a local institution. Yes, it’s somewhat overrun by tourists. No, the cocktails aren’t very good. But as the restaurant’s name suggests they’re very good at gumbo and it’s one of the few places in the city where you can often find a veggie version of it. The vegetarian/vegan option changes daily so I’d recommend calling them before you visit. I had the rice and beans which didn’t sound too intriguing but according to my friend it was almost better than her seafood gumbo.
8. Sneaky Pickle
Sneaky Pickle is a New Orleanian vegan favourite. They use fresh ingredients from a carefully vetted list of local farmers, and from what I’ve heard their sandwiches are to die for. I sadly didn’t get a chance to visit – this is true of the next two restaurants as well – but I’m still kicking myself about it. Visions of their vegan Reuben made with smoked tempeh, homemade sauerkraut and caramelised onions will probably haunt my dreams until I finally try it.
9. Cafe Abyssinia
Ever since I visited Ethiopia I’ve been obsessed with the country’s cuisine. The warmth and sourness of the injera combined with punchy shiro completely won me over, but finding them back home proved harder than I expected. It turns out finding Ethiopian food is nearly impossible in many European cities! Not so in the US though and Cafe Abyssinia is the perfect place for any vegan or vegetarian to sample it.
(photo above, via avry)
I tried booking a table at Shaya the minute I found out about its existence, but to no avail. The restaurant was fully booked for the next week and from what I’ve heard there’s a good reason for it. Shaya specialises in modern Israeli cuisine, drawing influence and inspiration from North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Greece. But the ingredients responsibly and locally sourced, as well as seasonal. If you’re unsure what to try I’ve heard wonderful things about the curried cauliflower hummus, lutenitsa and tabbouleh – which you can try making at home using my tabbouleh recipe from Lebanon.
(photo above, via Shaya)
What are *your* favourite vegan restaurants in New Orleans? Let me know and please don’t forget to save this article on Pinterest if you enjoyed it – I’d so appreciate it!