Hi, I’m Lauren. I’m a vegetarian. And I love eating out.
Yes, I can (kinda) cook, but I really enjoy investigating new cafés and tasting the creations some of Cape Town’s restaurateurs come up with. I love the interesting mix of flavours in the veggie burgers and deluxe brunches I just can’t seem to replicate at home.
I can spend ages sitting in a comfy booth, enjoying some plant-based goodness while people-watching through a nearby window. And because this is Cape Town (with all its urban haunts and health-food spots), there are so many spaces where I can do just that.
If you’re new to the city or are looking for some interesting restaurants and cafés to try out, you’re in luck: there are some great places to enjoy some meat-free dining.
A little disclaimer before we begin: while it’s relatively easy to find a vegetarian option at most restaurants in Cape Town (or at least one where you can ask to swap the meat for some plant-based equivalent), I don’t really count eateries that offer only one vegetarian dish or a few salads as “vegetarian friendly”.
I want to choose between pasta or burgers or wraps or pizza or soups, not be forced to settle for the only thing on the menu that isn’t smothered in bacon. So to be included on my list, you either need to have multiple options for us plant-eaters, or your one-and-only qualifying dish must be pretty darn fantastic.
Fortunately, these wonderful vegan and vegetarian places do exist. Some of the restaurants below have entire vegan menus, or a sizeable vegetarian section alongside the fare for your omnivorous dinner companions. Here are some of my favourites:
Honest Chocolate Café is a cosy hideaway in Wale Street that offers a mix of yummy coffee with dairy-free milk, some savory options and a whole lot of handmade chocolate treats. Think cakes and tarts, skull-shaped bon bons and some of the most incredible dairy-free ice cream I’ve tasted so far. The majority of their items are vegan (some are also gluten free) with their signature bunny chow (banana bread stuffed with chocolate spread and ice cream) rounding out the menu.
Indian food is always a brilliant go-to if you’re looking for yummy-but-not-boring vegetarian options, but Masala Dosa in Long Street has an entire vegan menu too! There are some options on the main menu, but ask for the separate vegan one and you can choose from divine salads, roti wraps, desserts, curries and dairy-free spiced iced coffee.
If you’re open to never-been-cooked vegan options, Raw and Roxy in Woodstock has your back. This small restaurant offers an entirely vegan menu comprised of raw meals. I can’t vouch for the desserts, because they were almost entirely sold out when I went… which may say something. If you’re skeptical, try the zucchini lasagne or their signature drink (a cacao-laced smoothie called Rocket Fuel which my omnivorous lunch date basically inhaled, even though I ordered it for myself).
Another dedicated vegan café is Plant, which is a cute little spot offering street-side dining and meat-free meals in an underground hideout. Coffee comes standard with soy milk, but you can be fancy and opt for almond or rice milk if you so wish. The nachos with “cheese” were my favourite, but they also offer takeaway deserts and treats if you’re looking for something sweet.
The very orange and cool IYO Burgers is a good spot if you’re in a group with mixed eating styles. They have one vegan and two vegetarian burgers alongside the meaty options, and incredible sweet potato fries. It’s all served in a very trendy and airy space overlooking the bustle of Bree Street.
One of my all-time favourite burger spots, Royale Eatery, is incredibly kind to the meat-free population. There is an entire vegetarian burger section (seriously, it’s one and a half pages and will leave you dizzy), as well as a very yummy vegan burger. Vegetarians can also tuck into some decadent milkshakes, with flavours ranging from Oreo to avocado and mint, lemon cheesecake and chocolate brownie.
What Royale is for burgers, SGT Pepper is for pizza. The multiple vegetarian options with cute names are consistently amazing, from the Sally Sunshine to the Molly Mushroom. Eat out on their balcony and watch the tour busses and scurrying people below while you tuck into something covered in caramelised onions and artichokes.
Clarke’s is a reliable and consistently delicious go-to for a weekend brunch in the city. From the avo and labneh toast to the breakfasts with interesting additions like asparagus and organic beans, vegetarians have many options in this bright and plant-filled café.
A more quirky find is Call a Pizza – there is a delivery service if you have a spontaneous craving, otherwise you can head to their physical restaurant in Sea Point. They have a pretty insane menu (seriously, there are dessert pizzas with sprinkles, marshmallows and chocolate sauce), which includes an entire page and a half of savory vegetarian pizzas.
Superette in the Woodstock Exchange is one of my favourite brunch spots, offering multiple vegetarian-friendly breakfasts (try the omelettes!), things on toast and a pretty amazing soy flat white. Their sandwiches are also great, especially if you work in the city and can dash out at lunch or use roast vegetables as an excuse to host a meeting in their café.
If you’re looking for something a bit fancier for a special occasion or celebration, La Mouette is a real treat. Their tasting menu changes from season to season, but every time I’ve visited they’ve either had a vegetarian option in every course, or were able to adapt an existing one for me. I didn’t feel like I was getting short changed either — everything I was presented was an intriguing mix of flavours and ingredients that I devoured happily.
If you’re just in it for the caffeine and espresso, take a look at my top picks for where to find dairy free coffee in the city.
Do you have any favourite vegan and vegetarian-friendly finds in Cape Town? Let me know in the comments.