As the home of jazz and Mardi Gras, New Orleans is famous for its meat-heavy signature dishes, from poboys to crocodile sausages. But there is a surprising array of vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the Big Easy.
Heading to the French Quarter Festival or the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival as a vegetarian? You’ll find meat-free options in restaurant menus all throughout the city, but these seven restaurants feature an eclectic array of vegetarian dishes that will leave you salivating, and wanting to visit Nola for more than its music and parades.
Tucked away in the heart of the French Quarter, Bennachin’s Cameroonian themed menu has a multitude of meat free options. Start with the savory akara (black eyed pea fritters) and the sorso jembekero (vegetable soup). For a satisfying meal, enjoy the fu fu (pounded yams) along with the monde cone (cococunt rice) and jama jama (sauteed spinach).
You’ll find Cafe Abyssinia on the trendy Magazine Street in the Garden District, another restaurant with an African themed cuisine. The yemisir or the beet salad is a great way to start before moving on to the main dishes. Order the the tikel gomen, and you’ll find it hard to believe that sliced cabbage and carrots could taste so good. As an added bonus, you can try all of the vegetarian dishes in one thrifty combination dish.
Any trip to New Orleans isn’t complete without a visit to the local haunt of Frenchman Street, where you’ll find 13. 13 is a super casual bar / restaurant with tabletops covered in vintage movie posters. With a surprisingly vegetarian heavy menu not often found in bars, even many of their meat dishes can be veganized. Try their mushroom philly sandwich, which features sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese, or their “tachos” —vegan chili combined with golden baked tater tots, and you’ll find yourself returning for more than just the chill atmosphere.
Seed has a decidedly New Orleans themed flare, keeping the cuisine’s tradition alive in its vegetarian dishes. Try the gumbo, which is just as delicious as the traditional meat heavy dish, and the aptly named southern fried nuggets is a delicacy of its own. For vegetarians who have always wanted to try the renowned poboy, don’t fret — there are two vegetarian versions at Seed, the eggplant poboy or southern fried poboy.
Green Goddess Restaurant
Another restaurant with an eclectic New Orleans themed cuisine, Green Goddess makes creative use of their ingredients to create delicious vegetarian dishes. Indulge in the lemongrass tofu poboy. Or take the time to savor their two sweet potato biscuits and pecan orange mushroom pate. Whatever dish you try, one visit to Green Goddess won’t be enough to truly appreciate their unique dishes.
New Orleans Cake Cafe and Bakery
New Orleans Cafe and Bakery features more than just pastries, with a number of vegetarian dishes to try for breakfast or lunch. From their dedicated vegetarian menu, enjoy a breakfast of mushroom gravy and biscuits or have a roasted vegetable sandwich for lunch. But the best part of dining here? You get a one dollar cupcake with your meal. Try the german chocolate or strawberry applesauce flavors.
Meals from the Heart Cafe
Located in the historic French Market, Meals from the Heart Cafe is a vegetarian haven amongst the meat heavy offerings you’ll find at other food stalls. For breakfast, enjoy their vegan wheat blueberry pancakes or portobello mushroom breakfast sandwich. For lunch or dinner, gobble up their black bean burger or seasoned red lentils.
Photo by Stephanie Bogdanich CC BY