Crawfish étouffée, oyster po’boys, deep-fried beignets, café au laits… I know what you’re thinking: New Orleans cuisine and vegan appetites don’t mix.
Don’t be dismayed! The Big Easy is certainly a meat and seafood lover’s paradise, but it also has a thriving vegan community. You’ll find plentiful restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops that cater to a compassionate diet. Let this be your guide to Nola dining with all the rich local flavor… just without the meat.
4719 Freret St.
This smoothie bar has amazing fruit and vegetable juice combos. The menu is vast and includes refreshing flavors like green tea and honey, mango chili, and pineapple mint.
Breads on Oak
8640 Oak St.
Oak Street’s artisan bakery is dedicated to using organic flour as well as local fruits and nuts. Breads are handmade and vary by day. Try the “live food” sandwich with avocado, carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, and miso spread. Organic vegan muffins and gluten-free treats also available. Note: Closed Monday and Tuesday.
3511 Magazine St.
Enjoy authentic Ethiopian fare with a New Orleans twist. The food is spicy, reasonably priced, and generously portioned. Note: BYOB.
Chill Out Café
729 Burdette St.
This casual Uptown joint earns its rep with an eclectic blend of American breakfast food and Thai cuisine. Try the vegan Tom Yum Goong soup, Fresh Spring Rolls, and Phat Thai.
The Green Fork
1400 Prytania St.
Stop into The Green Fork post-workout (or post-partying the night before) to detox with a fresh, nutrient-packed smoothie. Choose from a menu of positive affirmations such as “Believe” with beet, carrot, fennel, lime, and pineapple juice or “Healing” with kombucha, pomegranate, goji berries, vanilla, ginger, and agave. The food is also incredible. Raw, vegan, gluten-free… it’s all here. Pricy, but worth it.
4332 Magazine St.
Get your study on at this funky coffee shop with fair-trade brew and vegan snacks. Like many bars and cafes in Nola, Hey! is dog-friendly. Note: Open until 11pm Monday-Thursday, 8pm Friday and Saturday.
614 S Carrollton Ave.
You’ll find the usual vegetable spring rolls, spicy kimchi, and vermicelli noodles—all of which are delicious. But Jazmine’s vegetarian Vietnamese po’boy with tofu, pickled carrots, jalapenos, cucumber, and cilantro brings out its unique Nawleans flavor. Just make sure to specify no butter.
4201 Magazine St.
Two words: Vegan Pho. Magasin serves you a huge bowl of rice noodles, tofu, mushrooms, onion, basil, mint, lime, and bean sprouts in a savory vegan broth for $8. The food is tasty, the vibe is casual, and Sriracha is provided. Win.
8433 Oak St.
Sometimes you’re in the mood to change up the California and Cucumber rolls routine. Ninja has an impressive vegetarian/vegan and wheat-free menu. I recommend the “Godzilla Roll” (seaweed salad, spicy vegetable, avocado, asparagus, cucumber, radish sprout, seaweed powder) and the “Umeshiso Roll” (Japanese sour plum paste, shiso leaf, cucumber, seaweed).
Nirvana Indian Cuisine
4308 Magazine St.
Nirvana’s vegetarian menu is extensive. The $10 daily lunch buffet special includes soup, salad, fruit, naan, and three meat-free entrees. Note: The Bhindhi (okra) and Bhenghan Bhartha (eggplant) dishes are made without paneer.
7901 Maple St.
Fair-trade coffee, raw salads, roasted eggplant spread, tofu scramble, and “Immune Booster” juice. What more could you want?
4519 Magazine St.
Ordering the standard vegetarian Pad Thai—no egg—can get old. Here at Sukho, you’ll find a separate entirely vegan menu. Try the Ginger Tofu (fresh tofu stir-fried with ginger shoots, bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms in a sesame soy sauce) and Veggie Dirty Noodles (wide rice noodles, garlic, broccoli, carrots, and tofu stir-fried in a sweet black soybean sauce).
4113 Magazine St.
Superfood Bar is committed to 100% organic ingredients, serving up delightful drinks like blueberry basil smoothies and iced coffee with raw cacao and almond milk. The bar also has exceptional vegan food, such as carrot ginger soup and butternut squash pasta with coconut Alfredo sauce.
4807 Magazine St.
Café & Juice Bar: 1418 Magazine St.
Surrey’s is one of the best brunches in the city. It’s great for dining with friends who love their eggs and bacon… and vegans who love their hot sauce. The Tofu Breakfast Platter, Vegan Migas, and Pain Perdu come highly recommended. You also have to order the fresh squeezed orange, carrot, apple, grapefruit juice. Note: Cash only.
Juan’s Flying Burrito
2018 Magazine St.
This Creole Taqueria is cheap and tasty. Order a Supergreen or Veggie Punk burrito stuffed with toppings like pinto beans, rice, grilled spinach, onion, peppers, mushrooms, avocado, green chilies, or jalapenos. The Wicked Garden fajita plate with broccoli, squash, spinach, and roasted garlic is another solid choice.
Krewe du Brew
1610 St. Charles Ave.
Great coffee, great location. Vegan cream cheese and soy, almond, or vanilla almond milk available.
Slim Goodies Diner
3322 Magazine St.
Big breakfast lovers, listen up. Slim Goodies—with portions that are anything but slim—cooks up a mean vegan tofu scramble with black bean corn salsa and smoked tempeh on multi-grain toast.
Back to the Garden
833 Howard Ave.
Indulge in some vegan stir-fry, chili, or tacos with fresh juice on the side. The homemade salad dressings are also noteworthy.
527 Julia St.
Carmo describes itself as a “West Africa meets Europe meets Latin America meets Southeast Asia” experience. This tropical café has plentiful vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options—all of which are clearly identifiable. In fact, almost everything on the menu can be made vegan. Try the Broken Noodle Salad with rice noodles, tofu, peanuts, bean sprouts, cucumber, peas, mushrooms, cabbage, cilantro, peppers, and scallions tossed in a citrus ginger chili vinaigrette.
909 Poydras St.
If you’re all about eating “from farm to fork,” this super healthy lunch spot is perfect for grabbing a salad or wrap on the go. Pick from toppings like raw beets, roasted brussels sprouts, jicama, lacinato kale, micro greens, quinoa, radishes, and seared tofu.
1212 Royal St.
This downtown African restaurant has a great vegetarian lunch special. Treat yourself to a plate of black-eyed pea fritters, fried ripe plantains, peanut stew, and coconut rice for $9.
2600 Chartres St.
Find a date—if you don’t already have one—and book the most romantic vegan dinner you can have in New Orleans. Feelings Café’s vegan menu is vast with superb dishes like Mushroom Boudin, Clemenceau aux legumes, and Roasted Eggplant & Creole Tomato Napoleons. Dine outside in the courtyard patio and enjoy the live music.
El Gato Negro
81 French Market St.
This authentic Mexican restaurant has killer guacamole and an extensive tequila menu. You can order vegetarian tacos, burritos, quesadillas or fajitas (without cheese and sour cream of course).
The Green Goddess
307 Exchange Pl.
Don’t be fooled into thinking “green” here means veg-only. Green Goddess isn’t really a vegan paradise—it serves cochon de lait and bacon sundaes—however, there are a few delectable meat-free items on the menu that make it definitely worth a visit. Try the South Indian savory lentil pancake with spicy dal or the veggie Cuban sandwich with pickled banana peppers and roasted pineapple.
508 Dumaine St.
The best way to beat New Orleans heat? Enjoying an organic fruit popsicle while strolling through the French Quarter. Choose from unique flavors like strawberry basil, pineapple cilantro, nectarine ginger, blueberry lemonade, chocolate chili, and Vietnamese coffee.
517 Frenchmen St.
The menu sports five vegetarian (can be made vegan) sandwiches, along with breakfast items made with tofu instead of eggs. Open 11am-4am daily!
Café Rose Nicaud
632 Frenchman St.
To be honest, this café is better for vegetarians than vegans. But perks include breakfast served all day, homemade ginger limeade, and kale salad (without the goat cheese).
Mid-City/Bayou St John
Fair Grinds Coffeehouse
3133 Ponce de Leon St.
Fair Grinds is big on supporting the local community, and it shows in their ethical products, live music, book readings, and drawing classes. It’s a great space to work inside or out on the patio. Bring your laptop and order a fair-trade cup of coffee with soy or almond milk and a vegan/gluten-free cream cheese brownie. Or if you’re feeling social, check out the common space on the second floor for weekly workshops.
6601 Veterans Memorial Blvd
This entirely gluten-free bakery is an amazing find. Most of the treats are vegan and made with dairy-free butter cream filling. Savor a mini donut, cupcake, muffin or scone. The PeaceBaker also offers vegan dinner rolls, gluten-free birthday cakes, and best of all: vegan Mardi Gras King Cake.
Conclusion: Hearty vegan eating in New Orleans is possible.
Andouille sausage and buttery pralines may always be part of the charm, but Nola is only getting more vegan-friendly as green juice, smoked tempeh burgers, and vegan muffins infiltrate menus across the city. Bon appétit and le bon temps roulé!
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/heroiclife