by Amelia Gabaldoni
(Daily Info's Resident Vegetarian)
1. Alpha Bar
This (nearly 20 year old!) salad bar in the Covered Market offers generous portions of seasonal, organic food at very reasonable prices. The specifics of their menu change every day, but there's always hot and cold food available and such a brilliantly wide variety of dishes that no one will go away unsatisfied.
You can either choose between three or four specials (e.g. curry, chilli or lasagne) with both vegan and meat options available and add a side of rice, potatoes or salad, or build your own small (from £4.50) or large (from £6.50) salad from the bar. Select a unique combination of mains, sides and toppings to create your perfect lunch! If you aren't already full just thinking about Alpha Bar, they also have a selection of gluten and dairy free cakes to satiate your sweet tooth.
2. Coconut Tree
This Daily Info favourite is responsible for bringing both Sri Lankan street food and a party atmosphere to St Clements. The Coconut Tree's menu is full of naturally occurring vegan and vegetarian cuisine rich in Ceylon spices, all made from recipes that go back generations. Though the Oxford branch of this mini-chain only celebrated its first birthday in November, it's already made quite the impression.
Their tapas-style dishes feature mushrooms, chickpeas, pumpkin and pineapple like you've never tasted them before. We recommend you make sure to get a side of the 5Cs - carrots, cucumber, coriander, coconut and chillies - and some Parota Rotti to accompany. Plus, no meal at Coconut Tree would be complete without one of their signature 'cocotails'; delicious (and sometimes lethal...) concoctions presented in pineapples and coconuts!
If you decide to wander over to Magdalen Road to visit The Magic Cafe, expect high-quality homemade vegetarian and vegan cooking at reasonable prices. This cafe has perfected the art of meat-free comfort food; though their mains change daily there's always a vegan option, plus the guarantee of lots of cakes, teas, coffees and milkshakes.
The Magic Cafe isn't as flashy as its name might suggest - instead expect to be greeted by what seems to be a spacious living room, with plenty of space for larger groups and families with pushchairs. There's a relaxed, no-nonsense community feel - helped by the mix-matched furniture and enormous local notice-board. Head over to relax, indulge and make yourself at home!
4. Feast Without the Beast at The Fir Tree
Every Sunday from 12 until 6, all food prep at The Fir Tree is handed over to Feast Without the Beast, a 100% vegan pop up kitchen. With menus changing gradually throughout the year to welcome in different seasons, you can always be sure that the Fir Tree will provide a hearty Sunday feast containing zero animal produce.
In winter you'll find traditional warming roast dinners on the menu, with four different mains to choose from plus every trimming imaginable. Their summer menu keeps some of the roast options on offer but adds buddha bowls, burgers and nachos all made using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Their deserts are available all year round, and for those with eyes much bigger than their bellies, you can buy their sweet treats to take home and enjoy when you aren't so stuffed.
Pomegranate brings authentic Lebanese cuisine to Cowley Road. With the winning combination of friendly, perceptive staff and great food, everyone is sure to find something they like. As over half of their huge menu is vegetarian, even devout carnivores will be tempted fill up on a totally meat-free meal.
Pomegranate's hot and cold mezze selections feature delicious dips and spreads, salads packed with vegetables and cheeses, delicately spiced falafel and lots of halloumi and olives. We recommend you go with a big group and get lots of small plates to share, giving you the chance to sample loads of dishes while getting great value for money! However, if you're popping in alone or in a pair, don't fear, the vegetarian mezze platter is a must-try.
This lively Brasserie in the city centre, which boasts customers as high profile as Bill Clinton, bills itself as an Indian restaurant that puts vegetarians first. Helpfully, Chutney's separate their vegetarian options so it's easy to see what you can order from their expansive menu. With loads of vegetarian starters and side, around 30 meat-free mains and plenty of choice for vegans, no one will leave hungry.
Also on offer for those who have trouble deciding what to order is the exciting 'Degustation of Chutneys Specials', where an experienced chef will make a selection on your behalf. For just over £20 you'll be provided with popadums and chutney, a starter, main and side, plus rice and naan.
This cosy, traditional pub in Jericho surprises many of their punters by boasting a totally vegetarian menu. The friendly atmosphere of The Gardener's Arms is sustained by their regular poetry nights, music events and weekly quiz - plus their pints are cheap by Oxford standards!
If you're after big portions of hearty food look no further - the pub aims to please by opting to serve the traditional pub grub favourites of burgers, wraps and hotdogs, while also offering slightly more adventurous mains including a delicious vegan mushroom pie, an authentic Indian thali platter and generously portioned Greek salads. Daily Info recommends you head over there when it's warm outside, grab a beer and head out to their garden to soak up the sun and surroundings.
Leon earns the prestigious title of The Only Big Chain On The List because their food is just that good. Their MO is naturally fast food, so on offer are the classic burgers, chips and wraps alongside heartier options like vegan chilli, Mediterranean rice boxes and super-green salads. Vegans will be pleased to hear that there are almost as many vegan as there are vegetarian options! They also have a sprawling breakfast menu that includes a veggie Full English, breakfast muffins and porridge pots.
Leon's website also has a handy tool where you can filter what menu options you'll be able to eat if you're vegan or vegetarian in addition to other food preferences including 'No gluten', 'I'm pregnant' and (most importantly) 'I'm hungover'... no excuses for a greasy fry up now!
This new independent restaurant on Cowley Road is Oxford’s first and only totally vegan eatery. Taking inspiration from Californian comfort food, Happy Friday Kitchen's menu is packed with American diner favourites and certainly isn't what you'd expect from somewhere with a strict ban on animal produce.
You'll have trouble choosing between their range of meat-free pizzas and burgers, heaps of creamy mac'n'cheese, crispy fries and Seitan tenders, or their healthier option; veg-heavy Buddha bowls. If you're a vegan or vegetarian who still craves meat, Happy Friday Kitchen is a guilt-free must-visit.
This Mediterranean-inspired cafe and takeaway on St Clements, tastefully decorated with exposed brick walls and reclaimed beams, may be small, but it has plenty to offer. The menu at Rick's Vegetarian covers all your breakfast, lunch and dinner needs, and is pretty much entirely vegan.
One of the great things about Rick's is that there are plenty of opportunities to tweak and tailor your meal to suit your tastes; the breakfast menu has space for ad-ons and changes, there are just under 20 mezze dishes to choose from, and the plates and boxes option allows you to build your own filling lunch from a choice of different stews, grains and pulses. You could come to Rick's over and over again and find it very difficult to run out of new combinations to try.