Dining out as a vegetarian in Southampton can be a little hit and miss. There are some places that barely cater for non-meat eaters at all. There are others that do offer vegetarian dishes, but along the unimaginative stuffed peppers and veggie lasagne lines. And then there are those that guarantee enough choice on the menu for every vegetarian diner in your party to be satisfied.
Here, we’re celebrating five Southampton restaurants that truly embrace meat-free dining – and that do it in style…
Named after one of the key ingredients in many of their dishes, Indian restaurant Bayleaf Kitchen on Southampton’s High Street has authenticity at its heart. Chef Mukesh Sharma and his team use no artificial colourings or flavourings in their dishes, introducing diners to a wide variety of flavour combinations and cooking styles from across India’s regions. There’s a separate section of the menu dedicated to vegetarian mains, as well as veggie sides (which can also be ordered as main dishes). Start with the veggie combo platter to try a variety of Indian snacks, and try our favourite paneer makhani for your main. The combination of tender paneer cheese and a sauce of sweet tomatoes and cashew nuts is a winner.
At 18 Hanover Buildings, overlooking Houndwell Park, you’ll find Cafe Thrive: an affordable, 100% plant-based cafe serving up a huge variety of foods and drinks to eat in or take away. We love the plant-based artwork on the right-hand wall when you walk in – and the friendliness of the staff, too. Whether it’s breakfast, a sandwich, a salad, a hot dog or burger or a sweet treat you’re after, there’s something for everyone: their falafel wrap with its creamy homemade hummus is fantastic, and you’d never guess their rich and sticky chocolate brownies were dairy-free!
It may see itself primarily as a cocktail bar and lounge, but Verde, on the corner of Shirley Road and Lumsden Avenue, does a pretty good line in brunch dishes and pizzas too! With its sizeable outdoor terrace and its American saloon vibe inside, it’s a relaxed and fun place for something to eat (and maybe a cocktail or two…) – and their veggie options are tasty, too. Choose a tomato or BBQ base on your build-your-own pizza, and add as many as you like of the nine different veggie toppings. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to sides, too – their mac and cheese is seriously decadent…
Pie, mash and comic books…a winning combination! The owners of Piecaramba! on Carlton Place started the business in 2016 with the aim of bringing traditional pie and mash more up-to-date – and they’ve done an impeccable job. The inside of the restaurant is bright, bold and colourful with plenty of pop culture references in the artwork on the walls, and there are no fewer than seven veggie and vegan pie options to choose from. We personally love the Sweetie Pie! (which also happens to be gluten-free), packed to the brim with chunks of sweet potato, fragrant roasted garlic and tangy goats’ cheese.
Traditional Lebanese food is jampacked with tasty (and often healthy) vegetarian options – and Beity Restaurant on the High Street is a great example of the cuisine. Decorated in rich, warm reds and with an open plan kitchen so you can see the chefs hard at work, it’s a relaxing and cosy place that’s perfect for a meal with a group of friends or family. Grab a variety of vegetarian mezze dishes to share – the herby stuffed vine leaves, tangy grilled halloumi and creamy feta and parsley filled pastries are out of this world. Or, if you’re not a fan of sharing, their Mousakaa Blzeit – slow-cooked aubergine with tomatoes, garlic, chickpeas and plenty of spices, served with rice – is our top pick.