New Orleans

The Best New Orleans Restaurants for Vegans and Vegetarians

Courtesy of Auction House Market
Courtesy of Auction House Market
Courtesy of Auction House Market

After celebrating the excess of the holiday season, New Year’s resolution season kicks in, hopefully setting up healthy habits to carry through the following 12 months. In New Orleans, attempts to exert positive change usually begin on Ash Wednesday since Carnival season runs from January 6 through Mardi Gras, and its celebration derails good intentions before they can even start. But cutting out meat is definitely doable before then, since king cake and beer are both vegetarian-approved.

Following a plant-based, meat-free diet is a common resolution in recent years, spurring the awkwardly named “Veganuary” movement that encourages a vegan lifestyle based on fresh produce, grains, and legumes. Even in New Orleans, the city that fried seafood, pork fat, and roast-beef-debris gravy built, there are some seriously tasty and inventive vegetarian options — which seem to be increasing by the day.

Seed

Lower Garden District
This vegan spot has just undergone a change of management and has a new look and feel. It’s got a cocktail bar vibe in addition to the plant-based breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. Breakfast has a serious dairy-free coffee program, as well as dishes like blueberry buckwheat pancakes and sweet potato breakfast tacos (pair with a vegan Vietnamese iced coffee or fresh squeezed satsuma juice). Lunch and dinner share the same menu with small plates, sandwiches, soup, and bar snacks — try the New Orleans-inspired smoked mushroom gumbo or a cornmeal fried kelp po-boy. A wide variety of adult beverages (including creative cocktails) are available day and night.

Sneaky Pickle

Bywater
Recently reopened after sustaining and recovering from fire damage in 2019, the Sneaky Pickle has picked up right where it left off, offering a mostly vegan menu with three hearty meat dishes to please that one friend who refuses to try anything new. Everything’s made fresh in-house, and the menu changes according to seasonality and availability from local farms.

Kindrid

Riverbend
The city’s newest 100-percent vegan restaurant offers affordable comfort food like seitan-based fried “chicken” and “roast beef” po-boys. Salads and other cravable dishes like the chickpea “tuna” salad sandwich and vegan mac ‚Äėn’ cheese are also available, along with vegan-friendly versions of cocktails like the White Russian and Mudslide.

Bearcat Cafe Uptown
Bearcat Cafe Uptown
Bearcat Cafe Uptown

Bearcat Cafe

Uptown/CBD
Both locations of this breakfast/lunch/coffee shop/restaurant divide their menus into “Good Cat” and “Bad Cat.” Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free items are on the “Good Cat” menu, but definitely keep reading down the page for impossibly delicious vegan queso and Buffalo cauliflower in the small plates menu. Breakfast is served all day and if you’re in the mood for a classic lunch, try the vegan grilled cheese with gazpacho.

Trilly Cheesesteak

Mid City
Literally every meat item on this menu has a vegan counterpart, from the classic Philly to poutine to the vegan Far East Philly which combines steak seitan, fried pickle onions, and vegan cream cheese. Even the dessert has been vegan-ified — the Yum Bun takes vegan ice cream and sprinkles it with cereal served on top of a hot vegan honey bun.

Courtesy of Auction House Market
Courtesy of Auction House Market
Courtesy of Auction House Market

Auction House Market

Warehouse District
The various food halls springing up all over town bring small vendors to a receptive clientele with lower overhead costs than a regular restaurant, giving more niche ideas — like vegan and vegetarian food — the opportunity to set up shop. Stop in at the Auction House Market on the corner of Julia and Magazine to get a masala dosa at Tava Indian Streetfood, jackfruit BBQ toast from Happy Jaxx, and a vegan macaron or milkshake from Mac & Moon Macarons.

Small Mart

Marigny
Formerly a bodega-style shop in the Upper French Quarter, the Small Mart reopened in early 2020 on Chartres Street in the Marigny with freshly cooked bagels, $6 daily vegan curries, $1 coffee, and a greatly expanded vegan menu. The cafe has been beloved by locals and visitors searching for reasonably priced vegan food for years in its old location, and the tradition will continue in the new digs.

Sweet Soulfood-Nola Vegan Cuisine
Sweet Soulfood-Nola Vegan Cuisine
Sweet Soulfood-Nola Vegan Cuisine

Sweet Soulfood

Mid City
This spot on North Broad Street offers a 100-percent vegan menu with comfort food dishes like okra gumbo, mushroom ragu with grits, collard greens, barbecue cauliflower, stuffed peppers, and bread pudding. The menu changes each day of the week, but the jambalaya and mac ‘n’ cheese are available every day. This is a place where meat eaters can also leave satisfied.

Cleo's Mediterranean Cuisine & Grocery
Cleo’s Mediterranean Cuisine & Grocery
Cleo’s Mediterranean Cuisine & Grocery

Cleo’s French Quarter

French Quarter
Cleo’s provides healthy, high-quality food and service for every one of the 24 hours it’s open,¬†with an expansive menu and a wood fired oven for made-to-order pita bread. The menu takes its cues from all over the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, with lots of tabbouleh, hummus, falafel, zaatar, and olives. You can’t go wrong even with the simplest items.

Courtesy of Claire Bangser
Courtesy of Claire Bangser
Courtesy of Claire Bangser

1000 Figs

Mid City
This plant-filled, minimalistic space provides Mediterranean comfort food at its finest, with gorgeous vegetable presentations like roasted beet and feta salad. This time of year, the winter seasonal radishes all hit the spot alongside crunchy but light falafel and traditional mezze like hummus and baba ganoush.

Carmo

Warehouse District
This Brazilian restaurant does serve seafood and chicken, but the focus is on the vegetarian and vegan side of things. The cooking techniques and exotic ingredients put a Latin American spin on the fruits, vegetables, legumes, soy, and grains that make up Carmo’s menu — and as a bonus, it serves beer, wine, and cocktails. Try the traditional caipirinha with your veggie delights.

13 Monaghan

Marigny
Open ’til 4am amongst the bustling music clubs on Frenchmen Street, 13’s beloved “Tachos” (aka tater tot nachos) have filled the booze-laced bellies of many vegetarians and carnivores over the years. Covering all its bases, 13 also has a full bar and serves breakfast all day.

Pizza Delicious
Pizza Delicious
Pizza Delicious

Pizza Delicious

Bywater
This NYC-style pizzeria in the Bywater offers vegan cheese for all its pizzas, and always has margherita pies and at least one vegetarian/vegan special available every day. Vegetarians can also find pasta options and market salads for even more variety.

Breads on Oak
Breads on Oak
Breads on Oak

Breads on Oak

Riverbend and CBD
Both locations of this organic bakery serve more than just great coffee and baked goods (which are all vegan, and several are gluten-free). Sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, soups, and quiches are all made in-house.

Arabella Casa di Pasta

Marigny
Got a craving for pasta? Head over to Arabella, housed in the space next to Kajun’s Pub on St. Claude Street. Choose your fresh, house-made pasta style, sauce, and any add-ins (gluten-free and vegan options are available for all). There are also small plates and salads.

Juan's Flying Burrito
Juan’s Flying Burrito
Juan’s Flying Burrito

Juan’s Flying Burrito

Multiple locations
Juan’s several New Orleans locations provide great, cheap food alongside enormous margaritas served by highly disinterested, heavily tattooed punk-goth-hipster types. The vibe is relaxed and the veggie and vegan options are plentiful. There are a lot of menu items covered in cheese, but if dairy ain’t your thing, there’s still plenty to enjoy.

Green Goddess

French Quarter 
Tucked in an alley in the French Quarter, this oasis serves lunch and dinner and provides creative cuisine and cocktails. There’s even a vegan Bloody Mary variation on the list, along with watermelon sangria and two different boozy SnoBall ice cocktails. Just because you’re health conscious doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun.Sign up here for our daily New Orleans email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the Big Easy.

Nora McGunnigle is a freelance writer living in New Orleans, who is currently struggling to cut her meat consumption for the new year and is highly motivated to find the best places to eat. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

New Orleans

Where to Go on a Perfect Date in New Orleans This Spring

Woo that special someone with sultry live music and inviting outdoor date ideas.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel

Whether you’re searching for the perfect spot for a first date or looking to spend some time with your longtime love, you should have no problem planning a romantic outing in New Orleans. Our amazing restaurants and bars are classic settings for some quality time, but think outside the date night box and literally get outside. Spring is the most gorgeous time of year here, so you can score some serious romance points. From strolls in the park and outdoor music to cozy wine bars and sultry jazz nights, here are some can’t-miss ideas for the perfect date in New Orleans.

Spend an afternoon in City Park

Mid-City
One could spend hours strolling beneath City Park’s moss-drenched oaks, but combine this beautiful setting with the park’s other offerings and you’ve got yourself a date. Start with coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde to ease into things. Explore the collections at the New Orleans Museum of Art or stroll through the sculpture garden. Continue your romantic walk around the Big Lake, or rent a boat and paddle your way around. If things are going well, finish up with a well-earned drink and a bite at Ralph’s on the Park.

Grab bagels and bike on the Greenway

Mid-City
Bike the Lafitte Greenway and you’ll get moving while having plenty of time to connect. Fuel up at Flour Moon Bagels with coffee and stellar carbs before you hit the pavement. The Greenway’s linear path is 2.7 miles, but you can make it a longer ride by linking up with the Wisner Trail or the Norman C. Francis bike path. The Greenway goes all the way to the Quarter, but you can save that for another date. End up back where you started and cool down with a pint or two at Skeeta Hawk Brewing.

Create some Magazine Street magic

Uptown/Garden District
Magazine Street boasts six miles of unique, locally owned businesses. There are plenty of one-off date options along the street (like grabbing coffee and chocolate at Piety and Desire, having a romantic dinner at Coquette or Saffron, or ordering wine and small plates at Saba). But for a longer get-to-know-you date, the street is perfect for an all-day stroll. Browse esteemed art galleries and shops, have a well-made cocktail at Bouligny Tavern, stop for fresh oysters at Basin, taste a few wines at Spirit Wine, and admire the mix of architecture along the street. Why stop there? Shop for some vinyl at Peaches, grab a casual dinner at Picnic Provisions & Whiskey or Tito’s, then see who’s playing at Le Bon Temps.

Take in the West Bank nature and noodles

Marrero
Take the Crescent City Connection and head down to the Barataria Preserve to explore acres of secluded wetlands that’ll confirm you’re really in south Louisiana. A boardwalk winds through swampy land packed with all the best regional flora and fauna, including alligators. April is typically peak iris season, so check the bloom forecast. Before you head back across the river, stop by Tan Dinh or 9 Roses for excellent pho and other Vietnamese faves.

Nevbrown/Flickr
Nevbrown/Flickr
Nevbrown/Flickr

Go on a wine bar crawl

Various locations
A wine bar presents a perfect middle ground between grabbing casual beers and sipping superior cocktails. You’ve got chill environs, curated selections, and just enough nibbles to sustain your conversation. Second Vine Wines and Faubourg Wines are thoughtfully curated shops that serve wines by the glass, so you can start off with a couple of glasses then buy a bottle if the date moves to another location. Tell Me Bar and Pluck offer rotating selections of intriguing wines you’ll want to learn more about. And of course there’s Bacchanal, where you can enjoy wine, good vibes, and live music under the stars.

Cross the river by boat

Algiers Point
There’s something undeniably romantic about standing at the bow of a boat with wind blowing through your lover’s hair, so take the Algiers Ferry to behold the mighty Mississippi and gorgeous views of the city. Stroll charming Algiers Point, grab a drink with the locals at the Old Point Bar or Crown and Anchor, and then enjoy dinner at Tavolino, Tonti’s Hand, or Plume.

Saunter down St. Charles Ave

Uptown/French Quarter
The streetcar is an underrated date option-get to know each other while rolling past the majestic St. Charles Avenue mansions. Start with a late afternoon drink at The Chloe before hopping aboard. Once you’re in the Quarter, take a spin around the bar with a cocktail at Hotel Monteleone, take a stroll through Jackson Square, then pick from swoon-worthy dining options like St. John, Jewel of the South, Cane & Table, Doris Metropolitan, or MaMou.

Explore Lake Pontchartrain

Lakefront
Take a trip out to Lake Pontchartrain for some sun, fresh air, and seafood. Cruise Lakeshore Drive, check out the Mardi Gras Fountain, maybe take a roll down the levee to connect with your inner child, then sit and watch as the boats and birds go by. As the sun sets, head over to The Blue Crab for fresh seafood or JB’s Fuel Dock at West End Park for pizza and beers.

Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA
Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA
Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA

Let music and lounge vibes set the mood

Various locations
Let someone special know just how you feel by taking them out for a classy evening of fine cocktails and world-class jazz. Grab a prime spot to watch Jeremy Davenport do his thing at his namesake lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, listen to the smooth sounds of solo artists at the intimate Bayou Bar at the Pontchartrain Hotel, or pop into the Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta next time you do a French Quarter outing. For a new-school option, check out a performance at the Ace Hotel’s Three Keys.

Go the extra mile with a day trip

Covington/Abita Springs
Driving the Causeway’s 24 miles will give you plenty of time to go beyond small talk, making a nearby road trip the ideal activity for upping the ante on your relationship. Head to Covington to enjoy the boutiques and galleries of the quaint historic downtown before grabbing a bite at Lola or Tavi, or rent bikes and ride the Tammany Trace to the Abita Brewery where you can take a tour and sample some of the finest local beers. Even better, head over when the brewery is hosting one of its food truck roundups or live music.

Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery
Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery
Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery

Peel crawfish and sip local beer

Various locations
Spring means crawfish boils, and the city is loaded with experts bringing their boil skills to some of the top local breweries. Crawfish and beer make a perfect pair, and what better way to gauge relationship potential than by observing peel technique and spice tolerance? Check their calendars, but breweries including Faubourg Brewing, Urban South, NOLA Brewing, Miel, and Parleaux usually host boils on weekends throughout the season.

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Gerrish Lopez is a Thrillist contributor.

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