Top ten places to discover vegan food in Oxford
Updated 5th January 2020, first published 18th July 2017.
New vegans or visitors to Oxford could be forgiven for thinking at first that our beautiful city doesn’t have much to offer for those who eat plant-based foods. On closer inspection, however, you’ll find that it’s really very easy to eat out as a vegan in Oxford, whatever the time of day. I certainly struggled to cut this list down to a mere ten places!
Best Vegan Breakfast in Oxford
These coconut pancakes are not to be missed! Vegans and non-vegans alike have claimed they’re the ‘best in Oxford’. The Handle Bar serves up a substantial and delicious breakfast in a comfortable setting. In case you’re feeling a bit less decadent, they have a few other delicious sounding options on the menu too. Turn up early to get a table because this place is extremely popular.
No student experience is complete without a hungover visit to Rick’s on Cowley Road. They have ample vegan options on the menu, their breakfast being particularly great. A healthier, less greasy alternative to its meat-eater’s counterpart, it’s still deliciously satisfying. Pair with a freshly made smoothie and there’s no need to worry about your 5-a-day for the rest of the day.
Oxford’s first completely vegan restaurant! Happy Friday Kitchen on Cowley Road is small and laid back, serving up a Californian comfort food menu from breakfast through to dinner. I’m sneaking this in here as you can only grab brunch from 10am on the weekends, but it’s my favourite meal to eat here. They have a couple of savoury and plenty of sweet options, including ‘pancake of the month’, which means you can legitimately go back, again and again, to make sure you’re not missing out.
Best Vegan Lunch in Oxford
Feast Without the Beast at The Fir Tree
This pop-up Sunday lunch service at The Fir Tree pub on Iffley Road is offering something pretty unique in Oxford – a fully vegan roast dinner, with all the trimmings, even vegan Yorkshires, prepared by a passionate vegan chef. In the couple of years the pop-up has been running it’s grown hugely popular, and we recommend booking a table if you want to guarantee yourself a spot.
Will’s Deli and the Vaults & Garden Cafe both offer bags of character, are managed by the same people, and have lots to offer for vegans. The food is cooked fresh and the menus change daily, but you can expect at least one hot vegan option at both. Alternatively, you can select a tasty filling lunch from a beautiful salad bar, and between the two locations, you’ll find an abundance of vegan cake!
As street food is only growing more popular, Gloucester Green have expanded their market days. You can now grab lunch there on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (though potentially less frequently during the winter months). There are signs proudly declaring ‘VEGAN’ all over the place, but look out in particular for PittaFace and V Stack, the two fully plant-based vendors. PittaFace’s pitta pockets are all to die for, and V Stack’s fully loaded cauliflower burger and cajun fries aren’t to be missed. Back for thirds? Lula’s Ethiopian and Eritrean Cuisine is authentic, delicious and warming. Check them all out on social media for updates on what days they’re trading.
Best Vegan Dinner in Oxford
If you only have time to visit one place for vegan food in Oxford, let this be it. Offering laid-back Sri-Lankan vibes, The Coconut Tree‘s tapas-style sharing menu is updated regularly and more than 50% vegan. With clear labelling and the staff knowing their stuff, the dining experience here is perfect. The vegan kotthu is my go-to order, along with a couple of comforting creamy curries. Best to go with a large group so you can order and try as much of the menu as possible! Be prepared – some of the dishes are more than a bit spicy.
This American diner-style burger bar on George Street in the city centre has a small menu; but what they do, they do well. At Vegan Eats Oxford, we’re calling GLUT the best vegan burger in town. Choose between the Beyond Meat or falafel burgers, topped with house-made vegan burger sauce and beautiful melty vegan cheese. The chips are perfection too. Their slogan is ‘sinfully good food’, and we really have to agree.
The Bicycle Shed (since closed)
One of Oxford’s most veggie-friendly restaurants can be found in Summertown. The Bicycle Shed is the perfect spot for a relaxed romantic meal or a casual evening with friends. The seasonal menu changes regularly (the perfect excuse to go back again and again) and always features too many vegan options to choose from, as well as catering for various other dietary requirements. They steer away from processed foods and make natural plant-based ingredients the star of the show. Truly innovative with what they put on the plate, you won’t find delicious food like this anywhere else.
And not forgetting cake!
Cake-lovers who live in Oxford will know, venture down to Jericho for the perfect sweet treat. Barefoot Oxford are generous with their slices so don’t leave it until the end of your lunch break because they often sell out, but they have at least one vegan cake on offer a day. You can sit in and enjoy a cup of tea with plant-based milk in their cute cafe, or take your boxed cake back to the office and have everyone else eye it up in jealousy as it gets you through that 3pm slump.