I’ve traveled to many places in the world as a vegan celiac, but when it comes to London, I can truly say it’s a celiac’s playground! It’s quite easy to spot vegan food in any big city, but in London they have everything. I mean, they used to.
Most of the places are closed either because they did not reopen yet following COVID-19 or they closed down forever. I spent hours looking for the right restaurants just to find out they are closed.
If you’re anything like me and hate crowds, this is the best time to travel to London, if you have the chance. The streets are almost empty; even at Oxford Circus I could pass the streets anywhere, and at Buckingham Palace I only met like 20 people. While walking in SoHo I saw about 3 people on each street. There are places that are more crowded, like the area of the Tower and Westminster, but it still feels like a small town, and not one of the world’s most populated and visited capitals.
This was my favorite place in London. Everything is plant-based and they have delicious gluten-free options. I had a hard time choosing. There are a few places where you can find By Chloé in the city (Covent Garden, Oxford Circus), and most of them have reopened, but I really recommend the one at the feet of the Tower Bridge. The view is beautiful if you sit outside the restaurant, but as I noticed in London, it’s totally normal to take out your lunch and enjoy it in a park, sitting on the ground. Which I found super cool and I have no idea why we don’t do it everywhere in my home country of Hungary. So I got a takeout and enjoyed it in the lush park, mesmerized by the beauty of the bridge.
One Tower Bridge, 6 Duchess Walk, London SE1 2SD, UK | Website
My other favorite place in London. It’s a chain restaurant, so you can find them nearly everywhere. Leon, is certified by Coeliac UK and sells healthy fast food for every meal of the day. From rice bowls to salads and burgers, you can indulge in all of it. Gluten-free buns are available for burgers. They are even at the airport, so you can be sure that you’ll find healthy options before your flight, too. Their curry was heartwarming after a long day of walking.
Pearl & Groove
This little flour-less bakery on Portobello Road is 100% gluten-free with many dairy-free, vegan, and sugar-free options. The stars of Pearl & Groove are the mini cakes. At first glance these cakes look too beautiful to eat, and I learned (in this case) that you can judge a book by its cover. If you don’t want to trek all the way to West London for these delicious cakes (though you should because it’s near Portobello Market and Notting Hill), you can enjoy some of their goodies scattered around London restaurants like Farmstand and Selfridges Food Hall.
341 Portobello Rd, London W10 5SA, UK | Website
This is a super lovely tiny vegan burger bar in the heart of Camden Market. Everything is vegan, and almost everything has gluten free version of it. The stuff is nice and they help a lot with information about allergens and options. I ordered their falafel burger and I still think about it.
Camden Market, Camden Lock Place, Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AF, UK | Website
Wild Food Café
Located in the vibrant Covent Garden, Wild Food Cafe is a plant-based restaurant. Though small, the menu is packed with colorful dishes inspired by places all over the world. Everything on the menu, including the smoothies and drinks, are vegan, raw, gluten-free, and organic. For a healthy and rich plant-based meal in the heart of the city, Wild Food Cafe is a must visit.
1st Floor, 14 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden WC2H 9DP, UK | Website
Scattered around London is the popular American chain Chipotle. Yeah, not the best place to try out British cuisine but I found this to be a great option when I was looking for restaurants but all of them turned out to be closed due to the pandemic. With the exception of the flour tortillas, everything is gluten-free. To avoid cross-contamination, inform the waiter you’re gluten-free.
Another wonderful chain restaurant that you can find in nearly every district of London (Covent Garden, SoHo, Waterloo, Oxford Circus, Liverpool Str. and more). Wahaca specializes in Mexican cuisine but it’s worth trying even if you didn’t plan to try other nation’s dishes. They have plenty of vegan and gluten-free options on the menu. Their plantain taco was heavenly.
Have you traveled anywhere since the lockdown?
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Photo: Imola Toth