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Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Oxford (By Neighborhood)

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4 weeks ago

Oxford is easily one of the most beautiful cities in the UK and well worth a visit on any England travel itinerary. One third of the University of Oxford’s student body is international students, hailing from over 140 countries. This means Oxford is that magical combination of being a charming English fairytale town with a global outlook – and, most importantly, an international dining scene to match.

Over the last few years I have had the immense privilege of calling this city home. I also happen to love eating (it’s my real passion) and am a long-time vegetarian (over 10 years). In short, you won’t find a better authority to put together a list of the best vegetarian restaurants in Oxford.

Oxford isn’t a particularly large city, and travelers usually stick to the centre of the city. But, if you are spending a few days here or visiting for a conference I would recommend exploring different neighborhoods. From the cafes and historic pubs of Jericho, to the multicultural supermarkets and charity shops of Cowley, I have curated this guide to the best vegetarian restaurants in Oxford according to the most popular neighborhoods in the city.

Central Oxford

CHICK PEA. 

After spending much of my life around the Middle East, I have very high standards for falafel. If you have tried the traditional food of Jordan, Syria, Iraq or Egypt, this won’t exactly be the ordinary falafel you may be familiar with. But in my opinion, this is exactly where CHICK PEA. shines!  

CHICK PEA. veers away from the traditional falafel joint without losing the flavors and soul of the Middle East. Take the falafel and hummus you love, but add in fresh pomegranate, spicy zhug and some of the creamiest feta on this side of Oxford.

The menu at CHICK PEA is a combination of pita sandwiches and bowls. I always go for the pita, mainly because they make their own warm and fluffy pita on site (a long cry from the standard cardboard-y Lebanese flatbread used elsewhere).

I have a tendency to always go above and beyond and my go-to order is always the combined falafel + halloumi pita (with some extra feta cheese, because who doesn’t love feta?). If you are attempting a carb-free day, a sufficient number of my friends swear by the tagine bowl – and don’t worry, it still comes with all the trimmings!  

CHICK PEA. is also one of the best priced lunch options in Oxford, with most pita or bowl options between £5 – 8! And best of all, CHICK PEA. is a completely vegetarian café.  

Donburi Inn 

Oxford’s Covered Market has some of the city’s best food and vegetarians are really spoiled for choice here. Now, as any vegetarian will know, finding a real pan-Asian restaurant with solid vegetarian options can be a challenge.  

Donburi almost always has a line. But don’t worry, it moves fast! 

Donburi Inn offers a menu which combines Chinese and Japanese favorites (with some Singapore noodles for good measure). My personal go-to favorites are the mapo tofu and the gyoza udon curry – yes, you read that right, the best of Japanese cuisine in one big bowl.  

The interior merges a Hong Kong café aesthetic with a random assortment of Shanghai vintage posters. The snug seating also has something particularly cozy about it – on a cold Oxford day you can often find me huddled in the corner slurping a big bowl of soup!  

Dosa Park 

Not technically a fully vegetarian restaurant but, as any vegetarian will know, Indian cuisine is always a sure bet for vegetarians; and, in my opinion, Dosa Park is the best Indian restaurant in Oxford. And yes, before you ask, I have tried every Indian restaurant in Oxford.   

Conveniently located across from the iconic Said Business School, Dosa Park makes for a great pre-departure dinner – being only a few minutes from Oxford train station.

As the name suggests, dosas are the standout dish here. I always recommend the masala dosa because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love spiced potatoes? Of the curries, my favorites would have to be the palak paneer and paneer tikka masala.

Georgina’s 

Greek food behind an English name. Georgina’s is not your usual Covered Market haunt and something of a local hidden secret. After locating the big G sign in the market, head up the creaky stairs to this Old-Blighty-meets-Old-Athens deli restaurant. 

With a two-page menu (half vegetarian/half carnivore), Georgina’s offers all your favorite Greek classics including Spanikopitta (Athenian style Spinach and Greek feta cheese pie) and both a veggie and meat version of Greek eggplant moussaka.

You order at the counter by the deli (where you can take a sneak peak at other goodies on offer) and then your meal will arrive via table service.  

Cowley

Za’atar Bake 

I have eaten a lot of Middle Eastern food in my life and I’m not sure Oxford locals are sufficiently appreciative of just how real the flavors at Za’atar Bake are!

As the high mark of Middle Eastern cuisine in Oxford, Za’atar Bake offers a number of vegetarian staples: a strong mezze showing (you can tell their hummus is homemade), falafel, and excellent salads (try the fattoush).  

But the reason I love Za’atar Bake is for the manakeesh, or ‘Arab pizza’, a staple of Levantine cuisine. My go-to order is the za’atar and cheese, but Za’atar Bake offers numerous vegetarian (and vegan) versions.

While this may not be a roadside oven in Jordan or Syria, Za’atar Bake has their own stone-fire oven – and you can tell this manakeesh is made with love.

Vegetarians should also take note of the vegetarian maqloubeh on offer. It is extremely rare to find veggie maqloubeh in the Middle East – so Za’atar Bake always feels like a special treat!  

Jericho

Gardener’s Arms 

Hidden on a side street in Jericho – Oxford’s coolest (or some may say bougiest) neighborhood – the Gardener’s Arms offers the unique experience of being a completely vegetarian pub.

If you are looking for more traditional pub food options, Gardener’s Arms serves a standout medley mushroom pie with a rich sage and red wine gravy.  

I generally indulge myself at the Gardener’s Arms with the Kabab bowl. Here, you get the choice of ‘meats’ (donor, felafel or spicy chicken) which is served on an open flatbread with fries, salad, and a generous slab of hummus and vegan mayo.  

Local tip: The Gardener’s Arms can get quite busy so I recommend reserving in advance. If you are looking for a cozier night in, request a table in the left-hand room (as you enter the doorway).  

One of the most frustrating things about being vegetarian is that people always assume I want the healthy option. Don’t worry about the Gardener’s Arms. You will often find me sitting in the corner with a plate of their fully loaded fries. This includes every fake meat you can think of (shredded burger, chicken pieces, shawarma), vegan cheese, jalapeños and just about every other condiment loaded onto a plate of house fries.  

For the vegans in Oxford, the Gardener’s Arms menu is full of vegan options, with most dishes offering a vegan cheese and vegan mayo option. And as one of Jericho’s best pubs, the Gardener’s Arms has an excellent selection of beers, wines and spirits. Keep an eye out for their daily dessert specials, usually on a small blackboard by the counter.

Opera Café 

One of Jericho’s best cups of coffee also doubles up as an excellent vegetarian lunch option in Oxford.  

As you would expect from a British café, brunch traditionalists will be happy with the classic option of omelettes and avocado toast. In my opinion, Opera is a vegetarian heaven with its Middle Eastern fusion menu.

You want to be trying Opera’s Moroccan wraps. With both a vegetarian and vegan option (aubergine and courgette, falafel and hummus), Opera makes sure that vegetarians feel at home. And these aren’t your ordinary Lebanese flatbread wraps. Opera’s wraps are flaky and melt in your mouth, unconsciously pulling you to the streets of Marrakech.  

Local tip: This one is for the cheese-eating vegetarians. Keep an eye out for Opera’s mushroom and spinach toastie. This may even challenge London for the best grilled cheese option in the UK.  

I genuinely fear meat broth being used in soups and avoid soups at non-vegetarian restaurants. On a cold Oxford day, Opera is a godsend with a pure vegan lentil soup (served with lime, just like Cairo!) and a vegetarian Moroccan Harissa soup


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