Living a life without meat is becoming ever-more possible. Increasingly Northern Ireland restaurants and cafes have an array of exciting vegetarian and vegan offerings. Lisa Graham-Wisener’ highlights several amazing spots in Belfast and the surrounding area which cater for both vegetarians and their carnivorous friends alike.
10. The Dirty Duck
Located in Holywood, several miles from Belfast City Airport, the Dirty Duck is an alehouse/restaurant in N.Ireland’s ‘gold coast’. The popular ale house, serving a collection of local craft beers, offers a light and airy restaurant upstairs with sea views and a lovely beer garden (where dogs are also welcome!). The menu is eclectic, with the choice to order many dishes as either a starter or a more substantial main. A fantastic spot for a lazy weekend lunch followed by a walk along the coastal path starting at Helen’s Bay, a beautiful part of the country…
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17): Veg board for 2- tempura of vegetables with hoi sin sauce, vegetarian san choi bow with sticky Asian sauce, poached eggs on toasted ciabatta with fresh rocket- £14.75, Fried thyme gnocchi with tenderstem broccoli, caramelised shallots and savoy cabbage, tobacco onions and herb oil- £11
Address: 3 Kinnegar Road BT18 9JN
9. The Tap Room at Hilden Brewery (Lisburn)
The Tap Room is a restaurant located within Ireland’s oldest independent brewery in Hilden, Lisburn, home of the Hilden Beer Festival which is hosted every August bank holiday weekend. Sister restaurant to Molly’s Yard in Botanic, the Tap Room offers a dedicated vegetarian/vegan menu featuring Irish classics and which changes with the season.
The restaurant is located within cosy converted stone stables, with the option of eating al fresco in the better weather. A trip to the Tap Room could be combined with a brewery tour and the opportunity to sample craft beer (which often finds its way into the food), or to coincide with the session musicians who meet on a Wednesday evening. The Tap Room is accessible to the Lagan towpath and so a popular option for cyclists, and also serves as a useful half-way point if visiting the historic village of Hillsborough.
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17)- Roast red onion tarte tatin, crumbled goat’s cheese, rocket and thyme and truffled honey dressing with crushed sweet potatoes – £13, Warm salad of puy lentils, rosemary roasted squash, spinach, kale and hazelnuts with a pomegranate dressing (vegan)- £11
Address: Grand Street Lisburn BT27 4TY
8. Coppi (Belfast City Centre)
The ever-popular Coppi is located within the beautiful St Anne’s Square in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. Sister restaurant to Il Parata in East Belfast, Coppi is Italy’s answer to tapas. Offering a separate vegan menu, Coppi centres on modern Italian cooking such as pizzetta (little pizzas), cichetti (small plates) in addition to more substantial dishes.
The restaurant is always bustling (definitely book!), with a moody interior and outdoor seating to have a drink in the summer. Coppi is a great choice for a weekend evening before exploring the bars and pubs of the Cathedral Quarter.
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17)- Fennel & roquito pepper pizzetta (vegan)-£5.50, Broccolini, vine tomato, chilli, fennel, crispy sage and fennel linguine (vegan)- £10
Address: St Anne’s Square BT1 2LR
7. Thai Village (Belfast City Centre)
One of N.Ireland’s longest established Thai restaurants, the Thai Village is located on the popular Dublin Road close to Belfast’s city centre. With a dedicated vegetarian menu, the restaurant offers many of the vegetarian Thai classics you would come to expect and a great wine list. Serving dinner only, surroundings are slightly formal but with a lovely atmosphere- still possible to pop in after a day’s shopping (or if tuckered out, order delivery to your hotel). Thai Village takes orders until 9.30pm on Sunday evenings, providing one of just a few options close to the city centre to extend your weekend.
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17)- Bean curd in green curry paste with coconut milk, pea, carrots and bamboo shoots- £8.25, Deep-fried mixed vegetables in Thai butter served with sweet chilli sauce- £4.95
Address: 50 Dublin Road BT2 7HN
6. The Jamaica Inn (Bangor)
Romantically situated overlooking Ballyholme beach, the Jamaica Inn is part of Bangor’s reputable restaurant scene. A dedicated vegetarian menu offers simple food done well, with hearty potions providing particularly good value. The restaurant has a cosy interior and a lovely outdoor area overlooking the bay for enjoying a drink in the better weather. Events throughout the week include several nights of live acoustic sets, a pub quiz, and monthly cocktail/gin/wine tasting nights. The Jamaica Inn is open from lunch and is a great option for both special occasions and for day trips to Bangor, with the opportunity to walk off a hearty meal on the beach afterwards.
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17): Chargrilled halloumi burger with red onion marmalade, dressed salad and choice of side order- £10.50, Roast courgette, fennel and asparagus risotto served with a basil and pesto dressing- £10.50
Address: 188 Seacliff Road BT20 5HA
5. Acton & Sons (Belfast City Centre)
One of the most well-known vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in Belfast, Acton & Sons is located in the city centre behind the landmark Crown Bar in the square opposite the Europa Hotel.
The dedicated vegetarian and vegan menu also offer plenty of choice for those eating gluten-free, and thoughtfully includes a section on vegan desserts and vegan drinks. A mixture of traditional and modern dishes, this is the perfect place for a midweek dinner or meeting with friends. The fried halloumi and honey starter is out of this world. Conveniently situated, the restaurant would be a short walk from most places in the city centre and opens from lunch in addition to providing brunch on a Saturday.
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17)- Lentil and nut roast, seasonal vegetables and vegan gravy (vegan) – £11, Lightly spiced roast courgette and aubergine with Moroccan couscous (vegan)- £9.
Address: 17 Brunswick Street BT2 7GE
4. District Coffee (South Belfast)
As listed in the Ireland Independent Coffee Guide, District Coffee with branches in leafy Stranmillis and the upcoming Ormeau Road (both South Belfast) offers more than just a great brew. The menu consists of an interesting array of breakfast and lunch options, often with a twist on old favourites and with really fresh ingredients (the salad bar is amazing!).
Homemade touches include a particularly lovely chilli and mango relish, with bonus extras such as freshly squeezed orange juice. The venue also runs a Supper Club, the last of which included a 5-course vegan tasting menu. The décor is industrial yet intimate with outdoor seating available. A perfect option for a lazy Saturday morning brunch with the Stranmillis road location providing the perfect opportunity for a potter around the Queen’s Quarter…
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17)- Avocado on sourdough toast with dukkah and chilli & mango relish (vegan)- £6, Spicy black bean and guacamole quesadilla (vegan)-£5.25
Address: 82 Stranmillis Road BT9 5AW / 300 Ormeau Road, Belfast BT7 2GE
3. Cyprus Avenue (East Belfast)
Rarely as a vegetarian/vegan do you come across items on a restaurant menu which you haven’t tried before- this is one such place. The very trendy Cyprus Avenue is located in East Belfast and opens from breakfast through to the evening with separate vegetarian and vegan menus offering an array of Instagram-worthy choices.
Options include a mix of Northern Irish dishes with a twist, for example, the tarragon potato bread and charred greens, alongside more exotic influences. Of note is the incredible cocktail list and desserts, providing an opportunity to while away an entire afternoon. A visit to Cyprus Avenue could be combined with a walk through the recently opened CS Lewis Square commemorating the Chronicles of Narnia.
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17)- Whipped goat’s cheese, roast plums, wheaten biscuit- £6, Tempura of Ballydrain vegetables, teriyaki dressing, asian leaf (vegan)- £9
Address: 228 Upper Newtownards Road BT4 3ET
2. Linen and Latte (Newtownabbey)
Located in Glengormley, north of Belfast, Linen and Latte is a lovely café/home and gift shop serving breakfast and lunch. Much of their menu options are vegetarian or vegan-friendly, with various elements coming straight from the owner’s vegetable plot.
The menu is homely, with lots of feel-good, healthy offerings alongside some incredible coffee. The staff are warm and inviting, and the shop downstairs is perfect to peruse after your meal. A trip to Linen and Latte could be combined with visiting Belfast Zoo close by, or a walk up Cave Hill which is thought to have inspired Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17)- Sweetcorn, courgette and a smidgen of chilli fritter served with mixed leaves, avocado, roasted cherry tomatoes, chilli/yogurt dressing and finished with a fried egg and herby oil drizzle- £5.95, Homemade cannellini beans with a rich tomato sauce, served with toasted sourdough bread (vegan)-£4.95
Address: 14 Portland Avenue, BT36 5EY
1. The Honest Vegan (South Belfast)
Located on the very popular Lisburn Road in South Belfast, the Honest Vegan serves from breakfast a completely vegan menu. The Honest Vegan is a relative newcomer to the scene but the food is flavoursome and has proved a popular option since opening earlier in the year.
Breakfast is a particular treat, with a huge vegan grilled breakfast, banana bread and American style pancake stack among the options. The café also runs a Meat-free Mondays offer which includes a second meal half-price. With many of the designer and high-end shops in Belfast located on the Lisburn Road, the Honest Vegan is a great place to fuel up before some serious shopping.
Example dishes and £ (Sept 17): Buddha Bowl- Beautiful nourishing bowl of salad with spinach, kale, avocado, carrot, sesame seeds, roasted chickpeas and roasted sweet potatoes (vegan)- £8, Hearty chilli- A nice big bowl of red kidney bean and lentil chilli on a bed of basmati rice, served with cashew sour cream, corn tortillas, red onion, lime and coriander. (vegan)- £8
Address: 336 Lisburn Road BT9 6GH