By Esti Goldstein
Cleveland is a place where no craving gets left behind and every meal is mouth-watering. The same is true for our plant-based cuisine. There’s no choking down un-seasoned mishmashes of whatever vegetables and carbs are in the back; these ten restaurants have dedicated themselves to fully plant-based cuisine. And we can say this with confidence: they’re the kind of delicious that makes you wonder if you ever need to eat meat again.
Founded in 2012 as a catering company, Cleveland Vegan has expanded into a decadent bakery & café (in addition to full-service catering). From brunch specials like Campfire Pancakes to dinner dishes like Summer Lemon Basil Pasta and Crispy Tofu Tacos, all diners leave satisfied at this organic scratch kitchen. And don’t even get us started on their two-page bakery menu, or we’re sure to start drooling.
This much-raved-about eclectic juice bar’s colorful and funky exterior perfectly matches the rainbow of fruit and vegetables found in their dishes. Famous for their Bravocado sandwich (a vegan nod to the BLT), this Hingetown resident has won over the neighborhood with their many cold-pressed juices, raw “cheezcakes” and mini grocery store.
This eatery created by Executive Chef Porscha Phillips offers more of a sit-down, vegan dining experience. After 10+ years working in The Land’s fine dining scene, Chef Phillips’ menu is finely curated from vegan ‘oysters’ to nut-based cheeses, down to the last coconut crisp on her famous Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake. This is the type of tasty that will blow your non-plant-based friends’ minds.
This adorable café is nothing if not aptly named. All the fruit and vegetables are organic and the sauces and spreads scratch-made with a focus on local producers. They offer tons of options – both vegan and vegetarian – including sandwiches, breakfast, pizzas and calzones. As a bonus, this café doubles as a “community clubhouse” featuring local art, music and events. Come for the food, stay for the culture and leave deeply satisfied.
Here in The Land, we love a beautifully crafted drink. So, of course, we had to include this craft cocktail bar serving tasty vegan delicacies in carefully curated and themed menus that change every few months. Cloak & Dagger also boasts a uniquely themed interior, which makes the customer feel as though they’ve just stepped into a mysterious author’s study. Whatever these wizards are brewing in the back puts every customer under a spell, insisting they return again and again.
If we’re talking about plant-based, it’s impossible to curate such a list without Ohio’s first (and only) 100% vegan doughnut shop. With a robust, rotating list of flavors, there is no better place to placate your sweet tooth and sink into a sugary, vegan-friendly pastry. Get your plant-based fix and support a black-owned, female-owned, family business at the same time.
If you’re looking for the quintessential vegan one-stop shop, look no further. This vegan café includes tons of food options with all day breakfast, kid’s meals, sandwiches/wraps and tons of pastries and desserts. Then, after stuffing yourself with whichever tasty choice you made, go shopping for screen-printed tote bags, vegan ricotta, seasonal lip balms, sustainable Swedish dishcloths or anything else they might have on hand. It’s impossible to walk out empty-handed.
Explore plant-based Asian-fusion at this café in Cleveland Heights. Start off with variations of BBQ tofu wings or chickpea fries, find comfort in the Mac and KimChizzz or the traditional Bánh Mì, wash it down with a mint lemonade and top off with ever-changing dessert specials like the Choco Snail Puff. Grab some items at the Foodhi market before you leave or check out gorgeous animal prints for purchase, the proceeds of which go to LASA Sanctuary.
So, technically we’re breaking the rules a little by adding this adorable café to our list, as some of their dishes do include meat. However, every single dish can be made vegan or vegetarian with a plant-based substitute such as their sensational tofu. With large portions and a homey environment, this is an excellent place to brunch for plant-based and non-plant-based customers alike.
Of course, we had to shout out our favorite catch-all restaurant that’s earned a place in many Clevelanders’ hearts, no matter their dietary restrictions. Glory in renowned milkshakes (both vegan and not), creative vegetarian/vegan options like vegetarian French Onion soup and a menu that reads more like a book with all of its options. Like their tagline reads: “Tommy’s will take care of you.” It should come as no surprise that Tommy’s is usually packed, but stopping at the connecting Mac’s Backs bookstore will help stave off hunger in literary style.
As much as these totally plant-based restaurants are a blessing to our taste buds, there’s even more waiting out in the Cleveland food scene. With these vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants, it won’t matter what kind of diet you follow, you’ll end up stuffed either way.
- Zhug: Sit-down Mediterranean Mezze where a majority of the options are plant-based. Curated by chef Douglas Katz and listed on Esquire Magazine’s Best Restaurants of 2020.
- Brassica: Traditional Mediterranean flavors with make-your-own pita sandwiches, bowls and hummus plates. Vegan/vegetarian protein options include their sensational falafel.
- Corner 11 Bowl & Wrap: Serves Asian-fusion food, Ramen and Hawaiian-style poke in a cozy space. This Asian-owned, woman-owned restaurant offers multiple vegan options for each.
- Johnny Mango World Café & Bar: Black-owned business offering a fusion of Asian, Mexican and Caribbean flavors, plus libations and a juice bar.
- Kantina: The Land’s newest kosher restaurant offers multiple vegan and vegetarian entrees. All dishes are made in their scratch kitchen with fresh ingredients.