Rest of the Best: 10 Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Houston

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners have been announced, but in many cases, picking the best item in any category was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we're rounding up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories during the next several months. Bon appétit!

When many people hear the word "vegan," their minds immediately rush to all the things that are not a part of a vegan diet, all the things a vegan can't eat. It's all about the negative--the lack of meat, the dearth of dairy, the absence of eggs.

If you're one of those people (just admit it) who turns his or her nose up at veganism as a fad or an unpleasantly restrictive diet, I encourage you to look at it from another perspective: Think of all the things a vegan can eat.

In a recent post about his own dabbles in veganism for Lent, Nicholas Hall wrote:

"When I dabble in faceless food, I always prefer to approach it from a different angle. While there are certainly challenges in moving from an omnivorous diet to a vegan one, I see those challenges as something to embrace. I see it as an opportunity to try new ingredients, ideas, and techniques."

So, thankfully, do all these restaurants. They may not all be completely vegan, but they all embrace the lifestyle and keep "faceless food" as interesting and delicious as possible.

10. San San Tofu San San isn't a dedicated vegan restaurant--it's vegetarian--but the vegan options are just as good as the veggie ones. The cooks were trained by a Buddhist monk to approximate the healthy vegetarian fare of the sort one might be served in a Vietnamese Buddhist temple. I've eaten at a Buddhist temple in Korea, and I must say, San San does a great job of re-creating that simple, healthful vibe while making remarkably flavorful food. Because it's not solely vegan, be sure to inquire about the mock meat, as some of it may contain eggs or dairy.

9. Loving Hut This grub is 100 percent vegan but only about 80 percent Asian, as the Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese menu is punctuated with a few mock burgers, some spaghetti and some surprisingly good cakes. Yes, as Katharine Shilcutt pointed out in her review of the place, it is an international fast food chain run by a cult, but the food is solid, if a little predictable. It's all shipped from the factory in Taiwan, and you can buy pre-made, frozen vegan food at the restaurant if you, too, want to "live in peace, love and harmony."

This story continues on the next page.

8. Quan Yin When you're trying really, really hard to go meat free, but you have a craving you just can't shake, head to Quan Yin for some of the best Vietnamese mock-meat dishes around. Everything is vegan--there's no meat, dairy or eggs in any of the dishes. Yes, there are egg rolls sans eggs. There's bun bo hue without bo (beef). There's chicken-less chicken satay. And it's all good enough to satisfy even most carnivores.

7. Pepper Tree Pepper Tree is for Chinese what Quan Yin is for Vietnamese, only Pepper Tree is completely vegan. Check out the weekday buffet featuring nearly 40 dishes for just $10.99. Mock meat is a big deal here, with tofu versions of Peking duck, General Tso's chicken and kung pao chicken, all of which are deceptively delicious. Unlike many of the vegetarian/vegan Asian restaurants in Houston that populate Bellaire Boulevard, Pepper Tree is located on Richmond inside the Loop, close enough to placate those wary of Chinatown traffic.

This story continues on the next page.

6. Jenni's Noodle House Only one item on the menu is specifically labeled "vegan," but inquire about other options, and you'll find a whole host of dishes for your vegan dining pleasure. Nearly every dish is customizable, and many of them can be made gluten free in addition to meat- and dairy-free. The menu of Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese dishes does contain some meat, but anything that doesn't explicitly list meat is vegetarian, and most of those can be vegan as well. Try the popular Art Car Curry with potatoes, mushrooms, carrots and tofu served over jasmine rice for a super flavorful look at what vegan food can be.

5. Green Vegetarian Cuisine Green is an import from San Antonio, and I can personally attest to the fact that it's difficult to get tired of the options here, as I used to eat at Green all the time in college. It's steadfastly vegetarian--not vegan--but any dish not on the breakfast menu (there are a lot of eggs in that section) can be made vegan with simple cheese substitutions. If you frequently crave Mexican food, Green is a great place for light but hearty vegan Mexican-inspired dishes like chalupas, enchiladas and tacos. The veggie and mock-meat burgers are also some of the best in town.

This story continues on the next page.

4. Green Seed Vegan What started as a wildly popular food truck is now a brick-and-mortar restaurant with the same massive following. And why not, when the Dirty Burque veggie burger is enough to make you forget your beef craving, if only for a little while. Also try the Big Tex Burger, featuring fresh jalapeños, red onions and avocados with rich faux cheese. If you're craving a smoothie, but still aiming to be dairy-free, try Green Seed Vegan's creamy smoothies made with vegan ice cream. I sincerely doubt you'll be able to tell the difference.

3. Cafe TH Long considered one of the best places in town for meaty Vietnamese sandwiches and stir frys, Cafe TH also has a special vegan menu wit pho, curry and stir-fried tofu (among other things). Cafe TH doesn't get credit for having the most diverse vegan menu, but what it does offer is some of the best. When chef/owner Minh Nguyen is at the counter, he can work with you to adjust other dishes for your dining sensibilities as well. This is most definitely the spot for vegan pho, though, as Nguyen is able to coax as much flavor out of that veggie broth as the rest of us are out of beef.

This story continues on the next page.

2. Radical Eats Staci Davis started Radical Eats as a totally vegetarian/vegan Mexican restaurant, a phrase you don't see very often. It had since evolved to include a few meat dishes--in fact, Davis recently competed at the International Festival's barbecue cookoff with legit beef--but Radical Eats is still popular for it's veggie-friendly cuisine. In fact, Radical Eats is one of the only places in town that makes vegan tortillas with no lard or butter that taste just as good as the fatty real thing. Most of the fruits and vegetables at Radical Eats are locally grown, though the restaurant no longer has its own backyard garden since it's moved to a bigger space on Westheimer. That means more room for brunch, though, the most popular meal of the week.

1. Doshi House Doshi House, owned by Deepak Doshi and nestled in the southwest corner of the Third Ward, is the best among Houston's limited vegan joints. Functioning as a neighborhood coffee bar (with coffee program overseen by Blacksmith's David Buehrer) and pastry shop by day, at night Doshi House serves up a single dish each evening -- from vegan red beans and rice to vegan Thai curry, often for under $7. Here you can find comfort in a simple, hearty meal in a ragtag neighborhood art gallery-turned-cafe. Whether you're vegan or not, Doshi House's food is just plain good.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.