Albert Einstein said “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” I’m not a vegetarian, but I try to limit meat to ~2x a week and oftentimes, I feel better off without it at all!
Whether you are open to trying new food, your mom is visiting and she’s vegetarian, or you are struggling to find delicious plant-based options in New Orleans, this article is for YOU.
Going vegetarian, even just a few days a week, sounds really scary to most people. I’m sure we’ve all heard “…but what about the protein?” Have they ever heard of beans, tofu, nuts, edamame… ok, whatever. What studies show is that a vegetarian diet provides diversity of flavor and nutrients, is incredible for the planet, and rises in popularity every year! Plant-based alternatives are popping everywhere from fancy restaurants to the frozen aisle of the grocery store.
Vegetarians often worry about only being able to eat fries and a side salad at most restaurants. Luckily, the city full of gumbo, crawfish and muffuletta has a wide array of delicious vegetarian options. Here are some of the best vegetarian bites in New Orleans!
Sneaky Pickle’s Mac n Cheese – $9
Everyone will be licking their plates with this cashew chorizo, broccoli, and butternut squash pasta. It is cheesy without the cheese and intensely flavorful. Sneaky Pickle is an unassuming vegetarian-oriented lunch and dinner spot and a favorite to most Bywater locals. There is truly something for everyone here. They have vegetarian options like a spicy tofu taco, a tempeh Reuben, and a wagyu beef burger. The cocktails are to-die-for and their sister restaurant in the same space, Bar Brine, opens for dinner!
Dong Phuong’s Grilled Tofu Bún – $9
The 30-minute drive from Tulane’s campus is really only possible if you have a car. But if you do, you won’t regret this trip. Dong Phuong is that famous bakery, you know, the James Beard award-winning one that makes the king cakes. This bakery sells some of the most delicious pastries, mochi, and steamed bbq baos (they even have impossible meat options for veggies!) The veggie pho and grilled tofu bún are cozy, authentic, spicy, and generous. The bakery stays open until 5pm and the restaurant until 3pm. Don’t miss it!
Budsi’s Green Curry with Tofu – $13
Thai food is great because it is easily made vegetarian by omitting meat or adding tofu. Drunken noodles, pad thai, curries, anything! The green curry at Budsi’s is aromatic and comes out within minutes. This street-style Bywater spot is a short walk from Frenchman, too! Meat eaters should try the crispy and juicy pork dumplings. And no matter what, finish off your meal with mango sticky rice and a spicy cocktail.
Barracuda’s Broccoli Taco – $3.75
A real crowd-pleaser, Barracuda is known for the best tacos in town (and happy hour margaritas… and guac). Fresh tortillas and a lively courtyard don’t hurt either. The broccoli taco topped with caramelized onions and sunflower Caesar stands out, but the mushroom is also a fan favorite. And who doesn’t love a crispy fish taco. Pro tip: make it deluxe to add crispy cheese to any taco or quesadilla.
Blue Giant’s Spicy Stir-Fried Eggplant – $12
This dish is truly one of the most addictive things I’ve ever eaten in New Orleans. Even if you think you hate eggplant, Blue Giant’s sweet and saucy stir-fried eggplant might change your mind. The chili oil cucumbers, broccoli, and sesame noodles are also great plant-based options. And if you eat meat, the dan dan noodles topped with crispy pork are perfectly spicy and chewy (and dreamy!)
Saba’s Brussel Sprout Hummus – $16
Saba is the definition of comfort. Their smooth, warm hummus is the only thing I can think of that is appetizing from breakfast to dinnertime. While the crab hummus is popular, the brussel sprout hummus is topped with shabazi onions, black garlic and pickled jalapeños making this dish filling and satisfying with their fluffy pita.
Bearcat Café’s Paleo Pancake – $6
Bearcat is extremely accommodating for vegans and vegetarians. While they serve shrimp and grits and a crab scramble, they also serve a tofu scramble with black bean patties and crispy potatoes. My favorite item to order is their flavorful and sweet paleo blueberry pancake. Their lavender honey and rose water lattes are must-trys.
Turkey and the Wolf’s Collard Green Melt – $12
Turkey and the Wolf is famous for its crazy combinations and throwbacks to the owner, Mason Hereford’s childhood memories. Many know this place for a famous boujee lunch meat and potato chip sandwich. But, the Collard Green Melt will put any veggie-hater to shame. With slow cooked collards, swiss cheese, pickled cherry pepper dressing, coleslaw and 3 slices of rye bread this hot and steamy sandwich is a next-level Southern classic.
Milk Bar’s “I Dream of Aubergenie” Sandwich – $10.50
A few blocks from Tulane’s campus, this sandwich shop serves up huge sandwiches full of tons of flavor. The Aubergenie is packed with eggplant, hummus, pesto, roasted red pepper, red onion, kalamata, feta, and mozzarella. Veggies can also get the sweet potato-based Yam I Am.
Flour Moon Bagels’ Harvest Moon – $12
Flour Moon is a new, NYC inspired bagel spot and it does not disappoint. When I saw they had a rosemary salt bagel, I was on my way. The Harvest Moon has roasted carrot spread, tahini, cucumbers, onion, olives and herbs. It is flavorful and pairs well with any of the carefully chosen bagels options. Their location in Mid-City has plenty of outdoor seating and a super cute décor.
Misa’s Sweet Potato Ravioli – $23
This unique Mediterranean spot by the owners of Tal’s Hummus is upscale and perfect for a date night or when your parents come to visit. There is truly something for everyone here and the staff is very accommodating. The sweet potato ravioli is spicy, rich, and cheesy! I also loved the cauliflower curry (the spice was no joke) and the eggplant dishes. They also serve fish, a burger, a half chicken, mussels, salads, wine and cocktails. You’ll love the outdoor space on Magazine St.
The Daily Beet’s Orbit Bowl – $12
The Daily Beet on Magazine is a vegetarian’s heaven. They have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options for breakfast and lunch. From banana oatmeal pancakes to a thick avocado toast to any of their warm bowls, you will leave full and happy. The orbit bowl is packed with warm wild rice, avocado, a pastured egg, homemade kimchi, edamame, carrots, scallions, nori, and sesame ginger dressing. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect brunch, I don’t know what does.
And luckily for us, most desserts are vegetarian! Try a cardamom orange sno-ball at Hansen’s when your AC is failing you or a piping hot donut and coffee at Café Beignet when you need to feel cozy. Even though this city is known for its spicy shellfish, meat-filled gumbo, and fried chicken, it is also home to some of the most flavorful vegetarian options I’ve ever had.
Featured image via Grace Gottesman
Grace Gottesman is a junior from Seattle, WA who enjoys film photography, traveling, and cooking! Through the Crescent, Grace wants to share her love for art, mental health and wellness, sustainability, and her favorite city, New Orleans.