Adopting a vegan lifestyle is a commitment, and it requires sacrifice. The hassle of making special orders every time you are at a restaurant may make dining out seem like one of these necessary sacrifices. However, there are restaurants that provide menu items specifically for the vegan diner. In fact, there are top quality restaurants that are vegan friendly. Here are five of best in Baltimore.
On The Hill Cafe
1431 John St.
Baltimore, MD 21217
On the Hill Café is a cozy little neighborhood café that manages to appeal to the health-conscious vegan without being pretentious. There are certainly a variety of meats on the menu, but if you happen to prefer your food more on the vegetarian side, you will be relieved to see the variety of options catering to your exact tastes.
For breakfast, try the assorted flavors of Umpqua Oats or have a healthy fruit cup. For lunch, enjoy the summer rolls or the rice and bean plantains which combine black beans, rice, crispy sweet plantains, pico de gallo and in-house guacamole. Hungry for a sandwich? Go with the “Mt. Royal” — a concoction of hummus, grilled marinated eggplant, tomato, greens and a delicious focaccia flatbread.
The menu opens up even further if you simply request the vegan version of any of the multiple vegetarian items. On the Hill is a dedicated supporter of the community and of the environment. It operates on 100 percent wind power for electrical needs, all of its outgoing waste is either composted or recycled and the cooking oil is repurposed as biodiesel fuel. All in all, On the Hill Café is not only a guilt-free place to eat, but it is a worthy venue to support for its community efforts.
Byblos Lebanese Cuisine
1033 Light St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Byblos is a Lebanese restaurant with a cozy and tasteful interior decorated with art representing that culture. Byblos is a relatively small restaurant, owned by a couple who make all of the dishes from scratch and are always working to improve their already outstanding recipes. It is by no means a strictly vegetarian restaurant, since the Lebanese menu is rich in dishes like shawarma and meat pies, however it does describe itself as “vegan friendly.” Byblos offer pies filled with spinach or brushed with zaatar (a mixture of thyme, sesame and sumac) and it serves the food along with creamy dips like baba ghanoush or hummus. Try the tight rolls of grape leaves and wash them down with brownie-like slabs of vegetarian kibbeh. Byblos is a venue that shows a savvy vegan can enjoy other cultures without sacrificing their standards in food.
2108 Eastern Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21231
Johnny Rad’s isn’t just a better-than-average neighborhood pizza joint, it’s also a bar with a perfect selection of beers and it is a neighborhood hangout with a lot of love for the punk-rock and skateboarding crowd. Johnny Rad’s is already a well-loved mainstay of pizza lovers throughout Baltimore, so the fact that it caters to vegans puts it over the top in terms of variety and service. Start pizza night off with one of the vegan appetizers, which include “El Vortex” – a spicy black bean hummus served with fresh, warm pita chips, celery and carrots. Then grab a slice of the Templeton, a classic marinara-style pizza with tomato sauce, fresh garlic sauce, parsley, oregano, olive oil, basil and, of course, no cheese. Finish off by appealing to your sweet tooth with its Cinnamon Donut Twist with dipping glaze, also entirely vegan. The bar will gladly serve you your choice of beers, wines or cocktails. Play a little skeeball while you’re there too.
Related: Best Vegetarian Restaurants In Maryland
The Land Of Kush
840 N. Eutaw St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
The Land of Kush offers a wide variety of soul foods that look and taste like meat dishes, but are still 100-percent vegetarian. Kush is top-notch at what it does. Its foods look and taste so much like the meats they mimic that it is enough to fool a hard-core carnivore. Come in on the weekend and try the “Vegan Drummies” (breaded soy on a wooden stick) or be a true Marylander and get the Vegan Crab Cakes (Old Bay seasoned, textured vegetable protein). Or really let your inner carnivore take over and dig into the Kush BBQ Ribs (Soy protein smothered in BBQ sauce). Come in on Sunday and try its delicious brunch featuring two gluten-free blueberry pancakes, seitan scramble, potatoes and vegan sausage. Wash it all down with fresh-squeezed lemonade and then try one of the tasty desserts, like the pineapple upside down cake. Kush prides itself on being both 100 percent healthy and 100 percent tasty, giving you the comfort foods that satisfy without the clogged arteries on the side.
Grind House Juice Bar And Market
2441 Saint Paul St.
Baltimore, MD 21218
The Grind House is not a location where a humble vegan must painstakingly comb the menu to locate the one item their diet permits them to eat. In fact, it proudly advertises itself to be a “100 percent vegetarian/vegan juice bar and market.” For breakfast, try the surprisingly delicious tofu scramble. For lunch, a yummy treat is “The Hipster,” a portabella wrap with veggies and your choice of dressing. And, of course, all day long it offers a delicious assortment of smoothies and fresh-pressed juices. The Grind House is still a fairly new establishment and is just coming into its own. As such, you might want to order take-out, since the dining area is fairly snug. However, the food is delicious and healthy, and the portions are just right.
Related: Best Vegetarian Burgers In Baltimore
Joel Furches is a freelance writer and researcher for The Examiner and Logos Software, and also manages his own catalog of writing on Hub Pages. Joel is on the board of directors for Ratio Christi. He has a bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Education.