With over 1000 different places to eat in Nottingham, even vegetarians and vegans are spoilt for choice – this guide will ensure you try the best first.
Hidden down a narrow alleyway (hence the name) in the city centre, Alley Café is one of Nottingham’s veggie food scene’s best kept secrets. The food served caters for both vegetarians and vegans with breakfast options including ‘baconesque’ and scrambled tofu and; a wide variety of sandwiches, salads and ‘World flavours’ which allow customers to sample more adventurous vegan foods, such as the Hemp and Tempeh burgers. The unique concept behind Alley Café ‘combines the style of a bar with the relaxed feel of a European café’. Though its small size makes it less suitable for large parties, this adds to the café’s hippy vibes. The Alley Café also hosts open mic nights, and one local artist per month exhibits their work on the eye-catching gallery wall space, showcasing Nottingham’s local talent and providing entertainment that will stimulate more than just taste buds. Staff are clearly passionate about producing delicious, environmentally sustainable food in a creative, innovative environment.
Located in Beeston, just a short distance away from the university’s main campus, this quirky independent restaurant specialises in modern vegetarian cuisine, marrying flavours that will satisfy even the most carnivorous meat-eater. The restaurant’s interior works perfectly with the food offered, with beautiful mosaic tiles, exposed brickwork and fairy lights in the evening. Equal care is taken over the presentation of dishes, making them taste and look divine. Examples of mains include broad bean and spinach burger in a home-made bun, cassava chips and a root and apple slaw. Diners can also enjoy more unusual desserts such as rosewater and pistachio Eton Mess, served with honey-poached apricots. This is one for the more sophisticated veggie.
Hartley’s Coffee and Sandwich Bar
Found in Hockley, only a few minutes away from Nottingham’s market square, Hartley’s claims to be the “one place that caters for everyone, regardless of diet”, offering vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. Very much a café rather than a restaurant, Hartley’s is the ideal coffee, breakfast or lunch spot whilst exploring the city centre, with outdoor seating for sunnier days. Prices are pretty student friendly. For instance, you can choose whatever combination of fresh items you want at the salad bar for just £4.95 or for something more substantial, a jacket potato or panini, with vegan fillings such as hummus and roasted vegetables. The freshly made smoothies are a must-try – ‘berry burst’ is a personal favourite – and all hot drinks can be made with soya milk making them dairy free.
Annie’s Burger Shack
Born and raised in America, Annie wanted to bring a taste of the states to Nottingham after moving here in 1994, and since opening the burger shack in 2009, she’s done just that. What sets this independent burger joint apart from many other chains is the fact that every single burger on the menu can be made vegetarian OR vegan. From the brilliantly British ‘Sunday Dinner’ burger, topped with Yorkshire pudding, stuffing and roast potatoes, to “The Sloppy Joe”, there’s bound to be a burger to suit everybody’s taste. Moving to Nottingham was also where Annie discovered her love for real ale, so customers are urged to try the specially selected real ales on offer to accompany their burger.
The Hungry Pumpkin is everything an independent café should be: family owned, cosy but not cramped, with an emphasis on friendly service and fresh, seasonal food. You have the choice of eating in or ordering food to take away – ideal for lunch on the go. With doorstep sandwiches, and hearty cooked breakfasts, you won’t leave this place hungry! Though the Hungry Pumpkin isn’t exclusively vegetarian, veggies are more than catered for, with offerings including roasted vegetable, pesto and spinach ciabatta, halloumi and pepper salad and made-to-order omelettes. The menu is also accommodating for vegans, and the hungry pumpkin even state “If you can’t see what you’d like on the menu, and we have the ingredients, we will make it for you!” making it even easier for those with ethical/environmental dietary preferences to enjoy some yummy food.
Edited by Susan Akyeampong