Food fads come and go, but eating a plant-based diet has been around for almost all of history—dating back to 580 BC. That’s real “vintage.”
Eating a plant-based or semi-plant-based diet offers many health benefits, including: lowered cholesterol, increased nutrient intake, lower risk of diabetes, weight loss, and even improving skin. Who doesn’t want a glowing, acne-free, and even skin tone? Not to mention, various benefits when it comes to the environment and reducing our carbon footprint.
So, full plant-based diet sounds extreme? That’s fine. Even eliminating some animal products or taking part in “Meatless Monday” makes a difference when it comes to cleaning up a diet and saving our planet.
With the history of vegetarianism dating back to the civilizations of antiquity, it’s baffling to think that until the last five years there were only a few restaurants offering solid vegetarian options in Columbus. Thankfully, Columbus has gone modern (or is it retro?), and livin’ that good veglife is so much easier.
Let’s give the important Columbus pioneer of vegetarian-friendly food their moment to shine first. Now with five locations spread across the city and suburbs, Northstar is an absolute staple. Their self-titled burger brings people from all over the state and there are even online debates about how to perfectly crack the recipe. If burgers aren’t your thing, their salads are giant and full-flavored—most notably, the Village Salad. They also offer a Buddha Bowl which is topped with tofu, homemade peanut sauce, and bright veggies. The breakfast menu is just as delicious.
Indian food is a vegetarian’s best friend. Aab offers a lunch buffet full of traditional and veg options, so there’s a little something for everyone. Hottest item amongst the vegfam? Saag Paneer. Udipi Cafe is an all-vegetarian Southern Indian restaurant. The menu is packed with dosas, uthappam, curries, and more. Get the Channa Batura and dip that large, puffy bread until your heart explodes with joy. Banana Leaf has been a fiercely popular, all-vegetarian Indian restaurant for years. Its fans claim there isn’t a single bad item on the menu. Go wild and try it all.
Best veggie burger option in town? See Northstar above. But major contenders have popped up over the last couple years. Arch City Tavern offers a walnut black bean burger topped with their “special sauce.” The sauce is the money maker and it pairs oh-so-well with their truffle fries. Bareburger offers two different vegetarian burger options—Black Bean and Roasted Corn as well as a Quinoa Farmer’s Patty. Both are incredibly customizable from the toppings to the bun and can be made either vegetarian or vegan. Don’t forget a heaping side of homemade pickles. Strongwater comes in well, strong, with a Garbanzo Bean and Quinoa Burger. It’s topped with housemade red pepper barbecue sauce, cabbage slaw, and served on a ciabatta roll. It’s filling and goes beautifully with one of their many craft beers. Honorable mention to their large selection of jackfruit dishes. Eden Burger is the new kid on the block and they’ve spent the summer testing out their veggie burger and shakes. Their popup has been seated in The Village Idiot, but they’re ready to open up next door as their own entity. The burgers give the meat version a real run for its money, and the melty cheese on top is on point. Although not a burger, Rockmill Tavern kills the sandwich game with a rich and decadent Black Truffle Grilled Cheese. It’s melty but also somehow creamy, and is served with a sundried tomatoes—basically making it the fanciest grilled cheese and tomato soup you’ll find locally.
How about some untraditional, modern, and fresh takes? FUSIAN, a fast casual sushi concept, has rapidly expanded to twelve locations across the state. All their ingredients are super fresh, and with their build-your-own, customizable approach, vegetarians can rejoice. Their tofu packs the most flavor (even non-vegetarians agree) and toppings are endless. They’ll even hand-cut the roll on a cutting board used only for plant-based orders if you ask. Hai Poke is island inspired street food in the form of Hawaiian-style sushi bowls. Although their signature is fish, they offer vegetable and tofu versions for vegetarians and vegans. The rice is perfectly sticky, the fried wonton chip is light and crispy, and the sauces combined with jalapenos on top create a flavor explosion in your mouth. It’s not a large portion, but it definitely fills you up.
Portia’s Cafe is a fan favorite when it comes to all vegan food, all the time. Try the NoTuna Wrap, Thanksgiving Quesadilla (all year round), or the Super Power Wrap. Bonus points for the plethora of sweet treats. Loving Hut is another all-vegan spot that serves a variety of food. From Chinese dishes and sandwiches to zucchini noodle spaghetti, it’s almost impossible to choose. The Barbecue Sandwich with perfectly grilled bread is definitely a winner, as well as Tso’s Tofu.
The best part of the Columbus vegetarian and vegan options? There are more than we can fit in one article. Shout out to The Angry Baker, Katalina’s, Mad Mex, Market 65, The Sycamore, Hadley’s (vegan Mondays), Condado, Little Eater, The Walrus, Crest, Alchemy, Yellow Brick, and so many more. Keep the vegetarian options comin.’