With soymilk served at all the best locally owned roasteries and Maine-made artisanal tempeh and tofu on all the hip kitchen menus, Portland provides a welcoming home to vegetarians.

But just as in any other city, some eateries do a better job preparing plant-based dishes than others. So which are the standouts? Who has an all-veg menu? Where should you take vegetarian friends when they come to visit? What if you only want drinks? Or just dessert? Or vegan pizza?

These are questions readers ask me all the time.

Many requests pop up in my email and on Facebook, and I quickly type up a list of restaurants and hit send. Inevitably sometime later – maybe in five minutes or when I wake up at 3 a.m. or when I’m shampooing the following morning – I remember a handful I left out.

I’m sure the person who asked me has already made a decision and moved on, but I feel a sense of duty to the local veg-friendly eateries that help sustain me, so I follow up with another message, and hit send. Then a while later, I think of one more restaurant and send another message. In such a case, I once sent as many as five(-ish).

In an effort to answer all these questions at once – and to save my readers from my incessant emailing – I’ve put together My Personal Guide to the Best Vegetarian Menus on the Portland Peninsula.


The restaurants I’ve included always offer both vegetarian and vegan dishes and know how to please a plant-based palate. Should you need a walk after your veg-heavy meal, I’ve included three vegetarian sightseeing spots. And fair warning: If, despite this column, you still email me for restaurant suggestions, be prepared for a barrage of responses.

Totally vegetarian

Perfect for date nights and out-of-town guests, the pan-Asian menu at the Green Elephant (608 Congress St.) is filled with favorites such as Thai ginger noodles and peanut curry. If you’re ordering dessert at this lunch and dinner spot, go for the chocolate-orange tofu mousse pie. Want to be surprised? Order the fried Brussels sprouts with tamari.

A relaxing teahouse atmosphere pairs with a mostly Middle Eastern menu at Dobra Tea (89 Exchange St.). In addition to hummus and baba ganoush plates, the light fare includes rice bowls, couscous and miso soup. Tasty za’atar seasoning is used liberally, and the tea menu is extensive.

Known for its addictive bags of popcorn, Little Lad’s Bakery (482 Congress St.) offers an all-vegan buffet and sandwich menu for lunch. The food is delicious. My favorite is the chick’n salad sandwich, which comes with popcorn. And I rarely pass up a chance to enjoy one of their flaky fruit tarts.

Whether you like your smoothies green, fruity or mostly chocolate, the Maine Squeeze Smoothie & Juice Café (5 1/2 Moulton St.) satisfies with on-the-go drinkable meals such as the Kale Storm, the Chocoholic and the ElizaBEEThian. This location also stocks chilled salads (soba noodles, tempeh salad) and two wraps.



Eleven veg-friendly food vendors fill two stories of the Public Market House (28 Monument Square), offering burritos, soups, wraps, pizza slices and vegan cupcakes, plus a full juice bar, salad bar and artisanal cheese counter. Grab a window seat to watch the people go by in the square below.

Want more action with your eats? Then head to Bayside Bowl (58 Alder St.). Rent a lane or just watch the games at this bowling alley, bar and restaurant, where you won’t want to miss The Rachael, a spot-on vegan Reuben, on the veg-heavy menu.


When it comes to vegetarian options in the morning, Local Sprouts Cooperative Café (649 Congress St.) nails it with tofu scrambles, vegan pancakes and a range of baked goods, including vegan and gluten-free. Enjoy live music with your locally sourced brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday.

Other solid morning options for vegetarians include:


Hot Suppa (703 Congress St.)

Bayside American Café (98 Portland St.)


Whether you are in the mood for the Falafel Attraction (my favorite) or the Peace, Love and Veggies, the menu at Silly’s (40 Washington Ave.) has oodles of veg choices. How else does it rock the veggie world? With a dedicated vegan fryer, weekend brunch, vegan triple layer cakes and dairy-free milkshakes.

More spots for a veg-friendly lunch include:

Pom’s Thai Restaurant & Noodle House (571 Congress St.)


Olive Café (127 Commercial St.)

El Rayo Taqueria (101 York St.)

India Palace Restaurant (565 Congress St.)

Tu Casa (70 Washington Ave.)

Federal Spice (225 Federal St.)



Sports jackets and little black dresses have replaced the Sunday best in former church Grace (15 Chestnut St). With one vegan/vegetarian entrée each night, you won’t find much choice, but you will enjoy the same soaring architecture seen by influential vegetarian advocate and Seventh-day Adventist Church founder Ellen G. White when she worshiped there as a child. Fair warning: A lively bar scene has replaced the pews.

Additional options for plant-centric dinner dates:

Empire Chinese Kitchen (575 Congress St.)

David’s (22 Monument Way)

Emilitsa (547 Congress St.)

Caiola’s (58 Pine St.)


Five Fifty-Five (555 Congress St.)


The city’s original gourmet pizza shop, Portland Pie (51 York St.), offers six vegetarian pizzas on its regular menu (the Shipyard is my favorite). Local vegetarians love this spot for its dough (which comes in regular, thin crust, gluten-free or seasoned) and because they offer vegan cheese.

Other pizza places for vegetarians:

Slab (25 Preble St.)

Flatbread (72 Commercial St.)


Leonardo’s (415 Forest Ave.)


A beer lover’s beer bar, Novare Res (alley on Lower Exchange St.) offers a rustic menu with regular vegan and vegetarian dishes, such as a topnotch Mediterranean plate and frequent specials. Bring your credit card because these first-rate beers aren’t cheap.

For veg options alongside beer that are easier on the wallet, visit:

Three Dollar Deweys (241 Commercial St.)

LFK (188 State St.)


Binga’s Stadium (77 Free St.)

Sebago Brewing Co. (211 Fore St.)

New or notable

Zapoteca Restaurante y Tequileria (505 Fore St.) isn’t new, but its addition of a full vegetarian/vegan menu is. From coliflor a la plancha (cauliflower steak) to relleno de quinoa y frijoles negro, this high-end Mexican menu makes plants the stars. Should the agave plant be your friend, cozy up to the bar for a flight of premium tequila shots.

Also new and veg-friendly

Tiqa (327 Commerical St.)


Evo Kitchen + Bar (443 Fore St.)

Food trucks

Known for a menu with a split personality, the Wicked Good Truck (@wickedgoodtruck) is all vegan on the good side, which includes Frito pie (veg chili served over Fritos), raw pad Thai salad and falafel. Look for the bright green truck around town and at festivals.

Also stay alert for these trucks:

Mami Food Truck, which serves Japanese street food

El Corazon, which serves Mexican food


CN Shawarma, which serves what it describes as “Arabian BBQ”


If you and your vegetarian guest happen to be out on the First Friday Art Walk, swing by Monument Square, where caterer 13th Cookie typically sells its vegan, gluten-free cookies. Having trouble spotting the table through the crowd? Look for the Cookie Monster – the baker dresses in blue fur top to toe.

Other sweet spots that cater to vegans and vegetarians:

Holy Donut (7 Exchange St. and 194 Park Ave.)

Gelato Fiasco (425 Fore St.)


Gorgeous Gelato (434 Fore St.)

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream (51 Exchange St.)

Veg-centric sightseeing

Animal rights activists aren’t new to Portland, a fact that comes to life when you visit the Stanley Pullen Fountain (Federal Street behind the fire station). Built in 1910, the granite watering trough for horses is a memorial to Pullen, an attorney who in the late 1800s helped found both the Portland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Maine Society for the Protection of Animals.

More plant-centric sights

Portland Farmers’ Market (Wednesdays in Monument Square; Saturdays in Deering Oaks)


Mt. Joy Orchard (slope between Washington Avenue and North Street)

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be contacted at:


Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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