You knew being a vegetarian would be hard but maybe you didn’t realize HOW hard: “What’s that? Your vegetarian menu consists of a green salad and that’s it?” Thankfully, restaurants that cater to a plant-based palette are sprouting up all over town with a list of vegan and vegetarian-friendly menu options as big as your appetite. Here’s a list of my favorites:
Big Mood, 423 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo
Buffalo’s first ENTIRELY vegan restaurant opened in 2018 as Root + Bloom. After a name change and a menu refresh, husband and wife co-owners, James Ernst and Sarah Sendlbeck, are out to prove that fruits and veggies can be crafted into delicious and complete meals. They’re open for all of your vegan cravings 12pm-10pm daily. Plus, the gazebo setting is to die for!
Betty’s, 370 Virginia Street, Buffalo
Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Sunday Brunch. // Vegetarians. Vegans. Omnivores. Carnivores. When a restaurant says they cater to any one and at any time, Betty’s actually delivers on that! This incredibly sweet restaurant has been a staple in Allentown for the last decade and the line out the door means they’re doing something right. From their fresh ingredients to the homemade baked goods to the perfect patio setting, add Betty’s to your must-try list.
Homegrown Kitchen, 640 Main Street, East Aurora
Getting their start in the charming village of East Aurora, Homegrown Kitchen has become a mainstay of the WNY vegan and vegetarian lineup. Working closely with local farms, you can rest assured that only the the freshest local ingredients are finding their way into your salads, grain bowls, soups, wraps, and smoothies.
Grindhaus Cafe, 160 Allen Street, Buffalo
In Allentown, Grindhaus Cafe is a hip spot for pour-over coffees and cold brew but their lunch menu of sandwiches and salads cater to vegetarians and vegans. Owner Megan Stewart married together her love of coffee and passion for vegetarianism and created a lunch menu that’s accessible and balanced.
Macky’s Essex St. Pub, 530 Rhode Island Street (corner of Essex), Buffalo
In a bar that is frequented by grizzled men on motorcycles and hipsters on bicycles, and known for some killer BBQ, Essex St. Pub might be the last place you’d expect to find good vegetarian and vegan eats. But here we are! Macky and the team have perfected a meat-free version of a reuben (with tofu) and a “bacon” club sandwich (with crunchy toasted coconut).
Ashker’s, 1022 Elmwood Avenue,Buffalo
Food doesn’t come fresher than from Ashker’s. Stop in for a fortified “Electric Lime” smoothie, overnight oats, corn chowder or their variety of Wellness Shots to remedy what ails you. Their Elmwood location is always hopping!
Breadhive Bakery & Cafe, 402 Connecticut Street, Buffalo
This bakery co-op popped onto the scene in 2014. Their strong carb game is evident in their offering of breads, bagels and pretzels. They also create sandwich masterpieces, some of which are vegan-friendly! Try “The Shania” with tempeh bacon, roasted veggies and turmeric or “The Bjork”, with whipped avocado, Barrel + Brine kimchi, tempeh bacon and spicy mayo, Oh, and all of their sandwiches are named after pop divas if you couldn’t tell!
Healthy Scratch, Roswell Park, Buffalo General Medical Center & 75 Main Street (reopening soon), Buffalo
For all the front line workers, looking to kickstart their morning, the Healthy Scratch locations at Roswell Park and Buffalo General provide the staff and visitors with the energy they need for their day. All of their menu items are ready for the on-the-go lifestyle. Their LECOM HarborCenter location is slated to re-open this fall.
Sunshine Vegan Eats, 893 Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo
Chef Nikki marries her beaming personality with a bright, healthy vegan-based menu at this Jefferson Avenue eatery. Menu options range from fresh, bottled juices to soups, salads and even transforms some of your favorite indulgences, like Loaded Nachos and Philly Cheesesteaks, into vegan renditions.
EXTRA CREDIT: Churn Soft Serve, 1501 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo
Do yourself a giant favor, whether you’re vegan or not, and stop in to Churn on Hertel to try their vegan coconut soft-serve as a standalone cone or in one of their Curated Cones like Trix Are For Kiddos. It’s one of those “there’s-no-way-this-is-vegan” moments.