Updated on 12 November 2021
Around the globe, people’s palates are changing. Our beloved Capital City is also reflecting this shift towards enjoying more plant-based dishes, so here’s our pick of vegetarian and vegan options in Pretoria.
Afroboer continues to espouse the principles of living off the land. On the counter, their dark, dense and moist cocoa-spiced vegan cake with coconut milk frosting and crystalised ginger pairs nicely with one of the Fairtrade African coffee blends. The Toast with Toppings section of the menu includes a trio of seed and nut bread topped with avocado, fresh corn salsa and creamy cashew nut butter. A pearl-barley salad with chopped pistachios, shredded dried apricots and a fragrant citrus dressing will perhaps pair eminently well with a naturally fermented ginger beer in hand. AfroBoer has an entire special section of their menu named “Very Vegan” with a range of delicacies that are fully vegan. Breakfasts, mains and sweets are plant-based and delicious. Try the quinoa savoury bowl or enjoy the pudding cup for something sweet.
Lexi’s in “The Village” has established itself as a jewel in the crown of vegan-friendly restaurants in Pretoria. The group has a growing network of branches, which currently includes five across Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. Lexi’s has a relaxed, café-styled atmosphere with a wide selection of smoothies, juices, breakfasts, burgers, wraps, sandwiches and bowl meals. The menu is unapologetically plant-based with many delicious offerings from savoury to sweet.
This Cullinan icon now has a shop in Pretoria for those not wanting to hike out to the countryside. In true Greek style, vegetarians are not left out in the cold – there’s a vegetarian moussaka made with brown mushrooms and lentils, hand-made vegan dolmades, and a vegetarian pita that includes olives, cheese, peppers and artichokes. Or simply dip a pita into a luscious melitzanosalata dip. Also available is tiropita and spanakopita, a delicious beetroot and butter bean salad.
Forti Mazzone continues to live out the legacy and ethos of his late father, Giovanni, in his restaurants. Family is important to the Mazzone clan. They still make traditional fair from old family recipes based on authentic, in-house prepared stocks and sauces that result in classic dishes such as a delicious bean, spinach and broccoli stew, delicately flavoured with garlic, olive oil and oregano. The vegan pizza is made without cheese, while a mixed vegetable plate features roasted oven veggies served with a side salad. The Mediterranean diet comes alive in Forti’s kitchens. Also look out for the exciting menu at Forti Two Restaurant (Lynnwood Bridge) and the wonderful wine selection at the new Wine Emporium that Fortunato and his wife, Veralda Mazzone, are opening at Lynnwood Bridge.
Delightfully Pretorian in style and ambience, this eatery has been the number one breakfast venue on many travel and hospitality websites. Go for the two poached eggs set on a potato rösti with sautéed mushrooms, creamed spinach, blue cheese and basil sauce. The Egyptian eggs are poached, crumbed in dukkah and panko, and deep-fried, served on grilled baby marrow ribbons with a dollop of hollandaise sauce. There are also other must-have items on the lunch and dinner menus, such as jalapeño and mozzarella poppers with tomato-chutney mayo, and a wonderful caponata salad with dill, crème fraîche and broken macadamia nuts.
Pulled mushrooms in a vegetarian “chicken” wrap made a staff member from one of the adjacent shops gush uncontrollably about its utter deliciousness. Mixed with spices and grilled in the oven, it’s served with tomato and fresh greens. Freshly baked items range from health breads to croissants and there’s also a vegan burger – a black bean patty is served on a seed roll with all the usual toppings and sweet potato fries.
Even though these are two distinctly separate restaurants, they have the same owners and there’s a nice flow between the two premises. Brunch Street, of course, offers more breakfast/brunch options, as well as delicious baked items and coffees. Culture Club, however, has over the past years made a name for itself as the quintessential tapas bar in Pretoria. Try a large range of vegetarian and vegan tapas, such as crumbed halloumi bites, falafels, chimichurri coleslaw, roasted sweet carrots, pickled cucumber ribbons, corn salsa, balsamic beetroot, sautéed green beans, patatas bravas, classic melanzane, spinach potato cakes, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted butternut, steamed sugar snaps, marinated lima beans, herbed citrus olives, grilled zucchini, pan-fried mushrooms, Moroccan chickpeas and many more.
The Warm and Wondrous Oat Bowl is made with cooked oats and topped with stewed cinnamon apples, almond flakes and berries – you can swap the milk on the side for soya. The Calcutta egg wrap is served on a low-carb sweet potato wrap and flavoured with Indian spices. They’ll gladly swap any meat or egg items for grilled brinjals or baby marrow. The name of the Vegan Kickboxer says it all – grilled brinjals combined with avocado, tomato, hummus, rocket, balsamic glaze and toasted pecan nuts come in a rye roll. David’s Favourite Lunch Bowl includes chickpeas and rocket as the main ingredients, mixed with sundried tomatoes, grilled brinjals, almond slivers, lemon and basil. From noon every day the harvest table features various healthy options such as vegetarian pasta dishes, vegetable salads, stuffed peppers, sweet potato wedges and many more.
You cannot go wrong if you order one of the vegetarian or plant-based dishes from the menu at Geet. The restaurant serves meat but many vegan options are also available. Please check with the kitchen since ghee (clarified butter) is often used in the preparation of Indian cuisine. Special substitutions may be possible.
Fragrant Egyptian food with many vegan dips, wraps, snacks, falafel and platters are available. Compose your own vegan platter from the authentic selections available on the menu. Note that while they serve meat, vegan options are available too.
This farm animal rescue sanctuary on a small holding in Boschkop opens its doors to the public on the weekend. You can book a free tour of the sanctuary and order some food from the restaurant. The menu has expanded to include bountiful meze platters, and you can still find toasted sandwiches, burgers and desserts. You can even shop for vegan merchandise and goods from their shop. The Beyond Meat burger patty comes recommended. You can also choose to sponsor some of the animals living on the farm.
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At La Coco C they specifically aim to accommodate vegetarian and vegan requests from breakfast right through to late lunch. The offerings include buckwheat flapjacks topped with roasted pecans, banana and peanut butter ice cream. The sweetcorn-and-pumpkin waffles with salsa and smashed avocado topped with sriracha is a great savoury item, which is also gluten free. The golden spiced oats are made with rolled oats, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and turmeric and is served with fresh apple and almonds. For lunch, opt for the Bangkok curry, a spicy red curry made with a range of veggies and served with sticky rice. Finish with vegan brownies made from sweet potato, dates, cacao and coconut oil.
The vegan-friendly fruit bowl is made with a staggering ten different fresh fruits and can be eaten for breakfast or as a salad. The chopped house salad includes cabbage, lettuce, tomato, red onion, coriander, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, black sesame seeds and a lemon vinaigrette, while the barley risotto is enhanced by red onion, zucchini, fennel, tomato, paprika, chili, caraway, white wine, coriander and labneh, which can be left out to make it completely vegan. The menu also features a vegetarian tapas spread. The vegetarian open sandwich is made with rye or seeded bread and topped with lettuce, carrot, cucumber, roasted cherry tomatoes, salsa verde and cottage cheese – the cheese can always be left out for a vegan option.
Pellie Grobler, who presides over the kitchens of this intimate little restaurant, makes an aubergine tian with layers of aubergine and tomatoes baked in the oven, served with pea purée and carrot escabeche. There’s also a mushroom risotto with roasted exotic mushrooms, grilled asparagus, chickpea fritters, butternut gnocchi with sage-and-gorgonzola cream, crispy butternut shavings and sage oil. The melanzane parmigiano is a delicious tribute to Italy, featuring aubergine, Napoletana sauce and mozzarella baked traditionally in the pizza oven.
If you’re in the mood for beer and a burger, try out Capital Craft. Their impressive selection of the best craft beers is complemented with a selection of three top plant-based burgers and sides. This venue can help to ease even the toughest crowd into the plant-based fold. Select from three distinct burger choices: the plant-based Beyond Burger, the chickpea-based falafel patty or their incredible mushroom burger.