Best Vegetarian Restaurants in the Twin Cities

according to Parsley & Sprouts

Maria's Cafe

Maria's Cafe

Let us just say that we are forever indebted to the friend who introduced us to this breakfast spot. Do they do any meals other than brunch? We don’t know and we don’t care. Go on Saturday or Sunday and get the pancakes with cojita cheese and the 'Special' with veggie sausage. It will be too much food and you will not be sorry.

Bad Waitress

The Bad Waitress

The Bad Waitress has a fantastic selection of organic and vegetarian options that cover the daily spectrum from scrambles to sandwiches. We first discovered the restaurant while in need of on-the-go meals during an MCAD Continuing Studies class we were taking. It's pretty quiet during weekday evenings but is a popular brunch destination, so be prepared for a wait. Their ordering system makes the customer do the work, leaving the menus and a notepad at the table. If you're looking for something new to try, we’d recommend the Heavy Pedal, their tofu scramble.

Bravo

Bravo! Cafe & Bakery

That Bravo sells entrees is not readily apparent from the outside. The Cafe and Bakery’s main marketing points are their pastries and bubble teas — the former we have not ever tried and so cannot vouch for and the latter we have and can. However, they also have a surprisingly large selection of all meatless meat dishes — the meatless aspect is not entirely made clear by the menu which lists items like "Sweet and Sour Chicken" and "Beef and Broccoli" and so a handwritten note by the menus announces that all items are indeed vegetarian. We wouldn’t call the meat convincing, but it's tasty in it's own right.

Also, we’ve noticed meatless jerky for sale which we have yet to try but are quite intrigued by.

Hard Times Cafe

Hard Times Cafe

Still living out '80s punk, Hard Times Cafe is not the place to go if you’re looking for polite and pleasant service. This is just about the greasiest vegetarian food we've ever eaten, but don't let that scare you away, because it's also delicious. It brings in a bit of a peculiar crowd — the first time we went a man who had seen a van with California plates outside was searching out the owner in order to catch a ride to California (there was no irony to be found there). Also, be sure to bring cash because they don't take cards and aren't about to direct you to the nearest ATM.

Himalayan Restaurant

Himalayan Restaurant

We (not-so) humbly consider ourselves Twin Cities Indian food connoisseurs, frequenting at least eight Indian food restaurants* in our mere three years in the Metro area. And this plainly named hole-in-the-wall is beyond a doubt our favorite. Among its many perks are that it's located along Franklin Ave. in the Seward neighborhood so you can always find parking and seating (as long as you don’t go on Monday when it's closed). We highly recommend the naan, which is just a bit sweet and chewy.

*In order of preference: Bombay Bistro, Everest on Grand, Taste of India (St. Louis Park), Dancing Ganesha, Darbar Grill, India House (Grand Ave.), Namaste Cafe, Delights of India (now closed — probably for good reason because it was the worst).

Rustica Bakery

Rustica Bakery

In 2011, Bon Appetit rated Rustica one of the ten best bread bakeries in America, so you know our taste isn’t completely off. Certainly not a cafe to go to for fancy coffee or to get work done — their drink menu and outlets are limited — Rustica boasts some of the best breakfast treats in the Cities. We were fortunate enough to live mere blocks away for a year so we were frequent breakfast visitors and can attest that the croissants are just the right mix of flaky and moist. If you’re pastry novices like us, be prepared for shelves lined with desserts you cannot pronounce. We can’t tell you how to say it, but we promise the kouign amann is worth the embarrassment of guessing.

Tao Natural Foods

Tao Natural Foods

Once an entirely vegetarian restaurant, Tao remodeled in 2012 and snuck a turkey sandwich onto the menu. We forgave them because they remain one of the best vegetarian sandwich and soup shops in the Twin Cities (and you wouldn't believe how hard it is to find vegetarian soup, let alone good vegetarian soup). Located a short walk from the Walker Art Center and Loring Park, Tao makes an excellent lunch stop when you're "making a day of it." The soups are always changing, so sampling first is the way to go (as sometimes they can over-lentil).

Tea Garden

The Tea Garden

We have been going to the Tea Garden since before we even lived in the Twin Cities. Is it the best bubble tea? Probably not. Is it weird that they bring in a live DJ in a coffee shop after 10pm? Probably. But it is a Twin Cities staple. If you don't like bubble tea yet, then it's about time you acquired the taste. The Tea Garden is a great place to get your feet wet with endless flavor combinations. Our recommendation: The Royal Tea Latte. It takes extra time to steep and will keep you up all night but it's well worth it.

Tanpopo Noodle Shop

Tanpopo Noodle Shop

Currently isolated in the far end of Lowertown, you might want to try Tanpopo now before its proximity to the new Light Rail line and the St. Paul Saints baseball stadium extends the wait for a table. Tanpopo's specialty is Japanese soba and udon, and we recommend springing for the mushroom broth with a side of edamame. They also often have a fantastic fried ice cream dessert. Though we love both the edamame and the ice cream, the one menu item we don't recommend unless you're feeling particularly adventurous is the mochi, which tries to sneak the greens into dessert.

Vegetable Cityscape

The best vegetarian restaurants is a list compiled by our team at Parsley & Sprouts.

Our credentials for writing this list aren't stellar — only two and a half years' worth of vegetarianism and a tendency to not order anything over $15 don’t exactly make us credible food critics. But, here it is from two cheapskates who prove that vegetarian doesn’t mean healthy — a list of our top food spots from a place we love.

In case you have an eye for the details, photos were taken on the iPhone 4 (so we can't be blamed for their low quality), icons were made by us (so we can), and the font is Sophia Pro (it’s free!).