I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly five years now and can’t see that ever changing. I don’t have any kind of aversion to people that do eat meat, my own son still loves a good bacon sandwich and will often moan at me when I cook a veggie burger over a meat one. I just don’t like the taste/texture and can’t say I miss it either.
I’m 100% not one of those people that bang on
Anyway, the point of this post is to write about my very favourite vegetarian dishes in Reading. You may have read my post about “Why I Now Love Reading“ but if not, it started with all the amazing independent coffee shops we now have…then I started to gradually try out the new independent restaurants and actually ended up loving the food scene.
There’s huge room for improvement though. When I was home in York a few weekends ago, which granted is far bigger than Reading, the independent choices there are in abundance and you’re spoiled for choice. Reading however has no real bakery (in the town centre) to buy fresh bread and pastries, no grocer (I’m not a fan of the stand down Smelly Alley) and there’s a definite need for more relaxing cosy type of places…but no town or city is perfect, and in my opinion, the only way is up for Reading.
Similarly, we really need a good farmers market, one where you can buy most of your food for the week and avoid the supermarkets. That would be heaven! Oh…and a good ice-cream parlour after the very sad demise of Tutti Frutti. 🙁
Also, I don’t think there is one place in Reading that is exclusively vegetarian or vegan! I’m still waiting for someone to open something as I think it would be amazing. – UPDATE – I heard a sneaky little bit of info the other day that this is going to change in January 2019 – and it’s not Miami Burger (new plant-based food place in the Oracle) – it’s MUCH, MUCH better.
At work, in my ‘normal’ job, we’re always struggling to find somewhere ‘special’ to eat and the best we currently have is Valpy, which I love and never turn down. Cerise is okay, but if you’re in a small group it can lack atmosphere and be very quiet. The Forbury could be another contender if their menu wasn’t so limited and inflexible, and then there
April 2019 update: I’ve been invited to review The Corn Stores but as it’s a steak restaurant with limited vegetarian options I’ve said no and couldn’t make the press night either. I’ve since visited a couple of times with work and friends and eaten the vegetarian platter and drank various cocktails, which all were really lovely.
I’m fully aware that this is a totally subjective post and there will be many of you that will disagree, agree, possibly try places you haven’t yet had a chance to visit, but also, hopefully, share some new vegetarian places I haven’t yet tried. I’m really keen to get over to Clays soon, it’s been all over Twitter lately and the veggie dishes sound fantastic.
I’ve wanted to write this post for quite a while but am sometimes a little wary as I’m well aware I haven’t tried everywhere in Reading yet, I’m not even close! But, I’m also aware I’ve struck up some lovely friendships in the town and wholeheartedly love to support those businesses and friendships as much as I possibly can.
April 2019 update: I’ve since been to Clays and whilst the Veggie Pakora was outstanding and the customer service spot-on, I wasn’t blown away with the mains, will go back again soon.
Scrolling through my phone at all the food I’ve eaten in Reading in the last few years made me realise that I definitely have some firm favourites. So, without any more rambling (because who wants to read a 3000-word blog post, this is not a book…) here’s my list of favourite vegetarian dishes in Reading.
Granted there are far more places in Reading where you can eat vegetarian and vegan, but I just can’t add somewhere to my list of favourites if they only have one vegetarian option on the menu. It’s so dated, and unimaginative to do that. As well as risky!
I’m by no means an authority on local food and these are just my opinions. I’m a foodie who’s just passionate about the local area and love that I can now say I’m a Reading-based food blogger. If you’re interested in getting alternative takes on the Reading food scene then do check out Explore Reading or Independent Reading.
In absolutely no particular order…
Anything. Honestly. Occupying a pitch with Blue Collar Street Food every Wednesday in Market Square I’ll quite often take my lunch early just to pop round and pick up a box of whatever they’ve made that day. Vegiviores rotate their menus, are 100% vegan, introduce new dishes often, provide generous portions and you’ll finish super full and healthy too. It’s impossible to choose just one.
Check out their website here
Located right near Workhouse Coffee and to the side of The Oracle, this place has an amazingly varied menu for vegetarian diets. I’ve been a long-time fan of the chilli paneer and would have just ordered this one dish if I wasn’t intrigued to see if their other options were just as good. They are, but, the Chilli Paneer is just out of this world. Cooked perfectly with a rich vibrant colour, a slight crisp bite around the edge with a soft Paneer centre and generously sprinkled with chillies, spring onions it’s the perfect portion size for lunch.
No website available!
Conveniently located near Reading Station and serving up an array of wraps, panini, homemade soup and sandwiches (plus specials), Shed has to be one of my favourite spots for lunch and I crave their toasties (Brie and Cranberry to be specific) weekly. Although, I’ll happily settle for a coronation chickpea wrap or a bowl of homemade soup if they’re out of bread for the toasties.
Check out the Menu here.
Salad box 2 is always the veggie option. I have one every week at least. This week’s option is ‘Slow baked Halloumi served on a base of super fresh lentils mixed with toasted walnuts, mint, pomegranate seeds and orange segments. John is the owner of Picnic and he’s always surrounded by his lovely team of girls who bake all their cakes on site. It’s my go-to stop if I need a treat. For some reason, my boss has nicknamed John ‘Captain Ernst’…no idea why! 😉
Check out their website and food options here
Gnocchi with a side order of chunky chips is my go-to dish here. Despite not having many veggie options it makes my list purely for this dish. It’s always cooked perfectly and whilst I’m aware gnocchi generally isn’t very exciting they cook it so well! I also love the Bruschetta with Barkham Blue Cheese and the Scorched Fig starter. Valpy seems to be doing so well after its comeback and sitting in the office behind their kitchen means I often have to sit smelling the food cooking…it’s a great way to get me and my colleagues there when we’re hungry!
The menus are seasonal so there’s a chance that what I’m suggesting won’t be on if you go, but I’m sure whatever is being served will be equally as good.
Check out the Menu here.
Bench Rest is a temporary weekend pop-up at The Tasting House on Chain Street where Anonymous Coffee is also based. It’s run by Argentinian baker Laura Mariel Gonzalez who I first met when she was running supper clubs a few years ago now.
The food is tapas and brunch based and I think it’s very fair to say there’s nowhere else in Reading serving food quite like it. Laura is incredibly passionate, creative, and makes all her own sour-dough too. Its simple food done well, with a little Laura-twist! Her personality shows in her food and I love that she swaps it up and changes the menus around biweekly.
I went for breakfast with my son and step-daughter and we ordered so much food, shared each dish and despite my son not being keen on trying new flavours, Laura didn’t even bat an eyelid when he asked for fried eggs on toast!! Sorry Laura…
We also really enjoyed The Jam Lady’s Raspberry jam on Laura’s sourdough and argued about who got to eat the last slice! I won.
I really hope Bench Rest stays, but even if it doesn’t I’m pretty sure whatever Laura does will be delicious and I’ll always be a big fan.
April 2019 update: I’ve eaten at Bench Rest lots since writing this and can confirm the consistency in the standard of food is perfect. The home-made soup and huge healthy salads are delicious.
Check out the website here
Is a coffee shop that also serves up Greek dishes, wholesome smoothies and lunch-time sandwiches. There’s Cup 1 (the original shop) and there’s now Cup 2 (the new shop). I’ve also heard from one of the co-owners, Nassos, that there’s a special project happening right now with the owner of a recently shut down famous Reading restaurant AND I CANNOT WAIT!
My favourite dish, purely because my boyfriend Steve ate it non-stop for weeks is their spanakopita. I love Greek food and if you’ve not tried Spanakopita you really must. It’s a pie, of sorts, with layers of flaky pastry and then a generous filling of spinach and feta cheese.
I’m also pretty keen on their Greek scrambled eggs…but they need to add more toast to this one! 😉
Check out their website here (the Menu page is currently blank)
Honest Burger in Reading is my go-to veggie burger spot and I’ve eaten their vegan plant-burger so many times now. It’s 100% vegan but because I’m a bit of a cheese obsessive I’ve added cheddar, extra cheddar…and when I went to their media night a couple of weeks ago I added in the deep-fried Camembert patty too. Heaven.
I was genuinely surprised how much I liked this burger the first time I ate it as I’m not usually a fan of weird meat-that’s-not-meat type concoctions, but this is just something else.
I will be writing a full blog post soon on Honest so won’t share much else for now. Just go try this burger, there’s not many that can’t believe it’s not really meat!
Check out the Menu here.
April 2019 update: My review post on Honest Burger in Reading is now live! Read it here. 🙂
Unlike my pizza-obsessed boyfriend I can usually take or leave a pizza, but if I’m taking it…then it’s Franco Manca every time.
You can choose a pizza from the menu or you can adapt to whatever toppings you like. It’s cheap, it’s filling, its fresh and you can basically do no wrong if you’re looking to eat fast too.
Check out the Menu here (but they do have weekly specials too)
Last but certainly not least is Brewdog. It’s been open in Reading since March 2018, but we didn’t end up going to try the food or drink the craft beer until around August as we had no idea the menu was so veggie friendly. There are quite a few options to choose from, but I particularly love the SoyDog and the Buffalo Cauliflower.
I also really like that you can play a board game if you’re there for a while, pinball if you like that kind of thing. I got a bit merry once with my friend Libby and it turns out I play pinball better when drunk! The staff are pretty cool too.
Check out the Food Menu here.
That’s it! If you got this far, thank you for sticking with me. I don’t usually write a post this long and it’s taken me forever to do!
Let me know if you think there’s somewhere you rate and love in Reading for vegetarians and I’ll add it to my ever-expanding list.
April 2019 update: Since writing this post I’ve also eaten at Revolución de Cuba Reading and the Vegan and Vegetarian menus are vast! Lots of choice with amazing gin and cocktails to match. Go read about it right here.