Skip the meat with these restaurants offering proper vegetarian menus
Classy yet down-to-earth, this family-run eatery from Chiang Mai is tucked away in the relatively quiet Bangkok Mediplex. We admire the kitchen’s effort to focus on tofu, mushrooms and rare indigenous veggies in dishes like the hed kham waan (spicy and sour deep-fried assorted mushroom salad, B120) and the nam prik ong set (B150), which goes well with mock kaab muu (tofu skin, B65). Don’t leave without a scoop of mango ice cream (B85).
G/F, Bangkok Mediplex Bld., Sukhumvit Soi 42, 02-713-6599. Open daily 10am-8pm
This earthy establishment situated just off Khao San Road boasts a world music soundtrack and both low tables with cushions and normal dining. The menu is massive, but we usually go straight for the Middle Eastern options like the falafel (B150) and hummus (B50), along with some fresh pita (B30). The tempeh burger (B175) is also a winner, while you can quench your thirst with a mango lassi (B70).
Tanao Rd. (behind Burger King), 02-280-7549. Open Mon-Sun 7:30am-11.45pm
Formerly a royal residence, this lovely boutique hotel by the riverside also does a hearty vegetarian set menu (B2,300) featuring nam prik noom (Northern-style green chili paste), tofu and mushroom in coconut curry and the hard-to-find mahor (sweet minced pickle and peanut ball stuffed in fresh fruit).
396 Maharaj Rd., 089-810-0498. Open Tue-Sun 6-10pm. Reservations required
Located near Khao San, this casual joint does international vegetarian and vegan dishes using organic produce whenever possible. Popular options include the homemade fried tempeh with mango and pineapple sauce (B100), falafel burger (B160) and guay tiew maprao (B105), which uses the natural sweetness of its vegetable stock and young coconut shavings instead of noodles. The tofu cheesecake with blueberries (B125) is a great palate cleanser.
20 Tanao Rd. (near Swensen’s), 02-282-4996. Open daily 9-1am
Run by a Thai-Japanese couple, this welcoming, vintage-style café has become a meeting spot for the runners of Lower Silom. They sell Muteki running shoes imported from Japan (starting at B1,800), but the real focus is on vegetarian and vegan delights, from teriyaki burger with tofu patty (B200) to raw zucchini pasta (B180). There’s a long list of shakes and coffee, too. Service can be a little slow, but that gives you more time to kick back amid the retro charm.
56/3 Pan Rd., Silom, 02-637-9541. Open Mon, Wed-Sun 11:30am-3:30pm, 6-9:30pm
Focusing on clean eating, Rasayana Retreat’s “raw food café” whips up dishes with a medley of fresh organic produce. Everything is cooked at 42 degrees Celsius, hence the moniker “raw or living food.” Specialties include the fresh barley sushi (B170) and Mexican taco cup with spicy salsa (B180). Treat yourself with a Banoffee pie which features dates and walnuts (B160).
57 Soi Prom-mitr, Sukhumvit Soi 39. 02-662-4803. Open daily 9am-9pm. BTS Phrom Phong
This Indian version of an American diner offers simple, often greasy, comfort food, with some jain options. Their forte is fun street bites—the kind not often found in proper sit-down restaurants—like assorted pakora (chickpea batter fritters, B155) and aloo puri (potato curry with fried wholemeal bread, B145). Their dessert corner is also a good chance to try Indian sweets—don’t miss the cold, spongey and syrupy rajbhog (B25 each).
15 Sukhumvit Soi 20, 02-401-8484. Open 9am-10:30pm. BTS Phrom Phong
Perusing the menu, you might not realize that Govinda serves an all-vegetarian, and partially lactose-free, menu—an impressive feat for Italian food in this town. There are special sections on risotto and gnocchi, both gluten-free, as well as homemade egg-free pasta. We’re not so big on the faux-meat, but salads like the signature Govinda (lettuce, carrot, tomato, cucumber, spinach, mozzarella, avocado, potatoes, and olives, B270) and insalate capricciosa (B215), with generous amounts of artichoke, non-lettuce greens and soy-based mozzarella, ensure you get your money’s worth.
6/5 Sukhumvit Soi 22, 02-663-4970. Open Sun-Mon 11:30am-3:00pm, 6:00pm-11:15pm
This Khao San classic now has three venues in and around the Old Town, and has been providing backpackers with reliable meat-free meals for decades. Locals, too, flock here for the huge list of vegetarian dishes, herbal teas and smoothies. The food is MSG-free, the fish sauce replaced by soy sauce and the cooking heavy on the coconut milk and tamarind. Skip the farang favorites and order the homely Thai dishes, like the deep-fried seaweed served with peanut dip (B90) and banana flower salad (B80).
59 Tanao Rd., 02-629-4413. Open daily 9am-10pm
33 Samsen Rd., 02-281-7699. Open daily 9am-10pm
Wat Mahan, 089-137-3173. By reservation only
Step inside and you’ll find a more sophisticated vibe than most veggie places, and expert-cooking by the eponymous chef, who uses fresh produce from her own farm, Rai Plook Rak, in Ratchaburi. Mostly Thai, the menu spans both tofu dishes and texturized vegetable protein (fake meat) try the ever-popular mushroom fried rice (B120), made with in-house chili paste, spaghetti with artichoke (B155) and the deep-fried Japanese tofu with tangy lemongrass dressing (B145).
976/17 Soi Rama 9 Hospital, Rama 9 Rd., 02-641-5366-70. Open Thu-Tue 10am-9:30pm