September 28, 2021

30 Cincinnati Restaurants Offering Excellent Vegetarian Dishes

Eating a vegetarian diet is becoming more popular among human beings, even if it's just adding a "Meat-Free Monday" to your weekly dinner rotation. Whether it's for your own health, the health of the planet or for the health of animals — or part of your Lenten fast — the idea that meatless dishes are boring is being tossed out the window at the same time as major fast food chains are adding vegetarian substitutions to their menus. Being a vegetarian doesn't have to be limiting and these Greater Cincinnati restaurants are proving the point. Are these the city's only vegetarian options? No. Obviously not. Are they a great alternative when your friends/family are sick of you trying to make them eat Indian for the second time in a week and you cannot handle another slice of pizza, bowl of pasta topped with some kind of weird vegetable medley and cream sauce or a baked potato and salad combo? Yes. All of these eateries offer something beyond a carb-and-cheese dish for vegetarians. While some are more health-focused "rabbit food"-type destinations and some have vegan goetta, each has a menu to appeal to those who forgo dining on flesh... and their omnivore friends. Compiled by CityBeat's resident expert vegetarian (aka our editor in chief who hasn't eaten meat — except that one time by accident when she was drunk at a wedding — for 15 years).
Scroll down to view images
Rollin’ Bowls
Find upcoming truck locations online
Rollin’ Bowls is a plant-based food truck with Monica Meier in the driver’s seat. Meier made the switch to living a fully plant-based lifestyle several years ago and says it dramatically impacted her health and energy. The most popular menu item is the Dynamite Bowl — a crunchy and colorful blend of veggies with teriyaki-marinated soy tenders over a bed of fluffy long-grain rice. It’s finished off with a thick drizzle of vegan yum yum sauce made from scratch. Beyond the bowls, Meier serves quesadillas and tacos, soups and sandwiches, including plant-based burgers.
Photo: Paige Deglow

Rollin’ Bowls

Find upcoming truck locations online
Rollin’ Bowls is a plant-based food truck with Monica Meier in the driver’s seat. Meier made the switch to living a fully plant-based lifestyle several years ago and says it dramatically impacted her health and energy. The most popular menu item is the Dynamite Bowl — a crunchy and colorful blend of veggies with teriyaki-marinated soy tenders over a bed of fluffy long-grain rice. It’s finished off with a thick drizzle of vegan yum yum sauce made from scratch. Beyond the bowls, Meier serves quesadillas and tacos, soups and sandwiches, including plant-based burgers.
Photo: Paige Deglow
ESSEN
1 Findlay St., Over-the-Rhine
ESSEN is no ordinary take-away. Sure, the kitchen serves up soups, salads and sandwiches like any other respectable establishment. But there aren’t any chicken Caesars or ham and Swiss sammies to be found here. In fact, ESSEN doesn’t stock any meat, dairy or eggs at all: The entire menu is plant-based. Chef Yasel López, a graduate of the University of Havana with a degree in food science and a résumé that lists stints in restaurants from Cuba to Lexington, got creative and crafted a menu to appeal to not only vegans but also vegetarians and omnivores alike. The eatery's “Bagel & Lox” was selected as one of PETA’s Top Faux-Fish Dishes of 2021, which is a list of flavorful plant-based dishes across America.
Photo: facebook.com/essenkitchen

ESSEN

1 Findlay St., Over-the-Rhine
ESSEN is no ordinary take-away. Sure, the kitchen serves up soups, salads and sandwiches like any other respectable establishment. But there aren’t any chicken Caesars or ham and Swiss sammies to be found here. In fact, ESSEN doesn’t stock any meat, dairy or eggs at all: The entire menu is plant-based. Chef Yasel López, a graduate of the University of Havana with a degree in food science and a résumé that lists stints in restaurants from Cuba to Lexington, got creative and crafted a menu to appeal to not only vegans but also vegetarians and omnivores alike. The eatery's “Bagel & Lox” was selected as one of PETA’s Top Faux-Fish Dishes of 2021, which is a list of flavorful plant-based dishes across America.
Photo: facebook.com/essenkitchen
Good Plates Eatery
235 W. McMillan St., Clifton
Good Plates focuses on simple foods and bold flavors, offering a variety of sandwiches and bowls (of the quinoa and salad variety). Each item has a little twist that takes it from standard to satisfying, often found in the sauce. Several menu stand-outs include the meatball sub, made with chorizo and beef, complemented by a sweet red sauce (there's also a vegetarian version); as well as the sweet potato and black bean quinoa. All bowls and salads come vegetarian, but patrons have the option to add meat.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Good Plates Eatery

235 W. McMillan St., Clifton
Good Plates focuses on simple foods and bold flavors, offering a variety of sandwiches and bowls (of the quinoa and salad variety). Each item has a little twist that takes it from standard to satisfying, often found in the sauce. Several menu stand-outs include the meatball sub, made with chorizo and beef, complemented by a sweet red sauce (there's also a vegetarian version); as well as the sweet potato and black bean quinoa. All bowls and salads come vegetarian, but patrons have the option to add meat.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Unwind Wine Bar
3435 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park
This expansive indoor and outdoor space around the corner from Hyde Park Square has fused an upscale-casual ambiance with a wide selection of New World and Old World wines and small plates that complement the drinks. All of the food is either vegetarian or vegan (the owners are vegan). With choices such as crostini, flatbread, warm olives, cheeses and a hummus sampler, along with a few desserts, there’s enough for a light meal — or at least some satisfying bites to accompany your wine.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Unwind Wine Bar

3435 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park
This expansive indoor and outdoor space around the corner from Hyde Park Square has fused an upscale-casual ambiance with a wide selection of New World and Old World wines and small plates that complement the drinks. All of the food is either vegetarian or vegan (the owners are vegan). With choices such as crostini, flatbread, warm olives, cheeses and a hummus sampler, along with a few desserts, there’s enough for a light meal — or at least some satisfying bites to accompany your wine.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Whole Bowl
364 Ludlow Ave., Clifton
This is the perfect spot for people who don’t like to make decisions, since Whole Bowl offers one menu item. While there is an easy vegan alternative, Whole Bowl’s titular dish is comprised of brown rice, beans, black olives, cheddar, avocado slices, salsa, sour cream and a lemon-garlic sauce. The only real choice a diner needs to make is whether or not they want a small or large portion.
Photo: Facebook.com/TheWholeBowlCincinnati

The Whole Bowl

364 Ludlow Ave., Clifton
This is the perfect spot for people who don’t like to make decisions, since Whole Bowl offers one menu item. While there is an easy vegan alternative, Whole Bowl’s titular dish is comprised of brown rice, beans, black olives, cheddar, avocado slices, salsa, sour cream and a lemon-garlic sauce. The only real choice a diner needs to make is whether or not they want a small or large portion.
Photo: Facebook.com/TheWholeBowlCincinnati
Northside Yacht Club
4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside
A loosely nautically themed and ironically landlocked Rock club from two local music and mixology veterans, the Northside Yacht Club is all fun. Lay down a base layer with a bar-food menu that features veggie-conscious eats like their popular cauliflower wings, tofu tendies, vegetarian or vegan mac and cheese, fried broccoli or the creature fries. The cocktails — served by tattooed bartenders in the vein of Sailor Jerry — are masterful, made with fresh juice, fruit and herbal garnish. The tropically themed and navy-inspired drinks are deceivingly potent. 
Photo: Kellie Coleman

Northside Yacht Club

4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside
A loosely nautically themed and ironically landlocked Rock club from two local music and mixology veterans, the Northside Yacht Club is all fun. Lay down a base layer with a bar-food menu that features veggie-conscious eats like their popular cauliflower wings, tofu tendies, vegetarian or vegan mac and cheese, fried broccoli or the creature fries. The cocktails — served by tattooed bartenders in the vein of Sailor Jerry — are masterful, made with fresh juice, fruit and herbal garnish. The tropically themed and navy-inspired drinks are deceivingly potent.
Photo: Kellie Coleman
B&A Street Kitchen
1500 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Offering everything from TexMex-influenced comfort food, tacos and tortas to craft sodas on draft, perhaps the best part of B&A is their focus on vegan and vegetarian items. You can substitute chorizo tofu, vegan goetta, black bean patties and vegan scrambled eggs in different dishes, or just order a veggie option to begin with like their huevos rancheros, guacamole toast or meatless Dia de Los Nachos.
Photo: Brittany Thornton

B&A Street Kitchen

1500 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Offering everything from TexMex-influenced comfort food, tacos and tortas to craft sodas on draft, perhaps the best part of B&A is their focus on vegan and vegetarian items. You can substitute chorizo tofu, vegan goetta, black bean patties and vegan scrambled eggs in different dishes, or just order a veggie option to begin with like their huevos rancheros, guacamole toast or meatless Dia de Los Nachos.
Photo: Brittany Thornton
Condado Tacos
195 E. Freedom Way, Downtown; 3329 Vandercar Way, Oakley; 5070 Deerfield Blvd., Mason
Condado commits to the build-your-own tacos concept down to the type of tortillas. For protein, customers have several options — even multiple ones for vegetarians! — like Thai chili tofu, BBQ pulled jackfruit, black beans and roasted portabello. They’ve got the toppings, too; cilantro and onions, jicama and cabbage slaws, queso fresco and more. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Condado Tacos

195 E. Freedom Way, Downtown; 3329 Vandercar Way, Oakley; 5070 Deerfield Blvd., Mason
Condado commits to the build-your-own tacos concept down to the type of tortillas. For protein, customers have several options — even multiple ones for vegetarians! — like Thai chili tofu, BBQ pulled jackfruit, black beans and roasted portabello. They’ve got the toppings, too; cilantro and onions, jicama and cabbage slaws, queso fresco and more.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Goose & Elder
1800 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Chef Jose Salazar's Goose & Elder is a sort of comfort food destination with self-described “Midcentury grandma” décor. Though it feels more casual or at least more affordable than Salazar’s other eateries, Goose & Elder’s menu is just as creative, boasting fun takes on easy eats. The baked mac and cheese is infused with pickled jalapeno; the housemade falafel veggie burger comes topped with halloumi; and the "Big Salad" is more interesting than your average lettuce mix with seasonal vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and green olives. Goose & Elder also offers avocado toast and a grain bowl, in addition to retro cocktails and a brunch menu.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Goose & Elder

1800 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Chef Jose Salazar's Goose & Elder is a sort of comfort food destination with self-described “Midcentury grandma” décor. Though it feels more casual or at least more affordable than Salazar’s other eateries, Goose & Elder’s menu is just as creative, boasting fun takes on easy eats. The baked mac and cheese is infused with pickled jalapeno; the housemade falafel veggie burger comes topped with halloumi; and the "Big Salad" is more interesting than your average lettuce mix with seasonal vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and green olives. Goose & Elder also offers avocado toast and a grain bowl, in addition to retro cocktails and a brunch menu.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Bridges Nepali Cuisine
4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside; 133 E. Court St., Downtown
The restaurant name — Bridges — encourages diners to use food as a means of connecting to new cultures. Owner Ashak Chipalu creates Nepalese food using his mother's recipes. The dishes are rich with spices — like ginger, garlic, cumin, chili pepper and cilantro — that elevate the simple ingredients like potato, lentils and cauliflower. In addition to its bowls and curries, it’s known for its unique and wide-ranging samosa selection, as well as momos, aka Nepalese dumplings.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Bridges Nepali Cuisine

4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside; 133 E. Court St., Downtown
The restaurant name — Bridges — encourages diners to use food as a means of connecting to new cultures. Owner Ashak Chipalu creates Nepalese food using his mother's recipes. The dishes are rich with spices — like ginger, garlic, cumin, chili pepper and cilantro — that elevate the simple ingredients like potato, lentils and cauliflower. In addition to its bowls and curries, it’s known for its unique and wide-ranging samosa selection, as well as momos, aka Nepalese dumplings.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger