Top Five: Veg Friendly Joints

Words and Photos by Paige Baxter 

For me, Richmond has always been one of the best places to be a vegetarian or vegan. There are countless delicious vegetarian restaurants that are conveniently located around campus. Not to mention, if it is not a primarily vegetarian eatery, it more than likely has some sort of veggie option. To kick Shafer Bird’s Top Five series, I put on my thinking cap and tried to pick through some of my favorite vegetarian eating spots.


5. Ipanema Café

Yes, this restaurant is associated with hipsters and no it does not affect the quality of the food. The best part is that everything on their daily chalkboard is either vegetarian or vegan.

They even have scrumptious vegan pies that will make your mouth water in a matter of minutes. You can take your friends, hangout, eat really good food, and finish your night off with an alcoholic beverage and a dessert.

Pros: All vegetarian, vegan options, good desserts, and nice atmosphere

Cons: Can be pricy, limited menu options, no paper menu, and dark lighting

4. 821 Café

This punk rock haven caters to both carnivores and omnivores as well. Their breakfast and lunch/dinner options are beyond satisfying.

There are veggie sandwiches, veggie burgers, pasta, and veggie chili. Despite the occasional slow service, I keep going back for their $3 egg sandwich and veggie chicken Parmesan sub.

Pros: Fairly cheap food, vegan desserts, meat substitutes, pretty big selection, suitable for large parties

Cons: Slow service and at times inattentive waiters





3. Panda Garden

Not only is Panda Garden incredibly tasty for vegetarians they even have a meat friendly menu for your carnivorous boyfriend or friend. They offer a buffet Monday through Friday that has various items off both menus.

Not to mention, Panda Garden has some of the best mock meat I’ve had. You can get mock ham, chicken, beef, or even seafood if it’s what your stomach desires. Then when you notice you have only eaten half of your meal don’t worry, it can be your dinner for tomorrow.

Pros: Fairly cheap, huge portions, and an inexpensive buffet

Cons: Occasionally slow dining service

2. Strange Matter

First of all Strange Matter is not only a restaurant with mouth-watering vegetarian food that’s not offered everywhere in Richmond – it’s also a venue and an arcade. What else would you want to do while waiting for your food besides playing Space Invaders or Mortal Kombat II?

And as far as the food, Strange Matter does a really good job of having tons of diverse options for both meat and veggie eaters. You can even get a lot of those meat items vegan! They have vegan chorizo, vegan ham, tempeh and a ton of other tasty meat alternatives.

Pros: Their homemade vegan Mango Donut Holes, vegan and vegetarian options, so many meat substitutes, fun atmosphere, arcade games, awesome murals on the walls

Cons: Can be a little pricy but not too much, sometimes it is really noisy inside

1. Lamplighter Tall Bike Café

Although their menu is not completely vegetarian, almost half of the items on the menu are vegetarian friendly. What makes them better than the others on this list you may ask? Their sandwiches are beyond good.

In fact, good does not even cover it. They combine cheeses and vegetables that I would not normally mix together, but the end product changes everything. There are hot and cold sandwiches, sweet infused sandwiches with peanut butter and Nutella, and an assortment of egg sandwiches.

Another awesome thing about Lamplighter is their baked goods that vary day to day. One day they may have homemade donuts and another there will be the smallest muffin you might lay your eyes on. Regardless, if you have not been yet, you need to head over there and try a little of everything.

Pros: Friendly staff, good food and coffee, pastries and bakery items, out door seating, and homey atmosphere

Cons: Can be pricey, a little farther away from campus


Honorable Mentions:

Here are some other really awesome veggie joints that didn’t make the cut. Although these did not make the list, do not right them off. Give them a try and satisfy your taste buds, because Richmond has a lot to offer to vegetarians.

Ellwood’s Cafe

Crossroads Coffee And Ice Cream

Harrison’s Coffee Shop


  1. I loved your reviews of the restaurants. You really made each one sound like a great place to eat. Do you think you can follow this story up with one in which you describe, in your inimitable fashion, your favorite item at each of the restaurants? If you do that, I just might have to drive up from Norfolk to begin my conversion from carnivore to vegetarian!

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