Madrid’s no-frills vegan and vegetarian restaurants are built on radical foundations. None of the restaurants I’ve listed below shy away from expressing their opinions on feminism, anti-speciesism, communism or even all-out anarchism, and nor should they. What makes Madrid such an exciting place to live is the people’s unrelenting will to fight for what they believe in – a hangover from decades of oppression combined with real concern for the future we’re hurtling towards.
In no particular order, here are 11 of Madrid’s most no-frills vegan and vegetarian restaurants, where your ‘paella evacuada’ comes with a side of activism.
PURA VIDA (La Latina)
It’s no secret that the owner is a leftie, nor that most of his clientele are too – he hosts plenty of clandestine tertulias in the basement. When not plotting to take back Madrid from closet fascists, he’s serving a decent selection of vegan dishes, which leave you pleasantly full and ready to take on the world.
EL TRIÁNGULO DE LAS VERDURAS (Puerta del Ángel)
Take a classic no-frills bar, deck it out with La Movida memorabilia and serve up tasty vegan and vegetarian food to your anarchist friends, and the crowds will come. With capacity for only around 15 people and very no-frills prices, you’ll struggle to get a table or bar spot here on weekends, so grab a beer and wait around – it’s worth it. The ‘anarchaos’ is part of the charm.
Vegania boasts an open-minded selection of brightly coloured food influenced by cuisines from all around the world. Some dishes border on frills for which we can forgive them due to their otherwise fairly no-frills setting.
- Address: Calle de Ntra. Sra. de la Luz, 62
Lots of vegan versions of the humble, classic Spanish bar dishes, all served up in the chassis of a former no-frills bar. The few frills that were added are painted on the walls and, I suppose the other frill is the fact that the food is vegan. What world we are living in where eating vegetables is more of a novelty than eating meat?
- Address: Calle de la Ballesta, 13
LOS ANDENES (Chamberí)
This no-frills Peruvian diner lets the longing vegan finally sample Peru’s traditional dishes without the burden of requesting omissions, for which you may well end up paying more money (again… what is with this world?).
Their €9 menú del día will give you a lot of what you’ve been missing out on all this time, and the raw mushroom ceviche is a fun novelty I’m sure you won’t find anywhere else in Madrid.
This anarchist dive bar is named after the late, famous Greek riot dog who faced down Greek riot police during the height of the eurozone crisis. Loukanikos in Greek means sausage – irony that doesn’t fly over anyone’s head on their vegan-friendly menu.
Meat and fish does occasionally appear on the menu, but it far from dominates the alternative vibes of this Lavapiés institution. Also expect dirty sticky floors after midnight, especially around the foosball table at the back.
LA VEGANA VALLEKANA (Vallecas)
La Vegana Vallekana is a politically charged cooperative run by self-titled feminist lesbians. Even though their prices seem a little high (especially for the barrio’s residents who see some of Madrid’s lowest incomes), their portion sizes are big and you’ll be left full with just three dishes between four people.
The food is varied and they have a good selection of beers, whatever that means (you’ll always find me on the Mahou). The crowd looks like they jumped out of a skull-lined wormhole from La Movida Madrileña and I’m digging it.
EMPATÍA RINCÓN VEGANO (Atocha)
The simple design compliments the no-frills menu of vegan-version Mediterranean classics. The food is hearty, so expect to be well fed and, even better, for no-frills prices.
- Address: Calle de Rafael de Riego, 13
LA ALPARGATA (Mercado de San Fernando)
Vegan tortilla, burgers, lasagne, tequeños, pies, pates… the variety will leave any vegan used to Spain’s limitations feeling a little bit overwhelmed. Their food is delicious, but I can’t write about Mercado San Fernando without addressing the elephant in the room: gentrification.
La Alpargata is just one of the foot soldiers of the invasión de los modernos of Mercado San Fernando. But, this incursion in itself is not what has left this market with just a handful of its original stall holders – deregulation is. You know the story: rent increases, old business closes, new pricier business opens etc. And it doesn’t end there. Rent prices increase more, new business closes, pricey soulless chain opens etc. The end? Not quite.
We don’t want to see what comes next, so support what is left of the world you love – whatever that is. Unless that’s bullfighting, of course.
HAKUNA MATATA (Tetuán)
Many dishes on the menu appear to be a vegan version of a non-vegan dish. Vegan food can be a thing all of its own accord – we don’t have to be antispeciesist to eat vegetables – but it is interesting sampling a replica of what meat-eaters claim we’re missing out on: paella, cocido madrileño, cachopo, bolognese, meatballs, shrimp and more.
LA OVEJA NEGRA (Lavapiés)
Don’t we all feel like black sheepesses from time to time? In La Oveja Negra, you’re among your own. The food is varied, the vibe is fun and no-frills and the staff absolutely own being different.
For even more places to eat, explore the MNF Food section, where all of the restaurants I’ve listed are vegan- and veggie-friendly!
And thank you to Madrid No Frills’ Detectives for their help in creating this article!