Maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle isn’t always the easiest, especially in a city like Milwaukee known for grilled brats, butter burgers, and Friday fish fries. It may come as a bit of a surprise that there are many vegetarian restaurants in Milwaukee and even more that offer delicious vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
Check out the list of best vegan restaurants in Milwaukee for establishments that don’t serve meat. Below is a list of restaurants that may serve meat, but offer a diverse number of dishes that are vegetarian friendly.
The best restaurants in Milwaukee to grab meatless food have more than just a few salad options or cheese pizza. Instead, they offer really well-thought-out dishes that incorporate various proteins and a whole lot of flavor. Here is our hand-picked list of the best vegetarian restaurants in Milwaukee.
Casablanca is one of Milwaukee’s top destinations for Middle Eastern cuisine. It also happens to be one of the best destinations in the city for vegetarian food. Prepandemic they offered a vegetarian buffet Monday through Friday, maybe at some point that will come back. The two-floor restaurant is a great destination on a weekend night since there is always a crowd.
Order some vegetarian appetizers for the table, like the hummus plate served with pickled turnips and fresh pita, the falafel platter with tahini sauce, or deep-fried chickpea balls that are a favorite of many vegetarians.
The Jibneh Rolls are also excellent, which are deep-fried rolls of spinach, feta, and mozzarella served with a spicy tahini sauce. For dinner, try the exceptional lentil soup, before diving into the must-try vegetable couscous, with stewed eggplant, zucchini, carrot, squash, onion, and chickpeas stewed in a rich tomato sauce served over pillowy couscous.
The hookah pipes go along great with larger parties, and once food service stops, Casablanca always transitions into a fun bar-like atmosphere. Beyond all the good times to be had at Casablanca, the food is also fantastic, with plenty of Middle Eastern staple dishes and a vegetarian-friendly menu.
- Address: 728 E. Brady St.
- View menu here
2. Ethiopian Cottage
Ethiopian cuisine has plenty of hearty, flavorful, and satisfying meatless options certain to leave vegetarians happy. There are a couple of really good Ethiopian restaurants in Milwaukee (the other is Alem Ethiopian Restaurant).
Ethiopian Cottage is housed in a strip mall on Farwell Avenue, right in the heart of the east side. With really comfortable seating, and set up for communal dining, Ethiopian Cottage is definitely an experience for anyone who has never tried it before. The restaurant is also a great choice for vegetarians since they have plenty of affordable and tasty meatless options.
Start your meal off right with the whole lentil sambusas, or the Ethiopian Tomato Salad, with chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, and assorted spices. The entrees are served with a fantastic Injiri bread, basically a flat but chewy bread perfect for mopping up the stewed meals.
Try the Kick Alicha, with stewed split peas cooked with garlic and ginger, or the Tikel Gomen, with lightly cooked cabbage, stewed carrot, and onion. For one of the best dishes, go with the Atkilt Wat, with curried stewed vegetables like carrots, potatoes, peppers, and onion. Make sure to try one of the Ethiopian teas and one of the dessert options.
- Address: 1824 Farwell Ave.
3. Cafe India
For many vegetarians, Indian restaurants are a welcome refuge from restaurants that barely serve meatless dishes. When it comes to Indian restaurants in Milwaukee, Cafe India is one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Milwaukee.
The restaurant has two locations. The first, located in Walker’s Point, is attached to a gas station complex, has some comfortable seating like booths, and does a large take-out business.
The Walker’s Point location also has a somewhat more limited menu than the other, larger location, though the menu is still packed with awesome vegetarian dishes. The second location is in Bay View and has comfortable indoor seating and a great outdoor patio during summer. Both locations are an ideal stop for vegetarians looking for some really flavorful, satisfying meatless dishes.
Any meal at Cafe India should start with the vegetable samosas, packed with seasoning, potatoes, and peas, or the mixed vegetable pakoras, or fried, battered veggies with delicious dipping sauce.
For an entree, consider the Tandoor Vegetable Sizzler, a hot plate with paneer cheese and grilled vegetables covered in a sweet and tangy sauce, or the Dal Tadka, slow-cooked lentils with onion and tomato.
Other great vegetarian options include the Sag Punjabi, a northern Indian specialty of stewed mustard greens with onions and ginger, or the Channa Sag, garbanzo beans in mustard gravy and spices. Be sure to order some side naan bread and yogurt sauce to cool your mouth from all those spices.
- Address: 601 S. 1st St. & 2210 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
- View Menu Here
Kompali is a relative newcomer to the ever-popular dining scene on Brady Street. With a tasteful decor emblematic of a Mexican restaurant, and a spacious bar perfect for dining solo, the restaurant has quickly become one of the more popular spots for Mexican cuisine on the east side.
While vegetarian may not come to mind when it comes to most Mexican joints, Kompali sets itself apart with plenty of tasty meatless options. For those that don’t live near the restaurant, an Uber is definitely recommended since parking can be pretty difficult on Brady Street, and because you may not want to stick to just one or two of the fantastic margaritas at Kompali.
Any meal at Kompali should start with some Esquite, or Mexican-style street corn with feta, cilantro, and crema, or the excellent chips and salsa, or chips and guacamole. The Nopales Fritos are also excellent, which are fried slices of cactus served with a really good dipping sauce. For your main meal, definitely go with the tacos.
Try the Papa con Rojas, or potatoes with chilis, cotija cheese, onion, and cilantro, or the Tacos de Napoles, or sauteed cactus slices in corn or flour tortilla. The quinoa taco is also excellent, served with onions, or the Cachai taco, or black beans with queso fresco and cucumber. Try one of each for an extremely filling, yet delicious meal.
- Address: 1205 E. Brady St.
- View menu here
5. Odd Duck
Odd Duck has for a while been one of Milwaukee’s premier destinations for globally-inspired small plate dining. The restaurant is tucked away in Bay View, making it a great spot for a date before hitting some bars in the area.
The food at Odd Duck is truly phenomenal, in fact, the restaurant is often rated as one of the best in the city in a variety of publications. Unlike some small plate dining restaurants that only feature a couple of meatless dishes, Odd Duck dedicates about half of its menu to really creative, substantial, and flavorful meatless options.
When it comes to going out on date night or bringing out-of-town guests to a great restaurant with plenty of vegetarian choices, Odd Duck is definitely one of the best restaurants in Milwaukee.
Beyond having a great assortment of cheeses to start off your meal, there are also meatless “snack” bites that are certain to please everyone at the table. When it comes to ordering small plates, be sure to try one of the many vegetarian and vegan options.
The menu changes just about every time we visit, but on a recent meal here everyone at our table enjoyed the Malaysian Nasi Lemak, with coconut rice, fried oyster mushrooms, hard-cooked egg, sambal, and fried peanuts.
The Nashville-style hot celeriac was also great, with creamy grits, mushrooms, pimento cheese, and greens. The menu at Odd Duck changes frequently so be sure to check online before setting your reservation.
- Address: 2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
- View menu here
6. Stack’d Burger Bar
Milwaukee is definitely known for the butter burger, which can be a little disappointing for vegetarians since many burger places either don’t offer a meatless patty option, or if they do, the meatless patty is dry, flavorless, and probably shouldn’t have been served in the first place.
Stack’D Burger Bar in Walker’s Point is definitely an exception to this trend by offering some of the best vegetarian burgers in Milwaukee. They also have an awesome interior and a great location perfect to use as a jumping-off point to further explore the city.
Stack’d Burger Bar doesn’t just offer one type of meat substitute for their burgers. Instead, they offer four. When it comes to building your own burger, vegetarians can choose from the Impossible Burger, a portabella mushroom burger, the house-made black bean and veggie burger, and a chickpea walnut patty.
From there, the sky is the limit, with various bun options and numerous toppings one would expect from a really good burger joint.
Vegans can even go with a slice of vegan cheddar cheese. There are also plenty of meatless side options at Stack’d to round out your awesome burger, like fries, sweet potato fries, mac n’ cheese, and brussel sprouts. Go with one of the best burgers in Milwaukee at Stack’d Burger Bar.
- Address: 170 S. 1st St.
- View menu here
7. Thai A Kitchen
Thai restaurants often give vegetarians abundant meatless options to choose from. Dishes like spicy curries, fried rice, noodle dishes, and flavorful salads can all be made meat-free at Thai restaurants to ensure a happy dining experience for non-meat eaters. When it comes to choosing a Thai restaurant to please any vegetarian palate, go with Thai Kitchen on Milwaukee’s east side.
Located right near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Thai Kitchen is a popular destination for some of the best Thai restaurants in Milwaukee, whether for lunch or dinner. Be sure to arrive early on weekend nights since Thai Kitchen tends to get pretty busy.
Thai Kitchen slings up some of the best Thai food in Milwaukee. For vegetarians, be sure to try the Thai Spring Rolls, with chopped vegetables and glass noodles wrapped in wheat paper and fried, served with dipping sauce, or the fried tofu served with ground peanuts and dipping sauce.
The papaya salad is also an excellent meatless option, though vegetarians may want to inquire as to whether the fish sauce is used in its preparation.
For an entree, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the curries, all of which can be served with tofu, like the Jungle Curry served with eggplant, baby corn, green beans, broccoli, carrot, and cabbage. There is also a fantastic vegetable Pud Thai noodle dish, vegetarian fried rice, and a really flavorful sauteed mixed vegetable entree tossed in soy sauce.
- Address: 2851 N. Oakland Ave.
8. Blue Bat Kitchen and Tequilaria
Blue Bat Kitchen and Tequilaria is a newcomer to the Milwaukee restaurant scene. Located in the Historic Third Ward, Blue Bat is known for creative takes on Mexican dishes, in addition to some not-so-traditional Mexican flavors like bao buns.
The restaurant also features an enormous selection of tequilas and mezcals, so be sure to explore the craft cocktail menu. While Blue Bat has plenty of meat-based dishes, there are quite a few options to fulfill the most discerning vegetarian palate. For awesome meatless dishes, stop in Blue Bat for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
There are enough vegetarian options at Blue Bat that making a choice can be difficult. For brunch, try the Elote Avocado Toast, with grilled corn, avocado spread, cotija cheese, and chipotle on multigrain bread with aioli, or the meatless poutine with yuka root, cheddar cheese curds, and poblano gravy.
The chilaquiles are also excellent, with Verde salsa, fried egg, tortilla crisps, queso fresco, and black bean puree, or the churro pancakes. For dinner, try one of the awesome salads, like the salad with caramelized pineapple, mint, cucumber, peanuts, cabbage, red onion, and spicy peanut dressing.
Numerous appetizers are worth ordering, like the fried Brussel sprouts with lime, cotija cheese, pecans, mango, and chipotle aioli. So if you are a vegetarian looking for the best vegetarian restaurants in Milwaukee when you are craving Mexican head to Blue Bat.
- Address: 249 N. Water St.
- View menu here
At first sight, Vanguard may not seem like an ideal location to bring a vegetarian. After all, the restaurant is known for really creative homemade sausages, with ingredients like duck, pork, and chicken. Trust us. It is one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Milwaukee.
However, Vanguard is actually very vegetarian friendly. In fact, they have an entire menu of vegan options. The restaurant is located in the heart of Bay View, which also makes it a great stop before checking out some of the unique bars in the surrounding neighborhood. If you are looking for one of the best vegan restaurants in Milwaukee, head to Vanguard.
There’s no better way to start a meal at Vanguard than with one of the meat-free poutines, like the Kimchi Fries, with scallion, mango, chili sauce, and sesame seeds. Any of the appetizers or sides are excellent, like the baked potato balls served with sour cream.
When it comes to meatless sausages, diners have several options. All of the vegan chorizo, red curry sausage, and Italian sausage are all made from seitan.
Diners can upgrade their sausage with unique topping combinations, like the Milwaukee, with cheese curds, cheese whiz, and cheddar cheese, or the Seattle, with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and onion.
Otherwise, diners can choose from one of the vegan specialty sausages, like the Vegan Furio, with a seitan Italian sausage, garlic beans, Romesco, and vegan cream sauce. Vanguard also serves a really tasty vegan burger.
- Address: 2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
- View menu here
10. Comet Cafe
Comet Cafe is one of the most popular restaurants on Milwaukee’s east side. The restaurant has a great vibe, cozy seating, and an excellent bar – they even serve food pretty late.
Imagine a retro diner with craft cocktails and really creative food. They also have a weekend brunch (show up early because it’s always packed), great desserts, and rotating weeknight specials that help when you are on a budget.
Comet Cafe also happens to be one of the favorite destinations in town for vegetarians and vegans since the restaurant provides unique vegetarian dishes and meatless comfort foods. Especially for out-of-towners, Comet Cafe is a must-stop, regardless of whether you stick to a vegetarian lifestyle or not.
Be sure to try the Vegan Ribs appetizer, which is deep-fried meat-substitute ribs served with buffalo and barbeque sauce and a side of fries. The beer cheese fries are also a guilty pleasure worth ordering.
There are numerous vegan sandwiches to try, like the Tofu Banh Mi with fried tofu, quick pickled vegetables, and spicy ginger sauce, or the Vegan Gyro, with seitan meat, tomatoes, onions, and a tasty cucumber dill sauce served in a fresh pita.
For an entree, try the Vegan Salisbury Steak, with nut-made imitation meat, dairy-free mashed potatoes, and really flavorful mushroom gravy. Even meat-eaters love the meatless options at Comet Cafe.
- Address: 1947 Farwell Ave.
- Temporarily Closed