Most downtown Akron restaurant menus feature at least a few vegetarian options. But we wanted to gather a list of restaurants where you’re guaranteed to have a generous slate of offerings to choose from, because you already know where to find breakfast pastries, customizable pizzas, house salads, sautéed peppers and mushrooms, and saucy pasta (all of which are, of course, great choices, too). From traditionally vegetarian dishes to meat-full foods transformed by the power of vegan substitutes, read on to discover some of downtown’s best filling, flavorful, unexpected, meat-free fare.
It’s easy to hype Cilantro up, especially when so much of what’s on their menu is vegetarian and vegan friendly, and varied and delicious. For an appetizer, start with their corn cakes, golden tofu, vegetarian gyoza, shiitake tempura, or coconut milk soup. Follow that with basically any of their Thai noodle, fried rice, stir fry, or curry entrees, all of which can be customized with tofu and your desired spice level. A few favorites we return to again and again: The Pad Khee Mao, Pineapple Fried Rice, and Green Curry. The house-made ramen is also a big hit.
2. The Lockview
We’ll put it this way: The Lockview has 15 signature grilled cheese sandwiches, any one of which we’d pretty much do anything for, and 10 of them are vegetarian. So many options! Keep it classic with perfectly melted American cheese on Texas toast, or amp it up with a gourmet flavor combination like pepper jack cheese and fresh jalapeños on three-cheese miche bread; goat cheese, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, and swiss cheese on multigrain bread; or havarti dill cheese and artichoke hearts in lemon-garlic oil on Tuscan herb bread. Don’t forget to start with one of their many vegetarian (and delightfully fried) appetizers, like macaroni and cheese bites or the Lockview Croquettes.
3. Perfect Pour
We couldn’t make a guide for vegetarians without adding a good veggie burger option to the list, and on this front, Perfect Pour has you covered with their two vegan-friendly specialty burgers. The Vegan Burger features a balsamic-marinated portobello mushroom with spinach, red onions, and roasted red peppers on a vegan and gluten-free bun. The Beyond Perfection features a Beyond Burger patty with red onions, lettuce, tomato, and guacamole on a vegan and gluten-free bun. You can also build your own burger from scratch with one of their meat-free patties. They have tons of toppings and embellishments to choose from, so you can be sure to have a veggie burger that hits the spot, created just to your liking. For a side, upgrade to onion petals with Putty sauce, sweet potato fries with maple mayo, or fries loaded with cheddar cheese and sour cream; or keep it light and nutritious with their signature kale slaw.
4. Heera Indian Cuisine
Ah, Indian food. Lovely, spicy, so effortlessly vegetarian Indian food. Heera Indian Cuisine opened in early 2023 and is your downtown destination for delicious, authentic Indian food. Start with samosas, cut mirchi, or veg bhajji. For an entree, spring for masala dosa, chana masala, aloo gobi, vegetable curry, paneer tikka masala, sambhar, or a number of other filling, flavorful dishes. Pair your meal with a refreshing mango lassi, chhaas, pomegranate juice, or imported Indian soda. Bonus: For a fun, fusiony night on the town, take your food upstairs to the medieval castle-themed Green Dragon Inn, and enjoy it while you play one of 750+ board games available to borrow.
5. Jilly's Music Room
In addition to having several vegetarian-friendly menu items, Jilly’s offerings are 100% gluten free. Their selection of American tapas is made fresh to order and is sure to satisfy. The majority of their snacks and dips are meat free, from their fried pickles and artichoke fritters to their onion rings and brussels. Slightly more hearty options are the sweet potato black bean taquitos and their signature flatbreads, including the caprese flatbread, three cheese flatbread, and cheeseburger flatbread (sub Beyond meat for beef!). Jilly’s also serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, with a menu of grilled wafflewiches, sweet potato toast, build-your-own bagels, and more.
NOMZ is a fantastic choice for vegans who still want to experience the flavors of eggs, bacon, chicken, mayonnaise, and cheese. They have a wide array of vegan substitutes for these products, allowing you to order things like their vegan BLT, vegan chipotle chicken sandwich, and salads topped with vegan chicken. They source as many ingredients locally as they can and rotate their menu seasonally for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that will delight your tastebuds year round.
7. Chameleon Café
For some light lunch fare, Chameleon Café is a quirky, colorful choice. Their sweet potato & black bean burrito is a hit for local vegetarians and meat eaters alike. It’s loaded with roasted sweet potatoes, kale, black beans, corn salsa, fried jalapeño crisps, avocado, cheddar cheese, and lime juice, with zesty sour cream for dipping. You can make it vegan by substituting vegan cheese and salsa verde for dipping. Other vegetarian options from Chameleon are the cilantro lime veggie panini, the Not Yo’ Daddy’s grilled cheese (featuring Not Yo’ Daddy’s hot sauce grilled into the bread), the roasted broccoli grilled cheese, the roasted sweet potato and apple salad, the sweet spinach salad, and the Israeli chopped salad.
Bonus: Vegan Ice Cream From Chill
Did you think we’d forget about dessert? Not a chance! Ice cream is almost always safe for vegetarians, but if you’re someone who avoids animal products altogether, Chill Ice Cream & Indulge Chocolates is your destination for vegan ice cream in downtown Akron. Almost a quarter of the 30+ flavors on their rotating menu are vegan friendly, with a blend of sorbets and the good ol’ fashioned creamy, dreamy stuff.