The Best Vegan & Gluten-Free Dishes to Look for in the French Quarter (and Nearby)
Photo courtesy of Sweet Soulfood on Facebook
New Orleans is a culinary mecca, but one admittedly laden with meat and seafood and swimming in cream and butter. It hasn’t been an easy ride for vegetarians and vegans, especially in the past decade, though this is changing. With the proliferation of exclusively plant-based and gluten-free, vegan-friendly offerings around town the vegetarian culture is thriving, and the vegan scene is getting there.
In other words, it is not a bad time to be vegan in New Orleans, and it’s much easier these days to find glorious vegan fare that goes way beyond the bland afterthought of the years past. Here are our top recommendations for the best vegan and gluten-free dishes, with emphasis on the local cuisine but also spanning the globe, that you can find in the French Quarter and nearby.
The French Market gem Meals From the Heart Cafe earns its stripes with the vegan versions of a burger and hard-to-find gumbo, but don’t overlook its gluten-free and vegan pancakes and vegan apple patties. In a city where breakfast is often a decadent, eggs-and-meat-heavy affair, this is a treat.
The feel-good menu at The Daily Beet, which started in St. Roch Market and has since expanded to the CBD and Uptown, has all the makings of a healthy, satisfying breakfast, including smoothies, juices, avocado toast, and quinoa bowls. The Magazine Street location is also offering vegan buckwheat sweet potato pancakes for brunch.
Where to get it: Meals From the Heart Cafe
Meals’ popular Beyond Burger is both vegan and gluten-free. The restaurant’s M.O. is “A Healthier Take on New Orleans’ Famous Cuisine,” and it riffs off the New Orleans staples like gumbo with its health-conscious versions. There are also breakfast items like vegan pancakes and apple patties. Delivery available.
Where to get it: Trilly Cheesesteaks (3735 Ulloa St., Mid-City)
Trilly has a whopping five kinds of vegan cheesesteaks on its menu, from the traditional Philly version to chicken, buffalo chicken and Far East (with ginger soy sauce) to BBQ chicken. All are made with steak or chicken seitan and served on an Amoroso’s roll. There are also vegan sides like cheese fries and poutine.
Where to get it: Crêpes à la Cart (1039 Broadway St., Uptown; has event popups throughout the city)
This popular creperie doles out classic, vegan and gluten-free crepes in flavors ranging from sweet to savory. Try the hummus crepe, made with gluten-free vegan batter.
You’ll find all-vegan versions of some of New Orleans’ and Southern traditional desserts like pralines and bread pudding, plus cornbread with rum sauce, and even ice cream at Sweet Soulfood. The tropical-themed Carmo in the Arts District has a whole menu of vegan desserts, including Caribbean banana cake, zucchini chocolate chip cake, house-made cookies, Kahlua chocolate pecan cake, gateau, and more. Breads on Oak offers brioche donuts, cookies, biscuits, seasonal cakes, and more. It’s also a good spot for an all-day breakfast.
Where to get it: Meals From the Heart, Sweet Soulfood
The back-alley French Market Meals From the Heart Cafe is worth the trip for its hard-to-find vegan okra gumbo alone, but its health-conscious menu is full of vegan and gluten-free riffs on other New Orleans classics that usually come only in meat and seafood versions, like the popular Beyond Burger (also soy-free), and the vegan crabcake. Sweet Soulfood also serves a vegan version of okra gumbo.
Where to get it: Breads on Oak
Around Mardi Gras, you can score a vegan king cake from Breads on Oak, with or without filling. The traditional version is made with cinnamon, and the fillings include almond cream, cream cheese, pecan praline, tiramisu, and more. Breads on Oak also ships in season.
Where to get it: Dat Dog (601 Frenchmen St., Marigny; plus two more locations Uptown)
Yes, the menu is full of meat, from duck to alligator, but there are at least four vegan offerings too, including the Italian “dog” made with eggplant, and bratwurst (pea and rice protein, and fava beans). Quite a few among the 30 toppings are also vegan-friendly.
Where to get it: Sweet Soulfood
Sweet Soulfood is a cafeteria-style vegan haven that is on the border of the Tremé/Lafitte and Bayou St. John neighborhoods of New Orleans. Their jambalaya is served along with many other rotating all-vegan takes on Southern staples.
Blaze’s Veg Out pizza comes with either keto or cauliflower crust (both gluten-free), topped with zucchini, red onion, mushrooms, and red sauce. Vegan cheese is optional. There’s also a vegan pizza with vegan regular dough, vegan chorizo, and a slew of veggie toppings. Pizza Delicious’s vegan roasted cauliflower comes with marinara and balsamic red onion. You can add vegan Daiya cheese for an additional price.
Where to get it: Small Mart Cafe (2700 Chartres St., French Quarter)
Small Mart is revered for its wide selection of New York City-style bagels, but its specialties also include vegan po-boys plus Indian and Pakistani street-food fare like the daily curry and vegetarian samosas.
Red Beans & Rice
Where to get it: Meals From the Heart Cafe, Sweet Soulfood, Carmo
The Meals’ version is solid (get the vegan gumbo to go with too), or check out the gluten-free vegan version at Sweet Soulfood. And the “tropical” enclave of Carmo, nestled among the galleries of Julia Street, features vegan beans and rice among its mainstays, along with the daily curry and a plethora of interesting, all-vegan desserts.
Spanning the Globe
Where to get it: Carmo
The health- and sustainability-conscious Carmo in the Arts District features vegan versions of such local specialties as beans and rice, but the menu expands from the Gulf South to the Caribbean, West African and Southeast Asia influences with vegan seviche, curry, house-made Armenian breads, and bright and beautiful salads with mouth-watering toppings.
We’re also excited to share our favorite vegetarian destinations in the French Quarter, so read on!
Not sure where to stay? We got you covered! Check out our top recommendations for hotels in the French Quarter.