Vegan Guide to Mexico
(our Vegan Guide to Mexico is a guest post from Anesa Kratovac)
Mexican cuisine is known to be some of the most savoury and delicious in the world! But, when most people think of the country’s main dishes, they picture tacos with beef and enchiladas smothered in milky cheese. Fortunately for vegans, the vegan Mexican food scene has developed tremendously over the last decade and major cities, cultural hubs, and touristy places like Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende offer healthier and plant-based versions of traditional Mexican favourites. Major Mexican food staples that define the country’s history and character are maize, beans, and chilli peppers…and they are all vegan and easily found in most dishes! Guacamole, salsa, and lime also add depth, flavour, and tanginess to dishes like tacos, chilaquiles, and enchiladas. Fresh, warm corn tortillas are plentiful and come directly from local neighbourhood tortillerias. They are made simply from cornmeal and water and serve as daily bread for most Mexicans. Indeed, tortillas are the foundation of many dishes that are so beloved and enjoyed daily.
On my 5-month long journey traveling and living in Mexico, I was able to try and replicate many of my favourite Mexican vegan dishes with some impressive results. The simplicity of many dishes and the gluten-free aspect of consuming corn as a replacement for wheat made many of the meals satisfying yet also gut-friendly. Speaking of guts, if yours is sensitive, my advice is to stick to well-rated, sit-down restaurants and skip street food stalls. They may look very appetising, but you may experience a blowback that may put you off food for some time! So, without further ado, let me dive into my travels and share some of the best vegan Mexican food adventures I’ve had in Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato.
Vegan Food in Mexico City
Calle Pachuca 59-B
Mexico City 06140
Opening Times: 1pm-7pm Monday to Friday
Veguisima is a small vegan restaurant in Mexico City’s posh and trendy neighbourhood of Condesa. It has a lovely outdoor setting area that feels like a private terrace and serves some of the best enchiladas in the city. Their food is not only fresh and uses creative ingredients, they really make an effort to delight with their presentation – be it with a touch of garnish, colourful sauces, herbs, or veggies. I ordered their famous enchiladas (comes with 4 pieces), and they were some of the best enchiladas I had on my trip in Mexico. The sauce wasn’t too spicy, as it often can be, but in case you’d like the option to make it spicier, you are provided with extra spicy sauce on the side. The restaurant also offers appetisers such as soups and baked potatoes, as well as vegan burgers, tacos, vegan bowls, and special vegan versions of popular Mexican meat dishes. The food is not only very tasty, but the outdoor ambiance is also truly enjoyable and ideal for brunches, relaxation, and good company!
La Pitahaya Vegana
La Pitahaya Vegana
Avenida Eje 2 sur (Queretaro)
90 Roma Norte
Mexico City 06700
Opening Times: 8.30am-10.30pm Monday to Saturday
La Pitahaya Vegana is known to be one of the top vegan restaurants in Mexico City – and for a good reason! Located in the hip and young neighbourhood of Roma Norte, it truly evokes aesthetics in all they do, from colourful food presentation to the indoor and outdoor ambiance. The restaurant itself is decorated with vibrant colours and outdoor murals that invoke a sense of like-minded healthy and creative community, and attracts plenty of young, health-conscious foreigners. If you do come to Mexico City, don’t miss this gem! Their vegan tacos are some of the most creative and delicious that I’ve had in all of Mexico, especially since they strive to use fewer meat substitute ingredients and focus on plant-based rich flavours that excite the taste buds and satisfy that need to eat something truly out of the ordinary. Their tacos are pink and coloured with natural beet juice, which truly enriches the whole culinary experience.
La Pitahaya Vegana also serves breakfast which includes chilaquiles, burritos, scrambled tofu, and fruit with vegan yogurt. You can also try their light appetizers, including guacamole and soups. And if you’re planning a bigger dinner and would like a light lunch, their eye-catching tacos are an absolute must! Their main plates include a vegan mole mexteco, enchiladas (with red or green salsa sauce), chile en nogada (stuffed pepper), enfrijoladas (a dish very similar to enchiladas but made with a bean sauce instead of salsa sauce), and crispy waffles. They also offer delicious vegan desserts, including raw vegan lime pie.
C/ Carrillo Puerto 65 Esq Alberto Zamora
Opening Times: Midday-7pm Monday to Saturday
Coyoacan is my favourite Mexico City neighbourhood, filled with colourful old Mexican homes, artistic sensibility, artisan markets, as well as chic cafes and sunny courtyard restaurants. Although there are fewer vegan restaurants in Coyoacan than in Condesa and the Roma Sur and Norte neighbuorhoods, there were a few vegan joints I like that exude the true native taco shop ambiance of real Mexico.
One of them was Vege Taco. If you walked by this little sit-down taqueria and you didn’t know they only served vegetarian and vegan twists to famous Mexican dishes and street food, you would think it is a quintessential Mexican taco place. This bustling place offers very affordable plant-based dishes, including many different varieties of tacos, and is usually packed during the lunch hour by locals and visitors alike. My only hesitation in recommending it to all vegans is that it heavily relies on soy-based and meat substitute ingredients. At first, I wasn’t sure what to order from their vegan selection, so the server recommended a “delicious” dish that imitated a traditional ‘palo’ dish. Even though I’m not a big fan of soy meat products, I decided to give this dish a try given its novelty, and it didn’t disappoint. It was preceded by a zucchini cream soup and a mini salad, and it came with guacamole and tortillas. And, the best part is that my digestion was excellent afterwards! The menu includes vegan and vegetarian versions of Mexican dishes, enchiladas (only vegetarian for this one), chile en nogada, different varieties of tacos, quesadillas and the famous Mexican stew dish made vegan – pozole.
Vegan Food in Puerto Vallarta
C. Honduras 228
5 de Diciembre
Puerto Vallarta 48350
Opening Times: 9am-10pm Monday to Saturday
Vegetariano Mary is a vegetarian and vegan buffet and one of those local neighbourhood joints that not only makes one’s city experience feel like home but feels truly like a community. Most of the food it offers is vegan (you can always ask to confirm), and since this is a vegan buffet, everything is made fresh from the oven for both breakfast and lunch. Mary spends her days working in the kitchen and at the restaurant, greeting her long-time customers, and often-times catching up with friends over a bite. Although there is another equally enticing vegan/vegetarian buffet in Puerto Vallarta called Planeta Vegetariano (has been operational since 1995), Mary’s has a special character, and she brings more freshness and love to her food. Focusing on simpler foods that are more authentic to their Mexican roots, I also found that her buffet has more vegan options than Planeta Vegetariano.
Mary offers a traditional vegan and vegetarian Mexican breakfast with soup, tortillas, tostadas, refried beans, imitation meat, salad toppings, salsa, and fruit. Her lunch menu changes according to the day and includes tamales, veggie “carnitas”, zucchini balls, stuffed poblano peppers, lasagna, and pozole. The daily lunch buffet closes at 6pm and an a-la-cart vegan taco night begins. Although some of the food can be a bit on the salty side, it is absolutely delicious and you’ll feel like you came to a Mexican family gathering and just had a feast! The tortillas and tostadas are made fresh in-house, and make for some amazing vegan tacos. Always make sure to ask which food is vegan ahead of time, since some of the main dishes could be vegetarian.
Puerto Vallarta 48300
Opening Times: 1pm-11pm Tuesday to Saturday, 1pm-9pm Sunday, closed on Monday
Veggitalia truly stands out amongst all the vegan restaurants in Puerto Vallarta both in its cuisine and elegant ambiance. Being a beach town, most restaurants have that informal, beach-bum vibe. But not Veggitalia. This more sophisticated place offers vegetarians and vegans an opportunity to take themselves out on a date and enjoy the finer things in life – Italian style! A health-conscious Italian vegetarian place, Veggitalia offers diners gluten-free and vegan options for all their pizza and for some of their pasta dishes.
All dishes come with an appetiser of bread or polenta triangles (if you order gluten-free) that accompany pesto and spicy sauces. This personal touch really adds to that gourmet sensibility of the meal that feels more European than beach-side Mexican. The pizzas are simply incredible (a must-try!) and are topped with home-made coconut vegan cheese. I ordered a 5 Terra gluten-free, vegan pizza, and it came with a topping of spinach and arugula, as well as pesto and delicious veggies. The crust was just right and had a lovely home-made taste. I also ordered the vegan version of their tiramisu and was pleasantly delighted at the chef’s creativity; I found sprouted quinoa and banana as the base for the filling and truly enjoyed it to the last bite. And if you order coffee or an espresso to go with it, your dining experience will be all the more memorable.
The Green Place
The Green Place
C. Honduras 309
5 de Diciembre
Puerto Vallarta 48350
Opening Times: 9am-9.30pm every day, closed Sunday
The Green Place is an all-vegan restaurant and the quintessential “gringo” hangout in Puerto Vallarta. It offers visitors space to do laptop work and order coffee, detox juices, vegan cupcakes and other snacks and sweets. However, it is the quintessential sit-down place for lunch and dinner, offering a modern, cozy setting that is very attractive. The Green Place offers some of the most popular vegan staples, including vegan burgers, wraps, smoothie bowls, pancakes, soups, tofu scramble and more. For breakfast, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast burrito or chilaquiles (personal tip: just tell them to make them less salty), Mexican toast, or an overnight oatmeal. There’s definitely plenty to choose from!
But my favourite Green Place find (after many visits!) was the Chicago vegan burger with lentil and beet patty and home-made buns. The burger was just right (not too sloppy or dry), had the right acidity to give it a bit of that sour taste that complements the bread and the patty. The toppings were fresh and quality, and the burger came with baked sweet potatoes. It was truly a wonderful lunch and one of the best vegan burgers I’ve had in a long time. The Green Place also displays and sells natural cosmetics, jewellery and other products from local artisans and even sells some of its own pesto, hummus, cakes, and more. If you’re looking for that herbal tincture to help you feel healthier after long travels or high-quality body cream after long days in the sun, this is a place to go!
Vegan Food in San Miguel de Allende
Mercado SANO Organic Market
Mercado SANO Organic Market
Ancha de San Antonio #123
San Miguel de Allende 37750
Opening Times: 9am-7pm Monday to Saturday, closes at 5pm on Sunday
If San Miguel de Allende is a magical mountain town that exudes charm and elegance, then Mercado Sano is the city’s community hub and health life-line. This “organic market” is actually a three-story community centre that houses many small vendors that sell organic juices, baked goods, coffee, chocolates, and home-made products, and where one can enjoy an afternoon of self-care and nurturance sitting in a common area, enjoying a cold-pressed juice surrounded by other advocates of a high-quality lifestyle.
Although not all products are vegan at the market, most of the things to be found that are sold by small business vendors are geared toward plant-based consumers. On the first floor of Mercado Sano, you can find an organic produce market that sells vegetables, greens, fruits, herbs, frozen goods, and more, and which offers shoppers an opportunity to indulge in an organic salad bar. You can also find a few more local health stores that offer healthy items, including hard-to-find groceries reminiscent of American health food stores. On the second level, you can cozy up to local vendors that serve organic juices, smoothies, coffee, and other healthy treats, as well as vendors that sell natural body and wellness products. There’s even a Mexican food vendor that specialises in serving organic, home-cooked dishes, as well as a hair salon that uses natural products. On the third floor of Mercado Sano, you can find many native Mexican artisan products, particularly from the Huichol indigenous tribe, including art, sculpture, jewellery, dried sage and incense. There, you can also find a lovely sit-down cafe that serves food with many vegan options and a number of drink varieties. Mmm, the smell of incense in this new-age vibe shop and restaurant truly nourishes the senses, and especially appeals to this spiritual vegan with a vision to bring the Mercado Sano concept to as many cities as possible!
The market also houses a yoga studio (which is being renovated) and a small movie theatre, where expat locals can enjoy movie nights with some of their favourite movie classics. Many artistic, creative, and spiritual events are also held at the center, making it an exceptional place both within Mexico as well as other parts of the world. On Saturday and Sundays, Sano hosts a farmer’s market with many organic and plant-based vendors, including a vendor that sells olive oil and coconut oil infused tamales (as opposed to the traditional recipe that includes animal lard) with plenty of vegan stuffing options. They were simply delicious!
Vegan21 (formerly Manipura)
Vegan21 (formerly Manipura)
Calz de La Luz 67
San Miguel de Allende 37710
Opening Times: 10am-5pm every dat (closed Tuesday)
Vegan21 was formerly known as Manipura and is a small vegan restaurant with a mighty vision of bringing vegan, organic, and gluten free Mexican food to San Miguel residents. It is inspired by Vedic principles and its small space radiates Indian mystical flair. However, since the restaurant is a bit further from the city centre, it lacks that communal, active ambiance that is so pleasant to experience while enjoying a meal. Given its sparse attendance, smallness, and its current renovations, the restaurant was not very conducive to a “sit-down-experience,” although it seems to be undergoing branding metamorphosis and this could definitely change in the near future.
I ordered chile de nogada, while my sister, who joined me on the trip, ordered their enchiladas with green tomatillo sauce. Both were very good, indeed, but I did feel that the meals lacked that home-made warm food quality and Mexican table generosity (that includes salsas, endless tortillas, and other condiments) that you often get in true Mexican restaurants. The portions were pretty small for the price, but we were overall satisfied with the experience. I recommend you give Vegan21 a try when you’re hungry for a quick healthy snack, but if you’re looking for a true sit-down satisfactory lunch and dinner experience, another restaurant would probably be a better choice.
Vegan Food in Guanajuato
Guanajuatito Mi Amor
Guanajuatito Mi Amor
Av. Benito Juárez 9
Opening Times: Midday-6pm every day, closed on Thursday
This charming vegan restaurant is an homage to Guanajuato, a lively, culturally and historically significant university city with a mix of Italian and Portuguese sensibility. You can find it tucked inside a courtyard with other food businesses off of the main Plaza De La Paz’s ‘De Paz’ street. The inviting and charming Mexican colours, table spreads, and lunch plates are the first thing that capture your attention as you walk down the stairs leading to the courtyard. The wonderful thing about Guanajuatito Mi Amor is that it has a daily lunch menu special, which includes an appetiser, a natural drink, a main dish, and a dessert. You never know what they’ll serve, which makes for a truly pleasant, surprising experience where you can discover your new favourite vegan Mexican food dish. My adventure led me to try their vegan pozole, Mexican rice, lime and cucumber lemonade, and pineapple slices. Some of their other popular menu items include tacos, enchiladas, enmoladas, and tortas.
When I came back to Gunajuatito to try their Enmoladas (enchilada-type dish with Oaxacan mole sauce), I must say that I was a bit disappointed by the sparsity of the ingredients and fillings. It really made it seem that the restaurant wanted to save up on ingredients, so they were cutting corners where they could. As a result, I would skip the main dishes and try the lunch special for the element of surprise and novelty! Although many of the items on the menu do include imitation meat and soy, if you’d like to go soy-free, you can easily request a substitute. As a small, family-owned place, they are more than happy to accommodate any vegan food sensitivities and wishes.
Sostenes Rocha 21
Opening Times: 11.30am-8.30pm every day
Habibti is another all-vegan Middle Eastern-inspired spot that you should give a try. It specialises mostly in falafel and other Middle-Eastern finger foods to quench any visitor’s hunger pains. What’s great about their menu is that it is very a-la-cart, where you can design your plate depending on the size and food elements you like. You can choose a selection of falafel balls (they fry them instead of baking them, which was one reason I decided not to order them), amazingly delicious stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, and hummus, depending on how many and which ones you’d like. You can also order a falafel sandwich in its many variations, and warm yourself up with a hearty Indian-style lentil soup.
What really stood out about Habibti is the flavour, quality, and freshness of all its food – from home-made ‘buttery’ hummus to one of the most lime-infused and well-seasoned grape leaves I’ve ever tried (and that’s why I ordered 10!), to its stew-like, simple lentil soup, going for lunch there always filled my belly and brought a smile to my face. Habibti is best for a quick, casual lunch while walking around Guanajuato. It is also a great place to come for a quick bite and coffee, as it serves different types of beverages, including mango lassi, and other Middle Eastern sweets and snacks. It is a cash-only restaurant, so make sure you bring enough “efectivo” with you!
Opening Times: Midday-7pm every day, closed Monday
Escarola is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant whose mission is to promote a healthy society through a healthy diet. They also host a number of musical performances on select evenings and have a wide selection of vegan Mexican dishes. In addition to food, you can also order freshly made juices and smoothies. Appetisers include guacamole, spicy mushrooms, amaranth tabbouleh and fruit/cheese spread (for vegetarians). The menu also offers soups, salads, desserts, and main dishes, such as a vegan plate of the day (consisting of a vegetable stew, black beans, and a salad), chile en nogada, a Mediterranean plate, and whole wheat pasta with pesto.
They also have a good selection of tacos, but I did find them a bit lacking in ingredients and seasoning; thankfully, the mini salad that comes with them is a great touch and made up for it. Although salsa should be served with them, you may have to ask for it as well as a few extra limes to spruce up the dryness. To be quite honest, my chile en nogada was also not the most savoury. It didn’t include the vegan version of its famous white sauce, and was a pretty small portion for the price. Although the food was lacking in small details that make an experience truly delicious and enjoyable, I would try Escarola again during dinner time (they have a beautiful patio away from the noisy streets) with a bit of live music to spice up the experience.
Delica Mitsu Companero
Delica Mitsu Companero
Del Campanero 5
Opening Times: 10am-10pm every day
Delica Mitsu feels like a New York Lower East Side Japanese joint, attracting many young university students and locals eager to dine on something different. Although not vegan, its menu hosts many vegan options, including a coconut milk Thai curry, vegetarian rolls, spring rolls, rice bowls, and bento boxes. I ordered three rolls of sushi that amounted to 5 pieces each – a portion of the “vegetariano” roll and two portions of the “alga marina” rolls. And was I surprised when my rolls came out! They were not only twice as big as I thought that they would be, but they were garnished with veggies and sea vegetables, which made for a beautiful presentation. Although they didn’t accompany pickled ginger or wasabi (something that could be substituted easily with fresh ground up radishes and a ginger root side serving), there was soy sauce available along with some fresh lime.
In Mexican cuisine, a good squeeze of lime gives food its fresh and zesty ‘sabor,’ or flavour that awakens the taste-buds and makes food more flavourful and easier to digest. With a bit of lime, the vegan sushi didn’t taste as dry and was given more flavour in lieu of other traditional condiments. Overall, although it takes a bit of wait time to get your meal from the kitchen (do plan accordingly), the Delica Misu experience was well worth it. From the size and presentation of the sushi to the modern chic atmosphere that is reminiscent of dinner evenings in Lower Manhattan, this place is a must visit on your trip to Guanajuato and a wonderful break from usual vegan Mexican food.
Mexican cuisine is some of the most vegan-friendly, as most dishes can be easily made vegan. With maize, chili, beans, guacamole, salsa, and nopales (cactus) by your side, you can never be hungry and bored. Undoubtedly, one of my most memorable experiences in Mexico is walking to my local tortilleria (a shop that makes them from scratch) and getting fresh, warm tortillas for my afternoon taco meal. They were so delicious and fresh – and I truly miss having them at my fingertips! The best part about exploring vegan local dishes is that you can appropriate them at home. And even if you don’t have all the ingredients, simply substitute them or get creative. For me, rich culinary experiences are not simply a one-time adventure but an opportunity to learn more about a culture, its spices, herbs, ingredients, and to expand on my own capacity to recreate these dishes on my own for those special others in my life…while sharing all the tales of travel that they evoke.
I hope you enjoyed learning about my vegan Mexican food adventures and that when you come to Mexico, you’ll be eager to try many traditional foods vegan-style! While here, I also recommend that you ask locals food questions and write down your favourite vegan recipes that you can take home and appropriate. You can leave Mexico physically, but you can always bring its essence back into your life with a home-made enchilada and a festive taco night. Buen provecho!
About the author
Anesa Kratovac is a big vegan foodie and an avid global traveler. She’s lived and worked in 5 different continents and is passionate about helping individuals heal their chronic health issues through a healthy vegan diet and natural detoxification. She is the founder of and a wellness practitioner at Red Grape Wisdom Detox Programs. Say hi and check out her insightful guides to understanding and healing your body naturally!
Loving the abundance of vegan offerings in Mexico.
Such amazing colours assures you’ll never have a boring looking dish.
With so much food on offer, I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite, but being a pudding lover, the raw key lime pie from La Pitahaya Vegana would be a winner with me!
that pie really does look good, we would happily eat that right now…Mexico is certainly on our radar