When the days are cold and cloud-covered during winter in Missouri, I gladly give up the light meals of summer for warm, comforting food like root vegetables from local farms, teas made with spices like ginger and cinnamon, and hearty servings of steamed vegetables and cooked grains. When I don't feel like cooking for myself, discovering a new vegan or vegetarian restaurant or trying a seasonal dish at one of my favorite spots can be just the thing to spice things up. Whether it's the new "vegetable-forward" restaurant in town with a cozy, wood-burning fireplace in the dining room, or the vegan bakeshop all over Instagram with the decadent-looking desserts, we're fortunate that Missouri has plenty of places to try something new.
Although it's hardly a comprehensive list of all the amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurants across the state, here's a few ideas that'll hopefully inspire you to get out of hibernation and refuel with something plant-based during these winter months.
Beat the cold with a cuppa something new
If you're a vegan or vegetarian and live in St. Louis, you've undoubtedly been to Seedz Cafe in the tree-lined Demun neighborhood for some tempeh Caesar salad or a slice of their I-can't-believe-this-doesn't-have-dairy-in-it cheesecake. You may not know that Seedz has an outpost next door to the main restaurant called Seedz Provisions with a coffee bar and a small selection of goods-for-sale like locally made herbal tea, smudge sticks, kitchen goods, and chocolates. If you're in the neighborhood, it's the perfect place to escape the cold and order a fresh-baked waffle and a matcha latte or a chaga cacao chai made with plant-based milk and people watch by the window.
Unbakery and Juicery in Kansas City takes the (raw vegan) cake for most tempting flavor combinations whether you're craving coffee, mylk (non-dairy milk) or fresh juice. Keep an eye out for seasonal offerings like pecan pie toddy cold brew, spiced golden mylk with turmeric and provisions like apple butter overnight oats with spiced cashew cream. Paying a visit to this self-proclaimed "jungalow" with its crisp white walls, green plants dangling from the ceiling, and colorful textiles can also provide much-needed contrast to the dreary weather outside.
Go for a stick-to-your-ribs kind of dish
Thank goodness there's so much more to plant-based eating than just salads. LuLu's Local Eatery, a staple for vegan and vegetarians in St. Louis, has mastered adapting its menu to the season. For a dish that'll leave you feeling satiated, but not stuffed, try the mushroom stroganoff from the fall/winter menu. With organic "gluten-less" pasta, roasted mushrooms and a rich, non-dairy cream sauce, it's the ultimate vegan comfort food.
A coffee shop may not be the first place you think to turn to for a hearty meal, but Pirates Bone in Kansas City's Morning Side neighborhood has a variety of fun vegetarian sliders with delicious add-ons and cheese or guac fries on the side. Café Gratitude in Kansas City also serves a Mac & Cheese bowl made with brown rice noodles with cashew and Bazil nut cheeses that's called "Fulfilled" for a reason.
Shake up your same old happy hour routine
Happy hour is great, but why not try imbibing with something out of the ordinary like a kombucha tasting flight at Confluence Kombucha? Just look for the building in the Grove neighborhood of St. Louis marked with "KOMBUCHA" in all caps across the front and make your way past the usual line of people with glass jars in-hand waiting for refills of the fermented drink. Order a tasting flight so that you and a friend can sample all of the flavors of fermented drinks on rotation like plum blossom elderberry or prickly pear. Sip from tiny vintage glasses while you watch the chef in the open-kitchen whipping up your order of cashew "brie" or a platter of Japanese nukazuke (fermented vegetables) to share.
For a twist on a more traditional happy hour, swing by Tree House on South Grand in St. Louis and order a vegan charcuterie board with wild mushroom "pâté" and jackfruit rillette or the vegan cheese plate for a sampling of house-made cheeses and spiced nuts. Pair your snack with a herbaceous cocktail like "The Roots," which is made with ingredients like ginger liqueur, beet shrub, and lemon, or try the "Almond Milk Punch," a vegan play on a traditional milk punch with accents of cardamom and fruit.
Again, this is not a comprehensive list of everything veg in Missouri. There are so many restaurants that cater to different diets that you will not go hungry. Below is a quick list of other options around the state that cater to plant-based diets.
Café Cusco - Springfield
Eden Alley Vegetaria - Kansas City
Frida's - St. Louis
Tree House - St. Louis
Main Squeeze - Columbia
Nourish Café and Market - Columbia
Small Batch - St. Louis
The Wheelhouse Street Fare - Springfield
Michelle Myers doesn't believe in labels but we call her our healthy-lifestyle guru! She volunteers with local CSAs, ferments her own kombucha and is mother to many house plants. A St. Louis native, Michelle can be found exploring Missouri with her husband, Shane, furry friend, Stella, and newborn, Brooklyn.