1. SKY APPLE CAFE
182 Heaton Road, Newcastle
0191 209 2571
Widely regarded as the godfather of Newcastle’s vegetarian cuisine scene, Sky Apple has recently expanded to include a deli and sandwich shop, A Little Piece of Sky, next door to its restaurant. The menu is so broad that repeat visits aren’t just encouraged, they’re entirely necessary. If you’re looking to convert an unbeliever to the cause, take them to Sky Apple.
2. THE BAY HORSE
45 The Green, Hurworth, Darlington
This superior example of a gastropub has a separate, well-stocked vegetarian menu promising gastro versions of veggie classics (mushroom lasagne with butternut squash, for instance) and reinvented staples (goat’s cheese and beetroot roulade with beetroot mousse and horseradish créme) alongside more adventurous, outré dishes like the pea and Jersey Royal potato Wellington.
3. THE TREEHOUSE
The Alnwick Garden, Denwick Lane, Alnwick
The Treehouse has been at great pains to include superior vegan and vegetarian dishes in among its carnivorous fare, including pumpkin tortellini, mushroom Wellington and baked frittata. All that aside, the restaurant’s setting in the canopy of Alnwick Garden’s forest is pure magic.
Stoddart Street, Newcastle
0191 260 5411
Head Chef Andrew Wilkinson’s worked wonders here for a few years now, and his vegetarian menu prizes seasonal, fresh produce – a lot of their ingredients are grown or foraged from local hedgerows. Pop in on a Tuesday evening and try the vegetarian tasting menu.
5. PAINTED ELEPHANT and SUPER NATURAL
Maybrook House, Grainger Street, Newcastle
In the evening, the Super Natural veggie café turns into Painted Elephant, which any vegetarian worth their lentils will have been to at its previous home on Upper Princess Square. It's entirely vegan – in fact they're the city's first and, thus far, only vegan restaurant – and serves up what it describes as ‘modern bohemian’ cuisine: that means a globetrotting menu which changes multiple times a week to reflect what produce is fresh and seasonal.
The Avenue, Durham
0191 384 6655
Vegetarian gastronauts are generally fairly badly served, but there’s a separate vegetarian tasting menu at this super-modern eatery. It reads like a greatest hits of seasonal northern produce: cauliflowers, beetroots, rhubarb, confit egg yolk and more besides, all in dishes constructed with a sense of adventure and daring.
7. THE GOOD APPLE
18 Derwent Street, Sunderland
0191 564 1763
The Good Apple is the epitome of all a veggie café ought to be: unpretentious, friendly, and prizing homemade cooking above all else. All the cakes and traybakes here are vegan, and there’s a big range of gluten-free options too. Try the blue cheese Waldorf wrap for a fresh, crisp taste of New York.
8. JUMPING BEAN CAFE
5 Neville Street, Durham
07719 621569 www.facebook.com/jumpingbeancafedurham
This amiable, relaxed café is always full of chatter and life, and small wonder: its toasties are excellent, with combinations including everything from brie, aubergine and balsamic glaze to spicy sweet potato pakora with red onion chutney. They do a nice line in tapas too, with olives, bread, hummus, tomatoes and vegan cheese on offer.
9. LABYRINTH HOLISTIC CAFE
2 Skinner Street, Stockton
This not-for-profit café is all about looking out for everyone, no matter their tastes and dietary needs, and that includes meat-eaters. Their bread comes from a wheat-free bakery, and they’re gluten- and allergy-free too. The all-day breakfast is both extraordinary value and high quality.
10. LOAF B&B
Mount Pleasant Cottage, Berwick
The North East’s only vegan B&B others top-notch breakfasts. They even make their own sausages for their extraordinary sausage sandwiches, which come with local chutney and relish and are served on homemade bread. It’s a great place to head to for a mini-break away from the city.
11. PULP FICTION FUTURE FOOD
193 Park View, Whitley Bay
0191 252 2205
The constantly changing menu here is part of the charm: the only way to be certain of what’s on is to pop in and sample it yourself. Recent experiments include a deeply alluring soup of parsnip, fennel and apple and a Turkish delight cheesecake, and their homemade vegetarian andouille sausages are a cut above.
12. THE WAITING ROOM
9 Station Road, Eaglescliffe, Stockton
There’s a clear Italian influence at The Waiting Room, though you’ll be spared the old vegetarian standby of tomato sauce and pasta. Antipasti, veggie paté, salads, roulades and casseroles are on offer as well as Thai curries, enchiladas and their pleasingly assonant Lancashire whatnot hot pot.