The Plant Eater’s Guide To Indy

Plant-based sandwiches from Burgeezy
Burgeezy's Crispy Chick'n Sandwich and the eponymous Classic Big Burgeezy.

Photos by Tony Valainis

Trying to dine meat-free in a historically steak-and-potatoes town has its challenges. Until very recently, restaurants didn’t know how to accommodate—much less impress—customers hungry for delicious plant-based sustenance, which makes Indy’s new guard of enlightened chefs, bakers, and burger-flippers such hot commodities. Whether you crave gravy-drenched comfort food or the fanciest cupcake (or simply want to know what a hibiscus taco tastes like), we tracked down the best dining spots for vegans, vegetarians, and their veggie allies.


Like the pupusas and tamales they serve, this tiny Central American–focused eatery packs a lot into a small space. Friendly counter staff serve up shatteringly crisp tortilla chips and masa- and tortilla-wrapped edibles to a steady stream of carryout customers and dine-in regulars. Order a spicy Red Jumpin Jacks tamale made with vegan masa and guajillo chile–marinated jackfruit, or a pupusa—a stuffed corn-flour disk of El Salvadorian origins—filled with creamy vegan cheese and veggies (like asparagus, broccoli, and spinach) or seitan. Wash it down with a bottle of their housemade Salvadorian horchata (a nutty blend of sweetened water, cinnamon, rice, and seeds) or mango juice. And don’t forget to take a selfie with their cheeky mural of anthropomorphized corn. 1413 W. 86th St., 317-985-5091,

10th Street Diner

vegan Loaded fries from 10th Street Diner

A sign on the red brick building along East 10th Street features a large tomato, the only clue from the outside that this near-eastside restaurant offers an all-vegan menu. Its loyal clientele of vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores who enjoy the food too much to miss the meat choose from the diner’s ever-changing blackboard menu of plant-based comfort food. Order at the counter and grab a seat while you wait for your Reuben stacked with vegan corned beef or faux chorizo chimichanga in its crunchy shell. Saturday brunch features a Monte Cristo, an indulgent breakfast sandwich with vegan bacon and waffles for buns, and huevos rancheros. Everything is made in house, guaranteeing no frozen veggie burgers cross the threshold here. 3301 E. 10th St., 463-221-1255

Ash & Elm Cider Co. 

the vegetarian Stuffed delicata squash at Ash & Elm

In its bright new location inside the gloriously restored Ford Assembly Plant on East Washington Street, Ash & Elm has expanded its original snacking menu to include full lunch and dinner entrees. Many of the plates can be retrofitted to meet vegan or vegetarian protocol, but there are plenty of meatless choices already built into the menu. A tofu sandwich is dressed with pickled daikon and kimchee aioli. The fried Brussels sprouts and three-bean chili check all of the vegan boxes. And the Farmers Market entree begins with roasted delicata squash and black beluga lentils and then adds in seasonal farmers market finds to create an always-changing feast. 1301 E. Washington St., 317-600-3164,

Axum Ethiopian Restaurant

The Axum Vegan Deluxe Combination

Located across the street from downtown’s Central Library, Axum has been serving authentic Ethiopian cuisine since 2015. Bold yellow lettering on the windows spells out “Vegan,” inviting diners to try its many plant-based dishes that are far from an afterthought. First-timers will want to go with the Axum Vegan Deluxe Combination that features a helping of each vegan item on the menu. Highlights include kik alicha (split peas simmered with onions, garlic, and ginger) and atakilit wot (chopped cabbage stir-fried with potatoes and carrots). Each dish is served atop warm injera, spongy Ethiopian flatbread used to scoop up bites, no utensils required. 825 N. Pennsylvania St., 317-964-0580,

Bae Latin Food

Bae Latin Food's Vegan Arepas

The eye-catching color scheme of red, white, and black alludes to the bold and bright flavors at this Carmel counter-service spot. Aspiring to bring the tastes and smells of Venezuelan food to the local scene, cousins Luis and Michel Beauperthuy opened the doors of Bae in March of 2020. By subbing in black beans, avocado, and fried sweet plantains in its vegan versions of traditional Latin bowls and arepas, Bae welcomes customers who are looking to ditch the animal products and spice up their supper. “It’s personal because we want to introduce a model of fast food that is healthier,” says Luis. “With the vegan products that we have, we could open that up to more people.” 14580 River Rd., Carmel, 317-219-6205,

Blue Sushi Sake Grill

Plant-based sushi from Blue Sushi Sake Grill

The Blue Sushi brand boasts one of the broadest vegetarian and vegan sushi menus in the country, having served up a whopping 25,000 pounds of plant-based fish in 2021 through creative maki and nigiri preparations. The Ironworks location rolls out more than 15 different vegan rolls, with new items constantly introduced (such as the vegan Philadelphia roll made of faux smoked salmon and cream cheese during its Veganuary promotion earlier this year). If you want to go big, order a showy sesame/ponzu-marinated vegan tuna tower with avocado, sushi rice, and wasabi sprouts. The restaurant also offers a build-your-own vegan sushi box for takeout that provides customers with everything they need to DIY four fan faves (Green Goddess, Avo Kaluna, Unami Express with BBQ eggplant “eel,” and veggie rolls). 2721 E. 86th St., 317-489-3151,


Most Thai restaurants lack transparency with their menu items or find difficulty accommodating certain dietary needs. But Bodhi: Craft Bar + Thai Bistro will go as far as possible to tweak dishes to allow vegans to dine at the hot new Mass Ave restaurant. Popular choices like pad thai and stir-frys can be made vegan by switching out fish sauce for Healthy Boy brand mushroom soy sauce, for example. Be sure to start with the tofu appetizer (dense cakes of tofu on a bed of soft herbs dusted with toasted rice powder), and don’t sleep on the drunken noodles, with its signature broad sheets of rice noodles. The dish comes packed with veggies under a crown of microgreens and daikon radish. Underneath, Thai basil, red bell pepper, broccoli, and pops of edamame are waiting to be unearthed. Bodhi’s cocktail list is just as elevated as its easy-to-navigate dinner menu, so pair that spicy plate with a cooling Françoise & Étienne, a tropical gin drink with tangerine ice cubes, sipped on the patio. 922 Massachusetts Ave., 317-941-6595,

Broad Ripple Brewpub

Vegan tenderloin at Broad Ripple Brewpub

This Midtown Indy favorite has proudly offered vegan and vegetarian dishes alongside its traditional pub fare and house-brewed beers for more than 25 years. The Brewpub’s sizable vegan tenderloin sandwich ranks as its second-highest selling dish, beloved by veggies and omnivores alike. Co-owner Bill Hannan also recommends the Vegan Fish & Chips, Violet’s Vegan Burger (see pgs. 50–51), and the Seitan Reuben—highlights among the more than 20 veggie menu offerings. The rotation of specials always includes two vegan or vegetarian options. 842 E. 65th St., 317-253-2739,


plant-based Chick'n sandwich from Burgeezy

When Kadeesha and Antoine Wiggins moved to Indy from Chicago in 2015, they brought with them the visions for Indy’s first completely plant-based burger joint, Burgeezy. The menu boasts signature items such as the Crispy Chick’n Sandwich and the Classic Big Burgeezy, all served with a side of crispy fries and signature sauce for dipping. After its debut at Indy’s Kitchen in August of 2021, Burgeezy is preparing to relocate to The Amp food hall this month with plans to expand their reach across multiple locations in Indianapolis. “It’s bigger than just burgers,” Wiggins says. “For us, it’s really being able to give people a healthier alternative.” The Amp, 317-782-5154


plant-based Eggplant masala from Chapati

At both its original Lafayette Road flagship and the more recent Bottleworks Garage offshoot, Chapati prides itself on accommodating a diverse customer base by dedicating more than half its menu to vegetarian and vegan offerings. Using the same thoughtful intention to produce vegan dishes as she does her halal meat-based items, chef Shani has perfected best-sellers such as fragrant chana masala, spicy eggplant masala, a hearty potato aloo tarkari, and crispy samosas served with green and sweet chutneys. (The naan and basmati rice are always vegan.) To assure the fullest flavor and authenticity, all vegan recipes go through an extensive development process with many ingredients marinating for 24 hours before slow cooking to order following traditional Pakistani and homestyle Indian methods. 4930 Lafayette Rd., The Garage; 317-405-9874,


Vegan Tour Board at Divvy

Walk into Kevin and Richelle Rider’s sleek small-plates restaurant in Carmel, and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a tapas-and-cocktail bar in Chicago. Luckily, that’s what the Riders were going for when they opened Divvy about a decade ago. “We loved traveling to different cities during our time off, dining out and getting ideas for what we could do differently,” Kevin says. “The concept of small plates was something that we truly loved.” Incorporating Richelle’s nutrition and dietetics background, the duo wanted to do something different than their previous establishment, Woody’s, also located in Carmel. Introducing the town to vegan cheeses and plant-forward dining, they even created a Vegan Tour Board that features some of their best-sellers: Buffalo cauliflower, roasted Brussels sprouts, and a roasted garden taco. “It’s all about eating well and never sacrificing on flavor or experience,” Richelle says. Carmel City Center, 317-706-1000,

Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe

Buddha Bowl at Ezra's Enlightened Cafe

Editor’s Note: Ezra’s permanently closed on April 2, owner and chef Audrey Barron announced the news on its Facebook page

This Broad Ripple hideaway maintains a best-kept-secret cachet, although its reputation for exemplary vegan, organic, and gluten-free cuisine is anything but hush-hush. No menu questioning needed—everything here is strictly vegan with the exception of raw honey sourced from local beekeepers. The Buddha Bowl is a perfect example of what Ezra’s does so well, a vibrant salad revved up with tasty almond falafel, shredded beets, and kale that’s been massaged into tender submission then topped with a drizzle of lemon tahini dressing. Watch for an expanded inventory of fresh veggies and herbs from Ezra’s own small farm, along with new desserts and juices, to roll out later this year. Soak up some sun and good vibes on the airy patio as you wait for your order. 6516 Ferguson St., 317-255-3972,

The Food Architect

plant-based Kamut spaghetti from The Food Architect

Classically trained chef Corey McDaniel operates a natural drink and sea moss bar inside The Amp food hall, where he sells his branded wellness products and enlightens customers on the healing benefits of the alkaline vegan diet—a very specific genre of veganism that focuses on how foods affect the body’s pH. On Saturdays and every other Friday, McDaniel sells prepared vegan meals that showcase his expertise. Past feasts have included red lentil coconut curry soup and nachos made from chia seeds topped with a ground meat of walnuts, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, and chickpea flour, followed by a layer of hemp-seed mozzarella. One of his most popular dishes is kamut spaghetti topped with a Bolognese sauce made of roasted portobello mushroom and red callaloo. It’s topped with scallions, basil, and applewood-smoked dulse seaweed. McDaniel says he created his recipes through trial and error, gathering many of his ingredients from Saraga International Grocery. “I knew that all I had to do was take these ingredients that are good for you, and then create ways for them to taste like something you’re used to eating,” he says. The Amp,


This downtown pizza shop is dialed in on perfecting its recipes, all of which can be made vegan without losing any of that saucy, gooey flavor. Co-owner Sarah St. Aubin recommends the Veglord Detroit-style pizza with vegan cheese and additional vegan Italian crumbles sourced from Nashville, Tennessee’s BE-Hive Deli & Market. The locally famous deep-dish pie pairs crispy, cheesy edges with a crust sturdy enough to support a layer of melty plant-based mozzarella and a mountain of toppings. If that’s not enough carbs for you, Futuro’s fat breadsticks can also be made vegan. Stay tuned for an upcoming sister restaurant, Grump’s Slice Stop. 19 Cruse St., 317-360-4725,

The Garden Table

An acai bowl from Garden Table

This fresh-focused eatery swings both ways. Standard dishes can be made vegan by substituting Beyond items for meat and nixing the cheese and eggs, while omnivorous diners can feel free to add a burger or egg to any of the vegan items on the menu. Brimming with cashew granola, fresh fruit, and almond butter, the wholesome acai bowl is a go-to, although a recently introduced spaghetti squash bowl with Brussels sprouts, beet hash, and pickled radish is vying for the vegan top spot. Whatever you order, a cold-pressed Garden Gate, Hoosier Heater, or Tropic Tonic juice makes the perfect beverage accompaniment. 908 E. Westfield Blvd., 317-737-2531; 342 Massachusetts Ave., 317-638-0321;

India Sizzling 2

vegan Rice crepe from Indian Sizzling 2

It’s no secret that veganism is having its moment. The trend is evident in everything from Impossible and Beyond burgers appearing on fast-food menus to KFC launching a plant-based chik’n nugget bucket. But India Sizzling 2 owner Madanlal R. Bathe is encouraging a different kind of vegan lifestyle. “We have non-vegetarian offerings, but some of our most popular dishes are naturally vegan, as is a lot of Indian cuisine,” he says. Bathe’s vegetarian menu was so popular that for a few years, he even hosted “vegan nights,” slowly expanding to the restaurant’s popular dosa buffets that feature multiple varieties of the South Indian rice crepe served alongside lentil stew and flavorful chutneys. Although the buffet has been temporarily halted due to COVID-19, dosa remains one of the most popular dishes among customers. “As things open back up, we really want to bring back dosa nights and expand our audience, not only to vegans, but to the whole community of Indianapolis,” Bathe says. 4150 Lafayette Rd., 317-297-3050,

King Dough

To meat-lovers, ordering a vegan pizza might sound like asking for no toppings. The 800-degree igloo-shaped oven at King Dough makes room on its rotating floor for pies you wouldn’t believe are meat-free. The Hive Mind, for instance, comes fully loaded, polka-dotted with crispy pepperoni made from seitan along with sun-dried tomatoes, a handful of red onion slivers, cilantro, and green onions on top of a soy- and coconut-oil–based mozzarella that melts into a nutty, vinegary romesco sauce. A simple Vegan Pile comes with red sauce, oregano, garlic, mushrooms, peppadew peppers, arugula, and Kalamata olives. Build your own if you aren’t feeling adventurous, but whatever you do, try the cashew ricotta. It gets this delicious crispy shell from the oven’s scorch that almost tastes like a white cheddar cheese puff. Ranch-lovers, you’ll want to save your crust to dunk into a side of the sweet and nutty vegan version if you know what’s good for you. 452 N. Highland Ave., 317-602-7960,

Mayfair Taproom

Mayfair Taproom’s cozy neighborhood-tavern setting attracts both eastside families and craft-beer sippers. The menu has a few vegan and vegetarian treasures that attract yet another crowd of regulars. A classic pub meal, the yellow curry is rich with coconut milk and garam masala ladled over cauliflower, potatoes, and basmati rice. Beer-battered cauliflower wings can be tossed in either Buffalo or Thai chili sauce, and the hearty falafel burger can barely contain its tumble of feta cheese, tzatziki, and pickled red onions. Even the meat-eaters know to order a side of chips and gravy: fat fries crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside with a little bowl of warm, peppery vegan brown gravy for very satisfying dipping. 2032 E. 10th St., 317-419-2393,

Flipped Burgers

These patties sub the meat for uncommon grounds.

plant-based Burger at Broad Ripple Brewpub

Broad Ripple Brewpub

Indiana’s very first brewpub is known for its vast veggie menu, so it’s no surprise that Violet’s Vegan Burger is one of the city’s favorites. An oversized hand-formed patty topped with shredded plant-based cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion, a zip of thick-cut pickles, and a special vegan burger sauce is layered high inside a brioche bun. Pro tip: Add seitan bacon and upgrade your side to the roasted vegetable chips. 842 E. 65th St., 317-253-2739,

Always Bean

This family-owned kitchen uses a housemade Navy Bean Burger as a solidly formed base that stands up perfectly to sweet barbecue sauce, vegan cheese, summery tomato slices, red onion, fresh spinach, a swipe of spicy Dijon, and lots of pickles. It’s all piled into a pillowy vegan bun. 2256 E. 38th St., 317-602-4364,

Guggman Haus Brewery

Topped with roasted tomatoes and tangy-sweet pickled radishes, the full-flavored Garden Burger makes no attempt to hide its plant-based intentions. Composed mostly of beets bound with black beans and barley, it is presented smashburger-style inside a thick pretzel bun. 1701 Gent Ave., 317-602-6131,

Kuma’s Corner

While you can sub a housemade black bean patty for any of the specialty burgers at Kuma’s, the Heartwork comes vegan as-is and is dressed with plant-based garlicky mayonnaise, cheddar, avocado, cayenne-spiced fried potato strips, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a squishy pretzel bun. If that isn’t enough flair for you, an extensive list of veggie toppings can make it your own. 1127 Prospect St., 317-929-1287,

Cul De Sac Kitchen

This all-vegan restaurant nestled inside the eastside Plaza Urbana food hall offers a unique veggie patty created from walnuts that’s surprisingly sturdy and meaty. The burger is topped with vegan cheddar, agave mayo, and red onion. 3827 N. Mitthoefer Rd., 317-744-9622

One Trick Pony

The Weed Eater begins with a plant-based Oat Rodeo patty packed with mushroom, oats, beets, seitan, and seaweed smashed flat to crispy umami perfection. It is then topped with Eat Surreal’s Amazeball cheese alternative, ketchup, pickle, shrettuce, griddled onion, and tomato. The Yard at Fishers District, 317-953-6400,

The Missing Brick

The sound of hip-hop music pairs with the aroma of freshly baked dough when you step inside Que Wimberly’s northside pizza joint. When the place opened in May of 2019, Wimberly’s intention was to create Indy’s first 21-plus pizza place (children are allowed to dine on the patio outside)—a Black-owned restaurant tying in a spirit of collaboration through good eats. “I wanted to build back the community brick-by-brick through inclusion,” says Wimberly. She recently added a vegan option, The Stripper pizza, topped with savory vegan sausage, roasted red and green peppers, and a sweet-and-sour drizzle that will have you high on life. 6404 Rucker Rd., 317-257-7557,


In the 17th century, the great Mughal emperor Shah Jahan constructed the Taj Mahal in Agra along with a fantastical royal garden he called Shalimar, an appropriate namesake for this Northern Indian–focused Broad Ripple eatery where diners can find aromatic cuisine with an inherent emphasis on rice, lentils, vegetables, and other natural building blocks. Many of the dishes readily lend themselves to vegan interpretations by request, and the lunch buffet is a flavorful (and budget-friendly)way to sample the wares. Baingan bharta (a grilled and mashed eggplant dish), dal, pakora, chana masala, and aloo gobi with potatoes and cauliflower remain popular vegan constants on the menu, all served with fragrant basmati rice and a punchy onion chutney. Ask for extra spicy if you like it hot. 1043 Broad Ripple Ave., 317-465-1100,

Tinker Street

Selections change frequently and revolve around seasonal ingredients, giving this tiny gourmet kitchen plenty of opportunities to play with veggie-based plates such as smoked beet ravioli, broccoli-and-carrot curry, and the always-vegan daily soup. The menu is thoughtfully annotated for selective eaters, labeling not only the vegan and gluten-free options but also those containing dairy, nuts, soy, sesame, and fish. 402 E. 16th St., 317-925-5000,


plant-based taco at Tlaolli

Start with a cup of charro bean stew slow cooked to a chunky broth with soy chorizo, pinto beans, and chiles. Then, mix and match a Styrofoam container full of Tlaolli’s meatless tacos and tamales stuffed with dense tofu mole, shredded jackfruit cooked in asado spices, and tender hibiscus flower. Finish with a giant wedge of vegan chocolate cake. 2830 E. Washington St., 317-410-9507,

Twenty Tap 

Along with traditionally meaty pub grub, this popular SoBro hangout has always included half a dozen or so vegan options on its menu, rib-sticking fare along the lines of a fully loaded banh mi, veggie-based Buffalo wings, ramen noodle bowls, and classic soft pretzels. In addition, the kitchen staff is happy to adapt other dishes by 86-ing any disqualifying ingredients like cheese or aioli. Look for a new vegan sandwich (an Impossible sloppy Joe, perhaps?) to join the lineup this spring. In the meantime, customers will be pleased to know that many of the craft beers on tap are also vegan. Twenty Tap’s knowledgeable servers can capably guide diners and drinkers to the most appropriate choices. Cheers! 5406 N. College Ave., 317-602-8840,

Union Jack Pub

Plant-based barbecue pulled pork at Union Jack Pub

Customer requests persuaded the owners of this traditional beer-and-pizza pub to create a selection of non-meat dishes—taste-tested by a local vegan meetup group and then tweaked to
perfection before they were added to the menu. Diners seeking a plant-based feast can tuck in to watch the game while munching on updated versions of classic bar snacks, a Buffalo seitan wrap and barbecue pulled-jackfruit sandwich among the house favorites. In warmer months, catch Union Jack’s food truck as it takes vegan dishes on the go. 921 Broad Ripple Ave., 317-257-4343; 110 S. Union St., Westfield, 317-399-7454;

Upland Brewing Company

When David Bower opened this casual hangout in Bloomington in 1998, the focus was on brewing the best local beer possible. It still is, of course, but now (having added four Indy-area locations), Upland is known for more than its craft brews. Bower quickly oriented the menu to a lifestyle that mirrored his own. “I’m vegetarian myself, and I always wanted a place where I could have the same options that my peers had when going out,” he says. With Bloomington’s high demand for vegetarian fare, the development of a plant-based menu was almost normal to him, a nod to the community’s small-but-underserved vegetarian population. A tip? Don’t miss the Seitan-derloin sandwich or Bower’s favorite, the Thai Tofu salad, laden with housemade Southwest tofu. “We put as much pride into our vegetarian offerings as we do our other options, and I think that’s what our patrons love most,” Bower says. Multiple locations,


Though the menus are strictly prix fixe at this polished, James Beard–recognized restaurant on the edge of Lockerbie Square, the multiple-choice four-course tasting menu includes a non-meat option each round. The chef works with ingredients like roasted squash, mushrooms, potatoes, and leeks to create tiny plated works of art. 601 E. New York St., 317-420-2323,

Sweet Somethings

These vegan desserts are baked with care. 

vegan cookies

Salamat Cookies

A small family startup during the initial COVID-19 shutdowns that was intended just to make ends meet, this Filipino-owned cookie bakery has now shipped to 43 states and six countries. The inventory changes constantly, always with a vegan choice in the mix. Order a batch though the website, and follow Salamat’s social media platforms for collabs and pop-up locations.

Brewer Bakes

Tasheka Brewer learned to bake at her grandma’s knee and has since created her own recipes for vegan sweets that family and friends begged her to share. Her online bakery offers simple cookies with healthy ingredients. Order on the Brewer Bakes website.

Always Bean

This gourmet navy bean–based restaurant has created a magic formula for 100-percent vegan oatmeal cream pies that surely makes Little Debbie cry. The cake stands decorating the counter always contain a creative rotation of desserts that are certified not only organic but delicious. Shipping of most products is available. 2256 E. 38th St., 317-602-4364,

Yes! It’s Really Vegan Bakery

When Wendy Brogan perfected her plant-based sweets and started selling them, she was so often asked if they were really vegan that the name of her bakery was a no-brainer. (The “buttercream” icing that she uses is so indulgent that it does beg the question.) Whoopie pies, custom cakes, doughnuts, and more are available from her licensed retail bakery. Order through her Facebook page or by phone. 317-721-8130

Black Cat Bakery

Audra Stam’s home-based bakery offers toaster pastries, custom layered cakes, decadent cookies, and more glazed goodness worthy of a spot on any dessert table. Order online or follow Black Cat’s social media platforms for its occasional farmers market appearances.

JaJustice Bakes

Sometimes mornings call for an old-fashioned, moist, strueselly coffee cake, and that’s just what this home-based bakery specializes in—along with allergy-safe, gluten-free, vegan options like fudgey brownies, custom cakes, cheesecakes, and scones. Order on Instagram for local pickup. @jajusticebakes

Landlocked Baking Company

The early bird has the biggest selection at this Irvington bakery, so be sure to arrive close to opening for your milk-alternative latte and first pick of the freshly baked vegan doughnuts, pastries, and cookies. 120 S. Audubon Rd.

Sea Salt and Cinnamon

This completely vegan bakery has a brick-and-mortar location in Muncie, but locals can get their hands on its gorgeous plant-based cookies, cupcakes, macarons, and muffins at Indy carriers like Nine Lives Cat Cafe, Commissary Barber and Barista, and Bovaconti. You can also order through Market Wagon or visit their stand at the Garfield Park Farmers Market. 100 S. Walnut St., Muncie, 727-481-4024,