Take a trip to the ancient city of Exeter to discover all the delicious vegan food on offer with our vegan Exeter guide.
Exeter is a small, contemporary city in Devon bustling with countless independent retailers and eateries.
When it comes to eating out, the 2000-year-old city is regarded as the foodie capital of the South West. But Exeter isn’t stuck in the past when it comes to veganism as Richard Webber discovered in this vegan Exeter guide…
1. Sacred Grounds
Tucked away in the quirky McCoy’s arcade, Sacred Grounds offers 100% plant-based dining and prides itself on using green energy, local produce and recycled furniture.
During our visit, we sampled smoky beans with scrambled tofu and avocado (£8.50). It was a very generous portion and extremely tasty, and was rounded off with an almond milk latte (£3).
Other options included savoury waffles (£8.50) as well as wraps with fillings including brisket-pulled jackfruit (£6).
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 10am-4pm: McCoy’s Arcade, Exeter; sacredgrounds.co
2. The Flat
The Flat’s name comes from owners Chloe and Pietro, who lived in the flat above and wanted the restaurant to feel like home.
Head chef Pietro enjoys experimenting to create unique pizzas, including ‘Olive Tree’, comprising peppers, olives, spinach, red onions, nuts, vegan mozzarella and chilli. Pizzas are reasonably priced (£7.50 for small, £9.50 large) with the option to mix toppings.
Dessert specials vary –I sampled the lemon cheesecake (£5.50).
Open: Tues-Sat 5pm-10pm; 142 Fore Street, Exeter; theflatexeter.co.uk
3. Sara’s Petite Cuisine
Situated just outside Exeter in the pretty town of Topsham, Sara’s offers a selection of vegan cakes and a lunch option, despite not being entirely vegan. Mainly takeaway, there are two tables inside in addition to a couple outside.
Cakes vary daily, prepared by Sara, a qualified pastry chef. When we visited, lunch was quinoa salad, while cakes included chocolate and banana slices. Moreover, there’s a large selection of dairy-free milks with a latté costing £2.40.
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-4.30pm, Sun 10am-3.30pm; 80 Fore Street, Topsham; saraspetitecuisine.co.uk
4. Franco Manca
Franco Manca pizza chain prides itself on using seasonal ingredients and small suppliers. They’re not solely vegan, but all pizzas can be made with vegan cheese. Exeter’s branch is centrally located by the Guildhall Shopping Centre.
A real plus point is price – starting at just £5.20 for a large 12in pizza and the child’s option of pizza, drink and ice cream at £5, and their slow-rising sourdough bases are among the tastiest I’ve tried.
Open: Mon-Sat noon- 10pm, Sun noon-9pm; Guildhall Shopping Centre, Exeter; francomanca.co.uk
5. On The Waterfront
This waterside restaurant is in a former wool warehouse and full of character. The varied menu ranges from tapas to pizzas and also burgers.
Furthermore, all pizzas can be adapted with vegan cheese. Try a 12-inch Margherita (£10) or the 30-inch version (£36) lets you mix and match up to three pizza types!
The ‘Moving Mountains Burger’ (£13.50), was equally filling. But if you want something lighter, try the beetroot walnut salad (£12).
Open: Mon-Thurs & Sun 11am-10pm, Fri & Sat 11am-10.30pm; 4-9 The Quay,Exeter; waterfrontexeter.co.uk
6. Veg Box
This veggie/vegan café owned by Kelly is in Exeter’s popular Quay area. The canal-front location and outside seating make it an ideal location.
There is a small but varied breakfast and lunch menu, including vegan cheese and BBQ pulled jackfruit toasted sandwich (£7.95) and Falafel Buddha bowl (£9.50).
For something sweet, try the vegan caramel doughnut (£2.95) supplied by a local bakery.
Open: Tues-Sun 10am-4pm; Unit 7, Piazza Terracina, The Quay, @vegboxcafe on Facebook.
7. Daisy’s Café
Daisy’s is on the outskirts of Exeter, within the Heavitree area. It’s a small café with the bonus of a ‘Secret Garden of Heavitree’ around the back for sunny days.
Although not solely vegan, there are a good range of cakes. Try Biscoff vegan sandwich cake or vanilla cupcake (£1.95-£2.50). For a hearty vegan breakfast – avocado, tomato, mushrooms, hash browns, baked beans and toast is £7.50.
Open: Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, Sat 9am-2pm; 98 Fore St, Heavitree, Exeter; thedaisycafe.co.uk
Exeter’s longest-running vegetarian/vegan restaurant – it’s been in the same family for 30 years – is in the heart of the city centre. This cosy, intimate restaurant serves lunch and dinner.
The substantial menu includes vegan nut burger (£10.25), carrot and cashew nut loaf (£11.50) and spinach and mushroom vegan lasagne (£11.50) plus daily specials.
Open: Thurs-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm, Thurs 6pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-9.30pm; 15 North St, Exeter; herbiesrestaurant.co.uk
Where to stay in Exeter
This stylish Grade II city centre guesthouse is situated within a 15-minute walk from the high street and Exeter’s two train stations. Built in 1875, the gothic Victorian building has been sympathetically updated to offer contemporary accommodation.
Nine rooms feature Hypnos mattresses, comfy duvets and wifi and there is limited reservable private parking across the road.
54 St David’s Hill; 01392 494994; townhouseexeter.co.uk
Among the most conveniently sited Exeter hotels, it’s opposite the Central train station and Northernhay Gardens, and a stone’s throw from the main shopping streets. It offers stately home-style grandeur 4-star accommodation.
All 98 bedrooms provide a comfortable night’s stay. Free wifi is available and Drakes Restaurant has a bistro-style menu. Limited paid parking is available on site.
Queen Street; 0871 376 9018; mecure.accor.com.
For further information about the city, go to visitexeter.com.
Parking in Exeter
Both the Townhouse and Rougemont Hotel offer limited paid parking. If unavailable, Exeter Market Street NCP parking is conveniently located in the heart of the city and offers a pre-booking facility to guarantee your space. For NCP charges visit ncp.co.uk.
Top five things to do in Exeter
1. Visit Exeter Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral dates back to the 12th Century and and has England's longest vaulted ceiling.
Work started on this magnificent building in 1114, but there have been various re-builds over the centuries. Furthermore, the building boasts England’s longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling.
We recommend that you take a self-guided tour of its grand interior and a guidebook is available for £1.50, while knowledgeable staff are on hand.
Check the website for up-to-date details of tours (exeter-cathedral.org.uk).
2. Cycle ride to Topsham
Topsham is a pretty estuary town situated between Exeter and Exmouth. ©Tony Cobley
Take advantage of the almost traffic-free National Cycle Network and hire a bike at the Quay from Saddles and Paddles alongside the cycle route. If you want a gentle afternoon ride, head for the pretty estuary town of Topsham which is around four miles away.
Open: advance bookings only, available for hire 9.30am-5.30pm; Price: Three hours’ hire: adult, £12, child, £9; sadpad.com
3. City Walls Trail
Take a self-guided tour of Exeter’s City Walls with the City Wall Trail. You can find a free downloadable guide on the Exeter City Council website).
With 70% of the original walls still remaining after nearly 2000 years, and nine information panels en route, it’s a great way to discover Exeter’s past.
4. Explore the Quay
Exeter's quayside has plenty of options for vegans looking for a bite to eat.
Tucked away just 15 minutes walk from Exeter city centre, the Quayside oozes history with its five-storey dockside warehouses now home to an eclectic mix of independent shops, cafés and restaurants.
While you’re there, make sure to stroll around, stop for a pleasant al fresco coffee or try cycling or watersports.
Additionally, if you want to learn more about the Quay’s rich history, pop over to the Custom House Visitor Centre.
5. Exeter’s Underground Passages
These medieval passages were built to house lead pipes supplying drinking water. Guided tours have been running since the 1930s but were suspended during the Covid crisis, so check the website (exeter.gov.uk) for further details.
The passages are unique in the UK and visitors can enjoy a 15-minute film presentation and a 25-minute informative tour of the passages.
Are you planning a trip to the UK’s capital city after your vegan Exeter styacation?
Make sure you take a look at our handy vegan guide to the best vegan restaurants in London.