Far from being behind the times, the historical town of Chester is filled with independent eateries offering delicious vegan menus. Richard Webber discovers the best places to find vegan food in Chester...
The medieval city of Chester is historically significant. Its strategic position close to the Welsh border saw the Romans consider it for their capital.
A slice of history is discovered around every corner. Even the city’s racecourse, reputedly the oldest in England, was the site of a large Roman harbour.
Chester is also famous for The Rows, continuous half-timbered galleries reached by steps, which form a second row of shops above those at street level.
Chester is easy to explore on foot and much is packed within its famous walls, including shops, attractions for everyone, plenty of places to stay and numerous cafés and restaurants.
Richard Webber discovers that when it comes to food and drink, vegans are well catered for in Chester with an abundance of places offering vegan food…
Shrub’s owner wanted to create an unpretentious, relaxed vegan eatery that welcomes everyone and he’s certainly achieved that. The menu has something to satisfy everyone.
I enjoyed the Shrub Burger (£12.50) comprising a Beyond Burger, lettuce, tomato, pickles, smoked Gouda with fries and slaw.
The lemon and blueberry cheesecake was the perfect way to finish a delicious meal.
Open: Mon-Thurs & Sun 10am- 11pm, Fri & Sat 10am-midnight; 1-3 Eastgate St; shrubchester.co.uk
Focusing on Mediterranean-inspired food, this new restaurant has an airy, contemporary interior. It offers fine food with a dedicated vegan menu.
I started with no-meat balls in a tomato sauce (£5.95) followed by tomato and basil risotto, cherry tomatoes with rocket and basil (£12.95).
My daughter’s choice – tagliatelle arrabbiata in a chilli/garlic tomato sauce (£9.95) – was just as good.
Open: Mon-Sun 9am-midnight; 33 Pepper St; artezzan.com
3. Jaunty Goat
There are three branches in the city, with the Northgate outlet 100% plant-based. With soya, almond, coconut and oat milk available, a coffee is a must before or after sampling dishes from the menu.
This branch opened in 2019, the first plant-based hospitality venue in Chester. The smashed avocado dish followed by lemon and raspberry cake were delicious.
The company’s website states that they aim to provide specialty coffee and honest food, served with genuine hospitality. Well, we can vouch for that.
Open: Mon-Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 9am-6pm; 128 Northgate St; jauntygoat.co.uk
4. Hanky Panky
Don’t leave without a visit to Hanky Panky. This brightly-coloured eatery not only offers tasty pancakes, but specialises in, among others, curries.
Since we last visited, the menu has expanded and you certainly won’t leave disappointed.
I didn’t, after enjoying Kumily cashew curry (£8) followed by Strawberry Fields Pancake (£7.50).
Open: Mon-Wed 9am-5pm, Thurs-Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-4pm; 20 Commonhall St; hankypankypancakes.com
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5. The Flower Cup
The owner of this coffee shop adores plants – they’re everywhere!
Specialising in all-day brunches, I had a vegan breakfast of mushrooms, sausage, avocado, tomatoes, beans and toast (£9).
I couldn’t resist finishing with a banana and coconut milk pancake (£7.75).
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-4pm, Sat & Sun 9am-5pm; 61 Watergate St; flowercup.co.uk
6. Katie’s Tearooms
This traditional tearoom in Chester’s centre is spread over three floors of a 14th-century building. Ask for the vegan menu, which has plenty of options.
Try spaghetti veganaise, using soya mince (£6.25), followed by blackcurrant crumble with vegan custard (£4.50).
Open: Mon-Fri & Sun 10am-5pm, Sat 9am- 5pm; 38 Watergate St; katiestearooms.com
Crêpeaffaire has several branches across the UK and Chester’s is in the heart of the city.
Selling savoury and sweet vegan crêpes, the Supervegan contains tomato, spinach, and mushrooms (£6.25), while the Banana Split has banana, vegan whipped cream and chocolate (£7.45).
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 10am- 6pm; 34 Bridge St; crepeaffaire.com
8. The Secret Garden
A hidden away bar and eating area behind The Townhouse Hotel, with amazing murals of mountains and oceans.
As well as cocktails and premium drinks, meals and afternoon teas are served. Enjoy a vegan afternoon tea (£18.95).
Open: Mon-Sun 8am- 11pm; The Townhouse, 49-51 Lower Bridge St; chestertownhouse.com
There are others places to eat, too!
Other eateries include Hypha, high up on the historic City Walls and recently awarded a Michelin Green Star.
Popcorn is a bar/restaurant offering, among other suitable dishes, vegan fish and chips.
Urbano 32 is a well-respected pizzeria while Falafel Xpress has several vegan options.
Michelin Green Star-restaurant Hypha offers a constantly evolving, micro-seasonal tasting menu using ingredients from local suppliers, growers, and foragers.
Where to stay in Chester
The Townhouse Chester
Among the best independent hotels in the city, this 17th-century family-run hotel is moments away from the river and a short stroll from the main attractions.
Located within the historic Roman walls circling the medieval centre, it boasts its own Georgian features.
A range of bedrooms are available, including family rooms, while the self-contained, two-bedroom Amphitheatre Apartment sleeps up to eight.
Further information: 49-51 Lower Bridge Street; 01244 567300; chestertownhouse.com; double rooms from £80 per night while the apartment is from £250 per night.
Top 5 things to do in Chester
1. The City Walls
Walk the well-preserved City Walls, the most complete in Britain, dating from the Roman occupation 2,000 years ago, before heading to the impressive amphitheatre.
It’s so atmospheric, you can imagine this outdoor arena packed with 7,000 spectators.
2. Head For The Cathedral
The cathedral has reached high into the air for 1,000 years. Founded as a Benedictine abbey in 1092, it has been restyled over the centuries with today’s building dating back over 280 years.
Head to the top of the tower by booking a Cathedral At Height tour.
Further information: chestercathedral.com/ tours; 01244 324756.
3. Weird & Wonderful World of Medicine
Located in a Grade-II listed church, Sick to Death charts the gory story of medicine through time.
This fascinating museum promotes itself as a ‘playground of plague with a smatter of splatter, and a chance to poke into our medical past’.
Further information: sicktodeath.org; 01244 408963; St Michael’s Church, Bridge St.
4. Take To The Water
Hop aboard one of ChesterBoat’s vessels and relax while drifting down the 70-mile long River Dee, which twists its way through the city.
Various trips are offered. Why not book a private cruise while enjoying a vegan picnic onboard like we did?
Further information: chesterboat.co.uk; 01244 325394.
5. Be Entertained
Storyhouse is among the UK’s foremost cultural charities and its home in Chester incorporates a library, theatres and cinema.
During the summer, watch a favourite movie at Moonlight Flicks, an open-air cinema while open-air theatre productions take place in Grosvenor Park.
Further information: storyhouse.com; 01244 409113.
Chester isn’t the only city with fantastic vegan options, Exeter is also bustling with countless independent retailers and eateries!
Discover what Exter has to offer vegans with our vegan guide to Exeter.