Brats, cheese curds and fish fries are, without a doubt, staples of the Milwaukee food scene. But for vegans, the Milwaukee diet can make finding places to gather with friends, or go out for a nice meal, challenging.
But in recent years a growing trend of vegan restaurants, or restaurants with vegan options, have started to proliferate through the Milwaukee suburbs. Spanning from meat replacements to cultural favorites, this list aims to compile some of the most notable vegan options in the ‘burbs. But why stop here? There are many more places to find vegan options in the Milwaukee area. We encourage you to get out and explore.
Urban Beets is a locally owned counter-service restaurant that opened its first location on King Drive in 2016. That location has since closed but the restaurant has enjoyed success at its Wauwatosa location at 3077 N. Mayfair Road.
With a fully vegan menu, Urban Beets specializes in raw juices, salads and various vegan alternatives to classic entrées. Some of the standout menu items include the vegan BLT burger, cauliflower tacos and sweet potato chili.
The cafe also offers a variety of smoothie options, including brownie batter, mango and strawberry banana.
Location: 3077 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa
Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.n. SundayLearn more: www.urbanbeetscafe.com/
Established in 1924, Kegel’s Inn was originally founded as a “soft drink parlor” that would serve as a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Since then, the restaurant has established itself as a Milwaukee staple that serves traditional German food and is one of the most popular places in Milwaukee to enjoy a classic Friday fish fry.
While vegan options are limited, what Kegel’s Inn does offer is the chance for vegan eaters to finally enjoy one of Milwaukee’s epic fish fries. This is because the restaurant has a vegan fishless filet option. Other options include a vegan burger and a vegan brat, both made from Beyond Meat.
Location: 5901 W. National Ave., West Allis
Hours: 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; closed Sunday and Monday
Learn more: www.kegelsinn.com/
Milwaukeeans Brandon and Arielle Hawthorne are the creators behind the fast-casual vegan experience that is Twisted Plants. Started in 2020 after the couple’s transformational experience on a vegan diet, the restaurant aims to produce comfort food with a vegan twist.
Mainly focused on burgers and sandwiches, some of the popular items include the up-in-smoke BBQ burger, the pineapple-covered Pineapple Express burger and the Big Lebowski, which features a classic jackfruit meat replacement.
Twisted Plants also offers an array of desserts, including chocolate cake, lemon cake and Oreo cake, among other options.
Location: 4905 S. Packard Ave., Cudahy
Hours: noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday and MondayLearn more: www.twistedplants.com/
This list would not be complete without the inclusion of two vegan staples: falafel and hummus. Falafel Guys has been one of the premier destinations for falafel and hummus in the Milwaukee area for a decade.
Originally operating out of a food truck, Falafel Guys opened with the intention of serving authentic Middle Eastern food with the freshest ingredients possible. They have now opened a brick-and-mortar store in Mequon, and their consumer base has only continued to grow.
The menu is quite simple but the falafel bowl and sandwich are both great vegan entree options. Moreover, sides like baba ganoush and the various selections of hummus are a nice addition.
Location: 6300 W. Mequon Road, Mequon
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday
Hop Harvest & Vine
Hop Harvest & Vine has been a staple of the Pewaukee food scene since 2005, and, as the name suggests, it is a restaurant that prides itself on fresh ingredients, beer and wine selections.
Originally named Good Harvest Market, the restaurant made the name change in 2020 while renovating the Pewaukee storefront.
Bolstering plenty of vegan options, the breakfast menu offers a harvest root hash bowl that includes various sautéed vegetables mixed with tempeh. Other options include a roasted eggplant roll, falafel wrap and a garlic ginger stir fry.
Location: 2205 Silvernail Road, Pewaukee
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Learn more: www.hopharvestvine.com/
Mountain Top Coffee
In addition to great coffee, Mountain Top offers a varied, yet simple, menu that will have vegan eaters’ mouths watering. After his many travels across the country, Nathan Darrow came back with the motivation to start a cafe in 2019.
Mountain Top has a revolving menu and mostly specializes in soups and sandwiches but some vegan offerings include hummus veggie sandwich, chickpea curry sandwich, chickpea avocado sandwich, vegan muffins and sometimes the soup of the day.
Location: 363 W. Main St., Waukesha
Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, closed Monday
Learn more: www.mntcoffee.com/
Opened in 2008, Café Manna was born because owners Robin and James Kasch were having trouble finding vegetarian restaurants in their area. Now solving that problem for others, Café Manna offers a 100% vegetarian restaurant that contains many items that are vegan or can be made vegan with substitutions.
Soups and sandwiches are staples of vegan cuisine; however, what makes Café Manna unique is the effort it puts into creating dishes you may not be able to get at other vegan restaurants.
Highlights include vegan crab cakes made from hearts of palm, a vegan jackfruit barbacoa bowl and a roasted veggie quesadilla made with vegan cheese.
Location: 3815 N. Brookfield Road, Brookfield
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday
Learn more: cafemanna.com/
Beck Andrew Salgado can be reached at 512-568-4070 or Bsalgado@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Beck_Salgado.