Eating meat-free doesn’t have to break the bank.

Read more $25 and Under guides here.


As a lifelong vegetarian, before moving to Milwaukee I thought I would be destined to order a salad or a sad sandwich at most restaurants. But Cream City surprisingly offers a diverse array of delicious vegetarian cuisine at prices that are often modest compared to their meat-filled counterparts.

$20 and Under

County Clare

County Clare; Photo by Rebecca Kames

Dine With the Irish

Location: County Clare Irish Inn & Pub (1234 N. Astor St.)

I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that County Clare can turn quite a few of its most delicious options vegetarian with meat substitutes — you just have to look for the circled “V” on the menu. Their Reuben is fantastic with homemade seitan instead of beef ($11.85) and their grilled chicken sandwich with a faux patty will make you feel like you’re eating meat again ($10.70).

Try Hearty Meals at Comet Café

Location: Comet Café (1947 N. Farwell Ave.)

Herbivores will eat like kings and queens at this east side joint, with filling options like the vegan Salisbury steak ($13) and vegan mac ($12) dominating the entrees portion of their menu. If you’re looking for something slightly heathier, you have to try Comet Cafe’s artichoke melt ($10), a cheesy veggie sandwich on a brioche bun.

Tacos diablos photo courtesy of Celesta

Check Out a Vegetarian/Vegan-Specific Restaurant

Locations: Celesta (1978 N. Farwell Ave.), Café Manna (3815 N. Brookfield Rd., Brookfield), Strange Town (2101 N. Prospect Ave.)

For a city known for its cheese and sausages, Milwaukee sure has a lot of plant-based restaurants. Celesta, for example, offers hearty vegetarian-friendly classics like a southern plate that features housemade seitan drummies ($15) alongside healthy vegetable small plates like the roasted za’atar cauliflower ($9).

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Nearby on the east side, Strange Town mainly serves small plates, like their scrumptious and healthy mojo de ajo potatoes with warm tahini sauce, salsa and chili oil ($9).

Out in Brookfield, Café Manna has won numerous awards for its vegetarian fare. We’d recommend their creamy coconut potato koram ($17) and peace bowl with black quinoa, numerous veggies and coconut curry on top ($18).


$10 and Under

Grab a Bowl

Locations: Bowls (207 W. Freshwater Way)

Located in the Third Ward, Bowls offers a variety of smoothie, pudding, grain and greens bowls, all at mostly affordable prices. For dinner, I love their spiced sweet potato & eggs bowls with potatoes and sriracha ($9) and Soba noodle bowl with pineapple and a variety of other fresh vegetables ($9).

Order a Melt

Locations: Urbans Beets (1401 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.), On the Bus (400 N. Water St.), Beerline Café (2076 N. Commerce St.)

The bar/dining room at Urban Beets Cafe & Juicery

Most vegetarians are painfully aware of what it’s like to always have to order the veggie sandwich when all other options are meat-filled, but trust me, you’ll want to order melts from vegetarian-friendly local joints. We particularly recommend trying Urban Beets sweet potato melt ($9.25), On the Bus’s basil pesto melt ($8.75) and Beerline Café’s fromage panini ($6.75).

Feast on Breakfast Classics

Locations: Brewed Café (1208 E. Brady St.), Riverwest Co-Op Grocery and Café (733 E. Clarke St.)

Brewed Café, located in the heart of Brady, serves breakfast all day, including their Belgian-style waffle with bananas and powdered sugar ($8.25) and egg or tofu scrambler with fresh veggies ($9.50). Although they only serve breakfast before 11 a.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. on weekends, the Riverwest Co-op offers breakfast classics with a vegetarian/vegan spin; you definitely can’t miss their “Word’s Greatest Vegan Pancakes” ($8).

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Dine on International Cuisine

Locations: Blue Star Café (1619 N. Farwell Ave.), BelAir Cantina (1935 N. Water St.)

Although its food is more styled after L.A. than Mexico, BelAir Cantina serves flavorful and cheap tacos ($3-5 each), especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when a few are bumped down to $2. North African Blue Star Café is more authentic to its home cuisine but also has a vegetarian bent. Their vegetarian sambusas ($1.5 each) especially blend authenticity and affordability.


$5 and Under

Take Vegetarian Chili to Go

Location: Beans & Barley (1901 E. North Ave.)

If you’re on the go and in need of a quick meal, stop into Beans & Barley and order the vegetarian chili from its carry out menu ($5 for a pint with a roll). This chili is made from scratch daily and is quite spicy.

Beans and Barley; photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

Grab a Grilled Cheese

Locations: Zaffiro’s Pizza & Bar (1724 N. Farwell Ave.), Gouda Girls (1125 N. 9th St.)

In a deal that seems too good to be true, Zaffiro’s offers a grilled cheese platter complete with a sandwich, fries and massive salad for only $4. The food truck Gouda Girls, which now has a permanent spot in the Eleven25 building, also serves affordable grilled cheese sandwiches, like The Triple, which has Gouda, Colby/Jack and Havarti ($4.75).

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