Vegan lunch finds in London - Pret, Tortilla and Leon

There are two reasons that I tend not to buy lunch when I'm at work: I like cooking, and I hate spending money on sub-standard grub.

There's nothing more dispiriting than getting ready to take that precious one hour in the middle of your working day, and then finding the best vegan lunch option you can have is soggy, forlorn hummus sandwich on the most pappy of white breads.

So, yeah, normally I take in some leftovers from last night's dinner which are more often than not pretty good warmed over the next day. I also use them as a display item for when anyone asks, "isn't vegan food a bit boring? Isn't it all, like, lentils and shit?" No, my friend, it isn't (though anyone that doesn't like lentils is a bit freaky. And not in a good way.

That said, sometimes through being disorganised or leaving my lunch in the fridge (alright, you got me, I mean when I'm too hungover to care), I have to head out of the office to acquire some victuals.

During one such event recently, I headed over to Pret a Manger, a sandwich chain which seems to have grown like Japanese knotweed over all the high streets in the UK.

Still, they've recently introduced better labelling of their products including showing which items are vegan. Nice one, Pret!

There are two - count 'em, two! - vegan sandwiches to choose from, the Naked Avocado bloomer and the Super Greens sandwich.


That's the Super Greens up there. Having tried both sarnies, I don't think either are going to rock your world, but they're not half bad. The Super Greens kicks the bloomer's arse, to be honest, mainly due to the rather lovely kale dressing, a mixture of everyone's favourite leaf with wild mushrooms, lemon juice and tofu.

And along with a few drinks and snacks, there's also a definitely vegan pretzel. Behold:


The next in this series of vegan lunch stuff you can find at a chain restaurant in London (snappy title, I think you'll agree) is the Leon Gobi which, you won't be much surprised to find, is on sale at Leon.

Leon's another one that's recently decided to tell the world which of their dishes are vegan and they'll the better for it.

There's actually quite a few things there and, though they're mainly sides, I suspect a few of them together would make a pretty good meal.

The Gobi is a proper all in one lunch meal, though - it's a sweet potato and cauliflower curry with lots of brown rice and slaw in a tahini dressing. It's really lovely, though I found the portion size a bit too small (the two could be related, I guess!) The curry is comforting and rich with coconut milk, and the nutty brown rice is a handy sauce-mop. The slaw is also much nicer that you'd think - all crisp and zingy crunch, not wilting under a mayonnaise slick.

My last find (and the worst pic - hey, it was on my phone at my desk!) was at Tortilla, a small chain of burrito places you find mainly in London.  The flour tortillas are vegan, and there's a tonne of fun vegan stuff they'll chuck in for you to make a burrito that's the size of your head - pinto or black beans, cilantro or tomato rice, peppers, guacamole, lettuce, salsas and sauces. All good stuff, and for a fairly bargainous £5.

I assume they must put something weirdly addictive in the beans, because whenever I've just finished one of their huge burritos, I find myself thinking 'man, that was so good, I just want to eat a whole nother one' when I couldn't fit as much as a wafer thin mint into my stomach. If you're hungry and have a fiver burning a whole in your pocket in London, you could do way worse than head to Tortilla.


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9 comments

  1. I have a hard time paying for substandard lunches too. If I'm going to spend more on food, I want it to be at least as good as what I could whip together quickly at home. We don't have a plentiful amount of delicious vegan options where I live, and so I mostly cook all of our meals at home. It's a big savings in comparison to when we lived in a vegan mecca, but sometimes I miss the convenience of picking up a really terrific lunch I didn't have to make myself!

    The Gobi would definitely be my choice of your above lunch options! I can't refuse a good curry.

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  2. That's a bummer there's not better vegan options near your work. But if you had to get something at least there's options. Nice to know, I can always count on getting a vegan burrito pretty much anywhere. :-)

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  3. There's a place in Australia called Zambrero's which sounds a lot like Tortilla. I wish they had a place on campus. My only real options if I forget my lunch are hot chips, veg sushi (if they haven't sold out of it) or felafel wraps. All good, but they're no giant burrito.

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  4. Sammmmme!! I don't love paying for food but I especially hate it when it's not even tasty, or I could have made it myself. And good point - it ruining the one free hour of yr work day can really break you.
    Funny, we have a Pret here which I've eaten at only once, but the sandwich was a different one. Still decent though.
    I don't get the name Leon Gobi.

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  5. I tend to bring my lunch because I only have 40 minutes - and there is no where near by that would be quick or delicious! What I notice most about these options is how fresh they look.

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  6. Pret is my go-to high street chain when I'm travelling in the UK and need something to eat. I like both the sandwiches but agree that the super greens is much tastier! If only they could include some of the olives from the bloomer into it, it would be my perfect train station sandwich!

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  7. Wow, Pret has 2 vegan sandwiches? These are new, right? Because whenever I checked they had nothing! I'm so excited about that! And I lived next to a Leon and never ate there, haha. Good to know all this stuff!

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  8. Same here! I’ve been cooking a lot lately in Paris since eating out is expensive (esp the cider & bottles of wines, hehe!) and there are so many beautiful local produces to try and use. Nice that Pret a Manger improves labeling of their products, I really like that! Vegan pretzel…mmm, I would love to dip it in some cheesy sauce! I love cheap filling burritos…with everything else in it, that reminds me of Chipotle’s vegan Sofritas burrito!

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  9. Pret saved my butt on many occasions when I visited London last. They're every where, and everyone in my family can find something agreeable there. Hooray for mainstream vegan options!

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