SPAIN // Restaurante Vegetariano, Torrevieja

Restaurante Vegetariano Torrevieja

Spain has a lot to offer when it comes to local cuisine: tempting tapas; churros; empanadas; tortilla española; gazpacho; chorizo; paella; jamón serrano; seafood fresh from the Mediterranean Sea... They do a whole load of food and they do it exceptionally well.

But the one thing they haven't quite got to grips with yet? 


Our diets are something of a bafflement to the Spanish, who are so proud of their meat and fish-based food. Even in an area dense with expats, tracking down a restaurant with anything suitable on offer can be tricky. And even when you think you've cracked it and found something appropriate on the menu, you just never know when it might arrive at the table topped with a surprise sprinkling of ham!

In my limited encounters with Spain, my dining-out experience has ended up predominantly Indian or Italian themed (though even pizza and pasta are now off the menu for me, since I've gone mostly gluten-free), simply because those are the restaurants who catered for my meat-free needs. And that makes me a bit sad, really, when the Spanish have such distinct culinary experience and so many brilliant raw ingredients (which I already raved about here) right on hand.

Fortunately, when we took a trip to the nearest city, we found one little restaurant that managed to save the day! 

Situated on Calle de Pedro Lorca, Restaurante Vegetariano is just a few minutes walk from Torrevieja's coastline, with its marina, natural swimming pools and beautiful stretch of beach. Having done our research online, we easily found our way there for a spot of lunch after working up an appetite with a morning wandering along the esplanade and browsing some gift and souvenir shops.

Open for lunches from 12:30, we were the first (rather eager) customers of the day and tables were still being set up outside when we arrived. It was a bit of a blustery day and I am forever feeling cold so we opted to take a table inside the little bistro on this occasion, though adopting the European habit of eating leisurely in the sun would be very appealing on a calmer day. I was glad, though, that we were able to see the interior with its warming oranges and greens, dark woods and attractive aboriginal art pieces - though the work with a "hunter's dream" theme did leave me chuckling over its very-un-vegan irony! 

Restaurante Vegetariano Torrevieja

We had a chuckle, too, over our best Spanish efforts at communicating. It was something of a relief that the menu was presented to us in both Spanish and English translations and we couldn't wait to pour over the long list of vegetarian and vegan treats! 

The menu had so much to choose from we didn't quite know where to begin. With something like 16 choices of sandwiches and wraps alone, alongside a range of salads and pizzas (with a vegan-ised alternative if you please), as well as starters and mains, there's something to cater for just about every taste, budget and occasion. It's a rare experience to be presented with that many veggie-friendly options in any context, let alone in Spain! 

In the end, we sampled quite the variety of dishes between us. 

Pizza at Restaurante Vegetariano Torrevieja

Alison kept things pretty simple and opted for a pizza (I forget which one now) of the cheesy-vegetarian persuasion rather than the tofu-based vegan one and it arrived looking admittedly smaller than I anticipated, but piled with plenty of cheese and vegetables and probably perfectly portioned for an individual. It certainly wasn't bad for the equivalent of less than £6!

Involtini at Restaurante Vegetariano Torrevieja
Tex-Mex burrito at Restaurante Vegetariano Torrevieja

Gemma went a bit multi-cultural with her meal, choosing a Mediterranean starter of 'Involtini' - aubergine rolls stuffed with almonds, spinach and Manchego cheese - followed by a Tex-Mex burrito packed full of spinach, sweet potato, quinoa, sweetcorn, tofu and cheddar cheese, served with rice, guacamole, and a lime, chilli and coriander sauce. 

Salad at Restaurante Vegetariano Torrevieja

I opted to make my selections from the 'Menu Del Dia' (menu of the day) - a set-price two course meal including starter, main, bread and a drink for only 9.90euros (that's less than £8!). To begin with I had a salad mountain made up of lettuce, brocolli, millet, grapes, baked sweet potato, avocado, hazelnuts and pomegranate. That was pretty much a meal on its own, but I followed it up with some tofu and vegetable skewers on a bed of spiced rice and "green sauce" - all of which  managed to polish off because they tasted so yum!

Tofu skewers at Restaurante Vegetariano Torrevieja

Overall, I was really impressed with the choice, quality and value for money of all of the food, though particularly the "menu of the day" deal. With such limited destinations for vegetarians in the area, this restaurant is a stark contrast in its provision of so many options from which to choose. It's great to think that you could return here again and again - whether on the same holiday or numerous different trips - knowing that you wouldn't be bored by the same old food.

My only regret about my visit here was that I was so distracted by the promise of ice-cream later in the day that I didn't even bother to look at their dessert menu! It just means I'll have to go alllll the way back some other time and discover what sweet vegan treats lie in wait! 

Definitely one to add to the travel book if you ever find yourself in the area, they're open Tuesday to Sunday, serving lunches at 12:30-15:45, reopening at 19:30-23:30 for evening meals.

Calle de Pedro Lorca 13, 03181 Torrevieja

** The restaurant has had a re-vamp since time of writing and has been operating under the name of Beet Vegetariano since June 2017. It can still be found in the same venue, serving up a similarly-styled menu. **


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