SPAIN // Quinoa (Restaurante Vegetariano), Elche

Quinoa restaurante vegetariano - Elche - Salad Buffet

It's funny how, in Spain, some parts of the country seem utterly clueless about vegetarianism ("What do you mean ham isn't vegetarian?!"), while others have got it well and truly nailed. The city of Elche - in Alicante province - falls firmly into the latter category and seems to have the vegetarian thing down to a fine art.

With five or six specifically vegetarian/vegan restaurants to choose from, we were pretty spoiled for choice on our day trip to Elche, but eventually decided to head to Quinoa for a spot of lunch.

After a little confusion and a bit of a detour, where we stood awkwardly outside their old venue with another couple who had clearly done the same, we eventually made our way to Quinoa's new site on Calle Francisco Rabal. With its neutral green and brown tones and brick-work features, the interior channels lots of natural vibes and feels very in-keeping with the vegetarian, plant-based theme.

Open from 1-4pm, Monday to Saturday, the restaurant operates a salad buffet and offers up a simple set "menu del dia." The menu is only available in Spanish and staff spoke very limited English, but I saw this as an indication that the busy establishment is popular with local people, which always seems like a good sign to me! 

With a little help from Google translate, we were able to muddle through the menu and select our drinks and four courses of food.

Quinoa restaurante vegetariano - Elche - Soup starter

The menu of the day includes a bottle of water each and a self-serve selection from the buffet bar, including bread and lots of tasty salad options. Rather than helping ourselves to a portion each, we opted to plate up a large salad selection for the middle of the table, complete with olives, bean-sprouts, tofu, beetroot and some particularly nice mixed beans.

Separate to the main menu, this salad didn't even count as a "starter" with a choice of soups instead available for that! None of us were brave enough to try the gazpacho, but I couldn't resist an option featuring the restaurant's name-sake ingredient - a tasty vegetable and quinoa soup - accompanied by some crusty bread from the buffet bar.

Quinoa restaurante vegetariano - Elche - Couscous main course
Quinoa restaurante vegetariano - Elche - Pie main course

For main course, mum and dad both opted for the tajin - a stew, of sorts, with vegetables and chickpeas, served on a bed of couscous. I had to sample it too, of course, and it got a definite thumbs up from all concerned!

For me it was a "veggie cake with hazelnuts, raisins, organic tofu and grilled cheese." Unsure exactly what to expect, I was very impressed by the texture and flavour combinations of this delicious piece and would very gladly order it again.. immediately!

Quinoa restaurante vegetariano - Elche - Dessert menu

As if that wasn't enough, the nine item dessert menu was offered to us as soon as our plates were cleared. Spoiled for choice - and seeking the help of Mr. Google once again - we deliberated over this particular menu for quite some time.

Eventually, it was a tiramisu for mum; a chocolate tart for dad; and a cheesecake-like tart with berry compote for me, though they all looked and tasted so good that we couldn't resist sharing!

Dessert was accompanied by a choice of tea or coffee: Americanos all round for us, which perfectly balanced out the sweetness of these beautiful treats.

Quinoa restaurante vegetariano - Elche - Dessert tiramisu
Quinoa restaurante vegetariano - Elche - Dessert chocolate tart
Quinoa restaurante vegetariano - Elche - Dessert cheesecake and coffee

Let's not tip-toe around it: I was pretty blown away by my visit to Quinoa restaurant. The standard of food was very high - flavoursome, well-presented, fresh and fairly healthy - and served up by kind staff who made a lot of effort in spite of the language barrier, in beautifully kept surroundings.

The icing on the cake, for me, was the price of this delicious feast. The "menu del dia" includes bottled water; a plate from the salad buffet; a soup starter; main course; dessert; and tea or coffee, for the "whopping" price of 12 euros (13 on a Saturday) per person. All of that.. for less than £11!?!

I felt like I was in some sort of vegetarian heaven and it was definitely worth the detour! If you ever happen to find yourself in Elche, I cannot recommend a visit to this small but brilliant restaurant strongly enough. Check it out.

Quinoa restaurante vegetariano - Elche - Opening times

C. Francisco Rabal, 3
03202 Elche


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