I spent about two weeks in Phnom Penh mostly hunkered down at sustainable accommodations and hitting up nearly every vegan-friendly eatery in town to eat delicious food and work on writing assignments. Many of the eateries and social enterprise cafes that are suitable for plant-based diets are branches of the many vegan restaurants I tried in Siem Reap. These are the best ethical eateries and vegan cafes in Phnom Penh.
STRICTLY VEGAN CAFES IN PHNOM PENH
I absolutely fell in love with Cambodia’s debut strictly-vegan eatery Vibe (GoogleMaps) while I was in Siem Reap for 6 weeks and the Phnom Penh location was equally delightful. It boasts a similar ambiance with animal-friendly wall art and beachy bohemian decor including a lovely rooftop terrace with floor cushions and swings. The extensive menu is exactly the same at both locations so I was able to chow down on all of my favorites including the various superfood bowls and the faux omelet with vegan cheese.
In case you missed my review of the Siem Reap outpost my love for this spot goes beyond the delicious plant-based food. Vibe operates The Good Vibe Foundation provides meals for children in need around Cambodia. With an earth-to-table approach, they ethically source produce from local farmers who have committed to growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs without pesticides or chemicals. There are plenty of gluten-free options on the menu too.
MASALA DOSA STREET KITCHEN
I went to the then newly-opened Masala Dosa Street Kitchen (GoogleMaps) on a date with a guy who is halal. I don’t usually carry my camera around at nights so sadly I didn’t snap a picture. The guy was boring but the food was exquisite. The dosas are hearty but go ahead and try at least two as each has so much flavor you won’t want to miss testing a few out.
The owner is strictly Jain and practices cruelty-free living and cooking. He even grows much of his own produce so he can extract the veggies from the ground in a loving and tender way. His family has lived this way for generations and he believes in the future his offspring will only need the sun to survive—an interesting Desi fellow who opened my mind to a way of life I’d never heard of before and made the best masala dosas I’ve ever had!
Sadly, Sabay Vegilicious (GoogleMaps) is temporarily closed but they hope to reopen soon. The owners used to be vendors of dog meat until they became enlightened and decided to open up a 100% vegan restaurant instead which benefits the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. This no-fuss hole-in-the-wall-spot lacks ambiance but makes up for it in the sweet customized service. We had some language barriers so I simply pointed to a sign on the wall that featured various veggies and they whipped them up for me.
VEGETARIAN CAFES IN PHNOM PENH
Mercy House (GoogleMaps) is a very local Khmer veg spot. It’s an open-air eatery. I think they do use dairy in some drinks so the entire menu isn’t vegan, however, the extensive menu is mostly plant-based. I had a fried rice dish with kale and mushroom that was massive and inexpensive. Be sure to also try traditional Khmer food while in Phnom Penh and ask your waiter for vegan-friendly options.
PHNOM PENH SOCIAL ENTERPRISE CAFES
I dined at the delicious social enterprise of Romdeng (GoogleMaps) several times while in Phnom Penh. I couldn’t get enough of the extensive “For the Veggie Lover” menu and the lush gardens. I tried many of the vegan things on the unique menu and can’t forget the delicious black bean kale asparagus dish or the curry with flowers.
Romdeng is a part of the Friends International group and is a training restaurant for marginalized Khmer youth. Read more about the project in my article for Urban Adventures.
The parent of the do good organization that operates Romdeng is Friend’s International (GoogleMaps) which also has a social enterprise cafe in Phnom Penh. 92% of sales at Friends the Restaurant are funneled back into the student training development program, providing school grants, and support of the Child Safe Movement. Like Romdeng, there’s a hearty selection of vegan-friendly items on the menu such as a delicious laab salad—one of my favorite dishes in Southeast Asia.
Bloom Cakes (GoogleMaps) makes some of the most delicious vegan cupcakes I’ve ever had the good luck to taste—and all for a good cause. The vegan cupcake I had was vanilla flavored with decadently sweet icing. It was bite-sized, which is probably best as I devoured it in seconds and would’ve inhaled a larger version too. With advance request, Bloom Cakes can make larger vegan cupcakes or full-sized cakes too.
CONNECTING HANDS TRAINING CAFE
Connecting Hands Training Cafe (GoogleMaps) is a fantastic social enterprise offering vocational training to at-risk Khmer women. The women come from vulnerable backgrounds and are able to create a life for themselves by working in the hospitality sector after completing the complementary schooling from Connecting Hands. Eating at the cafe supports this initiative as well as the feeding program which delivers nutritious meals to marginalized women and children. The menu is limited but grab an organic tea and the roasted veggie salad for a healthy and light vegan snack.
SUGAR ‘N SPICE
Sugar ‘N Spice (GoogleMaps) is a social enterprise cafe and shop in Phnom Penh dedicated to improving the lives of the daughters of Cambodia. The women’s empowerment cafe creates training and employment opportunities for women who’ve been rescued from sex trade. Empowering slogans are seen throughout the 2-story cafe and can be purchased on various craft at the small ethical shop. There are not many vegan options on the menu, but they helped me find something that worked by removing the cheese from a seasonal dish with roasted pumpkin, avocado, and cashews.
PHNOM PENH CAFES WITH VEGAN-OPTIONS
The beautiful Backyard Cafe (GoogleMaps) calls itself the home of healthy food in Cambodia. The menu lives up to the slogan as there’s a wide assortment of vegan, vegetarian, and raw options for all the plant-based eaters out there. Unlike its sister cafe, Vibe, Backyard Cafe is not strictly-vegan. It’s a great spot if you’re dining with friends who eat meat.
Like Vibe, the vegan selection here is out-of-this-world good. From colorful bowls of farm fresh veggies to juice cleanses and hearty vegan desserts, you’re sure to find something you’ll love on the menu. I took a veggie bowl packed with protein from lentils and a soy matcha as I’m trying to kick my coffee addiction to the curb.
Artillery (GoogleMaps) was one of my favorite cafes in Siem Reap and they also have a location in Phnom Penh. I actually prefer the Phnom Penh spot as it’s located in an alley with incredible street art and has a super welcoming ambiance. The majority of the menu is vegan, but there are some meat options for your non-vegan friends.
Dishes are made up of local and organic ingredients and offer fun vegan spins on classic dishes like BBQ jackfruit taco, a trio of dips, avocado toast, and my favorite—the falafel waffle which is just as drool-worthy as it sounds. Be sure to get a side of sweet potato fries with vegan mayo. There are plenty of vegan-friendly caffeinated drink options and desserts too.
FARM TO TABLE
Set in a rustic outdoor garden, Farm to Table (GoogleMaps) is a destination just as much as it’s an eatery. There’s a playset for the kiddos, a veggie garden, and an eco-shop. The menu is health-forward with dishes that are composed of local organic ingredients. There’s a wide selection of vegan-friendly dishes on the seasonal menu such as the divine pulled jackfruit open-faced sandwich and plenty of fair trade coffee drinks with plant-based milks. Farm to Table is a sister restaurant to Artillery Cafe so it’s no shock that they also have mouth-watering good vegan desserts such as vegan cheesecake. They also stock the Artillery Cafe free food restriction cards which have translated terminology needed to express that you’re vegan in Khmer!
There’s a monthly farmer’s market held in the community garden, the Mindful Market. Farm to Table is also dedicated to limiting their food waste. Whatever organic waste can’t be reused is turned into feed for livestock. The eatery also serves as a collection center for recycling with incentives to community members who bring in goods to upcycle. Glass bottles that can’t be reused are turned to sand for construction and plastic has long been banned at Farm to Table.
Crumbs (GoogleMaps) is a tiny hole-in-the-wall bakery that has room for quite a few vegan sweets! They always have a few flavors of vegan cookies available but often have vegan cake, pie, or cupcakes too. The cookies were creamy and crunchy and so good I ordered 2…or 5.
LOT 369 CAFE & BAR
Lot 369 Cafe & Bar (GoogleMaps) is a beautiful Phnom Penh cafe that has a good selection of plant-based options. You can sit in the lovely outdoor garden area or if it’s unbearably hot head indoors to the A/C room to cowork as you chow down. I loved the tempeh bowl and their coffee was excellent.
The Corn (GoogleMaps) was right around the corner from my accommodation, so I dined here often. The laid back restaurant has a vegan menu, but meat can be added to any dishes upon request. They offer many Khmer dishes like amok and various curries, including one with my favorite jackfruit. The Corn is beloved for its use of Kangen water.
Vego Salad Bars (GoogleMaps) isn’t a vegetarian restaurant but as it’s a build-your-own salad you can be sure to create a dish that suits your dietary needs. Having access to clean, raw, veggies, can be a challenge in Southeast Asia so it was great to be able to have a gigantic bowl of leafy greens. This vegan-friendly eatery in Phnom Penh is Cambodian-owned.
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