I am very excited to bring you my review of Honest Greens, the best new vegetarian-friendly restaurant in Madrid. In less than a week, they have swiftly raised the plant-based bar to an impressively high level in the city. We’re talking gorgeous and creative dishes that are vibrant in color, complex in flavor and celebrate vegetables on every plate. Behind the sophistication of their culinary creations is a traditionally trained chef who excels at “making healthy delicious.”
Honest Greens is not strictly plant-based, they specialize in meats too; however, they boast a vegetable-centric menu. I am always on the look-out for places that us vegetarians and vegans in Madrid can enjoy alongside our meat-eating friends. This is my new go-to spot that will satisfy everyone’s cravings. Amanda Cohen, owner of one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in NYC, Dirt Candy says “Anyone can cook a hamburger. Leave the vegetables to a professional,” which is exactly what Honest Greens has done.
The People Behind Honest Greens
Honest Greens was founded by an international team of three. I was lucky enough to have a chat with two of the founders, Chris from Portland and Chef Ben from France. Chris, a graduate of IE Business School, has a background in restaurants and has been living in Barcelona for over a decade. Ben is a classically trained chef, self-proclaimed meat-lover and the creative mind behind the menu. His impressive culinary background includes working for some of the best restaurants in the world: Harrods Ladurée, La Cabrera, Casamérica, and stages at El Celler de Can Roca, Mugaritz, and Noma (Michelin-star).
During our conversation, both Chris and Ben were oozing with excitement and pride as they summarized the history, concept, and evolving menu of Honest Greens. I nibbled on a variety of dishes, a wild coco quinoa salad with tofu, some falafel, and a vegan poke salad while they explained that Chef Ben needed a bit of coaxing to get on board with the vegetable-centric themed restaurant. Ben said, and it’s no secret, that vegetables in the culinary world don’t receive the same respect as meat. Looking at his culinary trajectory, a vegetable cuisine restaurant wasn’t the most logical leap from working in some of world’s best meat-based restaurants. With his experience and expertise in meat, he had doubts that he was the right chef for this veggie-based concept. Fast forward to now…and Chef Ben is as contagiously enthusiastic about the endless creative possibilities of vegetables as he is with meat.
Eat Good. Feel Good. Do Good. These are Honest Greens’ values and are manifested through their seasonal dishes that nourishes the mind, body, and community. Compared to other major cities, Madrid is behind the curve when it comes to plant-based options. So opening a restaurant whose concept revolves around seasonal*, locally sourced*, and organic* produce in a culinary carnivorous capital, might be seen as risky- and expensive. However, given the reception they have had in their first week, it looks like they are well on their way to thriving. They are even talking about opening a second location in Madrid. Honest Greens’ mission is to make healthy living easier and accessible to all. Even with a menu that is committed to “real food, always fresh, never processed, no additives, preservatives, or added sugars”, their prices are extremely affordable.
*based on availability
Whether you adhere to a vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, or meat-eating diet, Honest Greens has healthy, hearty, and delicious options for you. Their menu is clearly marked to show which dishes are suitable for each dietary need. Both lunch and dinner have the same offerings: Market Plates and Garden Bowls.
- Market Plates – A choice between homemade falafel or black pepper tofu (meat options available for carnivores) which is accompanied by a small salad mix, dressed with pesto and a slice of their organic bread. Gluten-free and Paleo diets can substitute bread for a double portion of salad. Hot or cold side dishes can be added for an additional 2€. The side dishes are on display and they all look delectable which makes choosing just one or two almost impossible. These are some of the current sides offered: coleslaw, beet salad, baba ganoush, hummus, roasted pumpkin, baked cauliflower, baked sweet potato, and organic kale.
- Garden Bowls – These are Honest Greens’ vegetarian power-packed salads. It is suggested to add either the homemade falafel or black pepper tofu (meat options available for carnivores) to complete the meal. To give you an idea of how power-packed these salads are here’s the description of the Wild Coco Quinoa salad I ordered: organic arugula and kale, quinoa, wild rice, zucchini (courgette), baked plum, broccoli, cabbage, feta, spicy almonds and Chef Ben’s signature lime, cilantro, coconut dressing. With names like Spicy Kale, Avocado Supergreen, Ginger-Honey Goat Cheese, Peanut-Chili Lentils, and Sesame Greens expect much more than the typical lettuce and tomato salad.
The Vegan “Poke” Salad I tasted is the “Salad of the Month” in May, along with its fish version. Poke is a Hawaiian raw fish salad, however Chef Ben has creatively substituted raw fish for roasted watermelon. It’s beautiful, tasty, and filling. He is also working on a vegan ceviche and ensured that all salad dressings will now be vegan. Instead of yogurt, they’ll use cashew nuts, coconut milk, and cooked chickpea for texture and flavor. Vegans rejoice! The menu is becoming even more vegan-friendly with their new additions.
Save room for dessert. All desserts are sugar-free and gluten-free. Depending on where you stand on the vegan spectrum, desserts are not 100% vegan as they contain honey.
In alignment with their values, Honest Greens does not service Coca-Cola or sodas for that matter. If you need a caffeine or sugar boost, choose from their organic, fair-trade, specialty coffees or their refreshing infused waters. They also carry their own brand of cold pressed juices, 6 unique flavors for only 5-6€. If you’re in the mood for an alcoholic beverage, they have a nice selection of wine and beer.
Metro: Santiago Bernabeu and Nuevos Ministerios
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 1:00 pm to 4:30pm and 8:00pm to midnight. Friday and Saturday they are open until 1:00 am.
Price: Market Plates and Garden Bowls start at 6,90€
What to expect: To keep costs down and in turn keep prices affordable, Honest Greens does not have traditional table service. Place your order at the counter (the staff is very friendly and happy to give you suggestions), receive a buzzer, pick-up your utensils, and find a table. A staff member will bring your order to you.
What else?: Try their hummus! It changes weekly and is one of their top guarniciones, a.k.a. sides. There is also an inviting terraza (picture below) where you can enjoy your lunch or dinner.
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