Melbourne is known as a foodie city, boasting thousands of restaurants and cafes to suit every taste— and of course, it has the best coffee (says every Melburnian).
But it's not all meat and seafood. While it doesn't have an overwhelming number of 100% plant-based restaurants, there is a burgeoning vegetarian and vegan food scene that makes eating one's way through the city a culinary adventure.
Many restaurants, from the casual to the high-end, feature vego options (I'm talking more than fries or lettuce) and are more than happy to accommodate vegans and vegetarians. And if you want to be spoiled for choice, head to Fitzroy and Collingwood neighbourhoods where you'll find many cafes, restaurants and grocery shops catering to vegans and vegetarians.
Here are 10 of our favourite tried and tested, vegan, vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in Melbourne.
Smith + Daughters (and Smith + Deli)
Chef Shannon Martinez has achieved quite a cult following and has put vegan food on the map with her entirely vegan restaurant, Smith & Daughters. Having recently relocated to larger digs in Collingwood the restaurant sits alongside Smith and Deli—a more casual lunch spot and deli packed with plant-based cheeses, cakes, and take-home nibbles— making it Australia’s largest vegan food hub. The à la carte menu features mouth-watering dishes like wild mushroom and truffle arancini, stuffed chard leaf, chestnut and borlotti ragu, and a wood fired stuffed flatbread that's to die for. Ooh, and you'll want to have the tiramisu, trust me. But if your eyes are bigger than your belly try out the 'set-menu to share' to get a taste of the innovative dishes on offer.
107 Cambridge Street, Collingwood
+61 3 9123 1712
For over fifty years Shakahari has been an iconic vegetarian dining destination, serving up creative vegetarian and vegan cuisine to locals and the likes of Carlos Santana, Kylie Minogue and David Bowie. Known for its friendly service and seasonal, fresh dishes with an Asian flavour, you can dig in to dishes such as laksa, Malaysian curry, dumplings and delicious desserts such as pandan tofu caramel. Find them at their original Carlton location and a newer South Melbourne address too.
201-203 Faraday Street, Carlton
+61 3 9347 3848
Four words: vegetarian Mexican street food. When is that not a good idea? This cheerful taqueria also offers vegan and gluten free options, plus sangria, so if it’s plant-based taco and nacho joy you’re after (and breakfast taco), look no further than Trippy Taco. They also have a selection of hot sauces, for those who agree that spice is life.
234 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
+61 3 9415 7711
The Vegie Bar has been serving up vegan, vegetarian and raw dishes since the ‘90s, from comfort food like burgers, pizza and nachos, to Asian favorites like laksa noodles, at very reasonable prices, too. This one is tried and tested and will have you going back for your favourites repeatedly. Check out their Boys and Girls gelato shop next door.
380 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
+61 3 9417 6935
Housed in a converted warehouse, Transformer is high-end dining sister to Vegie Bar, and right around the corner too. It offers a menu of inventive vegan and vegetarian dishes with seasonal vegetables sourced from local organic and biodynamic growers where possible.
99 Rose Street, Fitzroy
PH: 03 9419 2022
Shimbashi Soba has fantastic vegan options alongside its traditional seafood-based Japanese fare. Here you’ll find vegan sushi rolls, soba noodles, tempura and lunchtime bento boxes. Try the vegan teriyaki tofu bento or the vegan red dragon soba, and finish off your meal with a vegan matcha ice cream. They have the best vegan soba noodles around, and they’re gluten free too. Find them at their two locations in Collingwood and Northcote.
140 Smith Street, Collingwood
+61 3 9193 9097
257 High Street, Northcote
+61 3 9654 6727
On any given day, rain hail or shine, there is a queue to get into this iconic Melbourne restaurant. Nestled in the very cool Flinders Lane —home to the famous street art laneways—Chin Chin offers Asian fusion casual dining that has plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu amongst all that meat and seafood. Staff is friendly, the vibe is buzzy and fun, the food is fantastic and so are the drinks. Not for the Covid-neurotic as this place is always packed!
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
+61 3 8663 2000
Moroccan Soup Bar
A Melbourne cult fave, the Moroccan Soup Bar has been around ever since I can remember. There's no menu, instead customers get a set-menu of mouth-watering Moroccan stews, curries, soups and desserts. And it’s all vegetarian. Like many popular places in Melbourne, this one tends to fill up quickly on weekends, so get in early or go on a weekday to get a table.
316 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North
Sister of Soul
Here you'll find wholesome and nourishing plant-based food with a menu that includes nutritional bowls, curries, salads, burgers and smoothies as well as an extensive selection of vegan friendly cocktails. Sister of Soul also diverts several tonnes of food waste and coffee grinds away from landfill to St.Kilda Veg Out Community Gardens to enrich the soil and help locals grow veggies, fruits and herbs.
73 Acland St, St Kilda, VIC
+61 03 9593 8550
77 Swan St, Richmond, VIC
+61 3 7013 8779
Cutler & Co
For Melbourne foodies this one may come as a surprise. While Cutler and Co has built a cult reputation in the Melbourne fine dining scene for its seafood and meat dishes, it also offers a vegetarian and vegan dinner set menu on request that is equally impressive. The menu's emphasis is seasonal produce sourced locally. Pair it with a selection of wines from their stellar wine menu.
55–57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy