Sustainable food and ethical eating have become buzzwords in Melbourne. Read our guide to the city’s best vegetarian and vegan restaurants. After all, there’s never been a better time to be a vegan here.
With Australia having been recognised as the third fastest-growing vegan market, it’s no wonder Melbourne is blazing a trail on the vegan scene. From taquerias to pizza parlours, fine dining to grab-and-go lunch joints, the city is teeming with plant-based businesses that look as good as the dishes they serve. Read our guide to Melbourne’s best vegetarian and vegan spots.
Best Vegan Spots in Melbourne
Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to quit the pizzas. At one of Melbourne’s first vegan pizzerias, mouth-watering toppings are served on thin, wood-fired charred crusts to deliver a dish that is every bit as tasty as the ones Mamma made back in Italy. From classic margaritas topped with dairy-free fior di latte to scrumptiously innovative pizza sauces like spinach and kale pesto, this place delivers a delightfully sustainable twist on authentic Italian cuisine. They also have options to accommodate gluten, soy and nut-free diets.
Insider’s Tip: A free onion and garlic sauce is available upon request.
Address: 406 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3071, Australia
Open From: Tue – Fri: 5pm – 10pm; Sat: 12pm – 10pm; Sun: 5pm – 9pm
Price: Pizzas start at AUD 18
If you’re looking for some good vibes to go with your food, head over to The Vegan Shack where the vibrant, colourful decor is bound to brighten up any day. Just like their fit-out, the food and drinks served here come in all colours of the rainbow. An offshoot of Rawbeet, a popular food truck peddling vegan cuisine around the city from 2016-17, this permanent location is all tropical vibes and catchy names – think ‘What You Taco’n bout Willis’ and ‘Don’t Avo Go @ Me’ – for delicious dishes covering everything from hearty breakfasts to vegan burgers, bowls of grains to mouthwatering toasties.
Insider’s Tip: Because The Vegan Shack only has limited seating, it’s a good idea to have your meal packed for takeaway.
Address: 264 Swan St, Richmond VIC 3121, Australia
Open From: Mon – Fri: 7:30am – 3pm; Sat – Sun: 8am – 3:30pm
Price: Meals here typically cost AUD 20 per person
Ever since opening in 2016, Matcha Mylkbar has taken the Melburnian foodie crowd by storm with its highly Instagrammable and wildly inventive dishes. They’re known for serving up the vegan take on standard staples. One of their most famous dishes is their take on ‘eggs’ – only this time, concocted from sous vide-cooked ‘whites’ made from agar-agar, coloured by almond and coconut milk, and a ‘yolk’ fashioned from sweet potato, coconut milk and linseed protein puree – and the same creative approach is lent to everything from their bright green burgers to their Mushroom Lattes and Soy Chicken. Factor in beautifully modern, industrial interiors filled with plants of all kinds and quality coffee, and it’s no wonder this is a consistent high flyer in the city’s vegan scene.
Insider’s Tip: Got a sweet tooth? You’ve got to try their matcha pancakes.
Address: 72A Acland St, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
Open From: Mon – Fri: 8am – 3pm; Sat – Sun: 8am – 4pm (kitchen closes an hour earlier)
Price: Meals usually start from AUD 24 upwards
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Best Vegetarian Spots in Melbourne
Specialising in light, meat-free dishes, Sister of Soul has two spots around town and is loved by both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Whether it’s their hearty bibimbap nutrition bowl or some green gyoza dumplings that give just the right amount of chew, every dish here is flavour-packed and served in generous portions. What’s more, Sister of Soul makes a conscious effort to divert food waste from landfills by sending scraps and coffee grinds to enrich the soil at the St. Kilda Veg Out Community Gardens, helping locals grow all kinds of produce.
Insider’s Tip: Looking to end your meal with something sweet? Sister of Soul’s smooth and creamy dark chocolate tart is topped with a tasty sour cherry filling, roasted hazelnuts and coffee cream.
Address: 73 Acland St, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
Open From: 8am – 10pm
Price: Main dishes range from AUD 16 – 20
Embodying good food for a good cause, Lentil as Anything serves quality Sri Lankan food and advocates for social fairness and inclusion. One of Australia’s most successful social enterprises, the concept was launched back in 2000 by Sri Lankan-born entrepreneur Shanaka Fernando, and now takes in three locations around Melbourne and one in Sydney. Homely cafés are staffed by hardworking and hospitable volunteers, many of whom are refugees or the under-employed looking to learn hospitality skills. Delicious vegan dishes, most with a Sri Lankan or Indian twist, are served up with the freshest and highest quality ingredients, and it’s all run on a pay-as-you-feel system where customers pay for their meals either through cash donations or by volunteering for a few hours.
Insider’s Tip: The vegan Okonomiyaki and Green Lentil Burgers are customer favourites.
Address: 41 Blessington St, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
Open From: 12pm – 5pm; 5:30pm – 9pm
Price: Runs on a pay-as-you-feel system
Trippy Taco does just what you’d expect, delivering a yummy, vegetarian twist on Mexican street food. Known for nourishing burritos as big as your wrist and delicious, crunchy nachos topped with melted vegan cheese, the food here is served in large portions with plenty of guac to go around. (The restaurant is vegetarian, but there are vegan options aplenty.) Top it all off with their bright, 1970’s orange decor and cheap wines and beers, and it’s easy to see how Trippy Taco truly brings the smiles and good vibes one taco at a time.
Insider’s Tip: Most meals can be tailored to fit all sorts of dietary requirements – just ask!
Address: 6 Acland St, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
Open From: Mon – Fri: 5pm – 9pm; Sat – Sun: 12:30pm – 9pm
Price: Meals typically range from AUD 11 – 19
If you’re looking for a more refined vegan dining experience, Transformer is your spot. Founded by the same people who own the bustling eateries Rice Queen and Vegie Bar, this place bills itself as a bastion of ‘innovative, plant-based cuisine,’ serving up inventive and out-of-the-box dishes such as Parisian black trumpet mushroom gnocchi served with porcini puree and onion sage butter. Housed in a former factory, the space is all sophisticated, industrial details – think brass decor and street art-inspired murals – softened with intimate dining spots, plenty of greenery and soft lighting for a romantic night out. Throw in some signature cocktails, and you’re set!
Insider’s Tip: Combining health with booze, Transformer has a fully licenced bar that serves quirky cocktails like Goji berry-infused Havana Club rum and Hendrick’s gin with lavender honey.
Address: 99 Rose St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia
Open From: Mon – Thu: 5:30pm – 10:30pm; Fri: 5:30pm – 11pm; Sat: 12pm – 11pm; Sun: 12pm – 9:30pm
Price: Mains start from AUD 19 upwards while cocktails cost AUD 17 upwards
Best Meat Alternatives in Melbourne
Inspired by Southeast Asian hawker markets, Rice Paper Scissors perfectly replicates the culinary pleasures of travelling through Southeast Asia without having to get on a plane. Although meat dishes are still on their menu, this restaurant, taking in the tastes of Vietnam, Thailand, Bali and beyond, is known for its exceptionally yummy meat replacements on their vegan and vegetarian list. In a quiet and relaxed atmosphere, customers here enjoy an array of sharing plates, tucking into tasty morsels like ‘Crispy Tofu Bao with Burnt Mandarin Jam,’ ‘BBQ King Mushroom Banh Mi’ and ‘Caramelised Mock Pork and Peanuts.’
Insider’s Tip: If you simply can’t decide which dish to go for, the super accommodating staff at Rice Paper Scissors are more than willing to help customers get to grips with their menu offerings, both figuratively and literally.
Address: 19 Liverpool St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia (check out their website for their recently opened Fitzroy location)
Open From: Mon – Thu: 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm; Fri – Sun: 12pm – 11pm
Price: Main dishes here typically cost around AUD 13 – 17
Owned by the founders of Smith & Daughters, a renowned Italian plant-based restaurant that’s a high flyer in the city’s meat-alternative movement, Smith & Deli is a grab-and-go, New York-style delicatessen that sells vegan baked goods (fancy a crème brulee doughnut?) alongside the vegan-friendly take on charcuterie and classic sandwiches – think plant-based ‘pastrami’ and ‘salami’ – and crowd-pleasers such as a ‘Tim Tam Frappé and ‘Cheeseburger Pie.’ With adorable, hand-written menus hanging behind the counter, plus plenty of takeaway options on offer to feed the whole family, this place is ideal for your daily dose of good food and good vibes.
Insider’s Tip: We’ve got to recommend their vegan vanilla slice – the flaky, buttery pastry is filled with a thick and sweet custard filling.
Address: 111 Moor St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia
Open From: Tue – Sat: 8am – 6pm
Price: Meals here usually cost around AUD 10 – 15