Any vegetarian traveller I’m sure will concur, not all places in the world are quite up to speed with the vegetarian lifestyle and finding good food can often be a challenge. This is not the case in Melbourne, while I lived there for three years I was able to indulge in many amazing restaurants and cafes, still only scratching the surface of the amount on offer in this great city. Here are my favourites from many tried and tested breakfast, lunches and dinners.
The Vegie Bar
Best for: Dinner
Any local Melbournian, vegetarian or not, knows of the magical delicious land that is Vegie Bar. Situated in the heart of the hipster community Fitzroy, Vegie bar commands the top spot as the best restaurant for vegetarians I have had the pleasure of dining at. Anything on the menu is a must-try, however, I must urge you to save room for the mud cake, it will change your life
Monk Bohdi Darma
Best for: Brunch
After I moved south of the river, I was desperately searching for a new killer brunch spot to spend Sunday mornings in. I found this gem of a cafe tucked away in what can only be described as a shack near the Balaclava station. Monk Bohdi is tiny and you will most likely need to wait outside for a table unless you go as soon as it opens (which we did do, often). My favourites on the menu included the mushrooms on cornbread with chilli oil, the “Hungry Jimbo” and accompanied by the homemade chai latte. They also have a majority vegan menu which I believe they are striving to make 100% in due course.
Best for: Insta-Brunch
Another south side breakie gem, Matcha Mylkbar have managed to seamlessly combine Melbourne’s love of food and maximum insta-worthy presentation. The ‘grammers come from all over the city donning their yoga mats and activewear, to capture their lovingly crafted acai bowls, vegan eggs and turmeric lattes. All joking aside though, this picture perfect cafe has a huge menu crammed with amazing dishes from mac’n’cheese waffles to avo toast to burgers and back again. A must try if you’re in St Kilda.
Lentil As Anything
Best for: Supporting a good cause
Lentil As Anything is a social enterprise which places people over profit, it’s a pay-as-you-feel setup where the 100% vegan food is prepped and served by volunteers who are often working for a meal or to build up their skills in hospitality in order to seek full-time employment. The volunteers can be a mix of refugees, the homeless and the under-employed, and all donations after the upkeep of the restaurants go towards their social justice scheme. My favourite location among the three in Melbourne was the Abbotsford Convent, which is set in beautiful garden surroundings. The meals are usually a set menu on what meals they have bulk prepared that day so it’s always a new experience every time we went.
Sister of Soul
Best for: All day
Another good south-side haunt, Sister of Soul is a great spot to have lunch or dinner in summer with a beer in hand. Positioned on the edge of Acland street in the midst of St Kilda’s bar scene, this relatively new restaurant offers up more South East Asian dishes than the rest on this list, favourites of mine including; Vegan Pho, salt and pepper tofu and the Nasi Goreng.
The Cornish Arms Hotel
Best for: Vegan pub grub
The Aussies love pub meal, chicken parmigiana is practically a national symbol. But this classic pub wanted to make sure that we veggies and vegans could still indulge. This place is great if you’re keen to grab a quiz night, drink pints and basically do everything a normal pub provides, but without the meat. You can even bring your mates here, they still serve some meat dishes to cater to everyone. Make sure you sit outside and prepare for an epic food baby after.
Best for: American burgers
The B.East is located about 3 minutes away from my old apartment, so you can imagine I was a bit of a regular on a Sunday afternoon when nursing a hangover and craving a dirty fried chicken burger. These guys take burgers very seriously, the vegan menu has epic choices like the vegan-mac and pulled jackfruit, best accompanied by the vegan poutine and tater tots. Most impressively though is the decor, think 1950s American diner combined with massive street art style murals and you’ll get the picture.
Best for: Lebanese soul food
About 300 metres from B.East you’ll also find the best Lebanese food you’ll ever try. Dramatic, yes, but also true. Teta Mona is family owned and operated and doesn’t assume much from the outside, or really from the inside, but trust me when I say it’s awesome. I’ve failed to get a table here more than I’ve dined, with vegetarians and meat eaters coming from all over. It’s very much a share dish place and if you’re not sure what to order they can usually sort you out with the best stuff when you order the tasting menu.