Ultimate guide to vegetarian dining

In a nation with an eye on healthy living and a vibrant restaurant scene, it’s no surprise that plant-based dining is deliciously popular throughout Australia. Ultimate guide to vegetarian dining
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Ultimate guide to vegetarian dining

In a nation with an eye on healthy living and a vibrant restaurant scene, it’s no surprise that plant-based dining is deliciously popular throughout Australia.

By Jac Taylor

Many Australians enjoy a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. As a result, you won't have any difficulty finding great vegetarian or vegan meal choices. Countless multicultural influences and Australia's proximity to Asia have contributed to a growing enthusiasm for meat-free dining even among meat eaters, and ethically produced, cruelty-free and raw cuisine are all increasingly popular trends being adopted by the Australian population. Here are some great places where fabulous gastronomy, fresh produce and ethical eating intersect.



The lanes and precincts of Melbourne are home to some of the most innovative vegetarian cuisine in the country. In Brunswick you can tuck into vegetarian Lebanese soul food at Téta Mona or clean-eating treats such as raw curries or tacos at the stalwart Vegie Bar. The beachside enclave of St Kilda is home to Matcha Mylkbar and its famous vegan "eggs". Melbourne is also the original home of fast-food juggernaut Lord of the Fries, which serves up vegetarian burgers, and french fries with a range of vegetarian toppings.


Those in the know head to Nourishing Quarter in inner city Redfern for vegan Vietnamese, where the twice-nightly sittings (6pm and 8pm) are regularly booked out. Or they go to ultra-chic vegetarian restaurant Yellow, in the cosmopolitan suburb of Potts Point. Yum cha (dim sum) is an adopted Sydney pastime thanks to the city's large Asian population, and Bodhi serves a vegan version under the branches of giant fig trees in the city (just behind towering St Mary's Cathedral).


The beachside suburb of Glenelg offers a great range of healthy options. Visit The Organik Store & CaféThe Annex or RAW Conscious Eatery for vegan and vegetarian wraps, smoothies, juices, salads and sandwiches. In the nearby city centre there's also plenty to choose from, including Nutrition Republic, a raw, vegan, paleo cafe (try the peanut butter and caramel cake). At the other end of the spectrum is a fine-dining experience at Hill of Grace restaurant, where a vegan tasting menu can be organised with advance notice. And if you feel like something sweet after all that, don't miss the Eggless Dessert Café.


Many renowned restaurants here offer vegetarian tasting menus, including BacchusThe Foraging Quail and Urbane. There are also plenty of fantastic options at the lower end of the price range. Keep an eye out for Vege Rama, a vegetarian burger chain with two city outlets. Indulge in Brisbane's love of the brunch tradition by sampling the organic breakfast options at the long-standing institution, Fundies Wholefood Café or at health-conscious Sourced Grocer in the funky riverside neighbourhood of Newstead.


As Canberra's dining culture continues to evolve, so does the range of choice available to vegetarians and vegans. Sweet Bones Bakery Café not only serves up towering special-occasion cakes, but filling chilli "cheeze" dogs and flavourful soups, while The Cupping Room in Civic, though not entirely vegetarian, keeps coffee-loving plant eaters happy with plenty of choice for breakfast and lunch.



Darwin's multi-ethnic population, including a sizeable Greek community, means you've got a recipe for fabulous food. This includes countless plant-based food options, especially at Saturday morning Parap markets, Sunday morning Nightcliff markets and Sunday evening Mindil markets. Look out for coconut-steamed rice bowls, spicy vegetable laksas, and many options at Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai and Japanese food stalls, as you wander with a refreshing tropical fruit smoothie in hand (a Darwin speciality). There are also plenty of excellent, affordable Greek restaurants in Darwin, including Yots and Manolis Greek Taverna.


Tasmanians are dedicated to locally and ethically grown food, a trend visible in Hobart's new crop of popular restaurants. Sip fresh juice-based concoctions alongside vegan nachos at Pulp Friction, or drink shop-roasted coffee with your vegetarian, gluten-free chocolate-dipped giant pretzels at Straight Up Coffee and Food. In a suitably historic building in picture-perfect Battery Point, the Pollen Tea Room has you covered for vegetarian and vegan offerings alongside high-end teas.


The gluten-free, dairy-free, low-GI, plant-based food at the popular Little Shop of Plenty, just out of the city, provides colourful, vibrant nutrition. Over at Flora & Fauna, a Summer Love juice cocktail and hearty dishes crowned with fresh flowers, served alfresco, are hard to beat for their sheer charm. Down in oceanside Fremantle, The Raw Kitchen brings raw, vegan purity to its hip warehouse weekend dinners.

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