Want to show your hot date that your dining insights go beyond meat-lover’s pizza? Or are you a vegetarian tired of the same old meat-free dishes? From smart casual to the finest of fine dining, try these Melbourne restaurants for some tasty meat-free meals.
Green Man’s Arms
Ask a vegan if they want to go out for some pub grub and they’ll probably look forlorn. But suggest the Green Man’s Arms and watch them light up, because this pub’s menu is meat-free. There are several vegan options, from eggplant schnitty to halva ice-cream, plus beers that aren’t processed with animal products like gelatin. Coeliacs are looked after with some gluten-free dishes and beer too.
The Seedling Cafes on Flinders Lane and Little Collins Street are temples of nutritious, delicious food that’s paleo-inspired and gluten and sugar-free. The menu’s also kind to folks looking for dairy-free, vegan, raw, nut-free and low-carb options. Even your coffee comes just the way you like it, whether decaf, lactose-free, or with almond, coconut or soy milk. Woohoo!
Rice Paper Scissors
Smart enough for frisky cocktails but casual enough that eating with your hands is encouraged, Rice Paper Scissors makes food fun. Vegetarians shouldn’t be put off by the fairly meaty looking South-East Asian hawker-style menu. Numerous dishes either are or can be made meat-free, using soy-based substitutes, tofu or vegetables. Cheers!
You can avoid meat at Mexican joints prettily easily, but what about cheese and other dairy? No worries at Bodega Underground, a colourful den where animal-free options include vegan chilaquiles and black bean tacos with vegan jalapeno crema. Celebrate with drinks like margaritas, palomas and mezcal coolers.
Being vegan and liking naughty pastries don’t usually go together. But they do at Weirdoughs, a totally plant-based bakery whose butter alternative is conjured from macadamia, cashew and coconut oil. They make the classics, but excel at weird creations like cube croissants and red jam doughnuts that are red through and through. There are also vegan croissant sandwiches and ice-cream flavours ranging from wasabi to lavender.
Lord of the Fries
Burgers, hot dogs, nuggets, fries loaded with creamy sauces and milkshakes. Sounds like a vegan alert, but not at Lord of the Fries, where everything is miraculously 100% animal-free. It’s also halal and kosher, and gluten-free options are available, with every menu item’s ingredients listed on their website. This is fast food but not as we know it, from phish burgers to egg-free mayo.
You may have seen chef Shane Delia on his SBS cooking show, Spice Journey. No need to lick the screen – his smart Middle Eastern awaits at Maha Restaurant, including vegan feasts of up to eight courses. The food is made to share, but staff seamlessly co-ordinate the table’s different dietary needs.
After 20 years, Teage Ezard’s eponymous dining room is still among the city’s most acclaimed. The artful fusion of French and Asian cuisines is best experienced with an eight-course degustation, and that includes you, vegetarians and vegans! Ezard’s vegan feast is a symphony of vegetables, fruit, tofu, grains and other animal-free ingredients, so you can live it up guilt-free.
Prefer to go all the way, at Melbourne’s pioneering meat-free restaurant? Shakahari, which means vegetarian in Hindi, opened in 1972, when meat and three veg without the meat was the usual veggie option. After more than 45 years, they know better than most how to make East-meets-West fare that’s delicious, nutritious and ethical.