These days, plant-based pub meals are everywhere – here are the most delicious in town. For more guides to eating meatlessly in Melbourne, check out our top picks for vegan and vegetarian restaurants. And, because not all restaurants advertise their vego options, it pays to know these vegan hacks for non-vegan restaurants.
Try these vegetarian pub meals
The entirely vegan menu at the Cornish Arms is a thing that meat-shunners dream of: parmas, fried chicken, mac’n’cheese burgers, Hawaiian pizza and more can all be made using high quality fake protein. You won’t find anything like the vegan souvlaki anywhere else in Melbourne; pillowy flatbread wraps up thin slices of tender mock duck and chicken seitan, covered in just the right amount of garlic sauce and chilli. For the full experience, pop a few of your chips inside the souva for extra crunch, and wash it down with one of the nine vegan beers on tap. Actual meat is on the menu too, making this an all-inclusive pub party.
Of the three women who own this Collingwood favourite, one third (Tracy Walsh) is vegetarian, so it’s no surprise that the kitchen has come up with some inventive meatless meals. One such dish is the grilled eggplant medallions; a healthier twist on an eggplant parma where crisp round eggplant pieces are topped with haloumi on a refreshing bed of quinoa, green beans, goat’s cheese, cranberries and aioli. It’s also gluten-free, and can be made vegan on request
There’s a lot of heart in the B.East – you can feel it in the warm and welcoming staff, in the lovingly curated and constantly rotating beers on tap, and in the breadth of weekly events, which range from the ‘Mock the Casbah’ vegan and punk rock night on Monday to one of the most popular trivia nights in town on Tuesday. Get involved in the aptly named Morrissey burger – a thick southern fried mock chicken patty sits between two slightly sweet beetroot buns, with a spicy kick from jalapeño salsa and cos and tomato for freshness. For the old-school experience, pair it with a vegan oreo milkshake.
Wedged smack bang in the middle of Melbourne’s bustling Vietnamese district on Victoria Street, the National Hotel’s menu has a decidedly pan-Asian flavour. Start with some zingy vegetable, lime and chilli spring rolls (don’t skimp on the herbs when you wrap them in lettuce) then get stuck into a spicy and fragrant vegan Thai green vegetarian curry with coconut rice – the perfect antidote to winter.
There’s a reason why punters young and old cross town for this much-loved Footscray pub; not only is it one of Melbourne’s hottest and most diverse live music pubs, but the menu also caters equally well to vegans and carnivores. Our pick of the bunch is the hearty vegetarian or vegan burrito, complete with juicy house-made mock pork, rice, beans, guac, salsa and chipotle lime mayo. Don’t let your friends steal all your spicy fries; you’ll want them all.
More tasty meat-free meals
When it comes to vegetarian dining, Melbourne is home to some long-serving heroes – meat-free institutions like Shakahari and Moroccan Soup Bar have been winning hearts for decades. Thankfully, the last few years have seen a resurgence of the humble veg, as chefs step up to work their magic on plant-based foods.