Healthy lunchbox from Fishbowl.
Photograph: Supplied / Fishbowl

The best healthy lunches in Melbourne's CBD

Trying to find a lighter lunch that still tastes great? These are our picks for healthy meals you can grab on the go

Jade SolomonLauren Dinse
Contributor: Lauren Dinse
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What is it with corporate cafes in the CBD and high-calorie focaccias the size of your face that somehow still taste like nothing? To love your lunchtimes again, let's liven it up a bit. Whether you’re watching your waistline or simply searching for a light and fresh meal that won’t plonk you into an afternoon slump, this is the list to bookmark.

Looking for something lighter on the wallet? Check out the 20 best lunches in the CBD for less than $15

The best healthy lunches in the city

  • Vegan
  • Docklands

Vegans: we've just found your lunchtime paradise. This leafy green bar open across both breakfast and lunch is a haven of cold-pressed juices, nut mylks, freshly made salads, curries and bibimbap bowls, and raw desserts. If all that's not rock n' roll enough for you, there's vegan wine on tap so you can let your hair down the ethical way. There isn't a healthier lunch spot this side of the CBD and the housemade kimchi slaps. What are you waiting for?

  • Asian
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4
Namoo Japanese Café
Namoo Japanese Café

This always-busy spot serves some of the best takeaway Japanese fare in the CBD. For something light but nourishing, try the soba noodles or salad bowls, which you can customise with your choice of grilled chicken, vegetables and tofu, salmon or prawn. The sashimi is fresh and the brown rice sushi rolls make for a great healthy alternative. 

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  • Cafés
  • Melbourne

Finding healthy and quick lunch options in the city is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but thankfully Green Cup – one of Melbourne's top proprietors of acai bowls and green smoothies – has opened another location right here in the heart of the CBD. Grab a peanut butter-topped acai bowl, a Hailey Bieber-inspired smoothie or a slice of smashed avo toast to get you through the rest of the afternoon without feeling too sleepy.  

After a well-balanced meal that has your perfect protein, carbs and fat macro split covered? Head to the new Fishbowl at Melbourne Quarter on Collins Street. It's one of Australia's most trusted purveyors of food delivered fast that isn't, well, fast food. Think protein-packed nourish bowls, vegan salads and lunch boxes topped with fresh Australian tuna and salmon. Nothing fake gets into your bowl and the Japanese flavours are delicious. We love the O.G option: a yummy combo of salmon sashimi (or poached chicken, if you prefer), kale, beets, edamame, red onion, roasted sesame dressing, seaweed salad and crisp shallots. There's also an outpost on Flinders Lane.

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  • Vietnamese
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

The chain behind this unassuming Hardware Lane noodle shop is world-famous for dishing up some of the best pho from Hanoi. But the team here step it up a notch in the healthy stakes by using fresh Victorian produce and zero MSG. Try the signature dish “stir-fries up” – rare slices of skirt steak and garlic gently stirred into a leafy broth along with ginger, shallots, flat rice noodles and roughly chopped spring onion and coriander. With a fresh coconut juice or iced tea on the side, it's one of the healthiest (and tastiest) homestyle lunches you'll find in the heart of the CBD.

  • Greek
  • Melbourne

The legendary purveyors of Melbourne institution Stalactites are the brains behind this casual Greek takeaway spot filling the hungry stomachs of CBD workers. While the souvas are undoubtedly delish, if you want a lighter option go for the naked, no-carb version (your choice of meat with all the trimmings but no pita). The Greek salad and dips also make for fresh, light and satisfying lunch options. 

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  • Melbourne

A front-runner in the expertly made, sustainably sourced salad and sandwich game, Earl has maintained its quality status and grown its business to sprawl across the CBD while still offering more products than ever. Grab-and-go salads here are more interesting than your average, with additions of hazelnut hummus, krauts and turmeric dressings. For those who are feeling particularly peckish, protein pots are available to give you an extra serve of salmon, eggs or chickpeas.

  • Juice bars
  • Melbourne

Yawye – an acroynm that stands for "You Are What You Eat" – might not be the easiest name to remember, but the smoothies you can buy from a brand new spot in the CBD certainly are. Don't expect your average banana-bloob blend from this hole-in-the-wall wellness purveyor. These smoothie masters are taking things up a notch with ingredients you've probably only heard about on your fave health podcast. There are also a range of customisable acai bowls if you're in need of drinkable health in a more substantial form.

 

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  • Melbourne
Fonda Mexican
Fonda Mexican

There’s enough texture and flavour in Fonda's dishes to keep you feeling satisfied instead of deprived. The tasty salads in particular are filled with enough vegetables and protein that it's like you’re eating the healthy rainbow. But our top pick? The Mex-Bim-Bap is a combo of sweet potato, black beans, sweet corn, spinach, pico de gallo, guacamole, pickled cabbage, brown rice and quinoa, with crispy paprika chickpeas, tortilla strips and vinaigrette – yum.

  • Melbourne

Nosh is slinging Japanese-inspired healthy fast food to CBD workers seeking something a little different. Customise your own bowl to cater to your favourite flavour combination, or go for one of the signature bowls such as the teriyaki chicken tease with chicken breast, teriyaki glaze, jasmine rice and baby mixed leaf salad. It ain't groundbreaking stuff but it does the trick when you're on the go and need to fuel up on real food.

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  • Melbourne

Udon Yasan is a small Japanese eatery specialising in – you guessed it! – udon noodles. It's a humble ode to the thick, springy noodle we all know and love, and you can get yours swimming in a broth with sukiyaki beef, bean curd, teriyaki chicken or even kimchi. A hearty broth, filling protein and some good carbs make this spot a great option for a healthy lunch, even on your hungrier days. 

  • Middle Eastern
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Stop by this Hardware Lane favourite for a healthy lunch with a side of high-energy vibes no matter the time of day. While you could go heavy with a Wagyu burger pita, there are also plenty of options for lighter, veggie-forward lunches. We're talking about the bag of green beans, a whole-cooked cauliflower, hot chickpeas with melting tahini or the ratatouille plate with a hard-boiled egg.

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  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4
Crossways
Crossways

Yes, this place is still open. Yes, it still costs peanuts to get a good feed (well - $9.50, to be precise.) Run by Melbourne's exuberant Hare Krishna folks, Crossways is a stalwart CBD lunch spot you can rely on when you want to eat something authentic, warming, vegetarian and easy to digest. Dancing is optional.

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