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Patsy's, Melbourne
Patricia Sofra

The best restaurants for vegetarians in Melbourne

Vegetarians shouldn't have to settle just for some sad side dishes, so head to these spots instead for premium vegetarian fare

Jade Solomon
Written by
Quincy Malesovas
&
Jade Solomon
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While many restaurants offer solid vegetarian options these days, there are some spots that know how to elevate vegetarian food to the point that even carnivores forget there is no meat involved. From fancy dining to cheap eats, Melbourne serves up excellent vegetarian fair any time of the day, any day of the week. Here are the best restaurants dishing up plant-based meals.

Want more? These are the best restaurants for vegans in Melbourne. Wanting to explore the town? Check out the best cheap eats in town

Vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Melbourne

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Melbourne

From the team behind Donna Maria and Bistro Elba, Patsy’s is an all-vegetarian wine bar celebrating Mediterranean techniques and local produce. Though it’s located just a short hop from the Queen Vic Market, most veg is grown on the owners’ farm in the Central Highlands. It’s presented through pretty plates like pine mushrooms braised with white wine and lentils, socca (chickpea flour pancakes) with Jerusalem artichoke and treviso, and rhubarb and custard empanadas.

  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy

At 107 Cambridge Street in Collingwood exists a place of worship for all things plant-based, and all things delicious. Smith and Daughters’ new home is a flagship establishment for the modern-day, meat-free movement that's making its way through Melbourne. But the fact that this place is 100 per cent vegan is not even the most thrilling thing about it. It is the flavour of each dish, the electric atmosphere of each of the dining areas, the fabulous fitout, and the incredible variety of experiences on offer that are all really something to write home about. With her brand new set-up, Shannon Martinez cements herself as a force to be reckoned with in the competitive Melbourne dining scene, and we should all (not just those with specific dietary requirements) be grateful for her vision, her hard work and her contribution to our hospitality industry.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

As one of Melbourne’s tallest rooftop bars, Fable is a lovely spot for a drink with a view. It also happens to provide an extensive selection of vegetarian and vegan offerings. Dishes such as the silky fava bean dip with fluffy gluten-free focaccia and jalapeño poppers filled with dairy-free chèvre are the perfect accompaniment to the Mediterranean-inspired cocktails, most of which are also fully plant-based and prepared using Victorian spirits. Cold Greek yoghurt served with hot and spicy tomatoes and focaccia is a house favourite, as is the halloumi with baba ganoush, petimezi, pinenuts and zataar. 

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Carlton

Usually when you go to a pub, the only vegetarian options are an average veggie burger, a side salad and some chippies, but not at this proudly vegetarian Carlton pub. The Green Man’s Arms celebrates all things veggie with a seasonally rotating menu. Start with a vegetarian charcuterie board and a burrata salad, move on to an eggplant schnitzel or tofu larb, and end on a sweet note with gelato or vanilla brûlée

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy
  • price 1 of 4
  • Recommended

At this northside Mexican joint, amidst the '70s orange tiles and bamboo benches, your corn tortilla tacos come out packing a combo of chilli-spiced and grilled tofu or black beans with thick slices of avocado, mozzarella cheese and a fresh tomato salsa. The food is all vegetarian or vegan (with plenty of gluten-free options), however, the owners prefer not to sell it as such, believing the food stands on its own. Our pick is the tofu asada burrito: the tofu is marinated in a sauce that is satisfyingly smoky and ever-so-sweet. Just up for a snack? Go for the fries with paprika seasoning, washed down with a light Pacifico beer. 

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Fitzroy North

At Just Falafs, the falafels are made fresh every morning and fried to order, creating a winning crunch-to-moistness ratio. Have these babies on their own, packed in a pita pocket stuffed with pickles, tahini and a fiery harissa, or on a plate with a few counter salads. If you want to forgo the balls altogether, opt for the sabich – a sandwich packed with fried, oozy eggplant, boiled eggs, pickles, tahini and salad. It requires at least three napkins to eat, and it’s guaranteed to make a mess in the best possible way.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Fitzroy

Neko Neko is driven by a vegan, vegetarian and pescetarian ethos and serves some of the best grub on Smith Street. The menu includes several types of vegan ramen, potato and bean croquettes, vegan gyoza and tofu and tempeh salad

  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Merricks North

Rare Hare is not a vegetarian restaurant, but the options are plentiful and not just considered menu afterthoughts. While the dishes on offer change often, expect the likes of corn, manchego and jalapeno croquettes, eggplant with miso, furikake and chilli, and ancient grains with pomegranate, date labneh and dukkah. And it goes without saying, always leave room for the wood-fired chocolate chip cookie.

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  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Brunswick
  • price 1 of 4

Run and owned by two self-proclaimed hipsters, this Brunswick favourite churns out home-style Middle Eastern food straight from the garden. Mankoushe first opened as a bakery, milling Victorian wheat on-site to turn out spinach and feta pastries, its cult-status halloumi pies and vegetarian ‘pizzas’ before it took over the space next door and encouraged sit-down banquets. There are always plenty of vegetarian options such as the charcoaled bullhorn peppers, the cauliflower dip, or the broccoli with cured cheese, sumac and lemon.

  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy

Vegie Bar isn’t the newest kid on the block, but it still manages to lure in Southsiders from across the river. Dishes that have been on the menu forever, such as the mee goreng and burrito, would cause a riot if they ever disappeared. But as vegetarianism has become more mainstream than counterculture, new dishes such as tacos made with fried jackfruit in place of meat, on-trend poke bowls and a burger inspired by the golden arches have kept the spotlight on this 30-odd-year-old restaurant and guarantee a full house most nights.

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Shakahari
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Carlton
  • Recommended

Opened in 1972, Carlton stalwart Shakahari has earned its name as one of the most innovative vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne. The hearty dishes are centred around Japanese and Indian cuisine, from bite-sized fried wedges of avocado to laksa and curries. The krub phom dumplings, filled with sweet corn, mushroom, pumpkin and walnuts will melt in your mouth.

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