Staying clear of meat can be frustrating. Vegetarians are an afterthought on many menus, with just two or three uninspiring dishes to choose from. That's changing fast, though - vegetables are hot property in contemporary fine-dining. Chefs from New York to Copenhagen are giving them more love and attention, for reasons both ethical and creative. Slowly, this attitude is filtering down to more casual venues too.

Melbourne is no exception to all this. Transformer opened in 2015, with a menu entirely free of meat. Plenty of vegetarian restaurants came before it, but it was arguably the first to adopt a truly experimental and forward-thinking mindset. Others will follow in its footsteps.

For now, make do with this small-ish list of our favourite eateries. They’re not all strictly vegetarian, but all offer a substantial meat-free selection that rises well above the token mushroom risotto.

Read more:
Best Vegan Restaurants in Melbourne

Onda

Colourful walls, colourful food. That's the proposition at this loosely South American eatery with a strong vegetarian slant.

280 Bridge Road, Richmond
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Transformer

Pushing the boundaries of what we expect from meat-free food.

99 Rose Street, Fitzroy

Attica

Ben Shewry's world-recognised fine diner offers a separate degustation menu for vegetarians.

74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea

Ezard

Another fine diner with a dedicated menu for vegetarians.

187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
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Maha

Middle Eastern food has always been vegetarian-friendly, and Shane Delia's busy restaurant is no exception.

21 Bond St, Melbourne
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The Green Man’s Arms

Meat-free Israeli fare and retro decor – this isn’t your usual Melbourne pub.

418 Lygon St, Carlton

Shop225 Pizzeria

Here, nearly every item on the menu can be made vegan and/or gluten-free.

225 Melville Road, Pascoe Vale South
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Smith & Daughters

Ballsy vegan fare, tattooed babes and a rock‘n’roll vibe.

175 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
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Feast of Merit

There's plenty of meat on the Middle Eastern-inspired menu, but it's still in the minority.

Restaurant 117 Swan Street, Richmond
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Mukka

Try the tandoori mushroom skewers or the eggplant curry.

365 365 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
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Evie’s Disco Diner

It’s an ’80s referencing, 50 per cent vegan American diner with a dance floor.

230 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
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Horn Please

Half meat dishes, half veggie dishes.

167 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North
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Vegie Bar

It's well and truly earned the title of institution.

380 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Sister of Soul

Vegetarian for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

73 Acland Street, St Kilda

Tahina

Fancy some Israeli street food?

223 High St, Northcote

Tofu Shop International

Big, hearty serves featuring lentils, chickpeas, sweet potato, pumpkin or eggplant.

78 Bridge Road, Richmond

Shakahari Carlton

David Bowie loved it. You will too.

201-203 Faraday Street, Carlton

Téta Mona

There are rarely more than one or two meat dishes in the mix at this Lebanese eatery.

100A Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Very Good Falafel

It's very good. Really.

629 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Yong Green Food

Good for vegans and vegetarians alike.

421-423 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
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Moroccan Soup Bar

You might wait 30 minutes for a table. It's that good.

183 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North

Lentil As Anything

All-you-can-eat and pay-what-you-please. There's nothing else like it.

1-3 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford

Trippy Taco

Mexican staples, minus the meat. Also in St Kilda.

234 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
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