Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Melbourne

Updated 2 weeks ago

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It’s no secret that vegetables, tofu and meat alternatives are having their moment. And it’s a welcome change. Just a few years ago, vegetarians were an afterthought at many restaurants, forced into the neglected corners of meat-heavy menus to choose from unsurprising vego options. Mushroom risotto? I guess so. Vegetable fried rice? Sure. Roasted veggie focaccia? Please, don’t make me do it again.

Luckily, those crumb-eating days are fading. Plenty of places – from fine diners to more casual joints – are doing exciting things with vegetables and have dedicated meat-free sections on their menus. This is a growing list of our favourite vegetarian-friendly restaurants. They’re not all strictly vego, but all offer a substantial meat-free selection that rises well above the token pumpkin and feta salad. Here’s to them – for making it ever-easier for vegetarians and omnivores to maintain their friendships.

  • Fire-based cooking reigns supreme at the second iteration of Shannon Martinez’ pioneering vegan diner, suitably housed inside an old red-brick fire station. Choose from Mediterranean-inspired dishes and booze à la carte, or grab a seat at the intimate chef’s table and let the experts choose for you.

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  • Right opposite the Queen Vic Market, this vegetarian restaurant has its roots in Mediterranean wine culture. Enjoy the Burgundian-style beetroot sausage or empanada gallega (fino pastry filled with potato and tomato) with something from the mostly-vegan wine list.

  • Shannon Martinez’s all-vegan diner serves Latin American-inspired dishes from the morning right through to the wee hours. Find Josper-fired peri-peri cauliflower, steamy tamales, and “blood” sausage. Plus, spicy cocktails and kombucha on tap.

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  • South and Central American flavours dominate the menu here. But you don’t need to dabble in meat to try them. Vegetables like corn, hearts of palm, cauliflower, capsicum and eggplant are treated with as much love as the meaty mains. And they might be brightened up with chimichurri, smoky chipotle or vegan tiger’s milk.

  • Transforming the perception that meat-free is mediocre since 2015. Roll into this refurbished electrical factory and feast on chickpea panisse, crispy oyster mushrooms and bahar-braised eggplant. For extra fun, add an Aperol Dill Spritz.

  • Ben Shewry’s world-recognised fine diner offers a separate degustation menu for vegetarians. The long, multi-course meal makes use of local flora and fauna – and might offer up a delicate artichoke toast or rich mushroom Wellington.

  • Middle Eastern food has always been vegetarian-friendly, and Shane Delia’s buzzy restaurant is no exception. There are plenty of veg-forward options here – including roasted Jerusalem artichokes, nutty moghrabieh, and smoked hummus with pine mushrooms.

  • This all-vegan cosy local is committed to serving up affordable, plant-based dishes and wines. Go for its meat-free takes on pub classics, house-made gnocchi and small bites. Enjoy your meal and vegan vino at the bar, in a booth, or in the beer garden out the back.

  • The green heritage-style facade and mid-century decor give all the impressions of another classic pub. Yet the vegetarian menu says otherwise. The eggplant “schnitzel” and fried cauliflower stand out; the diverse beers are a bonus.

  • There’s a seat for almost every diner and their dietaries here. Each of the classic pizzas can be made vegetarian or vegan. Go for the mushroom-heavy 2807 (sans sausage) or the Verde, topped with ribbons of baked eggplant. Plus, vegan pastas and desserts.

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  • Two brothers are behind this casual yet vibrant Indian spot, which has ample vegetarian options. Start with street snacks like panipuri, along with charred paneer tikka and mushroom skewers. Then go for curry pots packed with pumpkin masala, dal makhani or palak paneer. It also has a south-side spot in St Kilda.

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  • This queer-friendly, vegan-leaning American diner is true to its name with a nightclub sound system and mezzanine DJ booth. Its menu is just as fun with jalapeno poppers, vegan hot dogs and fried “chicken” burgers. Double down with fried apple pie (or on the dance floor).

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  • This Fitzroy North institution is famous for its Indian street food, vibrant cocktails and thalis stacked with regional curries. And much of the menu is meat-free. Fan favourites include the gol gappa (also known as panipuri), papdi chaat, Colonel Tso’s Cauliflower and Lychee Martini.

  • Around since 1988, this is one of Melbourne’s most recognised (and longstanding) vegetarian restaurants. You’ll find everything from “chicken” bao to hearty vegetarian burgers and fragrant laksas.

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  • Plenty of cuisines get a look-in at this all-vego restaurant, which has you covered from breakfast right through to dinner. Tofu and mushroom stand in for chicken in the Balinese-style nasi goreng (and does just as fine a job). While the Italian-style lasagne is bolstered with veggie protein, mushroom and other veg.

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  • This vegetarian Israeli street food spot is a local’s favourite. It’s slinging loaded pita pockets, refreshing salads, two flavours of falafel, shakshuka and smoky roasted vegetables. Plus, smoothies souped up with peanut butter, dragonfruit, miso and more.

  • A loyal clientele and a satisfying pan-Asian menu have kept this vego institution humming for more than 30 years. Go for the signature satay skewers, nyonya curry and laksa. Kylie Minogue and the late David Bowie have been fans of this spot for a reason.

  • This relaxed Lebanese spot blends Teta’s (“grandma’s”) traditional village recipes with the best wholefood ingredients. Its vego dishes include falafel platters, hearty baked vegetables and bright, herby salads.

  • This Sri Lankan restaurant is a Fitzroy North favourite. It has one of the best (and cheapest) buffets in Melbourne – regardless of cuisine.

  • Shuki Rosenboim and Louisa Allan opened this spot in 2016 on a strip packed with other options. Its secret to standing out? The chickpeas: Allan’s dad grows them in the Mallee. Here, they’re ground daily and fried to make crispy golden falafel for pitas and platters.

  • This colourful cantina-style space is full of Mexican classics, each with a meat-free twist. Go for loaded tacos – like the tofu asada with cheese, chargrilled tofu, salad, salsa and lime. Or find hefty meat-free burritos, cheesy quesadillas and crispy taquitos. Pair it all with a Margarita or Sangria jug.

  • This historic 19th-century public house has stepped into the 21st with a meat-free menu – featuring miso ramen and vego lasagne – and hyperlocal beers. Yet it’s a classic pub at heart, complete with fireplaces for cooler nights.

  • This smart diner is dedicated to its owner’s northern Indian heritage and family. Enjoy plenty of standout vegetarian options like mushroom tikka and dal makhani, alongside playful twists, like gol gappa (or panipuri) served in a shot glass.

  • At this Sri Lankan restaurant, the main drawcard is the colourful, affordable buffet that’s made up of more than 20 dishes. Go for aromatic cashew curry, tender Sri Lankan tempered potatoes and a made to order mango lassi.

  • This all-you-can eat Sri Lanka buffet is mostly gluten-free and vegetarian. For $25 a head, you can pile your plate high with steamed or stir-fried rice and noodles, dal, sambol and a rainbow of curries.

  • From the eco-conscious team behind Small Print Pizza comes this vegan-friendly pizza bar. The menu turns humble mushrooms, potatoes and pumpkins into heroes, and offers plenty of plant-based swaps (including for pepperoni and feta).

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  • Mankoushe is a laid-back and comforting Middle Eastern joint that flies under the radar. Order its bright share plates of falafel, freekeh, fried eggplant and more. Plus, woodfired pizzas topped with ingredients like garlic mushrooms, labneh and figs.

  • This warm and inviting pub is renowned for two reasons. First, it's got one of the most vegan-friendly menus in Melbourne. And second, its sunny and expansive rooftop bar ranks among the best in Brunswick.

  • Making plant-based food accessible (and enjoyable) to all. Brother Bon’s pan-Asian brunch and dinner menus hit all the right notes with fragrant noodle soups, dumplings, stir-fries and gua bao. Also on the menu are Vietnamese-style cocktails, as well as Australian beers and wines.

  • This plant-based pizza joint will please everyone (even your most avid carnivore friends). Pass the neon-red sparrow to find perfectly blistered woodfired pie that’s loaded with toppings.

  • At least half of the dishes are vego at this vibrant North Indian diner. Go for crispy honey-chilli cauliflower, fig and pomegranate kofta, and aloo ghobi (potato and cauliflower curry). Plus, find cocktails levelled-up with ingredients like turmeric, mango and cardamom.

  • There’s always vego options at this Spanish-style bar and eatery, and many dishes can be tweaked to become vegetarian or vegan. The chalked-up, tapas-style menu might list house-made pumpkin agnolotti or a slice of tortilla de patatas (Spanish-style omelette with potatoes).

  • The clever veg-forward wine bar created by two former Neighbourhood Wine and Bar Romantica head chefs. In the sunlight-filled dining room, or under the fairy light-studded lemon tree out back, order the vegetarian set menu or share plates of vegetable tartare; herbed spätzle; buckwheat crepes and more.

  • A bastion of exemplary Hakata-style ramen in the city centre. Visit for house-made noodles, some cracking vegetarian ramen options, and a creation known simply as the “cocktail draft beer”. If you drink too many, do as the shop prescribes: keep calm, eat ramen.

  • Pack into this compact laneway diner for fun, shareable Southeast Asian food and cocktails mixed with the likes of lemongrass and lychee. Its vego stand-outs might include pineapple ceviche, pumpkin curry and smoked broccoli salad.

  • This bright, buttercup-yellow restaurant elevates its tacos with guest appearances from pumpkin, cauliflower, frijoles (black bean) and tofu. The burritos, quesadillas, nachos and ensalada also have meat-free options.

  • Antipasti, pasta and good times. It has all the trimmings of a classic Italian joint, just sans the meat. The “meatballs”, lasagne and “calamari” fritti ingeniously use plant-based ingredients. And the namesake pappardelle with truffle and mushroom is a go-to.

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  • Its falafels are crisp, fresh and 100 per cent vego. They’re packed into pitas with a staple combo of Israeli salad, house-made hummus and tahini. The sabich and haloumi are crowd-pleasers. Go for the pita or order your meal piled high on a plate.

  • Most of the veg-forward options at this warm and comforting Middle Eastern diner are worth your time. Go for three-cheese cigars, almond tarator (a dip made with tahini), flavourful freekeh and fried cauliflower with caramelised onions, currants and pine nuts.

  • Japanese goes vegan at Neko Neko, a corner spot named after its owner’s love for cats. The hearty vegan ramen is made with 20-ingredient veg stock and egg-less “egg noodles”. And the bento boxes are lined with colourful purple rice sushi.

  • Order platters of slow-cooked stew and injera that beckon to be eaten with your hands. There’s a full range of vegetarian options here, including tumtummo lentils and shiro (finely-ground spiced chickpeas).

  • If you’re really into burgers, hit up Leonard’s. This ’70s log cabin-themed burger bar serves some of Melbourne’s best, including solid vegetarian and vegan options. Order one lined with mushroom or Beyond patties; plus sides like vegan chilli fries, eggplant “tenders” and jalapeno poppers.

  • Melbourne’s finest laksa joint has been serving the aromatic noodle soup and other Malaysian favourites for more than 20 years. And there’s a dedicated vego section here – with meat-free takes on mee goreng, char kway teow and of course, laksa.

  • This corner eatery serves umami-heavy pizza, vegan “notella” calzones and Aperol Spritz on tap. Pizza flavours span the classics like margherita to the more inventive pumpkin puree, mozzarella, caramelised onion and sage. Plus, most of the meatier pies have a vegan option.

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  • At this healthy all-day spot by a former boxing world champion, choose from loaded poke bowls, hearty salads, fragrant noodle soups and bright smoothies. The Middle Eastern Bowl – packed with roasted veg, quinoa tabouli salads, nuts and seeds – is a crowd favourite.

  • If you usually discard the pizza crust, Remo Nicolini’s blistery pizza bases will convert you. Skip over the meatier options and go for the eggplant parmigiana, or one with a porcini mushroom cream base.

  • Everything is made in-house at this vegan diner. Stop by for some of the best falafels and fatteh in town and watch owner Ahmad Al Alaea – donning his signature cowboy hat – work in the open kitchen.

  • In an old furniture warehouse, you’ll find sour-coffee ales and beer that mimics wine. Plus, a schmick Southeast Asian restaurant (and beer garden) next door with a dedicated plant-based menu.

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  • Kahaani, which means “story” in Hindi, showcases deep cuts from India’s diverse regional cuisines. Try the refined reshmi kebab, or the family-recipe goat curry that predates Partition.

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