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

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

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

Mukka

Try the tandoori mushroom skewers or the eggplant curry.

365 365 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Evie’s Disco Diner

It’s an ’80s referencing, more than 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

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

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

Moroccan Soup Bar

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

316 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

Lona Misa

Shannon Martinez's all-vegan, all-day diner inside the luxury Ovolo hotel is a symbol of the group's commitment to plant-based eating. Alongside celebrated chef Ian Curley, Martinez is serving Josper-fired peri-peri cauliflower, steamy tamales and "blood" sausage that might freak you out.

230 Toorak Road, South Yarra
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Riso

This all-day diner and wine bar is from an ex-Vue De Monde chef known for his sell out vegetarian pop-up dinners. Come for an a la carte menu that changes daily (pastas are the star of the show) and a wine list curated by an ex-L'Hôtel Gitan and Movida sommelier.

60 Rose Street, Fitzroy
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