Vegan food hasn’t been synonymous with boring for a long time now, but there are still people who will cringe when they hear the word. “We’d like people to come in without preconceptions – they try the food without even knowing it doesn’t contain animal products and it’s delicious,” says Joe Pagliaro, who opened the cafe with business partner Cam Price.

The pair, who founded Brooklands Coffee Co. and the Nut Hut, decided to open Zeitgeist Cuisine after realising there was a demand in the city for fast raw food. “We’re providing an accessible, healthy option,” says Price.

Wedged between office buildings, the compact space is cheerful, with recycled timber panelling and leafy plants mounted on the wall. The rainbow pad Thai is a tangle of vibrant zucchini, beetroot and cucumber with a coconut satay dressing. Like all the other food options, it’s made in house, in line with Price and Pagliaro’s mission: preparing healthy raw foods produced with minimal environmental impact. All menu items, as well as being plant based, are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar.

For breakfast, try Zeitgeist’s version of avocado on toast, with avocado, coriander, lemon and chili flakes on Spring Wholefoods bread. A lunch favourite is the macro bowl, with teriyaki almonds, cauliflower rice, Adzuki beans, quinoa, kimchi and avocado served with either miso or wasabi sauce. You can choose to sit at one of the handful of stools, but there’s also a steady takeaway trade, with containers piled high in the grab-and-go fridge.

Zeitgeist’s approach to coffee is unique in that it prefers to showcase specialty roasters rather than subscribing to just one. The choices rotate weekly, with options such as single-estate coffees from Reuben Hills and Tim Wendelboe, a Norwegian favourite. For a non-caffeinated sweet hit, try the Guns and Roses smoothie – a vivid pink blend of rosewater, coconut meat, coconut water, chia, vanilla protein powder and raspberries. Or the peanut butter and jelly slice.

Zeitgeist Cuisine
B1/153 Clarence Street, Sydney (entry via Kent Street)

Mon to Fri 7am–4pm