Melbourne has some great cafes and restaurants to eat healthily. Whether you’re eating paleo or primal, low sugar, keto or don’t want highly processed food, there are plenty of options.
Have you overindulged a little lately? No judgement. But if you just so happen to be craving some of the nutritionally balanced good stuff – you'll be happy to discover that the Melbourne restaurant scene has lightened up of late.
Long gone are the days when being healthy meant boring. Now, eateries across the city deliver inspired dishes that are all kinds of fresh, lean and tasty. Here are Melbourne's healthy restaurants and cafes to go-to for the ultimate guilt-free indulgence.
The best healthy & paleo cafes and restaurants in Melbourne
Those that have adopted the Paleo philosophy will tell you that it's not a diet. It's a lifestyle. Endorsed by celebrities and many in the fitness world, the Paleo way of life is known as the Caveman diet for its devotion to all things hunter-gatherer. It's all about lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruit, nuts and seeds – in other words, high nutrient, non-toxic food to nourish the body.
- Patch Cafe, Richmond
- Serotonin Eatery, Burnley
- Seedling Cafe, Melbourne CBD
- Terror Twilight, Collingwood
- Hunters Harvest, Seddon
- The beat, Armadale
- Laneway Greens, Melbourne CBD and Richmond
- Healthy Self Co, Yarraville
- Hunters Roots, Melbourne CBD
- Superbowl, Ripponlea
- Bonus: Bendigo Wholefoods, Bendigo
- Meatmaiden, Melbourne CBD
- San Telmo, Melbourne CBD
- Gazi, Melbourne CBD
- The Hellenic Republic, Multiple locations
- Hunky Dory, Multiple locations
- Grill’d, Multiple locations
Located close to the CBD in Richmond, Patch Cafe is paleo-inspired and has a mostly gluten-free menu in addition to a big list of delicious meals.
Some of our picks for breakfast include the chilli eggs with bacon, chives, avocado and red onion jam; and the Planet of The Crepes, a coconut crepe with hazelnut butter, fresh berries and banana.
Lunch also has some great options, including the Don’t Knock-It ‘Til You Try It, a sweet potato gnocchi dish with chorizo, kale, cherry tomato and goat’s cheese. There’s also the “Caveman II”, a Moroccan-style chicken thigh with chorizo, pan-fried tomatoes and your choice of eggs.
Patch Cafe also has a range of specialty drinks, including kombucha, cold-pressed juices and even Bulletproof coffee.
- Location: 1/32 Bendigo Street Richmond
- Open: Mon – Fri 7 am – 4 pm, Sat-Sun 8 am – 4 pm
Serotonin Eatery is part of Serotonin, an exercise and education centre in Burnley. The cafe has many great choices for breakfast, lunch, and drink.
Some of our favourite options include the Nutrition Bomb, a colourful plate with a poached egg, broccoli, kale, hummus, sauerkraut and more.
If you’re after something sweeter to start the day, the Galaxy Acai Bowl has a fruit and toasted nut granola, mixed berries and house-made peanut butter, banana and coconut ice cream.
There are also many smoothies, such as the Green Hemp smoothie with kale, spinach, dates, hemp seeds, chia seeds and almond milk. Add to this a range of dairy and gluten-free hot drinks such as the golden latte with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and organic coconut milk.
- Location: 52 Madden Grove, Burnley 3121
- Open: Weds – Fri 8am – 3pm, Sat – Sun 8.30am – 4pm
There are two Seedling Cafes in Melbourne CBD, one in Flinders Lane and one on Little Collins Street, and they are both gluten-free and paleo inspired.
The menu includes breakfast options like the Seedling Signature Baked Eggs and the Goji Granola, which is homemade, paleo and gluten-free.
Lunch options include the Seedling Lunch Set, which allows you to choose a protein such as grass-fed beef meatloaf and then two salads.
There’s also a large list of hot and cold drinks, including turmeric and beetroot lattes, juices and smoothies, and Bulletproof coffee.
- Location: 275 Flinders Lane, 349 Little Collins St
- Open: Mon – Fri 7 am – 4 pm
There’s a lot to love about Terror Twilight in Collingwood. We were won over by the customisable bowls.
You start with your bases such as cauliflower and broccoli rice; add sides like roasted sweet potato, kimchi, sumac avocado, red cabbage sauerkraut or jalapeno and lime hummus; pick a dressing; and then add your protein from choices including soft boiled egg, poached chicken or coffee-glazed smoked pork belly.
Terror Twilight also offers similar broth options, with bases including chicken and lemongrass or miso and kombu.
The final reason why you should check out Terror Twilight is for its awesome selection of beverages. It offers a range of mushroom coffees, including the Body, a mixture of Chaga and cordyceps mushrooms with MCT oil, recommended to black coffee.
There’s also kombucha, smoothies and cold-pressed juices.
- Location: 11-13 Johnston Street, Collingwood
- Open: Mon – Fri 8 am – 4 pm, Sat-Sun 8 am – 4 pm
Hunters Harvest focuses on whole foods and superfoods to create a menu that is both delicious and guilt-free. It’s centred around bowls with a large range of smoothies and cold drinks for the thirsty.
Our favourite bowls are the Yogi Bowl which has roasted vegetables, salad greens, hummus, sauerkraut, sprouts, avocado and toasted nuts and seeds.
The Lean Green and Protein is also a worthy choice, with a mountain of greens plus a poached egg. If grains are part of your diet, you can also try the delicious Chipotle Chicken, which has Mexican-spiced chicken breast, brown rice, salsa, avocado, black beans and more.
The smoothies list is also diverse and includes sweeter options like the Cheeky Choc with cacao, banana and avocado or green options like the Green Dream with kale, spinach and cucumber.
In the hot drinks department, Hunters Harvest also doesn’t disappoint, with choices like golden lattes, vanilla matcha lattes and Bulletproof coffee.
- Location: 1/92 Charles Street Seddon
- Open: Mon – Sun 11:00am – 8:00pm
Like some of the other cafes on this list, The beat is part of a larger wellness centre offering yoga and meditation classes and other therapies. This kernel of holistic health flows through to the cafe, too, with the menu featuring locally sourced organic produce where possible.
Standout dishes include the Organic Ben and Breakfast Salad with kale, organic quinoa, peas, mint, broccoli, avocado, mixed organic nuts and biodynamic poached eggs; and the Green Omelette with biodynamic eggs, spinach and goats feta.
There’s also the Salmon Poke Bowl with wild salmon, organic quinoa, turmeric sour cream, pickled cucumber, fermented carrot and more.
The beat also serves many fresh smoothies and juices such as the Mean Green, with kale, spinach, bananas, dates, almonds, spirulina, coconut water and more.
- Location: 24-25 Beatty Avenue Armadale
- Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat-Sun 8am – 3:30pm
Laneway Greens focuses on utilising locally sourced sustainable produce, and its menu of bowls, pots and smoothies reflect this. Some great choices for those looking for healthy meals include the Grilled Free-Range Chicken with celery, grapes, spinach, quinoa, parsley, spring onions and more. There’s also the Roasted Salmon with spinach, apple, carrot, and the Braised Cape-Grim Beef and Seasonal Greens.
If you’re after a smoothie, Laneway Greens has a great selection. A good option is the Kale & Kiwi smoothie with celery, cucumber, avocado, spinach, ginger and coconut water.
The other great thing about Laneway Greens is that it has two CBD locations and a Richmond location, so it’s perfect for work lunches as well as weekend outings.
- Locations: 2/242 Flinders Lane, 89a Swan Street Richmond, 67-69 Collins Place Melbourne
- Open: Trading hours vary depending on day and location
Healthy Self Co has a mostly plant-based menu built on foundations of free-range, organic and sustainable produce. If you’re not after plant-based meals, there are still some good options, including the Bright bowl with pulled beef brisket, sweet potato glass noodles, capsicum, zucchini, edamame and more.
If you’re after something even more green, the Magic bowl has sauteed greens, broccolini, green beans, mushrooms, avocado smash and poached egg.
There’s a good lineup of drinks for the health-conscious, too, including a big list of smoothies, smoothie bowls, cold-pressed juices, kombucha, matcha lattes and golden lattes.
- Location: 26 Ballarat Street Yarraville
- Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 3:30pm, Sat 7:30am – 4pm, Sunday 8am – 3:30pm
Hunters Roots caters to the health-focused who like to build their bowls from locally sourced and fresh produce delivered daily.
First, you choose a base with options like rice medley, leafy greens or soba noodles. Then you select a protein from choices like grilled salmon and poached chicken.
Next, you add up to four ingredients such as avocado, beetroot kraut, egg omelette, spiced broccoli, roasted eggplant and more. Then you choose a dressing and toppings.
There are also some great smoothies like the Green Fields with spinach, kale, matcha, banana, mango, kiwi, ginger and coconut water.
- Location: 26 Katherine Place Melbourne
- Open: Mon – Fri 7:30am – 3:30pm
Super Bowl is another great spot with customisable bowls. You can start with a green slaw or brown rice if you’d prefer grains, and then choose a protein from options such as sashimi salmon, grilled yakitori chicken or beef tataki.
Next, you choose toppings such as cucumber, beetroot, avocado, broccoli, carrot and more. Finally, you pick a dressing and any extras you’d like.
There are also many smoothies such as the Popeye Popper with spinach, avocado, kale, white mulberries, banana, hemp seeds, almond butter and almond milk.
- Location: 54 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea
- Open: Mon-Sun (closed Fri) 5pm – 9pm
Okay, you caught us, Bendigo Wholefoods isn’t exactly *close* to Melbourne, but it’s very much worth checking out if you’re in Bendigo. The menu is built around Bendigo Wholefoods’ values of seasonal, local and organic produce where possible, and as the name suggests, a focus on whole foods.
Some of our favourites include the Brocc Bowl with steamed broccoli, poached eggs, spinach, raw almonds, avocado, dukkha and a tamari and ginger dressing; and the West African Chicken cooked in a ginger and peanut broth with a green salad and “raw slaw” salad.
There are other great dishes like the lemon and sumac Israeli Lamb with tabouli, green salads and labneh.
Bendigo Wholefoods also makes Bulletproof coffee and a range of smoothies and fresh juices.
- Location: 314 Lyttleton Terrace Bendigo
- Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat 7am – 3pm
Steakhouses can be a great choice when looking for a healthy restaurant. Most will offer various greens and vegetables alongside your chosen meats.
Meatmaiden is a great example of this and celebrates all things meat with some good side dish options, including charred greens, green leaves with shaved radish and citrus dressing, and the mushroom with caramelised onion and spinach. There are also interesting starter options like kangaroo pastrami.
The mains are focused around the wood-burning smoker the Meatmaiden crew have imported from the United States. Options include barramundi with steamed clams, 20-hour smoked black brisket and saltbush lamb shoulder.
- Location: 195 Little Collins St, Melbourne
- Open: Mon-Sat 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – Late
Continuing with the theme of meat-centric restaurants is the Argentinian steakhouse San Telmo.
San Telmo serves pasture-fed Hereford beef in a range of steak cuts and is cooked on a traditional Argentinian charcoal grill.
There’s also a range of sides that fit our list, including the seasonal leaves with herbs, salt-baked beetroot, charcoal roasted sweet potato, heirloom tomato and burnt carrots.
- Location: 14 Meyers Place, Melbourne
- Open: Mon-Sun 12 pm – Late
As long as you avoid piles of pita bread and chips, Greek cuisine can be a good option for a healthy dinner. Gazi is a great example of Greek street food in the Melbourne CBD.
It offers many traditional protein-centric dishes, such as the lamb shoulder, chicken off the spit and pork belly. You can then pair these with vegetables from the sides menu, including options like sauteed greens, beetroot salad or grilled broccolini.
- Location: 2 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
- Open: Mon – Thurs and Sun 12 pm – 9:30 pm, Fri – Sat 12 pm – 10 pm
The Hellenic Republic is part of the same family of restaurants as Gazi and focuses on traditional Greek family food. Much like Gazi, you can easily eat a delicious and healthy meal if you focus on proteins and vegetables and forgo the bread and fries.
Main options include king prawns with chilli butter, baby octopus, barramundi with burst tomato and olive oil, chicken from the spit, pork belly and the delicious slow-roasted shoulder of lamb. Then pair it with sides or salads such as the taramosalata (cabbage salad).
- Locations: 25/27 Church Street, Brighton, 434 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, 26 Cotham Road, Kew, 28 Ferguson Street, Williamstown
- Open: Hours vary based on location
The humble fish and chips shop can also be an easy healthy meal if you once again avoid fries and fried fish. Hunky Dory has a great range of grilled fish choices, plus you can combine your fish with one of the super salads like the kale, spinach, broccoli salad.
The beauty of Hunky Dory is that it has plenty of locations around Melbourne and is open seven days a week from lunch until late.
- Location: Over 10 locations
- Open: Mon-Sun 11 am – Late
Grill'd is one of the few burger restaurants that cater to those trying to eat healthier. A low carb bun is a good option if you’re trying to go grain-free and is a thin pita-style bun made from egg, almond meal, coconut cream, tapioca flour, psyllium husk, honey and salt. There’s also sweet potato, zucchini and even avocado fries, although these are deep-fried.
Grill’d also serves a range of salads such as the Superpower Salad with grilled chicken breast, cos lettuce, avocado, beetroot, nuts, cherry tomatoes and more with an extra virgin olive oil dressing.
There’s a big emphasis on quality ingredients at Grill’d, evident in the use of 100% grass-fed beef and lamb, free-range pork and RSPCA-approved chicken.
- Location: Over 30 in Melbourne, check the Grill’d website for exact locations
- Open: Depends on location
FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants & Cafes
Here are the basics: Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils. Avoid processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.
In recent years, several studies have found that the paleo diet may help increase weight loss. For instance, one study in 70 women observed that following the paleo diet for six months resulted in 14 pounds (6.5 kg) of fat loss, on average, and a significant reduction in belly fat.
These foods are known to benefit heart health because of their poly- and monounsaturated fat content. Keto places very heavy emphasis on fat in general, as it is the cornerstone of the entire diet. Paleo, while not necessarily a high-fat diet, uses this recommendation to support overall health.
Strict paleo dieters exclude all grains from their diets — including rice — primarily due to their high phytate content. Although it's technically prohibited, many people still consume small amounts of white rice while following a paleo diet because it's lower in phytates compared with other types.
Unprocessed potatoes are paleo.
Generally, unprocessed potatoes of all types can be part of a paleo diet. Similarly to grains, which are off-limits on paleo, potatoes are starchy and rich in carbohydrates. Therefore, they should be fine to eat in moderation on the paleo diet.
The Paleo diet has been on the scene for some time and doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon… so what exactly is ‘Paleo”?
Paleo, also known as the Primal, Caveman, and Stone Age diet, uses the method of our old ‘hunter-gatherer ancestral lifestyle’. There has been loads of research proving this diet is great for many people. However, Paleo is more of a lifestyle than just a diet.
As most of us work behind a desk and live quite dormant lifestyles, with increased stress, high consumption of processed and packaged fast foods, it has led many people down the path of chronic health conditions.
Hence why the Paleo diet has taken off, it follows our ancestor’s principles of eating whole, unprocessed, in their ‘as natural as possible’ state, reducing stress, quality sleep, and daily movement, to work towards feeling their best.
We decided to look into Melbourne’s Paleo food scene and share our findings so you can check them out and increase your whole foods without having to ‘hunt or gather’ yourself.