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. The 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.
The best vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne
The meat-free food scene is no longer second-best, and the Victorian capital is leading the way. With vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne popping up daily, from fine dining to cheap eats, being meat-free no longer means you have to struggle to find a delicious meal on any given street corner.
Shifts towards cleaner eating and growing awareness around eating sustainability mean plant-based foods are making their mark.
But how do you narrow down the best vegetarian restaurants Melbourne has to offer? Providing much more than the classic stuffed capsicum, keep scrolling for some inspiration.
Smith & Daughters
With Rock and roll vibes and quality vegan dining, this bar and eatery is anything but bland. Taking what used to be the little Spanish restaurant on the corner, award-winning chef Shannon Martinez’s commitment to bringing the world good food and good vibes has transformed the old spot into one of the best vegetarian restaurants Melbourne has on offer. Smith & Daughter’s Italian-inspired menu has a lot to offer.
You can’t go past the plant-based gnocchi with broccoli pesto, the authentic flavours effortlessly transporting you to the streets of Italy. A trip here promises a tasty meal and a good time for anyone.
Address: 175 Brunswick Street Fitzroy
Feast of Merit
Middle eastern food has always been extra vegetarian-friendly, and Feast of Merit is no exception. The vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne is inspired by the traditional north-east Indian philosophy that if a community member comes into money, it is traditional for the village to be invited to a big meal, also called the feast of merit.
Y-Generation Against Poverty, Feast of Merit, attempts to develop permanent funding for the charity. Head chef Ravu Presser offers big, hearty salads full of freekeh and harissa flavours. With meat and meat-free options and a funky rooftop bar, there’s an option for everyone at this trendy establishment.
Address: Restaurant 117 Swan Street, Richmond
A strong South American influence, this Melbourne vegetarian eatery offers soulful meals and familiar hospitality. Onda is Spanish for vibes, and this place is vibey. The menu is a sophisticated mix of traditional and modern.
Try the polenta chips with lime aioli and pickled jalapenos for a starter and a more substantial meal, the maple chipotle glazed eggplant, slaw and red pimento puree burger. The drinks menu is a mix of Spanish and Argentinian specialties, with a fiery Cusco cocktail.
Address: 280 Bridge Road, Richmond
Indian cuisine matched with cool décor, Mukka is the perfect spot for quality, hearty vegetarian food in Melbourne. With both meat and meat-free options, this Indian eatery caters for all.
A traditional affair, the menu includes classic options like the South-Indian dosa chicken curry and some hints of traditional Indian street food.
Our favourites include the Tandoori mushroom skewers and the paneer tikka. Pair your meal with a rose and cinnamon lassi, and you’re good to go.
Address: 365 365 Brunswick Street Fitzroy
Pushing the boundaries of what we expect from vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne, Transformer is a queen on the Fitzroy dining scene. A former electrical transformer workhouse, the restaurant takes inspiration from a range of cuisines, including a mix of flavours from the Middle East, Mediterranean and Asia.
Try the Beetroot tartare with cattle seed cream, Davidson plum and russet crisps and finish the meal off with one of Transformer’s unique cocktails.
Address: 99 Rose Street, Fitzroy
For a more relaxed vibe, head to Abbotsford’s top spot for artisanal coffee and organic brunch dishes. With a fully plant-based vegan all-day brunch menu, the hip spot is a must in the Melbourne vegetarian restaurant scene.
The toasties are a simple delight, or for something more substantial, try the ‘Northside Jimbo’, with cornbread, miso vegemite, avo, roasted tomatoes, cheese and chilli oil. Coffee is house-roasted from Disciple Roasters. This spot offers an expert mix of Australian brunch culture and fine vegetarian dining.
Address: 325 Johnston Street Abbotsford
Raw vegan foodies unite! Combi embodies free-spiritedness and adventure and serves a diverse menu built around healthy and organic eating. Known for its selection of raw cakes and smoothies, and acai bowls, Combi is a summer hot spot for anyone looking for a fresh and healthy pick-me-up.
Combi now has various locations across Australia, slowly but surely becoming ingrained in the quintessential Aussie summer experience. The peanut butter cup smoothie is the perfect healthy, refreshing treat!
Address: 138-140 Ormond Road Elwood
Almost an institution in its own right, Vegie Bar is often considered the pulse of the Melbourne vegetarian food scene. Located in the heart of Brunswick Street, it is strictly vegetarian and vegan and has a down-to-earth vibe. Drawing on inspiration from Asian flavours, try the curries and fried noodles for the classic Vegie bar experience.
Although the place is super big, beware as it gets busy and crowded! You will undoubtedly leave Vegie Bar feeling full, both in your stomach and your heart- a visit making you feel like a part of the Melbourne vegetarian family.
Address: 360 Brunswick Street
Visit Attica for a fine dining experience. The world-recognised diner offers a separate degustation menu for vegetarians. Owner-chef Ben Shewry creates artful and surprising menus and makes extensive use of native ingredients and an Australian interior with Australian designer tableware and chairs.
The long multi-course meal is an experience in itself, one of the most remarkable and captivating restaurants in Australia. Luckily, vegetarians don’t have to miss out!
Address: 74 Glen Eira Road Ripponelea
Described as an experience for the senses, Maha is another fine dining experience for the Melbourne connoisseurs. Maha prides itself in its array of strong Middle Eastern flavours, set in a creative and contemporary space.
The restaurant has set menus inspired by the best seasonal produce available. Make sure to book well in advance to secure a spot at Shane Delia’s little masterpiece.
Address: 21 Bond Street
This Mexican mecca serves simple yet delicious tacos, burritos and quesadillas on both sides of the river. Everything is vegetarian, and you can swap out the dairy for vegan cheese and sour cream if you prefer. Share a jug of sangria and large nachos with a friend or, for something lighter, try the chargrilled tofu taco. trippy taco
For a relaxed, casual Mexican night, you can’t go past Trippy Taco. The name says it all. These tacos are so good they’ll leave you feeling high on life. The Gertrude Street venue is a regular hotspot, with delivery drivers popping in and out at all hours and burrito lovers lining up out the door. Any veggie tacos go down nicely with a Mojito, so meet your mates at one of the best vegetarian cheap eats in Melbourne.
Red Sparrow Pizza
Imagine tucking into a vegan pizza without giving up the stringy, gooey cheese. Well, now you can. Red Sparrow Pizza is the go-to spot for vegan pizzas in Melbourne. Hell, they’re the go-to spot for any pizza in Melbourne. They’ve got the most incredible meat substitutes. You won’t even notice the difference. They’ve also got GF, nut and soy-free options for all the dietary-challenged out there. Grab your pizza to go or dine in at the industrial-chic Collingwood restaurant.
Vegan curry night, anyone? Fitzroy’s newest Indian restaurant is the place to be on Tuesday nights. For just $39 ahead, you’ll be treated to a range of curries with complimentary house-made naan and a glass of vegan wine. Masti is part restaurant, part cocktail bar, with a heavily plant-based slant. There are a few options for the most stubborn of carnivores, but we’d recommend settling in and sharing as many veggie dishes as you can.
Sister of Soul
Richmond and St Kilda
Whether you’re north or south of the river, Sister of Soul is there to bring you all their vegan, vegetarian, raw and gluten-free meals. They’re all about sustainability and leading the way to a greener diet while building a community along the way.
They divert food waste from landfills to the St Kilda community garden, so you don’t need to feel guilty if you don’t lick the plate clean—though we suspect you’ll be tempted to.
Sustainable, community-driven and open all day. Sister of Soul has a fully vegetarian menu with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. Even better, the crew at Sister of Soul team up with community gardens and donate their green waste weekly! Our favourite pick is from the breakfast menu- the apple crumple pancake.
Made with buckwheat and topped with stewed apples, the crumble is what makes it so special, made from almonds, walnuts, coconut and hemp seeds and finished off with cinnamon gelato.
Yong Green Food
This one is a favourite for vegetarians all over Melbourne. They’re just doing takeaway now, but make sure you show them some love so they can open their doors again soon. Yong Green Food is the best vegetarian restaurant for large portions on a budget. They won’t leave you feeling hungry, that’s for sure. The pineapple fried rice and buckwheat crepes are an absolute must.
Yong Green Food is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Fitzroy, north of Melbourne’s CBD, specialising in organic, gluten-free and raw food and drinks that are served to nourish and satisfy. As well as supporting farmers in Australia, Yong Green Food helps farmers in Kenya by donating 10% of profits to increase food security in the country.
Yong Green Food is also committed to a green, low-carbon future by contributing to national initiatives to improve sustainable energy production and internally reducing energy usage throughout the year.
Green Man’s Arms
A little birdie tells me this is the place to go for the best crispy potatoes in Melbourne. It might seem a little odd to have a plant-based pub feed, but believe us when we say that Green Man’s Arms food is seriously good grub. With a Lebanese-inspired, seasonal menu, the food is packed full of flavour.
Moroccan Soup Bar
You might have seen these guys on the news during lockdown handing out meals to hospital staff. That’s the kind of thing they do here, they’ve got big hearts and believe it or not, you can taste it in the food. Packed full of flavour, Moroccan Soup Bar meals are worth waiting in line for. Try out the banquet with friends for the epitome of Moroccan dining.
Moroccan Soup Bar brings the tastes and flavours of Morocco to the heart of North Fitzroy. The culture and diversity of this North African country are brought to light thanks to the unique approach to the incredible cuisine from the other side of the globe. Moroccan Soup Bar offers three different menus.
The verbal menu provides a range of this restaurant’s most popular vegetarian dishes, the banquet menu. You can experience immersion into Moroccan food and the wrap-it menu, a range of sensational flavours from the menu provided in a wrap that is available for takeaway.
Evie’s Bar & Diner
Open for lunch, dinner and late into the night, Evie’s Bar & Diner is an ‘80s flashback with quality vegan diner-style food options. Before hitting the d-floor, grab a vegan chilli-cheese dog with tofu con Carne and sour cashew cream or a deluxe vegan milkshake.
Perfect for a well-deserved splurge meal, you won’t be having regrets after a visit to this Melbourne vegetarian restaurant.
Address: 230 Gertrude Street Fitzroy
With an exclusively vegetarian menu, Shakahari aims to create innovative and nutritious dishes. With Indian inspired food and using only fresh and natural ingredients, the Carlton gem is known for its fresh and exotic flavours. Menus are changed quarterly to take advantage of seasonal fruit and veg.
Address: 201 Faraday Street, Carlton
Craving a vegan or gluten-free pizza that tastes good? This small and cosy place sources local ingredients and prides itself in light, fluffy and easy-to-digest crust. The traditional homemade pasta and pizzas have attracted a cult following since its opening in 2016.
The Il Dottore pizza is a must, with Pomodoro, fior di latte, homemade Calabrian sausage, Italian porcini and parsley- all can be made vegan and gluten-free! If you want the best vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne, it’s hard to go past this one.
Address: 225 Melville Road Pascoe Vale South
Lentil as Anything
A new age, community-based initiative taking over Australian cities, Lentil as Anything is an image of dining in the modern age. With various cafes across Melbourne, the diner can pay as they please, with all profits funding important projects like support to migrants and refugees.
The menu is all vegetarian, promoting sustainability and healthy eating, with a strong focus on Indian and Sri-Lankan cuisine and the classic salad and brunch options. Good food for a good cause, the beautiful philosophy behind the Melbourne vegetarian restaurant warrants a visit.
Address: 1-3 Heliers Street Abbotsford
Mr Natural Vegetarian Pizza
Mr Natural Vegetarian Pizza offers so often missed by vegetarians and vegans alike, great-tasting and gourmet vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free pizza. Located on Brunswick Street, in the cool northern suburbs of Melbourne, is this pizza that is focussed on ethical, guilt-free vegetarian food.
Mr Natural proudly runs on green energy, therefore helping the environment by reducing their carbon emissions. This pizzeria offers delivery from Northcote to East Melbourne, so check their website, where you can order online.
Flinders Lane, a street in the centre of Melbourne that runs the length of the city, is graced with the presence of the Italian restaurant Vapiano.
Although not completely vegetarian, this restaurant offers a huge range of vegetarian and vegan options. Thanks to their fantastic gluten-free pasta, this is a great choice for those with dietary requirements.
You will be impressed by the range of fantastic traditional Italian food that uses only the best and most authentic Italian flavours.
FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants
According to quality and overall dining experience on Google Reviews, the best vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne is Attica, in Ripponlea.
The top-rated vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne, according to Google Reviews, is Smith & Daughters. The Italian-inspired eatery has an extensive menu without using any animal products.
It's estimated that nearly 2.5 million Australians (that's 12.1 per cent of the population) have taken up a vegetarian diet, with around 500,000 going fully plant-based and embracing veganism.
2.5 million Australians are now eating all or almost all vegetarian. Research conducted by Roy Morgan has found that the trend in vegetarian eating continues to grow — with 2.5 million people (12.1% of the population) in Australia now eating all or almost all vegetarian.
The city's inhabitants love vegan food so much that it was recently voted the third most vegan-friendly city globally. A case can even be made that the city should be re-named vegan Melbourne! Melbourne is Australia's second-biggest city. Diverse, multicultural flavours can be found all over town!
The Best Places To Get A Hearty Vegetarian Feed-In Melbourne. Vegetarian fare is not just for herbivores. And occasionally going meat-free has its benefits: helping the environment, your health and, often, your wallet. Plus, it's super tasty — and these days, you can get a vegan alternative for just about anything.
But just because the meat is off the menu doesn't mean the flavour is lacking. These are our favourite Melbourne restaurants that are either 100 per cent vego or do damn good vegetarian food — from quick and dirty meat-like burgers to all-out fine dining degustations.