5 of Australia’s best restaurants for vegans (and vegetable lovers)
Plant-powered dining is booming; these restaurants are leading the way.
Words by Ute Junker
Even on the buzzing Potts Point restaurant strip, Yellow stands out – and not just for its bright yellow façade. Back in 2016, when Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt made this Sydney’s first vegetarian fine diner, it seemed a risky move. Now, of course, they’re right on trend. This is not just a night-time venue; weekend brunches here are a highlight. But it’s the dinner that is unbeatable, with something fresh in every course. Vegetables are smoked, fermented, dehydrated, and given an umami punch with seaweed, miso and more. Tastes to savour include the sweet corn porridge with chilli and tomatillo and the zucchini flowers stuffed with water chestnuts and topped with pearls of lemon gel.
Lona Misa, Melbourne
The queues outside Shannon Martinez’s Brunswick Street flagship, Smith and Daughters, are testament to her status as Melbourne’s reigning vegan queen. Her new restaurant at South Yarra’s Ovolo Hotel, the Latin American-influenced Lona Misa, is proving just as popular. The colourful walls and diner-style booths are as vibrant as the flavours on the plate. There are clever takes on classic dishes such as moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew where the “fish” is made of taro, but the straight-up vegetable dishes – from a kebab of oyster mushrooms to a croqueta of padron peppers smothered in Manchego – are the highlight.
You Came Again, Brisbane
With a hip West End location, You Came Again is more than the sum of its parts, even though some of those parts are pretty special (we particularly love the mural by Moist on one wall, and the recycled timber bar.) To make the most of this experience, first take your pick from the all-Australian wine list and then order up a selection of tapas to graze on: perhaps the sticky miso-glazed eggplant, the pesto-stuffed mushrooms and the agedashi tofu. Leave room for dessert: the vegan lemon meringue is hard to pass up.
The Raw Kitchen is dead, long live Mother. After 10 years at the forefront of vegan dining, Fremantle stalwart The Raw Kitchen has been reborn as Mother. What hasn’t changed is the superb plant-based cuisine on offer. The menu at this airy warehouse eatery ranges from risotto with pea and samphire to oyster and chestnut mushroom tartare. While you’re here, you can also sign up for a yoga class or do a spot of shopping: you will find Perth’s largest selection of zero-waste and plastic-free lifestyle products, from homewares to pet products, on site.
Bodhi Restaurant, Sydney
Notching up three decades in business is an astonishing feat for any restaurant, even more so for a vegan restaurant. Set under the fig trees next to St Mary’s Cathedral, Bodhi’s famous yum cha is a cavalcade of delights. A caution for first-timers: don’t overdo it on the dumplings. It’s natural to want to try them all – from Japanese pumpkin to bay choy to shiitake mushroom, asparagus and truffle oil – but save room for what’s further down the menu, where you will find dishes such as flaky “prawn” taro balls and rice noodles with caramelised cabbage.