Wednesday, July 02, 2008

My guide to Melbourne for Vegan Tourists


Quite often I give out advice on must eats for vegans coming to Melbourne for a holiday. Sure there is a list over at www.vnv.org.au but there are over 40 veg restaurants in Melbourne and frankly some of them suck. So I decided to make a post that I can edit when I need to and people can make suggestions or disagree with me in the comments section! Ignore any typos, this took forever to type up and I cant be bothered to proof read it right now.

updated 4/11/2009- edited parts are in bold

Melbourne CBD(central part) itself is ok but I believe the inner city suburbs is where all the cool action is and the great food is but it's probably a good idea to stay in the city centre so you can travel to all the different inner city suburbs. While you are in the city centre I recommend:

  • Lord of the Fries (at corner of Flinder st and Elizabeth st or at the Flinders St Train station) which sell vegan fries, burgers, and 'chicken nuggets'. The great thing about this place is it open from breakfast time til really late at night. For breaky they have a vegan burger called the New York burger which has a hash brown in it. The rest of the time I recommend the gravy and soy cheese on chips or the regular burger with soy chips or the nuggets or all of them together. Please note that you need to ask for the burger and the fries to be vegan otherwise they will put normal cheese on it. Lord of the Fries is also really great late at night after a night out, it's open til 4am on fri and sat nights and at least til 10 the rest of the week. It is however a take away place so I recommend getting them and walking just a short distance to federation square (opp flinders st station) and sitting on the steps and people watching, although forget the advice if it is late at night. No longer open for breakfast.
  • Fo Guang Yuan Gallery (141 Queen st). This is a small buddhist gallery that serves lunches on weekdays, if you get one of the special lunches they come in super cute bento box with sides and fruit. In typical Chinese fashion you get mock meat dishes like ginger chicken, the specials menu varies depending on what day it is. I also recommend the sweet kumquat tea. Apparently this has changed completely and now sucks.
  • Vegan food is also available at soul food, invita, organic food and wine deli, flinders organic, gopals and crossways and plenty of other non-veg restaurants but I don't really recommend those places.
As for non-food related places to check out, I recommend:

  • the various laneways particularly degraves st because it has cool graffiti
  • Missing link (basement at 405 Bourke st)- for all those hard to find indie cds and records at reasonable prices (well for Australian prices) as long as you don't mind the emo kids who like to hand on the couches. You can also pick up a free beat or impress music magazine (see below).
Ok surrounding suburbs, first up- Fitzroy/Collingwood.Collingwood are pretty alternative and cool in my opinion. Collingwood can be a little rough in that you can occasionally see people chroming or just hanging around on the street drunk and asking you for money and Fitzroy used to be like Collingwood but is now a little more yuppy-ish. But I recommend them both because well they are cool. I will break them down into parts:

Smith St-Collingwood
  • Soul Food (273 Smith st)- I recommend going here for breakfast and ONLY for breakfast. For breakfast they sell a 'monster vegan' breakfast on sat mornings which is huge and great. The choc cake is pretty good too. The rest of the time, don't bother. They just opened a store in the CBD, but I'm not sure if they do the same breakfast and if it is as good.
  • Friends of the Earth (312 smith st) I hesitate a little about recommending this place only because some people complain they don't feel hippy enough for it, but I feel fine. So I'm letting you decide, they sell all sorts of organic supplies, political t-shirts, books and they do a lunch which varies everyday. Basically they made a few hot dishes, a few salads and you get a little bit of all of them, make sure to ask for vegan because sometimes they have yogurt. They generally sell las vegan muffins too.
  • Las Vegan Bakery (22 smith st)- only open tue-fri for lunch but well worth a visit. I recommend the cajun eggplant calzone, the lemon ginger muffin and pretty much anything on the menu. You might also want to pick up one of their cheap soup cookbooks while you are there. Now open Thu and Fri nights.
  • Trippy Taco (48 smith st)- if you happen to find yourself wanting to go to Las Vegan and it is closed then Trippy Taco which is only a few doors down. Maybe you can try to fit two lunches in. I recommend anything with black beans which is pretty much the whole many especially the soft tacos with the homemade corn tortillas, make sure you ask for soy cheese.

I recommend these two neighbouring suburbs because there is lots of cafes/restaurants, bars, and interesting shops to look at. For example just near Trippy Taco and Las Vegan Bakery there is:

  • Vegan wares (78 smith st) sells super expensive shoes and other vegan items which I can't afford but it's probably worth a look.
  • Books for Cooks (225 Getrude St). If you are a cookbook nerd then wander into this bookshop that only sells cookbooks there is a huge section of veg and vegan cookbooks.
  • Dr Java (Corner of Getrude and Smith st). This place sells all sorts of coffee and tea and my fav type of hot chocolate - coco loco, they also sell las vegan muffins. No longer selling vegan hot chocolate.
  • there are also quite a few second hand/vintage stores in both areas

Ok now Brunswick st-Fitzroy which is parallel to smith st:

  • Vegie Bar (378 Brunswick st) The food at Vegie Bar is just ok, they sell all sorts of things like burgers, stir frys, salads, and burritos. So why am I recommending it to you, if it just ok? Because while the food is ok, the place just has some sort of feel to it. It's always busy, it's an old warehouse converted into a restaurant and it's on brunswick st which you should visit anyway. The vegan chocolate cake is pretty good too. Maybe you can visit here for dinner after a day exploring smith and brunswick st.
  • San Churro ( 277b Brunswick St). After you finished up at Vegie Bar, you should stop by this place for one thing- churros (spanish donuts) with the melted dark chocolate sauce which just happens to be vegan. It's opened til late at night.
  • There is also Moroccan Soup Bar which has great food but unless you can have at lest 8 people and can book or can get there just before 6 when it opens you have pretty small chance of getting a table.
There are lots of different clothes and other stores and bars along Brunswick st to explore, but I don't really have any particular ones to recommend except for maybe the secondhand bookstores and maybe the green store (385 Brunswick Street) and if you are there on a sat the rose st market which sells lots of homemade cool things like my fav melb bag-matt bags.
-----------------

St Kilda is not really my type of place. But I guess it is touristy in a way, but it's also a mix of pretentious and dodgy (known for the illegal prostitutes). Anyway, if you want to see a beach with palm trees in Melb go check it out. If you are in town, I recommend:

  • Lentil as anything (41 Blessington st)- pay what you think the meal is worth. I recommend the japanese pancake or the lentil burger.
  • Veg out Time (63 Fitzroy St)- this places sells healthy-ish tasty dishes that are precooked. You can get rice and two dishes for about $8 which fills me up.
  • There is also Soul Mama which has great views and is right on the beach but the food is bland and overpriced for precooked meals in my opinion. But i'm sure some people will disagree.
  • The st kilda market is on sundays and is worth a look if you are in the area.
Other must eats:
  • East Brunswick Club (280 lygon st, East Brunswick)- is an omni pub with amazing vegan options. If you are in Melbourne on a Monday night you must go here and try one of the vegan main meals for $12 I recommend the 'chicken' burger with avocado and lime mayo and the amazing desserts. Don't bother going here for lunch, other nights are fine too but you don't get the full variation of options or the cheap price of a Mon night. You might have to wait a while for the food because it is crazy busy on Monday nights but it's worth it. They also have lots of good bands playing here from time to time. Also recomend the philly cheese steak, nachos.
  • Shakahari (201 faraday st, Carlton)- this is the only fine dining veg restaurant and serves great meals. It's not cheap, but it's worth it. It's located just around the corner from lygon st which is lined with is lined with mostly italian restaurants and two massive bookshops (borders and readings). It is also not that far from Melbourne uni :-)
  • Coco Loco (219 High st, Northcote)- this place is opened from 7pm everyday except for Monday night. I recommend this place which sells both iced and hot chocolates with the option of cashew milk and in a array of flavours. They also sell vegan crepes, home made chocolates and other sweet things. The hot chocolates are not cheap but are organic and fairtrade and amazing!!!! (It's situated in Northcote which is a pretty cool area to go for alcoholic drinks too).
  • Enlightened cuisine (113 queensbridge st southbank)- is not far from the CBD and is right near the casino (which is my opinion is crapola). There are many of these chinese mock meat types places but as far as ones closed to the city, this is probably the best. I recommend the five spice tofu, and any of the 'duck ' or 'chicken' dishes. The desserts are pretty good too, oh and remember to ask for vegan dishes.
  • ****Also, see the comments section for more recommendations, because I am too lazy to add them in.
  • Warning do not go to the tofu shop in Richmond and mention the word vegan unless you want the owner to harass you.
Other important stuff-
* Look out for free music magazines beat or impress for info about what bands are playing.
* Also there is always some sort of festival and exhibitions going on everywhere to see what is happening check out here or here. If you lucky to be here in October there is the world vegan day festival. Or just pick up a local paper in a cafe and read it over breakfast.
* All of the places I have discussed above can be reached by catching a tram or with a little bit of walking. In terms of catching public transport, you can purchase daily or 2 hour metcards (public transport cards) from 7-11, some news agencies, train stations and travel on all types of public transport with them. You can also buy them on the tram if you have enough change, they don't accept notes. A daily ticket is $6.80 on weekdays (unless you are travelling from outer suburbs) or if you are in Melb on a Sunday you can get a Sunday saver ticket for $3.10 from 7-11 and a few other shops. Check out metlink for more details.

24 comments:

lisa said...

I think you're thinking of Soulmama in St Kilda, not Bowl Of Soul. Soulmama is at the seabaths and serves expensive plates of average bain marie food, but has an awesome view. Bowl of Soul is in Port Melbourne and serves burgers and stuff.

I also really like the Lentil As Anything at Fed Square, it's a good place to get a decent and cheap meal in the city, and they do good coffee.

And non-food related in the city is Sticky, a tiny little zine shop in Degraves subway, and Mag Nation, who do good coffee and free wifi plus have a trillion magazines for browsing. And Memory Grid, which is my favourite gallery. It's a place where you can kick back in comfy booths and seats and watch a whole bunch of documentaries and cartoons and stuff, all made by locals. Best of all it's free.

Theresa said...

Thanks so much for doing this! I'm going to print this out and bring it with me when I come in December. Once I figure out where I'll be staying, I can make a map of the awesome vegan places :) Yes, I know I'm a dork!

kristy said...

You are right, I fixed it. I think I was thinking about whether I should add bowl of soul when I was typing it and accidently entered it there.

I like mag nation to. Haven't been to the other places but will have to check them out next time i'm in the CBD!

Louise said...

oh wow, i could go on and on about great places in melb. a few opinions and additions: i prefer sitting on the steps in fed squre to sitting on the stations steps...more room to breath, less filthy and just more pleasant in general...but yeah, nothing beats that new york burger!

also, i really like gopals, esp if you're low on money and time...the food is really cheap (esp w/ a student card at lunchtime) the food is really good and the staff is always friendly.

also, i must add la panella bakery to the list. it is a buddhist/italian 100%veg and vegan-friendly bakery on high st in preston (just down the road from preston station). easy to get to and they have cheap-arse vegan sausage rolls, pies and VEGAN DOUGHNUTS! (amongst other things) and all clearly marked.

and 2 more, quickly..bodhi cafe and vegetarian nirvana in richmond. the former is a new place just across from nth richmond station...fake meat dishes (i think i had the lemongrass rice and pork last time) and spaghetti bolognese plus flavoured coffee (lavender latte or peanut butter cappuccino anyone?) and the latter...has been there for years, food is amaazing and the staff ridiculously friendly.

ok, i'll end it there or i won't shut up :)

Léna, said...

There is also a hotdog store that uses veg sausages if you ask right next to the orignal LOTF store.

You are also forgetting (or don't know about?) Plush Vegetarian pizzeria in uhhh.. Hawthorn? They also use gluten free bases if you ask.

kristy said...

Thank you for all of your suggestions Lina and Louise, I'm sure they will be helpful to tourists.

Louise, I'm not a fan of gopals at all, sorry! I do however like la panella but think it's kind of out of the way and you have to catch a train versus catching a tram but I will add it because you are right-vegan DOUGHNUTS.

I like bodhi and nirvana but think there are better options out there that are a bit closer and have better surroundings.

Theresa, you are welcome. I look forward to dining at one of the places with you.

Lena,I looooove plush pizza but I think it's too far for a tourist on a short trip to melb. Besides it's take away and there is no where cool to hang and to sit and eat the pizza.

Louise said...

oh yeah, plush! the best pizza i've ever had! and sorry, i know it is probably a bit out of the way for a short stay in melbourne but no one has mentioned the vegan mecca of balaclava..for all the nondairy chocolate and bagels etc etc you could dream of. (probably more for a longer-term visitor looking for ingredients rather than a place for a meal, but there are always surprises to be found!) all this talk has got me hungry..!

Léna, said...

*gets excited over balaclava*
ohmygosh

TOFUTTI PRODUCTS IN THE FREEZER AT THE SEVEN ELEVEN ON CARLISLE ST!

This is tourist friendly if you plan on taking your visitors to the beach/st kilda for trendy bleh shopping etc.

kristy said...

Lena and Louise, I'll add balaclava too. Thanks for the suggestion!

saryu said...

I tried plush pizza once and thought it was pretty crummy. It was expensive, and the pizza was dry and salty. The best veg pizza in Melbourne would have to be Nostralis, in 55 Hawthorn Road, Nth. Caulfield. It too is expensive (around $15 for a large pizza) but they make really nice pizza and use vegetable rennet in their cheese.

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

Wow! I'm so glad I found this. I will be in Melbourne in July/August. This will help me out a lot!

lisa said...

And let's not forget The Melbourne Veg Food Guide!

Niki said...

For good, AND healthy veggie and vegan pizzas you can't forget Mr Naturals. They have all vegetarian pizzas and the option for vegan cheese on all of them. They also use a wholemeal base so its actually pretty healthy!

They are in North Fitzroy on Brunswick St, and in St Kilda.

Mark @ www.FreeHugs.com.au said...

Thanks for a great guide to Melbourne's vegan food.

Can I point out the link to OnlyMelbourne's What's On Guide links to a dead page:

Best link is
http://www.onlymelbourne.com.au/whats-on-melbourne.php

PS: OnlyMelbourne links to you to!
http://www.onlymelbourne.com.au/melbourne_details.php?id=14616

Cheers
Mel Bourne!

Danni said...

OMG you're famous in Google! I was like Google-google OH, KRISTY'S BLOG.

magi said...

Wow its really very interesting article...
Good Post! Very informative, glad that you are going to continue writing things like this!

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