Arriving in Melbourne, Australia as a vegan was actually quite easy. Everywhere I went I was able to find phenomenal vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes, it was my own little mission. Even though there were a ton of amazing vegan/vegetarian options, my whole ‘vegan health-kick’ only lasted two months there, as Melbourne is the food capital of Australia and I just couldn’t resist exploring all of it.
Within my first month there, a guy took me on a date to the Vegie Bar, the most phenomenal vegan restaurant in the world… anyone who knew me in Melbourne or came to visit me there would know I am pretty much obsessed with it (because I would have taken them). My American friend May and I would frequent the Vegie Bar every Saturday, it was a ritual and felt wrong if we didn’t go. My favourite dish there was the rice balls with extra satay sauce… divine. If you ever find yourself there I would also recommend trying their Vegan Burrito, Vegan Nachos, and their Virtuoso Pizza. I can’t even talk about the desserts because the thought of them makes me want to hop on the next flight back to Melbourne. Not only is the food amazing, the Vegie Bar is a total scene. It is always busy; full of hipsters (who aren’t actually hipsters because that is normal there) and everyone is enjoying themselves. If it is too busy and you have to wait for a table, you can stroll on over to their mini patio and indoor bar and enjoy a glass of wine or organic, vegan beer. My only real complaint is that you can’t take your leftovers home with you.
Across from the Vegie Bar on Brunswick Street, Melbourne’s North side… is Yong Green Food. One of my friends in Melbourne swears that Yong Green is even better than the Vegie Bar but I don’t know if I can choose. Yong Green is more Asian inspired vegan and vegetarian food. It is much smaller than the Vegie Bar, which is also kind of nice in a way. My friend John introduced me to their Cold Soba Noodles, which were epic on so many levels. I then proceeded to introduce them to all of my other friends in the area. They also have some pretty amazing raw vegan cheesecakes, which I would highly recommend… raw vegan has to be healthy right? Overall, a really good find, friendly staff, amazing food, and a good atmosphere. If you’re ever in Melbourne, do yourself a favour and venture over to the North Side for some wicked good vibes and some amazing, amazing food.
I am slowly realizing a funny trend here… I went on dates with guys to a lot of these places, fell in love with the food, repeatedly returned for more, and never spoke to the guys again. Priorities folks, priorities.
Lentil As Anything… one of the coolest places I have ever been. It is a not for profit organization where you pay what you feel you can afford; they rely on the generosity of patrons and volunteers. I went to two out of three locations in Melbourne, first to St. Kilda and then to their Abbotsford location. At both locations, you see people from all walks of life. I loved that everyone there was different and able to express themselves in their own ways without being judged. In St. Kilda you order off of a menu and in Abbotsford it is a self-serve. If you enjoy curries and love lentils, then this is a place for you. I was on a big curry-kick at the time and I loved it. I also loved that if I didn’t have a ton of money at the time I could donate less and the next time I could donate more. Everyone was welcome. If you’re interested in enjoying beautiful food, being surrounded by lovely people, and being part of something great then I would recommend heading to Lentil As Anything as a place to eat or volunteer.
My last favourite place was a little café called Monk Bodhi Dharma. Apple Buckwheat Pancakes or the Umami Mushroom, you can’t go wrong here. Depending on what time you go, you may have to wait outside for a table. It is a very small and intimate café with big wooden tables and fresh flowers. The smell of fair trade, organic coffees fills the air and you’re welcomed by a friendly, outgoing staff. I also never felt guilty after eating gluten-free, vegan meals, which is a bonus. One morning the owner and two other ladies even joked with me because I liked their pancakes more than anything I have ever had in Canada and Canadians are known for pancakes and maple syrup (theirs were better). I loved this place and it was pretty close to where I lived, as it is located in Balaclava, just a ten-minute drive from Brighton.
I would also like to comment on the café and food culture in Melbourne in general. Every type of cuisine you could ever imagine. People eating outside, under heat lamps all year around. People eating late… dinner doesn’t even start until seven or eight at night. Gluten-free options everywhere. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants everywhere. You don’t tip your servers as they have much higher wages than servers in North America. You’re not rushed when you go out… you sit and enjoy your food, drinks, and company for hours. Every place is unique in it’s own way; big chain restaurants do not exist there. It is just so different than what I am used to in Canada and I love it. For someone who loves to eat as much as I do, I am thankful I ended up living in Melbourne over any other major city in Australia, although my waistline would probably have to disagree.