Looking for the best vegan food and coffee in Melbourne? We ate and drank as much as we could during our two week vacation and compiled the below list. Here are my food notes from Australia.
Never before has a city gripped me with its food and coffee quite like Melbourne. This vegan-friendly Australian city had been at the top of my ‘must-visit list’ for a while. Hopes were high. And still, my expectations were completely blown out of the water.
It truly is hard to find a bad coffee in Melbourne! And the most average looking cafes turn out the most jaw-droppingly beautiful dishes. Presentation is next level here. As for plant-based cuisine, it is gloriously progressive. I highly recommend you stay in Fitzroy (here’s the airbnb we stayed at and loved), an extremely vegan-friendly neighbourhood. Get to Brunswick St, in particular, which has earned the nickname ‘Vegan St’ for good reason.
Monk Bodhi Dharma
Ignore the confusing name and get here because this could be your favourite food and coffee stop in Melbourne. The owners are passionate about sourcing and freshness. Every coffee is made with precision and care. Even their almond milk is made in-house daily with an almond to water ratio of 1:1 (it’s creamy heaven). This was, hands-down, home of the best latte I’ve ever had. Food is also completely beautiful and impressive, too.
72A Acland St | 03 9534 1111 $$ | Vegan| Visit website
You eat with your eyes first at Matcha Mylkbar, home of some of the most beautiful, colourful food I’ve seen. Jaws drop at the site of their soy chicken burger with a bright green matcha bun or their lime avocado guac toast with hot pink beet spheres and a fried vegan egg. The latter is made with sweet potato, coconut and turmeric and, visually, could fool anyone. It’s sweeter than an egg, but hits the spot. Definitely order a Smurf latte, too, made with live E3 algae, lemon, coconut milk and brown rice malt.
380 Brunswick St | 03 9417 6935 $$ | Casual Vegetarian| Visit website
A spacious, casual, extremely approachable vegetarian restaurant open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The menu has something for everyone, from veggie burgers to stir-fries and salads to pizza. Our ‘healthier’ favourites were the Original Stir-fry and the Green Stirfry. Expect to wait for a table or order take-out, available via UBEReats or the restaurant itself. This spot was recommended by every single person who shared Melbourne dining tips.
Smith and Deli
11 Moor St | 03 9042 4117 $ | Vegan| Visit website
The sister deli/grocery store of Smith and Daughters restaurant is every vegan’s DREAM COME TRUE, with its shelves, fridges and freezers stocked full of animal-free ingredients and dishes from around the world. Definitely try the vegan feta (any flavour). From the counter, choose from over a dozen sandwiches (chicken salad, buffalo wing, bacon and egg, to name a few), salads and desserts. This is your one-stop-vegan-shop!
Grub Food Van
This extensive space is totally wild and decorated with odds and ends, perhaps collected from thrift stores. Drinks are made inside an old trailer (’the bar’), which sits on the patio. Despite the crazy decor, the food here is sophisticated in every way. It’s not 100% vegan by any means, but we found plenty of options. Order each of the plant-based offerings!
A jaw-dropper of a cafe, roastery and restaurant. With its high ceilinged, industrial interior and an open-air patio full of greenery, you’ll find it hard to put your camera down. And then the food arrives. *Gawk.* Presentation is paramount here. Steel cut oats are taken to a new level with coconut gel and blueberry acai mousse
157 Brunswick St | 03 9942 7813 $$ | Cafe| Visit website
A coffee bar and breakfast spot recommended by Melbournian food photographer @Georgeats (a must-follow on Instagram). These guys make their own biodynamic almond milk every morning — needless to say, their lattes/flat whites are amazing! Their space is cozy, sweet and rustic with a fireplace, cracks in the walls and a surprise patio out back. The food is good, but the lattes were the star.
Head here for pastries that you will not believe are vegan! I confirmed twice with the staff that their croissants were butter free, because it’s truly hard to believe. They are fantastic and the layers inside are equally impressive. Using coconut oil and vegan butter, the chefs at Il Fornaio (the sister bakery of Matcha Mylkbar) have proven that anything is possible. Show up early (by 10am) to snag one before they sell out.
99 Rose St | 03 9419 2022 $$$ | Vegetarian| Visit website
The food is as stunning as the dining room at Transformer, boasting extra high ceilings, skylights and plenty of greenery. This moderately formal eatery pumps out sophisticated vegetarian dishes (including many vegan options) with big flavour. Make a reso as this spot fills up quickly.
Girls and Boys
382 Brunswick St | $$ | Vegan Dessert| Visit website
A brand new ice cream-forward dessert bar from the owners of Vegie Bar and Transformer. Choose from three adventurous gelato flavours (think maple miso), three coconut-based soft-serve flavours (sweetened with refined sugar free malt syrup) and a pastry case stocked with several cakes (all gluten free). Definitely order the upside-down soft-serve cone with dehydrated raspberries, brownie chunks, aquafaba meringue and chocolate sauce (I ordered this three times in two weeks).
Lentil As Anything
A non-profit restaurant where diners will receive no bills following their meals. This is a pay-what-you-can restaurant whose owners and staff (who are volunteers) believe that everyone deserves to eat. And…the food and atmosphere are both fantastic. There was even live music at the Abbotsford location. What an incredible organization!
325 Johnston St | 03 9417 1887 $$ | Cafe| Visit website
The sister cafe of Monk Bodhi Dharma. Coffee here is just as incredible.
Ichi Ni Nana
A unique space serving modern Japanese pub food. From the exterior, you’d never guess such a beautiful dining room lies beyond its front doors. Half the room is dark and cozy; the other is like a greenhouse, built with glass, creating incredible natural light. This area is accentuated by a vine-covered wall. The best seat in the house is the four-top inside a Yokohama gondola. Vegans will find plenty of delicious options on this omnivorous menu.
A 10-year-old specialty coffee roaster and restaurant who will soon be expanding to Portland Oregon. Proud Mary reminded me of Vancouver’s Cafe Medina, where food and coffee are equally revered. Dishes here are beautifully presented (you’ll find a couple of vegan options) and, of course, coffee is prepared carefully. Don’t go too out of your way to get here, but if you’re near, it’s a super solid spot for breakfast, brunch or a latte.
Smith and Daughters
175 Brunswick St | 03 9939 3293 $$ | Plant-based| Visit website
Easily one of the most beloved restaurants in all of Melbourne…that just happens to be vegan. Owned and run by two young friends, Smith and Daughters is where you must get for comfort food with BIG flavour. The food may not be photogenic, but it packs a punch. Who new fruit salad with jalapeno would be so amazing? If any restaurant can satisfy a meat-eater, it’s this one. It’s hard to recommend one dish – they were all excellent.
Stomping Ground Brewing Co.
If it’s a hot day in Melbourne and you stumble upon this Stomping Ground, pop in to enjoy the the mist machines shooting cold air onto its customers. Beautiful space! Didn’t try the food.
The Glass Den
Have a peek at @theglassden on Instagram to see their stunning, colourful food. Plating is a priority here. Set inside an old jail with high ceilings and tons of natural light, this omnivorous restaurant has a vegan option for most dishes, even the meat. Definitely try the macadamia nut milk.
A vegetarian/vegan modern Mexican restaurant with three locations in Melbourne. Ideal for a quick meal, to stay or take away. Definitely order the enormous Special Quesadilla (with dairy-free cheese), which is served folded so you can eat it like a sandwich. So satisfying!
Radhey Chai Bar
336 Brunswick St | 03 9077 8858 $ | Vegetarian| Visit website
Don’t go out of your way for Radhey, but if you’re in the Fitzroy ‘hood, you’ll appreciate knowing about this peaceful spot. We ate their vegan comfort food three times because it was quick and delicious. And they have VEGAN MOUSSAKA. Also try the chai with vegan ice cream for dessert.