The number of people opting for a plant-based lifestyle is growing rapidly and so the demand for vegan friendly dining options is higher than ever. Thankfully, the Auckland foodie scene is on-board and the options of vegan restaurants, cafes and menu items is more plentiful than ever before. Whether you're a long-time vegan or are just keen to try out a few delicious plant-based dishes, there's something for brunch, lunch, dinner or even a sweet treat.
Here's where to find the best vegan food in Auckland.
Khu Khu Eatery
Who said that vegan food has to be bland and boring? We think not. Challenging this stereotype is Khu Khu, a light-hearted vegan Thai eatery nestled into the heart of Ponsonby. Now we know what you’re thinking, salads and raw veggies—hell no! Get that idea right out of your head as Khu Khu is home to exotic Asian flavours in the form of big, bold and boisterous dishes that will leave your palate screaming for more. So, whether you want to give meat-free Mondays a go, become completely vegan or simply just want to try something new—Khu Khu has got your back.
Sometimes all you want is a big, juicy burger full of all of the good stuff. However they're usually laden with cheese and meat patties so it can be a challenge to find a vegan burger that measures up to the classic carnivore version. Step up, Wise Boys. This take-out style, hole-in-the-wall joint has two tables should you want to devour on the spot. Now take your pick from classic boys and fancy boys. On the classic boys list you will find the traditional style burgers like The Classic Cheese and The Spicy Mex. However if you're feeling indulgent then the fancy boys list is where you want to be looking. The Dirty Boy is our pick—a kidney and black bean patty, onion rings, smokey 'bacon', 'cheese', bbq sauce and Wise Boys garlic aioli. All plant-based and all delicious. You’re welcome.
What started as a sought-after food truck soon put down roots and opened their very own eatery in Eden Terrace. Serving up delicious plant based food, Gorilla Kitchen creates nourishing and wholesome meals that don't compromise on taste. The eatery is light and open with a welcoming vibe, the kinda place you could happily park up in for a few hours. Whether you are after lunch on the go, coffee and a treat or dinner there's no shortage of options. The cabinet is stocked with delicious quick fixes if you are in a rush—filled sandwiches, cheesy scones, sweet muffins and fresh salads. On the menu you'll find three-’cheese’ mushroom and pumpkin pasta bake, ‘seafood’ chowder and coconut curry ‘chicken’ pies, all completely vegan and out of this world delicious. Head down on a Friday night to get amongst their weekly quiz nights for a bit of competitive fun while enjoying some tasty meals and an espresso martini to match.
Grey Lynn, K’ Road, Commercial Bay
There's not a lot that can top the smell of a good bakery in the morning. The freshly baked bread, sweet pastries and piping hot pies are enough to completely overwhelm the senses. Unfortunately they are usually off the cards for vegans due to traditional ingredients like butter and eggs. Tart Bakery is the saving grace as it is entirely free of all animal products and produces some of the most incredible baked goods in town. The fully stocked pie cabinet has all of the classic flavours—only made from plants. We're talking ‘mince and cheese’, ‘creamy chicken’ and the classic ‘sausage rolls’. If you have a sweet tooth then one look at the sweets and pastries will have you drooling—beautiful berry danishes, chocolate croissants, iced donuts and daily cakes galore. We guarantee you'll be walking out one very happy herbivore.
Good Habit Ice Cream
While not a restaurant as such, you will more than likely want to fill up on ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner once you've had a taste of this brand new joint's moreish offerings. Market-fave Good Habit Ice Cream has just put down roots in an enviable position just opposite summer hotspot Heard Park in Parnell and the timing couldn’t be better. Starting out life in Grey Lynn Farmers Market in 2019, Good Habit owners and passionate advocates of damn good ice cream Henry and Kristen Cheung are bringing their brand of simple, minimally processed dairy-free ice cream to the masses, resulting in next-level, amazingly luscious creations that will get you hooked after one taste.
Tucked away in leafy Parnell is Kaiaroha Organic Vegan Cafe & Deli—a unique and innovative eatery with some seriously tasty food on offer. You'll find this quiet spot off the main strip and down a wee alley, a destination for many plant-based foodies after a hearty fix. The company specialises in artisan nut cheeses, a deliciously creamy replacement for traditional cheese that they began selling at markets and now sell on site. The fully vegan cafe has an incredible cabinet range and cafe menu with so much choice you'll be spoilt. Expect dishes such as tomato and pesto tarts, pumpkin and sundried tomato quiches, ‘cheesy’ grilled sandwiches and an array of muffins, cakes and scones to finish off on a sweet note. Top tip, go with someone who doesn’t mind sharing because this is the kind of place where you will want to try much more than just one item.
Good Thai food is hard to beat, the punchy flavours, fresh ingredients and slurpy noodles really do hit the spot. Chu Thai is an authentic and humble Thai restaurant that serves delicious, traditional style meals, offers friendly service, affordable prices and happens to have a completely separate vegan menu. This makes it the perfect spot when catering for a group with both vegan and non-vegan diners, there'll definitely be no complaints from either side about not having enough options. You'll find dishes such as the bang bang cauliflower, battered tofu with crushed peanuts, steamed dumplings as well as flavourful curries and saucy stir fries that will absolutely blow you away.
Cafe Mimosa is the perfect cosy spot for all plant-based foodies not only because of their delicious spread of menu and cabinet food on offer, but also for being as organic, fair trade and eco-friendly as possible. If you're the type who likes a sweet treat first thing then the tumeric and ginger waffles with vegan orange custard, spiced mandarin, whipped coconut cream and chocolate sauce are a must try. You’ll also find wholesome dishes like the tan tan ramen with creamy sesame broth and other constantly changing special menu items. If you're on the go then the cabinet is where you want to be looking, you’ll find vegan subs, daily muffins, decadent cakes and tarts among the array of treats to grab and go.
It's a well kept secret that one of Auckland's best dessert destinations caters very generously to the vegan and dairy free community. While ice-cream is traditionally made from dairy, finding the same creaminess in a vegan option can be a challenge and Giapo have absolutely nailed it. Their creations of incredibly delicious flavour combinations are beautifully presented and with a whole vegan menu everyone is able to indulge. You'll find a selection of ice-creams, served in a cup or waffle cone including flavours like coffee and hazelnut, creamy coconut chocolate chip and feijoa and almonds. If you're feeling more extravagant the sculptural add ons will elevate your ice-cream to new heights. Try the sourdough doughnut, colossal squid or Auckland sky tower—making your ice-cream into a piece of edible art work that is so beautiful you won’t want to eat it (but your tastebuds will be very glad once you do).
The Butcher’s Son
Nestled on Herne Bay’s Jervois Road is plant-based eatery, The Butcher’s Son. The talented team are determined to do their part to make the world a better place with their mission being to serve food that is “delicious on your tastebuds, easy on your conscience, and better for the environment”. Their entire menu is made without any animal products, their takeaway packaging is biodegradable, and they proudly support local produce suppliers. The warm interior has a green theme to suit the menu, which allows you to feel relaxed knowing you’re doing no harm at The Butcher’s Son. Start off your visit with a refreshing beverage—try a cold-pressed homegrown apple or orange juice, or switch it up and grab a raw energy or coco-chia smoothie. They also have a classic coffee menu, wine and cocktail list, and beers on tap. As for food, take your pick. Mozzarella sticks, shitake mushroom and crispy pork bao buns, tacos and nachos, beet burgers, and sunfed chicken miso slaw burgers too. For dessert, try the cruelty-free chocolate fondant, or waffles and nice cream to end the sitting.
Introducing the vegan community’s favourite Japanese hangout, Janken. The humbled interior welcomes you as you step through the door, greeted by wooden tables, clean walls, and friendly staff. Grab a shared starter to begin, the edamame, eggplant nibitashi, tsukemono, and organic tahini tofu are all vegan and gluten-free. Follow with steamed buns with miso eggplant or tofu, or the delicious vegetable tempura. Moving down the menu is the chance to get your vegan sushi hit. The vegetable roll is filled with fresh vegetables and served with a seasonal salad and ‘gama’ sesame sauce. Don’t think it ends there because the shojin dishes are all fair game too. Organic tofu with goma sauce, creamy vegetable hot pot, and tantan udon noodles are all meat-free and cruelty-free but still pack a flavoursome punch. End your Japanese trip with Janken’s infamous macrobiotic desserts. They change daily and are white sugar, white flour, gluten, dairy, and egg free. From chocolate cake to matcha green tea cake, every dessert is guaranteed to be delicious, and who can resist a no-guilt sweet treat?
Sunflower Thai Restaurant
The sunflower interior inside High Street’s Sunflower Thai Restaurant is sure to lift your spirits as you enter through the double doors. The tiled yellow flowers along the counter are a positive sign of kindness to the earth at the vegetarian and vegan restaurant. The menu is a cheap and cheerful veggie twist on traditional Thai dishes. In fact, the food is so good it can turn any meat-eater into a regular Sunflower diner. The drink list has concoctions to kick your cold, like the ginger and orange reviver, or for the all-rounder health junkie, try the juice packed with five greens. Sunflower, of course, has an extensive tea-list too, with specialities such as smoked plum, and brown sugar ginger tea. As for the food, if you love Thai cuisine look no further. Their Thai green curry, tom yum kung, and crispy fried 'chicken' all live up to the traditional Thai dishes, minus the animal products. Sunflower has you covered for your lazy evening takeaway cravings, or dine in, in your track pants.
Here’s a little secret: one of Auckland’s most well-known restaurants actually has a set vegan menu. Quay Street’s Ebisu serves up contemporary Japanese cuisine in a luxurious way. The sun shines through over the Auckland Harbour into the black, brown, and white interior of the glass restaurant. With impeccable service, Ebisu caters to vegans with a separate set dinner menu designed especially for plant-eaters. For starters you’ll be served smoked sea salt edamame, tofu and wakame seaweed miso, and housemade pickles. Follow with avocado vegetable rolls and tempura, miso-glazed eggplant, and asparagus with yuzu hollandaise. The final savoury dish is teriyaki tofu with black miso jam and a shredded cabbage salad. Every dish is matched individually with a Sake to complement the flavours and ingredients. For the finale, raspberry sorbet and blueberry coulis. The menu remains elegantly in-line with the traditional non-vegan Ebisu menu and keeps vegans feeling included at the table.
If a taste of the Mediterranean is what you’re after, Petra Shawarma has your vegan needs covered. The Kingsland eatery stays true to the classics, offering both meat and vegan options. Inside, Petra Shawarma has a relaxed, homely feel about it, with Mediterranean art covering the walls and comfy wooden chairs and tables to dine at. Eight out of the nine starters are vegan, with the invitation to go tapas-style for your entrees. Hummus, tabouleh, fatoush, baba ganoush, and falafel are crowd favourites. For mains, opting for the vegetarian menu over the ordinary one allows for almost every item to be made vegan. On the menu, you’ll find flavoursome dishes such as falafel on rice with hummus, chilli dressed petra shaw and fatat eggplant with fresh bread and eggplants. Or try it all with the mixed platter including falafel, hummus, salad, and petra bread. To top it off, all the desserts are vegan as well. From the baklava—filo pastry filled with nuts and sweet syrup, to the Arabic pistachio ice cream there's something for everyone.
Grey Lynn resident, Big Sur, pride themselves on using fresh, homegrown produce, and thus have created an extensive vegetarian and vegan menu. The eatery’s interior has a relaxed and warm feel, with soft lighting to soak away your stress from the day. An outdoor courtyard at the rear of the restaurant allows diners a sunny spot to hang out. The menu incorporates cultures from across the globe. From the kimchi bowl full of hot and sour broth, rice vermicelli noodles and tofu to the Turkish garden of cabbage cups packed with pumpkin seed falafel, red quinoa, charred corn, and cumin tahini dressing. If you’re looking for more of a classic dish, the good morning granola is a favourite amongst diners. Nuts, seeds, and grains in a spiced apple sauce and seasonal fruit to start your day the right way. Pro tip—grab one of Big Sur’s matcha or turmeric lattes on the side, your body will thank you.
Lord of the Fries
CBD AND K' ROAD
If you're after classic fast-food that tastes a lil naughty then look no further than Lord of the Fries. This plant-based joint has you covered for the hang-over feed or ultimate cheat meal. Featuring all the classics—cheese-burgers, chicken burgers, fish burgers—except all free of animal products of course. The take-away style makes for a quick and easy meal to pick up on your way home to devour on the couch for maximum treat yo’self vibes. Our pick is the poutine, combining their award-winning gravy and cheese-laden fries with fakin’ bacon, a vegan beef patty, onion and garlic mayo. Top off your meal with a side of nuggets, onion rings and a shake to really get the full experience.
Adding to the list is Revive, with two convenient locations on Lorne St and Wyndham St. Founder Jeremy Dixon opened Revive after he experienced a ten-day health retreat in 2003, discovering how beneficial and enjoyable feeding your body nutritious foods is. Jeremy lives off eight basic keys to living a healthy life—exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest, trust, and most importantly nutrition. The great thing about Revive is the fresh food menu changes everyday, with the full week’s menu available on their website. The salad bar is stocked with dishes like Vietnamese charcoal infused vermicelli, leek and pesto chickpea salad, salsa verde potatoes, and purple bulghur salad with edamame. While the three daily hotpots are filled with anything from French bean cassoulet or curried kumara cake with cashew cheddar to sweet and sour tofu or Mediterranean silkin roast potatoes. The café is all about comforting home cooked meals, we suggest picking a couple of cold salads to refresh you, a hot box dish to warm your stomach, and a side of hummus and rice. Served with their smoothies, an Honest Pina Colada or Summer Tropical Chia, to wash it all down.
Little Bird Organics
Image credit: Khu Khu Eatery, Good Habit Ice Cream, The Butcher's Son, Big Sur