As more and more diners are looking towards veganism for its immensely great health and environmental benefits, Auckland chefs are stepping up. Vegans no longer need to suffer with only a side salad option at a restaurant. Dishes are now made specifically with vegan foodies in mind, incorporating delicious flavours and wholesome ingredients, all while lowering their carbon footprint and impact on animal farming.
Here are the best vegan restaurants in Auckland.
The Butcher’s Son
Nestled on Herne Bay’s Jervois Road is plant-based eatery, The Butcher’s Son. With vegan dishes so damn good, they even have meat-lovers coming back for more. The team at The Butcher’s Son 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—drinks and all—are 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. The Butcher’s Son invites you to make your visit a good deed for the day.
Just down the road from The Butcher’s Road is Janken, the vegan community’s favourite Japanese hangout. When the vegetarian sushi from the local just doesn’t cut it, head to 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 said to be 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 green. 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 your track pants date nights.
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 blueberries 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, with 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 entre. Hummus, tabouleh, fatoush, baba ganoush, and falafel are the 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, halloumi, 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 to it, with soft lighting to soak away your stress from the day. An outdoor courtyard at the rear of the restaurant to allow 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 & K Road
Vegan cult favourite, Lord Of The Fries, has two locations in Auckland City so you can get double your burger and fries fix. Dubbing themselves as an “ethical fast food restaurant”, Lord Of The Fries eliminates any nasty animal products that are used by regular fast food joints. Their journey started in Taiwan as co-creators Mandy and Tom were on the hunt for a fry that was fresh, crispy, and delicious, yet not drowned in cheap oil and animal product. Thus, LOTF was born. The menu has expanded in its 15 years, introducing burgers, onion rings, nuggets, hotdogs, kosher, and halal dishes, as well as a whole new breakfast menu with baps, waffles, and hashbrowns. There’s something to suit every taste. Choose from classic, chunky, shoestring, and sweet potato fries. Spicy, chicken, poutine, parma, fish, or classic cheeseburgers. Tijuana, Chicago, or Melbourne style hotdogs. As for the sides, there’s everything you could dream of and more. If you’re craving golden chicken nuggets, Lord Of The Fries has got them. To wash it all down, their vegan shakes are cold and creamy and come in a variety of flavours from peanut butter to cookies in cream.
Rated one of the top vegan restaurants in Auckland is Green Time on Fort Street. The Asian fusion restaurant serves up burgers, salads, acai bowls, and the likes, all while focusing on sustainability and health. The eco-conscious, low-carbon eatery aim for zero food waste, compostable packaging, plant-based products only, and even has a compost bin out the back. Start your meal with sliders to share and decide between pulled pork, crispy schnitzel, smokey tofu and Mexican black bean and beetroot. All their meat is completely animal product free, but just as delicious. The menu is organised into different cultural meals, from the noodle station to the Mexican coco-land full of tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and their to-die-for guacamole. Keep cool with one of Green Time’s traffic light smoothies. Red will get you strawberries, raspberries, beetroot, and apple. Orange is full of orange, ginger, carrot, and banana. And green is a classic green drink with kale, apple, kiwifruit, and banana. If you’re looking to try something a bit different, opt for the kombucha float, with vanilla and coconut ice cream. Or warm up with a Mexican chilli hot choc.
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 homecooked 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. You’ll be full in the best way possible after a visit to Revive.
Hiding down a little driveway on New North Road in Kingsland is a little hidden vegan oasis. The greenery alone is enough to draw you into Mondays, but it’s the food that keeps you coming back. The wholefoods kitchen and bar operates as a breakfast and lunch eatery, venue hire, and a yoga studio all rolled into one. Mondays’ vision is to recharge the mind, body, and soul through wholefoods and a space to unwind and relax. Yoga runs seven days a week in the upstairs studio, with classes available for every skill level. On to the food—the menu is bursting with gluten-free and vegan dishes. Choose from ambrosia waffles with vegan meringue, the keto-friendly keto feast, banana bread with housemade jam and organic peanut butter, or slow-braised jackfruit tacos to name a few. Their coffee menu is equally exciting with ruby lattes, golden lattes, emerald lattes, and the fat black which blends espresso, coconut oil, cow butter, and vanilla essence for a real bullet coffee kick.
Little Bird Organics
Little Bird Organics is one of the OG vegan spots around town. Creators Megan and Jeremy were inspired by the international quality and variety of organic foods and cafes, paired with Megan’s number of food allergies (gluten, sugar, dairy) the pair wanted to bring raw nutritious and delicious treats to Auckland. This was back in 2012, nowadays Little Bird is super popular. The eatery’s menu aims to cater to most allergy-sufferers but still remain as tasty as ever. The cabinet includes gluten-free, refined cane sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan, and soy-free products, while the day and evening menus are all prepared fresh and in house. Little Bird likes to get creative with substitutes like coconut bacon, mushroom and walnut mince, chickpea eggs, and cashew hollandaise and aioli. As well as great food, Little Bird has great drinks to match. All of their housemade beverages are equally good for you, from the caramel maca chocolate shake to strawberry goji nut milk.
Image Credit: Jaiden Bhaga