When you take the leap into vegan land there are a few (read: many) foods you’ll miss. That’s just a fact. Even though you no longer have any interest in eating meat (seriously, you can’t think of anything worse), there are definitely times when you want need to curl up on the couch, with a large pizza, to binge watch the new season of Orange is the New Black. You know it’s true.
These are a few of our favourite spots for a vegan feast in Sydney—let’s face it, vegans living in Sydney are sahhhh #blessed (because options).
Also, shout out to all the legends who are only here to find somewhere to take their vegan friend/partner/sibling—you my friend, are great.
When Gigi’s Pizzeria swapped real cheese for all of the vegetables, vegans across Sydney flocked here en masse. Fast forward one year one and they still do. Basically what we’re trying to say is that you need to head here when they open (to avoid lines), and then order one of everything. It’s always worth hitting up the specials board, but our favourite Gigi’s staples are the garlic and potato croquettes for starters, parmigiana melanzane for your second starter, (served with a shaving of dairy-free parmesan cheese, FYI) and the main event—pizza. Our favourite is the melanzane (yes, more eggplant), with a chewy pizza base, San Marzano tomato sauce, tender grilled eggplant, fresh cherry tomatoes and basil salsa.
Just up the road from Gigi’s, Gelato Blue is also the place you can take your non-vegan friends without telling them that everything is vegan. We’ve definitely heard more than a few stories from people who were going here on the weekly, only to find out after a month that there is no ~real~ milk in sight. Our top picks are the super creamy chocolate gelato, the extra zingy lemon sorbet, and if you’re actually just a giant kid—the hokey pokey.
Gelato Blue has closed for winter, so keep your eyes peeled for their grand re-opening (we can hardly wait).
If you don’t love pies, are you even Australian? Okay, so we’ll forgive you if you’re not yet a member of the pie loving club, but only if you head straight down to Funky Pies for one of their, er, pies. Here, you’ll find pies packed with shiitake chunks, mashed potato and a rich gravy (that looks totally meaty). There’s also a range with chicken-style chunks if you really, really miss meat that day, and they’ve also got dessert covered with their apple pies and gluten free range to boot.
Bodhi In The Park
If yum cha has always been bae (of course it has), then you’ll want to hit up Bodhi for your Saturday morning feast. They’ll try to confuse you by offering prawn dumplings and other classic yum cha fare, but don’t worry, everything here is vegan and also delicious (just saying). Take your mates and order up big.
Randwick & Glebe
Another one for the ‘are you sure this is actually vegan?’ pile, Soul Burger will confuse even the meatiest of meat eaters. We suggest you keep it classic with their cheeseburger; a super soft bun sandwiching all of the delicious essentials. We’re talking plant-based beef patty, melted American cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato and pickles. There’s even a mustard aioli. Definitely order the soul b fries on the side, which is basically cheese-loaded fries (for obvious reasons).
Not strictly a vegan restaurant, OTTO Ristorante puts on a lush vegan degustation and speaking from experience, it’s a fab place to head for a special occasion. The menu changes regularly, but you can expect things like creamy mushroom risotto and a pavlova (yep, pavlova) with coconut custard and passionfruit sorbet. Obviously, you’ll also want to spring for the wine pairing, because the sommelier just gets you and will choose your perfect tipple.
The Owl House
While we’re on the topic of degustation dinners, Owl House does a great one and it’s all paired with their signature cocktails. They’ll even let you mix it up with a combination of wine and cocktail pairings throughout the meal—do you really need any more details than that?
Vietnamese food is king at Golden Lotus (it’s what they do, after all), and whether it’s winter or summer, you’ll leave here ridiculously full. Warm up in winter (or sweat it out in summer) with their filled-to-the-brim pho, and cool down with their rice paper rolls. But most importantly, order the young coconut juice because we swear we could drink it all day, every day, forever and ever (you get it).
Bondi, Paddington & Bronte
Starting out as a juice cleanse-only dispensary, Orchard Street has expanded into delicious vegan treats and take away meals that beat your sad desk lunch any day. For dessert, we love the dulche de leche raw cake a little too much, and for lunch, it has to be the zen bowl, filled to the brim with all things fresh, raw and vegetable.
Sadhana Kitchen is the O.G of raw vegan food in Sydney and it shows. These guys have an extensive menu covering everything from breakfast right through to a late lunch. We’re talking dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar-free and surprisingly—not fun free. We’re all for their self-proclaimed best waffles ever—two superfood waffles with seasonal berries, toasted coconut and maple syrup. They even serve up their own take on the Eggs Benedict—they clearly use wizardry (plus sweet potato and coconut) to make the eggs in house, then pair it with maple tempeh bacon and raw vegan hollandaise. Yes. Just yes.
Technically a vegetarian restaurant, Yulli’s serves an impressive vegan menu that we can confirm is damn delicious. On the menu you’ll find everything from edamame and coconut moneybags, to Korean fried broccolini with sticky sour chilli sauce, sprinkled with toasted coconut, crushed almonds for a lil’ bit of crunch and fresh coriander. There are also many vegan wines and a massive selection of local craft beers—do you really need any more convincing? Didn’t think so.
The Green Lion
The excitement over Sydney’s first vegan pub hasn’t really worn off and for good reason. At The Green Lion, you’ll find typical pub offerings that are (you guessed it) entirely vegan. We’re talking an entire range of beefless burgers and hot dogs, man ‘n’ cheese, and even kids meals. There are also more than a couple of loaded fries dishes because there’s no such thing as too many options, but the clear winner is the loaded poutine fries, a perfect pile of shoestring fries, loaded with gravy and a cheesy sauce.
Aptly named, Nourishing Quarter is a foodie haven for anyone with intolerances, Coeliac or vegans alike. The menu kicks off with Vietnamese summer rolls, packed with South American grains (think quinoa and chia), then moves on to warming pho soup, with buckwheat and purple sweet kumara noodles (we’re listening) and topped with all of the classic Vietnamese condiments. Every ingredient on the menu has a purpose, whether it’s to boost your Omegas, aid your digestion, or to simply fill your belly with nourishing dishes.
Yellow has mastered the art of flavour-filled vegetarian fare, with an entire menu dedicated to the good stuff, and their vegan tasting menu is definitely worth your time. There’s a five and seven-course menu, with super simple dishes that hero only a few plant-based ingredients at a time. Think creamy avocado with crunchy pine nuts and native lime, or baby corn, served in the husk, with a nori, chive and miso crumb. You had us at miso.
Chocolate feasts are definitely our favourite kind of feast (along with burger feasts, obvs), and at Pana Chocolate, it’s all about the chocolate. You’ve probably seen their classic chocolate blocks at your local health food store, but at their shop, you’ll find oh-so-much more. We’re not ashamed to admit that we’re completely obsessed with their Pana pop, which is like a mini nut-coated Magnum (but not frozen), and we definitely won’t say no to their giant choc hazelnut pots. Really anything they’re serving, we’ll scoff.
Possibly one of Sydney’s best known vegetarian cafés, Badde Manors always does a killer burger, and the vegan brownies are an excellent way to do decadence without butter (turns out that is possible).
Bliss and Chips
What’s next, vegan fish and chips? Why yes. Everything from your battered “fish” to the “calamari” rings to the deep fried chocolate bars are guaranteed to be just as terrible for you as the animal-containing variety.
We’re getting all aboard the vegan train at Superfood Sushi, especially when they manage to make pumpkin in sushi taste good—go for the saigon pickle and magic mushroom.
Then work it all off at one of these rock climbing spots.
The Owl House | Image credit: Federica Portentoso