First things first. We’re not really into things like shredding, the quest for your best-ever bikini body and gym selfies. We love burgers. We love pasta, pizza, spritz and charcuterie. We also know that living your best life involves exercise you love (whether that’s walking, boxing or yoga in a dreamy studio), and eating really nourishing, healthy food.
So, we’re pretty lucky here in Sydney that there are lots of brilliant cafes and restaurants that put a lot of heart and health into their recipes, making brunch a wholesome, healthy affair, instead of something you might (sort of) regret a bit later (though Maccas breaky does have a special place in our hearts).
So before you jump on the next fad diet, check out our picks of Sydney’s healthiest eateries. They’ll have you glowing from the inside out in no time.
Long before meat-free Mondays, Yulli’s was commanding a waitlist as long as Crown Street itself. Yulli’s invites guests to experience everything a little differently. Owner Karl Cooney admits that while some of the items on the 100 per cent vegan menu mightn’t be fantastic for the waistline, he argues that all “our food is healthy for the soul”.
“More people are becoming aware of just how important diet is when it comes to overall health and wellbeing, and in particular there's been a recent demand for more plant-based food with fresh and locally sourced ingredients,” Cooney says. “Diners are discovering that healthy can mean delicious too, plus people are becoming more adventurous with the types of dishes and food they're eating.”
The tapas menu encourages food-lovers of any persuasion to indulge in a pick-and-choose type feast, with the aim of broadening their plant-based horizons and expectations. Start with the edamame and coconut money bags or steamed leek and ginger dumplings, before enjoying the zucchini flowers with beetroot and truffle oil cream. We also highly recommend the naan pocket, with crispy enoki mushrooms and marinated tofu and pickled cabbage. Cooney reckons that the reason people keep coming back for more probably has to do with the incredible flavours in each dish: “So many people can't believe that everything is vegan”.
Make sure you check out Yulli's Brews too, Yulli's Alexandria brewery where you can taste delicious pale ales, IPAs, sours, porters and ciders. The brewery regularly hosts markets too, and the bar menu is top-notch.
The chaps behind Two Chaps have converted a suburban Chapel Street-facing shed into a café, bakery and pasta-house. Starting everything from scratch in-shed, the entire assortment of breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings use traceable local ingredients, to ensure diners know exactly where their flour is kneaded, and where the Microlot Coffee is roasted.
Seven days a week, Two Chaps operates as a bakery, providing a diverse collection of vegan and gluten-free treats. Daytime highlights include the café’s infamous “Hot Sandwiches” (try the poached egg ciabatta with fermented chilli aioli) and the Brekkie bowl, a nourishing concoction of pea and haloumi fritters, pumpkin purée, shaved zucchini, seeded avocado and a beetroot pickled egg.
Come nightfall three days a week, baked goods are replaced with a set menu that’s dubbed the Italian table. Sharing a long table with like-minded community eaters, the menu is updated fortnightly and showcases the most blissimo finds from nearby markets. Think pasta, focaccia and gelato all made from scratch on location. Reservations are essential for the two sittings on Thursday through to Saturday night.
Hash browns, asparagus, marinated peas, poached eggs and green goddess saucee (gf) (v avail) #twochaps #marrickville #vegan#vegeterian #bestcoffeesydney#organic #handmade #freerange#sydneyeats #bestcafesydney#seasonal #localproduce #supportlocalbusiness #innerwestisbest #plantbased #sustainable #pastry #chocolate #glutenfree ��@thevunchguide
The brainchild of three Shire locals, Rob Lechowicz, Daniel Sorridimi and Paul Pisan, Blackwood Pantry serves up a colour-popping seasonal menu with nods to Australia’s big, bold brunch culture and our exponential hunger for traceable ingredients. Unlike greedy solo-brunches, head chef Rob Lechowicz’s menu has been designed to attack as a group. This ensures that diners enjoy the diverse wholefood wonders the Pantry has to offer.
Kick off your day the right way with the Morning Glory, combining tandoori roasted sweet potato with kale, pickled red onion, a whip of goat’s cheese and avocado, finished off with a soft poached egg and a crisp chunk of chorizo. Or, ignite your European summer dreaming, with the Mediterranean style octopus, a paprika oil drizzled sea dweller complete with olive oil crunched purple potatoes, pickled vegetables, capers and a punchy romesco sauce. Finish it all off with an in-house made kombucha or iced tea, or a “cleansing shot” of turmeric, lemon, cayenne pepper and carrot. For those inclined, there is Young Henrys on tap, plus a selection of house wines and cocktails.
What was once Camperdown’s bowling green has been converted into a city-edge paddock to plate experience otherwise known as Acre Eatery. Finished with exposed ceiling frames and lashings of warm timber, the open plan dining space encourages a sense of community. Head chef Gareth Howard’s farm-focused menu uses in-season fruits and vegetables and totally transparent ingredients from sustainable growers.
Open from breakfast through to dinner, menu highlights include the local buffalo burrata with heirloom tomatoes and basil, a juicy caramelised pumpkin with butter beans and cashew labneh and slow-roasted porchetta, finished with young carrots and peas to share. Dietaries are no issue at Acre Eatery, there is even a bespoke vegetarian menu. Groups of up to 25 are welcome to graze through a curated set menu too, making it an epic spot for a party.
Egg of the Universe
Rozelle, South Eveleigh
Safe to say, if we found this wholefoods delicatessen and yoga studio at the edge of the universe, we would quite happily fall into the abyss. With a studio and store in Rozelle, and another studio in the new South Eveleigh precinct, Egg of the Universe offers yogis and wholefoodies alike a nutrition-focused mecca to zen out in and indulge in raw treats. Open seven days a week, be you a downward-dog pro or not, the outdoor café space in the original Rozelle venue nourishes the soul with a relaxed atmosphere and sunrays.
Co-owner Harry Lancaster says that Egg of the Universe is all about the search for external and internal satisfaction, contentment and, above all, happiness. “Ultimately, I think we all know instinctively when we’ve been truly nourished,” he says. “People naturally want to feel good and eateries that champion healthy food without compromising on taste are going to continue to do well and attract a following.”
Set around a lush high-hanging tree, the courtyard basks in the colours and fever of dishes designed to celebrate planet Earth. The nutritional menu caters to every diet—the common factor across all key dishes is the finest produce. “Our all-time best-seller is our Super B.L.A.T., which features nitrate-free bacon, roast tomato, and avo on sourdough with green leaves, our own house-made fermented sauerkraut and aioli,” says Lancaster.
Top it all off with a savasana and you are well on the way to finding enlightenment.
As the name suggests, this Surry Hills deli café is on a mission to shift Sydney’s preconceptions of vegan food. Since opening in 2017, Shift Eatery has recognised that when it comes to convincing people to change their minds about vegan food, one thing above all is of paramount importance: taste.
A first of its kind for Sydney, Shift Eatery wants the movement to veganism to be as hassle-free and delicious as possible. Operating from a minimalistic industrial setting, owner James Danaskos and chef Juan Carlos Miranda’s hybrid deli and dine-in menu is intentionally suited for city-dwellers looking for lunch on the run and curious non-vegans keen for an epic brunch.
“People are becoming a lot more conscious of what they’re eating because of access to information,” says Danaskos. “They need convenience but also want there to be healthy whole food options that will nourish them and help them power through the day.” For those on the fly, we recommend devouring one of Shift’s renowned toasties. The Buffalo Sub swaps in jackfruit for pork and smoothers it with slaw, cheddar and gherkins. The all-day breakfast menu features a sell-out “bacon” and egg bagel, and the sizeable salad bowls are suitable for a refreshing lunch. We love the Korean inspired Seoul Bowl with tofu, gochujang sauce, vegan egg and a smorgasbord of veggies. Making this shift seems pretty easy.
Eden launched in Bondi in late 2019. It’s the brainchild of Plant Proof blog and podcast founder Simon Hill, and Tanya Smart, the owner of plant-based fast food outlet Conscious Feast. The duo united their healthy-life, plant-based passions to create the leafy 80-seat Beverly Hills-style restaurant, that’s dishing out fresh, energising plant-based feeds and equally revitalising cocktails.
“Both Tanya and I have years of personal experience working with plants, meaning we have built a repertoire of tricks in both the preparation and sourcing of ingredients that allow us to inject maximum flavour,” says Hill. “Where possible we only source organic ingredients and our drinks list is made up of biodynamic and minimal intervention wines.”
Hill and Smart have worked with head chef Claudia Pantoja (formerly of vegan restaurant Alibi) to devise a selection of dishes that offer plant-based twists on Australian classics.
“To date, Eden's standout dishes are our popcorn cauliflower, watermelon poke, fysh tacos, spaghetti Bolognese, and our pizzas,” says Hill. “When it comes to our pizza, we use a traditional Italian dough recipe that our pizza chefs make from scratch with delicious toppings that everyone will love, whether they have a plant focussed diet or not. The potato and truffle Bianca pizza is the standout.”
In October 2019, Eden will launch a brunch menu to complement the warm summer days and the venue’s extensive list of beautiful cocktails.
Warren & Holt
The team at Marrickville institution Warren & Holt believe that Wellness starts with the gut. Since 2017, Warren & Holt have set out to create a healthy experience that is inclusive and transparent. “Our belief is that people can experience restaurant quality cafe fare made from real food,” says co-owner Sophie Budzevski. “In fact, we purposely pay a premium to work with small-scale local and ethical producers that share these core values.”
Collaborating with local producers, nutritionists and dieticians, Budzevski’s menu strives to strike a balance between the expectations of leading a healthy lifestyle and the desire for a bit of indulgence from time to time. “We want to balance between the obviously healthy and then the traditionally not-so-healthy items, which we give a nourishing spin by using real, honest, allergen-friendly and seasonal ingredients—removing refined sugar and sticking to unprocessed ingredients,” Budzevski says.
In addition to the collagen-enriched 48-hour bone broth, Warren & Holt’s top hits include “The Good Health Bowl” with vegan cashew cheese and a selection of lacto-fermented and roasted vegetables and a salmon bagel with dill-cured Big Glory Bay salmon, house pickles and a house-made herbed sour cream on a Brooklyn Boy bagel. You really can have your cake and eat it too.
With the motto, “To eat is human. To eat well is divine”, Preach Cafe sure does set its standards high. Yet, with such drop-dead gorgeous, healthy food, Preach Café really does practice what it preaches. Set on Campbell Parad, Preach Café fulfills many expectations that come with being a Bondi brunch-hangout: the food is aesthetically on point, the coffee is worth a large serve, the wait staff look as though they have rolled in from the surf and the well-lit warehouse fit out sets the mood for sunny, flavour-packed food to come.
Preach kicked off in 2017, and since then has cemented its place as a bucket list brunch destination thanks in large part to a Mediterranean inspired menu which promotes inclusivity of just about every dietary desire. In addition to allowing diners to build their own breakfast or lunch platter, standouts from the diverse menu include the aptly titled Green Nourish Bowl with poached eggs, halloumi, avocado and sautéed greens; there’s the heart falafel bowl finished with a devilish dipping sauce and for something sweet, the moreish salted caramel pancakes with a sphere of dreamlike ice-cream and bursts of seasonal fruit. Divine eating sure seems to be the way to go.
In 1980, a decent vegetarian joint in Sydney was about as common as a perfectly creamy latte or a smooth batch brew—basically, we hadn’t quite figured it out yet. Fast forward almost 40-years (wow) and the number of vegetarian cafes appears to outweigh typical carnivorous counterparts. Pilgrims Cafe is, however, one of the rare vegetarian gems that has been kicking around since the 80s. These days it’s owned by Dan Perry and Garth and Martha Dickenson, who have maintained the fully vego-friendly menu, upholding the cafe’s original desire to introduce inquisitorial diners to the tempting aromas of the plant-based life.
Tucked between a dog groomer and convenience store, you’d easily miss this staircase to this vegetarian heaven. Don’t be put off by the laidback atmosphere, this Milton café takes its brunch serving seriously. As you meander through the separate vegetarian and vegan offerings, be tempted by the wholemeal “Bliss Burger” with a grain patty and toppings of avocado, fried onion, cheese with a peanut and special sauce duo. The haloumi stack is another Shire favourite. If a Mexican feast is more your style, swing by on Friday and Saturday nights for a BYO, vegetarian banquet that packs a flaring punch. Top it all off with a surf after your meal and you have reached peak health.
While you're here, check out Sydney's best vegan restaurants.
Image credit: Blackwood Pantry