It’s now 2019 and looks safe to say that veganism is here to stay. More than just a trendy phase, the rise of plant-based diets can be denied no more as it continues to grow all over the globe. One rather tasty reflection of that rise is the increased emergence of vegan cafés and vegan restaurants in Sydney.
Chefs and restaurateurs have realised the potential. Not only is their demand in the market, but they can create some inspiring menus while they’re at it. They’re celebrating and showcasing the flavoursome nature of vegetables, fruit and grain.
Why the rise?
There’s a number of reasons people are turning to a vegan diet. They include personal health, animal welfare and the increased availability of vegan food in supermarkets. Ethical reasons are also a leading factor, with evidence showing less meat and dairy consumption can aid the environment by lowering carbon footprints.
Regardless of what one’s reason is for dabbling with the meatless patties, the number of Google searches don’t lie. The term “vegan” quadrupled from 2012 to 2018. It blitzed the search terms of “vegetarian” and “gluten free” by triple the amount. The Australian market showed the second highest vegan interest in 2018, only behind the United Kingdom in search numbers.
Veganism in Sydney’s Dining Scene
One reflection of Australia’s rising interest is the prevalence of vegan-friendly menus. In the last year we’ve seen them popping up left, right and centre throughout the country. Furthermore, we think Sydney might just take the cake when it comes to choice. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of vegan restaurants in Sydney we think are the best. However, trust us when we say this task wasn’t easy. Veganism has firmly cemented itself in Sydney’s dining scene (from breakfast until late). These days, locals have an abundant number of eating-out options.
Some of our highlighted restaurants offer alternatives to mainstream diet ingredients, like “meatless” meat options made from soybeans or tree-based cheese. In contrast, other restaurants like Bad Hombres and Paperbark are setting their own high standards. Chefs are skilfully designing menus that prove plants can be dignified ingredients in their own right.
Some of the best pizza in Sydney, period
One of Sydney’s many wonderful restaurants clustered on King Street in Newtown, Gigi Pizzeria is churning out some truly authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. The team follow strict guidelines to adhere to Naples standards – hand-stretched dough, traditional toppings and a wood-fire oven.
Yet even more impressive, is the fact that Gigi’s menu is entirely plant-based and still bursting with all the lustful flavours of Italian cuisine. It’s a testament to the skilled chefs and Sydney locals (vegan or not) simply love it. We recommend a traditional pizza like Marinara with garlic and fresh oregano, or the Melanzane with tree-nut ricotta and grilled eggplant. The Cavolo is also worth mentioning, though, a tasty pizza with a cauliflower-puree base and toppings of artichokes, pinenuts, currants and herbs.
Open Monday to Sunday, 6 – 10:30pm
379 King Street, Newtown, Sydney 2042
Creative vegan small plates with Mexican flavours
Who said vegan food was no fun? That vegetables were bland? If you’ve got mates or family who reserve doubts about veganism, then Bad Hombres is the place to take them. Their flavoursome Mexican menu and natural wine list will happily smash all skeptics’ (probably naive) expectations.
Originally a pop-up thanks to Sean McManus and Toby Wilson, Bad Hombres is thankfully here to stay in a permanent Surry Hills location. Book a table and enjoy noteworthy dishes like charred corn with Japanese mayo and vegan furikake, crispy eggplant tacos with pineapple habanero salsa and miso caramel, or pumpkin and kale quesadillas with macha salsa. If you want a taste of everything, the $45 banquet menu is a steal.
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 5 – 10pm
40 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, Sydney 2010
Plant-based fine dining from a hatted restaurant
If you’re after vegan fine-dining, look no further than Yellow in Potts Point. Yellow is a highly-acclaimed restaurant awarded Two Hats in the 2019 Good Food Guide. It’s a vegetarian bistro lead by the team behind Bentley Restaurant + Bar, chef Brent Savage and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt. They’re a talented duo with vision, creating a menu focused around locally supplied vegetables and natural, organic wines to complement.
While they do offer à la carte, we highly recommend treating yourself to a vegan tasting menu. Both five-course and seven-course menus are available. They incorporate refined European cooking techniques with unique, heirloom vegetable ingredients. Bookings are essential.
Open Monday to Sunday, 5 – 11pm; Weekend brunch from 11am – 2:30pm
57 Macleay Street, Potts Point, Sydney 2011
Cutting-edge food with a focus on Australian ingredients
This plant-based restaurant in Waterloo is passionately dedicated to supporting the local food industry by building relationships with small-scale producers and curating an all-Australian natural wine list. Certainly the most creative restaurant on our list, pay Paperbark a visit and let the chefs wow you with their modern cuisine.
We recommend the sample kitchen menu at $75 per person because it allows you to savour a majority of the dishes. Keep an eye out for the incorporation of native Australian plants like riberry, finger lime, Davidson’s plum and lemon myrtle.
Open Monday, Wednesday & Thursday, 6 – 10pm; Friday & Saturday, 6pm – 12am
8/18 Danks Street, Waterloo, Sydney 2017
Vegan yum cha and picturesque dining in the park
This parkside restaurant in the CBD wins our heart for many reasons. First of all, Bodhi has a stunning location in the middle of Cook and Phillip Park. The inside dining room flows with ease into the picturesque outside dining area, situated beneath Moreton Bay fig trees. The food, meanwhile, is of equal class, the menu focusing on Pan-Asian vegan cuisine using local produce and fresh ingredients.
Lunch is dedicated to vegan yum cha – dumplings, steamed buns, sweets and more – while dinner is focused on oriental tapas and large plates for sharing. The drinks list is also outstanding, featuring organic fruit-and-herb based cocktails, biodynamic natural wines and vegan beers.
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Open Monday to Sunday, 11am – 3pm; Tuesday to Sunday, 5 – 10pm
2-4 College Street, City Centre, Sydney 2000
Golden Lotus Vegan
Authentic Vietnamese flavour and creative soybean meats
This Vietnamese restaurant in Newtown is 100% vegan and 100% delicious. Golden Lotus follow the ethos “peace begins on your plate” and have earned a massive following thanks to their fresh and healthy food. Despite being entirely plant-based, their menu still retains the authenticity of Vietnamese cuisine. There’s street food appetizers, pho soups and vermicelli noodle dishes in full force.
The menu incorporates a range of soybean-based “meat” alternatives, so expect dishes like vegan chicken stir fry, vegan duck bamboo noodle soup and vegan fried fish with lemongrass. They get extra points for being one of Sydney’s celebrated BYO restaurants, so gather some mates and a bottle of white to accompany the refreshing tastes of Saigon.
Open Monday to Sunday, 5:30 – 10:30pm; lunch from Thursday to Sunday, 12 – 3pm
341-343 King Street, Newtown, Sydney 2042
An iconic trio of burgers, fries and shakes
With four locations going strong throughout the city, Soul Burger really is a reflection of the growing popularity and hunger for vegan restaurants in Sydney. The ethics behind this plant-based burger chain is about supporting animal welfare, helping food security, lowering emissions, minimising water use and improving health. Essentially, all concepts that can help the planet.
Punters can have a clear conscience while they happily chomp their way through the menu. There’s 13 burgers and a wealth of tasty fries and coconut milkshakes. We’re a fan of the “pulled pork” burger packed with BBQ jackfruit, chipotle mayo and veggie slaw. Order it alongside a choc-banana shake and beer-battered chips with herb seasoning – we promise you’ll be licking your lips for more.
Open Monday to Sunday, 11am – 10pm
Glebe: 111 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, Sydney 2037
Newtown: 229A King Street, Newtown, Sydney 2042
Randwick: 49 Perouse Road, Randwick, Sydney 2031
Parramatta: 316 Church Street, Parramatta, Sydney 2150
The Green Lion
Finally, a vegan pub in all its glory!
The Green Lion is happily feeding Sydney locals who are craving the comforts of pub grub with the ethos of vegan. Australia’s first plant-based pub, this laid back vegan bistro in Rozelle is drawing in the crowds thanks to a stellar menu. It features burgers, hotdogs, pizza and classic pub meals.
For healthy diners, we recommend the Brown Rice Buddha Burger: a brown rice, black bean, quinoa and veggie pattie with pickled cucumber and tahini sauce. But if you’re craving an OG burger, opt for the Aussie Burger with the lot: beefless pattie, meatless bacon, hash brown, cheese, caramelised onions and BBQ sauce. Get a side of loaded poutine fries and you’re sorted! Regardless of what you order, it’s bloody delicious food that’s perfect for washing down with their vegan drinks list of wines and beers on tap.
Open Wednesday & Thursday, 6 – 9pm; Friday & Saturday, 12:30 – 9:30pm; Sunday, 12:30 – 8:30pm
Level 1/726 Darling Street, Rozelle, Sydney 2043
More vegan restaurants in Sydney
Vegan pasta and damn-fine Italian cocktails. Spaghetti and spritzes, anyone?
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 6 – 10pm; Friday’s for lunch from 12 – 4pm
38-52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills, Sydney 2010
This one-hatted restaurant in Newport is an Italian-style trattoria that offers a delicious vegan menu
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 5pm – 10:30pm (Friday and Weekends open for lunch 12 – 3pm)
316-324 Barrenjoey Road, G04 The Palms, Newport, Sydney 2106
Family-owned Vietnamese restaurant with a twist
Open Monday to Sunday, 4 – 10pm
395 King Street, Newtown, Sydney 2042
Flavoursome, spicy food from Australia’s first Indian vegan restaurant
Open Monday to Sunday, 5 – 10pm
163 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, Sydney 2037
Refreshing, fragrant food inspired by Vietnamese and Latin American cuisine
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 6 – 9:30pm
315 Cleveland Street, Redfern, Sydney 2016
Boutique restaurant inside the Ovolo Hotel that serves international vegan dishes
Open Sunday and Monday, 3pm – 12am; Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm – 12am
Ovolo Hotel, 6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo, Sydney 2011
A Crown Street favourite thanks to a fusion menu of vegan plates, desserts and wines
Open Monday, 5 – 10pm; Tuesday to Sunday, 11:30am – 10pm
417 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney 2010
A darling in Darlinghurst due to avant-garde vegan degustation menus
Open Monday, 5pm – 12am; Tuesday to Friday, 12pm – 12am; Saturday, 8am – 12am; Sunday, 8am – 3pm
292/294 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney 2010
A hatted restaurant showing craftsmanship in every vegan plate
Open Monday to Sunday, 12 – 2:30pm and 6 – 10pm
11 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, Sydney 2000
A waterside, vegan-friendly restaurant combining Italian cuisine with Australian wine
Open Monday to Sunday, 12 – 10pm
8/6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo, Sydney 2011
An Enmore gem with Thai food that’s all-vegan, fresh and health-conscious
Open Monday to Sunday, 11am – 10pm
10 Stanmore Road, Enmore, Sydney 2042
A bustling bar and restaurant in Manly serving artisanal vegan burgers
Open Monday to Friday, 5pm – 12am; Weekends, 12pm – 12am
24 Sydney Road, Manly, Sydney 2095
Reliable vegan fast food – on the go and at the ready
Open daily, visit website for individual store details
Sydney CBD: 537 George Street, CBD, Sydney 2000
Haymarket: Shop 10A. Henry Deane Plaza, 18 Lee Street, Haymarket, Sydney 2000
Parramatta: Level 1, Food Court, 159-175 Church Street, Parramatta, Sydney 2150