Guilt free desserts, pancakes that are actually good for you, and filling, wholesome meals, all in one place? Welcome to the magical world of Melbourne’s emerging plant based scene. With a focus on health, wellbeing and positive vibes, it’s food that’s good for your heart and your soul.
So matcha goodness. Photo: Natalee Erceg.
A recent addition, Matcha Mylkbar is certainly not one to shy away from a challenge. With offerings such as a blue algae smoothie bowl, vegan eggs, and homemade toast ( made using cactus flour), the café, owned by superstars Nic Davidson and Sarah Holloway (of Matcha maiden), certainly wins points for originality. Believing that ‘plant-based dining is the future of food’, the café’s menu is 100% plant based. However all substitutes, such as the vegan eggs, made from a mixture of agar-agar, sweet potato and coconut milk, the soy chicken, and mushroom bacon, taste just as good- if not, dare I say it, better- than their dairy and meat counterparts. Matcha (a powdered green tea) is a prominent menu item, featuring in a range of lattes, a hot chocolate, pancakes and even a bread bun, complimenting Nic and Sarah’s side business, and passion for promoting a more holistic lifestyle. Who knew there could be so matcha goodness in one place!
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: Soy chicken burger with mushroom bacon, avocado, beetroot kraut on a matcha bun with beetroot hummus and sweet potato fries. Paired with a ‘FREE THE NIBS’ smoothie, a cacao and peanut butter combination, for the perfect blend of sweet and savoury.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 72A ACKLAND STREET ST KILDA VIC 3182
PH: 9534 1111
The food envy is real. Photo by: Natalee Erceg.
An Albert Park favourite, this wholefoods café and juice bar is an urban oasis. Housed in a two-storey Victorian, light-filled terrace, you almost forget you’re only a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Albert Park. Dedicated to helping you ‘nourish your body and satisfy your senses’, the cafes moto is heal your body, heal your mind and heal the earth. For those wishing to learn more about raw food or are looking to adopt the cafes holistic approach, events such as a raw alkaline cooking class and a Moroccan feast cooking class (where do I sign up?!) are held throughout the year. An array of refreshing, healthy smoothies, thick shakes, cold pressed juices and kombuchas are on offer to keep you cool throughout the warmer months, whilst
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: Tempeh burger with marinated grilled tempeh, satay sauce, fresh tomato, and crushed avocado on a toasted Turkish bun. Paired with a strawberry thick shake, made with strawberries and coconut ice cream, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in heaven.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 315 MONTAGUE STREET ALBERT PARK VIC 3206
PH: 9696 0048
Proof healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring. Photo from Veggie Bar’s official Instagram.
Don’t let the name fool you; Veggie Bar is more than just salads. Located on Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street, Veggie Bar is always busy, no matter the time of day. And it’s not hard to see why. An age-old favourite, veggie bar was Melbourne’s original destination for all things plant-based. Comfort food for the mind, body, and soul, this Fitzroy restaurant’s menu is inspired by dishes all over the world. Upon a quick browse of the Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu, there are a few standout items: there’s the mushroom burger, served with macadamia and sage crusted halloumi, the pumpkin agnolotti, pumpkin and ricotta pasta parcels tossed in creamy basil pesto sauce with cherry tomatoes, and the Mexican burrito, topped with melted cheese and fresh chilli sauce. Even the salads are impressive; the Fushimi salad, with teriyaki roast pumpkin, is a crowd favourite, whilst the soba salad is must-try for first-timers, vibrantly flavoured and full of delicious, crisp vegetables. Despite Homer Simpson’s warnings, this will be one place where you CAN win friends with salad.
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: classic and much-sought-after lentil burger, a curried lentil patty with satay sauce, tomato, cucumber and beetroot in an organic Kamut burger bun. Is anyone else suddenly very hungry…
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 380 BRUNSWICK STREET FITZROY VIC 3065
PH: 9417 6935
Organic banana flour positive pancakes with house-made banana nice-cream. Serotonin sure has this whole happiness thing down pat. Photo: Natalee Erceg.
Everything about this café, from the food and drinks to the design and its workers, is designed to make you happy. And boy, is It effective. In an open, light-filled space, (with swings suspended from the ceiling as seats in one section, an ode to everyone’s favourite childhood construction, ever), Serotonin ‘provides a sanctuary to escape from our fast-paced lives’. The owner, Emily, sought a café with a ‘no brainer menu’ where every dish was nourishing. ‘I opened my happiness Center with the vision of changing minds and lives” she explains. The menu boasts an impressive selection of vegetarian and vegan options, ranging from the standard smashed avocado, to a mouth-watering watermelon pizza, and a flavoursome deconstructed sushi bowl. Raw organic treats, such as turmeric ice-cream sandwich’s, peanut butter magnums and raspberry lamingtons will make it difficult for even the most strong-willed people to turn down dessert, however, at an average price-tag of $10, these aren’t for everyone.
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: Positive pancakes (made by dehydrating organic bananas and grounding them into banana flour. The name says it all) with a thick, creamy peanut butter latte (that comes with a cacao-powdered smiley face so it’s impossible NOT to be happy drinking it) on the side.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 52 MADDEN GROVE, BURNLEY VIC 3121
PH: 9428 8256
How many Mexican’s does it take to eat nachos? Just Juan. Photo from Trippy Taco’s official Instagram.
An entire vegetarian and vegan Mexican street food restaurant that rivals big league players such as mamasita, Touche Hombre and Hotel Jesus sound too good to be true. However, 16 years ago, with its humble beginnings as a stall at Earthcore, Trippy Taco was born. Nestled in amongst the plethora of cafes and restaurants on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Trippy Taco is becoming increasingly popular by the days. While the space is quite small, seating only 45 patrons, the portions are generous and bursting with flavour and every dish is offered as a vegan alternative. Open for a late breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ll find yourself questioning whether it’s socially acceptable to return for every meal.
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: Nachos; corn tortilla chips topped with smokey ranchero sauce and melted mozarella. Pair this with a ’Trippy corn’, a chargrilled spiced corn con with kewpie mayo and pecorino and a ‘Special Quesadilla’, with goats cheese, black beans, salsa, and guacamole, and you’ll have one very happy (and full) tummy. CAUTION: It is advised one wears elastic pants to Trippy Taco.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: Multiple locations across Melbourne
Donuts, the most important meal of the day. Photo from Combi’s official instagram.
One of Melbourne’s most instagrammable cafes, Combi has had lines out the door (enter at your own risk on a weekend morning) since it’s opening in 2008. Located close to Elwood Beach, it’s not uncommon in summer to see many a beach-goer with a Combi superfood smoothie in hand, and one of their signature vegan donuts in the other. With a completely raw menu, some might be hesitant to give it a try, however stepping into the small yet vibrant space in Elwood, it doesn’t take long to release just why Combi is so popular; the food makes you feel as fantastic as it looks. All ingredients are 100% fresh and organic, with a range of flavoursome mains, acai bowls and raw, refined sugar-free desserts available (So you can have your cake and eat it too!). It’s seriously addictive; don’t say we didn’t warn you!
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: Raw pizzas topped with a melt-in-your mouth, creamy, I can’t-believe-it’s-not-cheese, cashew cheese, and house-made kale pesto. It’s pizza, but not as you know it.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 1/140 ORMOND ROAD ELWOOD VICTORIA 3184
PH: 9531 0084
Peanut butter jelly time. Photo by: Natalee Erceg
Cocomama is all about acai; with a twist. 2016 saw the increasing popularity of the rich purple-coloured berry, as it quickly became a staple menu item in cafes across Australia. However, no one quite does it like Cocomama. Recently opened in Elsternwick, the smoothie and juice bar has something for everyone. Desert bowls such as the Snickers and cherry ripe bowl (yes you read that right) will satisfy any sweet tooth, while for those who’ve already had an overload on acai, pitaya bowls are on offer, and any smoothie on the menu can be turned into a smoothie bowl (think pina colada bowls topped with crunchy granola, goji berries, shredded coconut and fresh fruits). For those after something a bit heavier (although you’d be surprised just how filling each bowl is), the lunch menu contains vegan and gluten free nachos and tacos, as well as raw vegan ‘zoodle’ (zucchini noodle) bolognese. This café’s real winning point though? It’s presentation. Acai bowls topped with bananas and kiwi fruits cut into stars? I’ll take two, please.
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: Peanut butter and jelly acai bowl. Made with raspberry chia jam, a bowl so sweet its hard to believe it’s good for you (it is). What time is it? Peanut butter jelly time!
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 1C STANILAND GROVE ELSTERNWICK VICTORIA 3185
PH: 9972 9592
I think this is what someone had in mind when they coined the phrase ‘foodporn’. Photo: Natalee Erceg.
More than one item here will have you repeating this Hampton favourite’s signature name. Named after what we can only assume was the collective sigh of customers as they dug into this health food cafes all-day breakfast, Holy Bowly is all about feel good vibes. It doesn’t take long to see what all the fuss is about; fresh greenery, smiling, welcoming workers, and signature dishes such as the café’s homemade sprouted ‘Holy bread’, will keep you coming back for more. With a completely guilt-free menu, don’t be afraid to eat yourself happy!
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: Fully loaded acai bowl; a base of acai, banana, blueberries and coconut water topped with a superfood crunch, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, strawberries, and kiwi. Thank God for the all-day breakfast menu because you’ll find yourself craving this signature dish at all times of the day.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 531 HAMPTON STREET, HAMPTON VIC 3188
PH: 9521 0722
Gluten free, vegan Indian crumpets with coyo, eggplant relish, quinoa, salsa, and avo. I know what my next meal is going to be. Photo from Transformer Fitzroy’s official Instagram.
Just around the corner from Veggie Bar comes another Fitzroy favourite; Transformer. Although still relatively new in the game, the warehouse restaurant gives the original reigning vegetarian restaurant a run for its money (understandable, considering the owners, Laki Papadopoulos and Mark Price come from Veggie Bar and Rice Queen). The menu is entirely vegetarian, with vegan alternatives, and features cuisines from all over the world; think Asian inspired organic popcorn with Japanese spiced sea salt and crushed nori, Mediterranean grilled king oyster mushrooms with smoked shallot and middle eastern pumpkin dip with pine nuts, crushed chickpeas, and sourdough crisps. The drinks menu is just as impressive, boasting a selection of sake and cocktails, such as the grape and basil martini, for those feeling adventurous.
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: ricotta and rye gnocchi with pumpkin mousse. Need I say more?
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 99 ROSE STREET FITZROY VIC 3065
PH: 9479 2022
YONG GREEN FOOD
A vegetarian feast. Photo by: Natalee Erceg.
Across the road from Veggie Bar is another Fitzroy plant-based favourite; Yong Green Food. You feel right at home the second you enter this family-owned restaurant, with its Korean-inspired interior, and a welcoming, friendly atmosphere, you’ll want to stay all night. Believing there is enough food in the world for everyone if we consciously choose what we eat, Yong Green Food is all about living in harmony with nature, a commitment they take seriously; the restaurant donates 10% of its profit to help support farmer-managed natural regeneration in East Africa. Though Korean-owned, the diverse menu contains Mexican, American, Japanese, Korean and Thai dishes, meaning there’s something for everyone.
YOU CAN’T GO PAST THE: chickpea korma; a simple but filling dish of organic chickpeas cooked in coconut cream with nine spices, served with biodynamic brown rice and mango chutney. The perfect winter dish!
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 421 BRUNSWICK STREET FITZROY VIC 3065
PH: 9417 3338
Words by: Natalee Erceg