Melbourne’s inner-city vego hangouts for non-vegans

urban projuice sesame tempeh_feature melbourne best vegan food

Melbourne is for vegans like Gold Coast is for people who’ve lost their shoes. No one asks questions. So what do you do when your shoe-wearing friends visit (aka non-vegans?) You take them out on the town, show them some of Melbourne’s best vegan food and convince them they don’t need meat to live a fulfilled life – which is easy in Melbourne: the vegan capital.

To illustrate how fun it is to be vegan, I’ve taken inspiration from TheSkimm’s intro style. Hope you like.

urban projuice albert park fritter deluxe melbourne best vegan food
Urban Projuice’s Fritter Deluxe | carrot and sweet potato fritter stack, minted peas, tofu ricotta, harissa coyo, pomegranate pearls, mizuna and egyptian dukkah (+ crushed avocado, because Melbourne)

What to say when your friend announces she bought a teacup pig…

That’s too pretty to eat. Urban Projuice is an Instagrammer’s dream. They decorate your meal with those delicate edible flowers. And don’t get us started on their smoothie bowls. Everything is or can be vegan. Riding the ovo train? Opt for eggs (you’ll feel okay about it, they’re high on the ethical spectrum.) My go-to is the Big Breakfast – there’s just so much to love. And you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day.

Urban Projuice | @urbanprojuice
315 Montague St, Albert Park, VIC, 3206 | (03) 9696 0048

transformer rice pilaf melbourne best vegan food
Transformer’s Three Rice Pilaf w/ sprouted lentils, pomegranate seeds and fried onion

What to say to your friend who just got a rose tattoo…

Classy choice. This place is brought to you by Vegie Bar (around the corner), but with a more sophisticated menu and warehouse conversion. (Can you get more fancy than pine nut purée?) The food is made for sharing. I have fond memories of the Sweet Corn Fritter Fries, but no matter what seasonal menu you explore, the little tweaks on normal-ish menu items will impress. What are barberries? Just go with it.

Transformer | @transformerfitzroy
99 Rose St, Fitzroy, VIC, 3065 | (03) 9419 2022

smith and daughters fitzroy melbourne best vegan food
Smith & Daughters’ Mexican Hash and Jalepeño Corn Fritters | The awful about eating here is that you’ll want everything. Then you’ll eat something, visit again, and want that same thing again, but also everything else

What to say to your friend who cheats and gets away with it…

You’re onto something. That’s the best thing about Smith and Daughters. It feels like you’re cheating. Co-owner and Head Chef, Shannon Martinez is a meat-eater. She acts as a translator of sorts and you’ll be all ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ over her creations. Going for brunch? The Brekkie Burrito is a popular menu item. Dinner? Make sure you book! Tip: Order Spanish doughnuts for dessert at the same time you order dinner. Sweets that tasty don’t last.

Smith & Daughters | @smithanddaughters
175 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC, 3065 | (03) 9939 3293

smith and deli egg mcmartinez melbourne best vegan food
Smith & Deli’s Egg McMartinez (bacon, egg, cheese), Grilled Cheese w/ Ham and Truffle Oil, and Grilled Cheese w/ Pesto | The bacon on the McMartinez is the closest I’ve had the real thing. Pro tip: Choose BBQ sauce and aioli for the McMartinez

What to say when your friend gives up alcohol for January, but says vodka’s okay…

Same same, but different. Smith & Deli’s owned by Smith & Daughters, but it’s a different experience. Ever think, “I don’t want a sandwich for lunch – I could make that at home”? Does NOT happen. Here be the best vegan sandwich in Melbourne. I won’t spoil it, you can try them all. From buttery, meaty and juicy (I know, right?) to fresh, crispy and fluffy. The Egg McMartinez (basically egg McMuffin) sells out early, so make this your mission. Go vegan, go.

Smith & Deli | @smithanddeli
111 Moor St, Fitzroy, VIC, 3065 | (03) 9042 4117

matcha mylkbar vegan egg best vegan food melbourne
Matcha Mylkbar Potato and Leek Rosti w/ asparagus, true hollandaise, vegan fried egg | Prepare yourself for multiple eye rolls of delight

What it feels like to be vegan with egg on your face…

Tricked you, that’s ‘No Egg’. Matcha Mylkbar are like evil scientists, but they make you feel so, so good. These guys created the vegan poached egg and then the vegan fried egg (made from turmeric, sweet potato and coconut), but the egg news is out. There’s usually a wait for tables (they don’t take bookings). Get there early and try weekdays.

Matcha Mylkbar | @matcha_mylkbar
72A Acland St, St Kilda, VIC, 3182 | (03) 9534 1111

avocado magic shakahari too melbourne best vegan food
Shakahari Too’s Avocado Magic | Avocado wedges and red capsicums rolled in thin eggplant slices then tempura fried in a rice batter, served with jade green sesame coriander puree

What to say when your friend pulls a twenty-cent piece from behind your ear…

That’s magic. And it’s what you’ll order from Shakahari Too’s menu. The Avocado Magic. Not giving away all the details, but it’s tempura fried. And it’s avocado. What you do after that is up to you. *Cough* Laksa. At Shakahari Too (and Shakahari in Carlton) you’ll be waited on by attentive staff, have a choice of organic wine, and be at one with the world. Really, it’s tranquil. You’ll find inner peace.

Shakahari Too | @shakaharitoo
225 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, VIC, | (03) 9682 2207

trippy taco melbourne beset vegan food
Trippy Taco’s Vegan Taco | Fresh house-made corn tortillas with chargrilled tofu, vegan cheese, avocado slices, salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime

What do you say when your friend tells you they hate chocolate…

You’re trippin’. Where do you take someone who ‘doesn’t do vegan’? Try Trippy Taco. Who doesn’t like Mexican food? No one. Exactly. It’s basic, westernised and messy, but vego. The Breakfast Taco is my pick (free-range scrambled eggs for the non-vegan, scrambled tofu and soy cheese for the plant-loving kind.) Then you can go for a brunch beer at Mr Scruff’s afterward and everyone’s happy.

Trippy Taco | @trippy.taco
48 Smith St, Collingwood, VIC | (03) 9415 7711

This list forms only a handful of the spots serving Melbourne’s best vegan food (IMO). What’s your call on the best vegan cafe in Melbourne? Do you have recommendations for vegan spots in the outer suburbs worth a trip?

I wrote this article for where it was originally published.