It was only a few years ago that the idea of vegan and vegetarian restaurants was barely heard of. Sure, you could get certain dishes from restaurants that were vegetarian, as you can with gluten-free requirements, but it wasn’t until recently that clean eating took over our corner shops, fine dining restaurants, and pizza joints. Yes, vegan pizza is a thing, and it’s glorious.
With that said, here are the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants you can find in Sydney.
There are very few places that have an entire menu dedicated to vegetables, let alone a menu where the vegetables become the main act, but at Maydanoz, vegetables take centre stage. To be honest, there is a fish and chicken option on the menu to cater to everyone, but at the end of the night, you won’t miss the protein. Channelling the Aegean Turkish coast, the dishes are simple yet packed full of flavour. Think oyster mushrooms brushed with a tamarind glaze and skewered to look like chicken. The halloumi kebab bathed in honey is a must-try dish. It comes to the table, sizzling over a hot bed of smoked rosemary, infusing all the flavour into the cheese. At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with any of the thoughtful, heritage-rich dishes on the menu, but you would be a miss if you didn’t at least try one cocktail. The bartender there hails from Flying Dutchmen in Amsterdam, one of the world’s 50 best.
Head Chef Shannon Martinez creates the Mediterranean dishes we all know and love, but makes them plant-based. Alibi is the colourful restaurant inside Ovolo Woolloomooloo, which acts as a bar and restaurant at different times of the day. The dinner menu is by far the favourite. The food usually looks like its original version, but upon first taste, it’s clear there is no meat here. The flavours and textures Martinez makes are unfathomable and definitely worth a visit, even if you’re not vegetarian. It is sure to change minds about plant-based diets.
Gigi Pizzeria is a little famous pizza joint in Newtown, known for slinging traditional Napoletana slices. In 2015, owner Marco Mattino decided to take all animal products off the menu and has since been known as the best vegan pizza joint in Sydney. Pizza lovers can expect creative combinations such as thinly sliced roasted potatoes with truffle, broccoli and beyond sausage, and eggplant with mushrooms. The best part, the same umami flavours are still there; they just come in the form of tree-nut ricotta and plant-based cream cheese instead of simply using vegan cheese products.
This Mexican-inspired vegan eatery will make you rethink your taco choices. The dimly lit, artsy space with exposed brick sets the scene for the casual dining experience with not-so-casual flavours. Because everything on the menu is vegan, expect mushroom Peruvian ceviche instead of kingfish and quesadillas stuffed with creamy “Oaxaca cheese.” The tacos are crowd-pleasers and come in four flavours: Baja jackfruit, miso eggplant, chipotle potato, and mushroom with cashew cream. For dessert, forget churros; they serve up Mexican rice pudding and a sweet corn creme brûlée.
In 2016, Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt of The Bentley Group relaunched Yellow’s menu to be 100% vegetarian, and they never looked back. The popular vegan bistro is now known as the go-to place for vegetarian dishes that are a cut above the average. There is only a five-course and a seven-course menu, although they also host guest chefs often, which is a delight to experience. As for the dishes, they focus on locally grown vegetables to create dishes such as shio roasted carrot with crispy oats, sweet corn porridge served with a rye brioche roll and dessert made of celeriac ice cream and salted caramel.
After overcoming an eating disorder, Vinita Chumsri, a remarkable 20-something-year-old, open the vegan Thai restaurant Little Turtle. Inspired by her parents’ hometowns in northern Thailand, the menu showcases traditional dishes with a plant-based twist. From the hor mok, featuring pearl mushrooms and tofu in a coconut to the larb salad of mixed mushrooms, each dish is creative and bursting with flavour.