If you are vegetarian or vegan planning a holiday to Sydney you do not need to worry about finding something to eat while you are here, there are some great vegetarian and vegan cafes and restaurants across Sydney that will keep you well energised for exploring the city.
I am not a vegetarian myself, so I have enlisted the help of some friends to bring you some of the best options for non-meat eaters visiting Sydney.
Updated: 1 June 2019
Sara from Belly Rumbles is a local Sydney foodie who not only knows where to find fantastic food in Sydney but also creates and shares some fabulous recipes on her website. She brings us Paperbark, a restaurant that is an excellent choice for international visitors wanting to sample native Australian flavours.
It is hard to work out if the main drawcard to Paperbark is the all-vegan menu, their comprehensive use of Australian ingredients, or the all Australian wine list. Even if you are not a vegan, a visit to Paperbark is a must when in Sydney. It’s a standout opportunity to taste a wide variety of native ingredients.
Paperbark is located on the outskirts of Sydney’s CBD, in the Casba Precinct, Waterloo. A casual restaurant with an industrial vibe. Softened with neutral colours, pale wood, greenery and floor to ceiling windows that let in natural light.
Why not start with a cocktail? They can make anything you want, but on the list, you will find their twist on classics. Myrtle Margarita made with pink peppercorn and lemon myrtle, or a Finger Lime Negroni perhaps?
The menu is unlike anything else you will see elsewhere: no boring veggie curries, lentils or tofu done 20 different ways. Instead, you will find dishes like eggplant with pepperberry dip. Thin crisp eggplant chips sitting on top of a fragrant peppery dip. Or their most Instagrammed dish, mushrooms smoked in paperbark with finger lime and macadamia cream.
Dessert isn’t forgotten either, though there is only one offering. At the time of visiting it was mango sorbet with nectarine, lemon myrtle and macadamia meringue. The meringue is, of course, eggless and made with aquafaba.
For good value and to give you a true taste of what Paperbark can do, I recommend their nine-course kitchen menu ($85/person). There is also a three-course tasting menu ($55/person), or you could simple sample dishes from their bar menu.
Paperbark is at 8/18 Danks Street, Waterloo
Rohini from Why You Wander shares a great find down at Woolloomooloo, a plant-based restaurant and bar with harbour views.
When a year ago Alibi was opened, it was the first plant-based restaurant in Sydney. Designed by Matthew Kenney, a one-time winner of Food & Wine magazines Best New Chef award, Alibi Bar stands unique in the Vegan food scene of Sydney.
Designed as a bar & eatery, this sixty seater has different areas including bar side tables and open floor plan, a great place for a coffee catch up with a friend or a formal dinner. There is a private room for special occasions and can get it booked in advance. The uniqueness comes with the cost; Alibi is not a cheap place.
Bar Scene – Presentation of the cocktails is interesting, and they tasted quite different maybe because of the various herb based alcohols. Vegetarian and vegan wines are served, of course slightly more expensive.
Food– Eight-course plant-based tasting menu is one of their specialities- costs $70- pp. Apart from that, the menu contains other entrees, main course and desserts. Kimchi Dumplings was
one of my favourites and I would highly recommend it.
High Tea – Alibi offers High tea with various options under a price tag of $55pp to $125.
In short, I would not recommend Alibi as a place for a regular midday meal for a vegan/vegetarian, but more of a speciality dining place for anybody, more from a value perspective.
You will find Alibi Bar at 6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo
Flyover Fritterie and Chai Bar
If you are looking for a quick, tasty snack while shopping or sightseeing in the CBD then Flyover Fritterie & Chai Bar a good fit.
Serving delicious Indian street food in a hidden laneway in Sydney CBD including fritter burgers, fritter salads or stand-alone mouthwatering fritters with house-made chutneys. All vegan and gluten-free friendly.
Flyover Fritterie & Chai Bar is at 1 Temperance Lane, Sydney CBD (off George Street) and is open 9am-4pm
Lentil as Anything
Wendy from the Nomadic Vegan lives in Lisbon these days but has spent a fair bit of time dining in Australia and shares one of her Sydney favourites, one of the first social enterprise restaurants in Sydney, Lentil as Anything.
Lentil as Anything is different from other restaurants in that there are no fixed prices. Instead, they follow a pay-as-you-can-afford model, because they want healthy, vegan food to be accessible to everyone.
There’s no fixed menu either. The offerings change daily, and there’s a dedicated Instagram account just for posting the daily menu, in addition to the regular Lentil as Anything Instagram with pictures of all the yummy food.
The small chain started in Melbourne in 2000 and now has three locations there, while the Sydney location opened in 2014 on King Street in Newtown. Initially, Lentil as Anything was vegetarian, but now all four locations can be counted among the growing number of fully vegan restaurants in Australia.
Lentil as Anything is not-for-profit and is able to stay open thanks to support from volunteers and donations. The place is very community-oriented, and they put on lots of events for members of the local community, such as their professional barista course for refugees and asylum seekers.
It’s definitely a place worth supporting, and the food is great too!
Lentil as Anything at 391 King Street in Newtown a short walk from Newtown train station.
Find more great vegan dining in Australia on her website.
There are also quite a few fine dining restaurants that offer either a separate vegetarian menu or extensive veg options on their main menus.
Below I have put together a list and a map to help you; most of the options included are located in the City, Bondi, Newtown and Glebe. Check out the Google map to find them.
Take Away and fast meals
Iku – a growing chain of take away bars that sell great vegetarian and vegan foods. They feature in the main food courts in the city including Westfield in Pitt St, MLC Centre, Wynyard Station and the AMP Centre at Circular Quay.
Funky Pies – Bondi Beach
Eight varieties of vegetarian pies, fair trade coffee and half a dozen yummy desserts. My favourite is the Funky Chunky which features Shiitake mushroom chunks in a rich gravy and creamy mash.
Shop 2 144-148 Glenayr Ave
Peace and Harmony – City
Peace and Harmony offer Thai vegetarian food that is MSG, onion and garlic free. There is a take away in King St and restaurant in Erskine Street. I have not eaten here, but several friends have and recommend it.
Laurie’s Vegetarian – Bondi
Laurie’s is a Bondi institution. I remember visiting this place in the late 80s. It’s cheap; the food is excellent and famous people pop in from time to time so you never know who you might meet.
Bodhi – Set in the park by St Mary’s Cathedral Bodhi has been serving vegetarian and vegan meals for over 20 years. Yum Cha is served at lunchtime, and vegan options are available. The dinner menu is a la carte, and there is a good wine list. My favourite dish is the peanut spices topped on fried eggplant with celery and Asian mushroom stuffing. The really pretty outdoor setting makes it a great choice for a summer evening.
Green Gourmet – Newtown
Since 1998 this Taoist restaurant has served vegetarian and vegan meals in Newtown. Weekends they offer yum cha, and it can get pretty busy so get in early for a good table. Oh, and it is alcohol-free.
Mother Chu’s – City
Mother Chu has fed Pitt St diners for as long as I can remember. It has a Buddhist philosophy, so no alcohol is on offer and no BYO. While the service is average and the decor old school, the very extensive, MSG-free menu keeps this place pretty busy most days.
Govindas – Darlinghurst
This Hare Krishna restaurant is a buffet with all the old favourites, curries, lentils and pasta all you can eat style. After dinner, you can head upstairs and relax on cushions and watch a movie. Check out this blog post from “The Hungry Girl” that features lots of great photos of her visit.