Or more specifically, vegan eats in Fitzroy, Melbourne. My first visit to Melbourne was one of those remind-me-why-there-are-only-three-meals-in-a-conventional-day-again? visits. One of those, sure-I’m-full-but-what’s-one-more-doughnut? long weekends. The situation was we were away for about four days, but I probably had about eight breakfasts, six lunches and a dozen dinners. Melbourne, especially Fitzroy – especially Fitzroy when it’s having a two-day vegan celebration – is the vegan glutton’s paradise.
Here’s a round-up of our favourite eateries in Melbourne, including up-scale restaurant Transformer Fitzroy where we celebrated our wedding anniversary:
Red Sparrow Pizza
406 Smith St, Collingwood
Like most of the restaurants in Melbourne, Red Sparrow Pizza lures you in from the streets with a cosy embrace of rustic hipster shabby-chic: exposed brick, artful neon and one big, fat pizza oven as centrepiece. It has a liquor licence, coffee, non-alcoholics, kombucha, of course, and a comfortingly familiar menu of wood-fired pizzas – with a tiny twist: every single thing is vegan. If you hate the idea of vegan products masquerading as real meat or real cheese, then there may be less for you to love here. For everyone else, get yourself there, pronto.
Because of the vegan celebration that was happening coincidentally when we visited, Doughnut Time had four vegan flavours on the menu. (I think typically there’s one or two.) I will forever be aggrieved that I missed out on trying the Chai Curious doughnut, but we got the three other vegan flavours (the Liam Hemsworthy, Fairy Godmother and Let’s Get Ready to Crumble) and ate them for breakfast with cold, Red Sparrow Pizza leftovers… balanced diet?
Smith & Daughters
175 Brunswick Street. Fitzroy
Like Red Sparrow Pizza, this is another vegan restaurant that uses vegan alternatives to meat and cheese without making any note of it on their menu. You can order a stew that boasts house-made sausages or house-made cheese and these will be plant-based, but so good that they should please all types of diners. Plus, Smith & Daughters is such a cool place to relax and enjoy a cocktail or two – there are so many eye-catching Mexican-inspired details and pieces of art filling the open-plan space. And if they happen to be closed when you visit, head on over to Smith & Deli for something fast to take away, like a toasted sandwich or a doughnut.
The Cruelty Free Shop
124 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Melbourne has a mighty fine Cruelty Free Shop – it’s huge and full of all the vegan cheeses, ice creams, cosmetics and faux-leather goods your cruelty-free heart desires.
234 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
We went, of course, to the Fitzroy Trippy Taco, but there is also one in St Kilda. A petite little space, the window seats (at the time of our visit) give you a great view of a huge mural adorning the opposite wall of the neighbouring alley. We only went once, but just LOVED the tofu asada burrito. Just so luscious. Go there.
172 Oxford St, Collingwood
Proud Mary wasn’t on our ‘vegan itinerary’ so to speak, but it was our very close local café to our accommodation. We dropped in for a coffee and they were more than helpful pointing out vegan or vegan-friendly items on their breakfast menu. The heirloom tomato and avocado bruschetta we had may sound simple, but it was actually one of the most delicious things I had over the whole weekend. It really goes to show how important it is to use good produce. And their coffee was second-to-none.
380 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Sister restaurant to Transformer Fitzroy, Vegie Bar was always stacked with people whenever we walked past – a promising sign. With all the creativity and quality of its fine-dining neighbour, Vegie Bar offers a more everyday menu. I tried the mee goreng, which was sumptuous.
Swipe left for six mouthwatering courses of vegan food from @transformerfitzroy — it just gets better and better! Steamed bun with crispy tofu, smoky king oyster mushrooms, broccolini with fried capers, red lentil and black rice pilaf, the most indulgent eggplant and chermoula.. Then, desserts! Strawberries with lychee sorbet and a the richest of chocolate brownies. What. A. Feast.
99 Rose St, Fitzroy
Saving the best for last, we went to Transformer Fitzroy for our anniversary and enjoyed six exceptional courses of vegan gastronomy. Lemon-marinated olives, steamed buns with crispy battered tofu, fat slices of smoky, grilled king mushrooms, broccolini with fried capers and ‘feta’, pilaf, the most mouthwateringly tender eggplant and to finish things off, a lychee sorbet and deeply rich chocolate brownie. I’m sure the menu is something completely different now, but no doubt equally sensational. An absolute must-visit.
So there you have it. Excuse me while I book flights to Melbourne.