Sometimes it can be hard for vegetarians and vegans to find somewhere to eat out — but not in Surry Hills, Sydney’s premier dining district. Check out our list of the 10 best plant-powered eateries in the Harbour City’s restaurant capital.
A pink sign on Crown St welcomes visitors to Surry Hills’ quintessential vegetarian dining experience, with a menu made up of a mixture of Asian, Latin American and North African dishes that’s every bit as eccentric as the second-hand furniture that fills the space. The tapas-style plates are meant to be shared and enjoyed with something off the extensive drinks list — Yulli’s sources a huge variety of local beers, ciders and wines.
Welcome to Sydney’s first vegan deli, which aims to change minds about plant-powered food one plate at a time. Shift Eatery serves a huge range of meat-free products — sandwiches, health bowls, vegan meats, cheeses, ice cream, chocolates, the list goes on — complemented by an impressive specialty drinks menu, including coffee from Marvell Street and tea from Tea Craft.
This sophisticated restaurant places a contemporary spin on traditional Lebanese cuisine, plating classic flavours in a fresh, inventive way. Nour is on the pricier side, but it’s worth every cent to taste the array of vegetarian dishes in the ‘From the Garden’ section of the menu, such as wood-fired honey figs, confit cauliflower and charcoal eggplant.
Maya Masala is clear about its mission: ‘to serve you the freshest and tastiest plant-based Indian food at reasonable prices’. That means seasonal vegetables, house-blended spices and hand-made desserts all prepared the traditional way, including stone-grinding dosa flour in-house. And this quality doesn’t cost an arm and a leg — no dish comes even close to the $20 mark.
This Cleveland St institution proves that you don’t need meat to cook up finger-licking Vietnamese fare. Nourishing Quarter serves healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes that put a meat-free spin on the Viet classics — generous pho and noodle salads, for instance — as well as plenty of tapas plates with a distinct South American influence, such as quinoa rice papers rolls. And the restaurant’s kitschy decor only adds to its charm.
This Crown St eatery is seriously proud of its potatoes, which are sourced from Robertson in the Southern Highlands — an area renowned for the quality of its spuds thanks to the rich red volcanic soil and natural spring waters. Mad Spuds Cafe serves fluffy potatoes roasted to perfection, including heaps of vegetarian and vegan options loaded with beans, lentils and avocados galore.
Cleveland St is lined with mouth-watering Middle Eastern eateries waiting to whip up a delicious falafel kebab, including Fatima’s, a Surry Hills favourite. This atmospheric Lebanese restaurant serves a whopping menu of 16 vegetarian mains as well as a generous meat-free mixed plate stacked with hummus, tabouli, baba ganoush, falafel and vine leaves.
Located on the corner of Goulburn St and Brisbane St, this buffet and salad bar serves lashings of delicious fare free of gluten, refined sugar, GMOs, additives and chemicals for breakfast and lunch. Named after the sacred Hindu and Buddhist mantra, Om Vegan Kitchen is renowned for its smoothies and sugar-free (i.e., guilt-free) desserts.
Bad Hombres, good food. That’s the philosophy of one of Surry Hills’ hottest eateries, which began to offer an all-vegan menu in May 2017 a couple of months after it opened its doors. Bad Hombres is Sydney’s only plant-based Latin American restaurant, serving Mexican cuisine with an Asian streak — we’re talking charred corn with Japanese mayo and Adobo potato tacos.
Sydney’s most famous ice cream shop is a Surry Hills icon, and vegetarians and vegans don’t have to miss out on the fun. Gelato Messina — which prides itself on rejecting colourings, flavourings, preservatives and pastes in favour of natural ingredients — offers 40 flavours (all vegetarian, unless bacon pops up as one of the specials), including 10 dairy-free sorbets.