Ponsonby is one of the trendiest parts of New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, and you only need to cast an eye over the local restaurants to see that this sense of unique style extends to the cool suburb’s businesses, too. Read on for our top 10 vegan and vegetarian restaurants in this hip locale.
The Turkish Cafe
Restaurant, Cafe, Turkish, Mediterranean, $$$
Although this restaurant isn’t strictly vegetarian, it has so many fantastic vegetarian options on its menu that we just had to put it on our list. The food is excellent and consistently so, but it is also the price of the stuff that really boggles the mind. In a part of town that is renowned for being a bit on the pricey side, The Turkish Cafe has $12 NZD lunches, which are plenty for one person. You really can’t go wrong stopping by this little gem. Treat yourself to some of their incredible falafel or moussaka, but not before you’ve tucked into a couple of their exquisite borek – filo pastry parcels with spinach, feta, cottage cheese, ricotta and tahini sauce, oven-baked and served with hummus and yoghurt, tabouleh and chilli sauce.
Restaurant, Japanese, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
Alright, alright, it’s in Herne Bay, but if you’re a vegan then you won’t mind us taking the liberty of extending the field of search just a tiny bit. This little Japanese treasure will blow you away with its vegan-friendly fare. It should be your first port of call if you’re entertaining a vegan mate. The creamy vegan vegetable nabe is a real standout for us, although you really can’t go wrong with the shojin organic tofu with goma sauce. There is also meat on the menu so you won’t lose the interest of any carnivores in your crew if you suggest this place.
Restaurant, Fast Food, American, $$$
You can find some of the best veggie burgers around at this reliable favourite. Choose between the chickpea, parsley, coriander and rocket patty or the teriyaki and sesame tofu number. Resembling an old school American burger bar, Burger Burger
cuts no corners and creates reliably delicious burgers alongside other signature American classics. Supporting local suppliers and producers who are equally passionate about organic and free-range products adds to the authentic taste and genuine texture that can be found in these burgers. Environmentally friendly and socially responsible, Burger Burger is ethical and delicious. If you fancy really pushing the boat out and are quite happy with loosening your belt a notch or three, then why not grab one of their out-of-this-world milkshakes.
Little Bird Organics and The Unbakery
Cafe, Deli, Healthy, European, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
Are you part of the cynical crowd when it comes to the idea that vegan and raw food can be delicious? Does the idea of a chocolate
cheesecake with no dairy fill you with disdain and contempt? Well, be brave, swallow that cynicism and head down to the Little Bird Organics and The Unbakery. To experience the best, most healthy, nutritious, fresh, unrefined, non-pasteurised, non-pressurised, non-heat-treated, pure, delicious whole foods, this is the only place to go in Ponsonby. It makes every dollar count for double, as it’s tasty, too!
The Raw Kitchen
Cafe, Restaurant, Australian
Vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free; these are the aspects of a restaurant that tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt what you’re about to enjoy is going to do you some good. This small cafe/restaurant chain was initially put on the map by its raw cakes, but now produces some of the healthiest vegan food that you can wrap your face around. All the food is plant-based and free from anything that might even resemble gluten or dairy – making this the perfect place to go when you want to eat out, without having to ask questions or read labels regarding allergies or preferences.
Restaurant, Contemporary, Italian, $$$
Once again, not strictly just vegetarian
. But the selection of delicious veggie options means this is a must-visit establishment for non-carnivores. This restaurant has been here since 1986, and in the unforgiving world of hospitality that may as well hark back to the beginning of time. Clearly they are doing something right here. You simply must visit Prego if you live in Auckland. If you want that special restaurant for that romantic occasion then look no further. Using fresh local ingredients, Prego
develops fantastic contemporary flavours that celebrate traditional Italian fare. The wine list is replete with some of the best wines that New Zealand has to offer, and which you can enjoy with your selection from the menu that’s full of your favourites. The name of this rustically decorated restaurant translates loosely as ‘you’re welcome’, and that’s appropriate, since the only thing you’ll be saying after the excellent service and delicious food is ‘grazie
Bar, Restaurant, Vietnamese, Fusion, Thai, $$$
Southeast Asia is famous for its fresh vegetable delights, so it’s no surprise that at a pinch you can find some of the best veggie options in the area at this little number. If you feel like treating yourself to the gastronomic equivalent of a Full Moon Party then head to Mekong
Baby, asap. Here you’ll get to experience the heady, bold and colourful flavours of Southeast Asia, and wash it down with some of the best cocktails in the area. If you’re feeling adventurous – or lazy – you can pay $60 NZD a head and proclaim, “Let’s Eat!” and you will be served with the choicest parts of the brilliant menu. This is the perfect way to get to know Mekong Baby and what the incredible staff in the kitchen are able to produce. As good as the food is – and it is really
good – the drinks are also next level. The drinks menu is so extensive you’ll no doubt spend a good 10 minutes pouring through it. So next time you feel in need of a pad see ew with braised wagyu skirt, you know where to go.
Restaurant, Thai, $$$
Is it of any real surprise that this Thai
restaurant is as good as it is, when you think that it is owned by the same clever people who brought us Cafe Hanoi and XuXu Dumpling Bar? No, not really. Once again we must apologise that this is not solely a vegetarian restaurant, but when the veggie options include the likes of the wok-seared eggplant and tofu or the Thai-green papaya salad, then we like to think that you’ll forgive us. For dessert make sure that you give the wild sticky rice pudding a whirl.
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
With a restaurant of this caliber, you know that there are going to be some bang-on vegetarian options, and this is very much the case here. Of course, the menu changes all the time, so if you book well in advance you’ll be able to get your very own vegetarian/vegan options to suit you. Reflecting the beautiful nature and landscape of New Zealand, SIDART
has more than impeccable service and elegant cuisine. Here you can experience an inspiring gastronomic and artistic journey that highlights New Zealand’s magnificence as well as its authentic produce. Executive chef Sid Sahrawat’s intention was to create a formal dining experience with a unique personal touch, and this ambition has been accomplished, evident in the care and creativity invested into each incredible dish. This is truly the epitome of fine dining in the Ponsonby
Ramen Takara Ponsonby
Restaurant, Japanese, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, Ramen, $$$
is loved as much for its prices as for its wholesome noodles. Rice noodles are on offer for vegans, and classic broths like miso, sesame or beef are among the highlights on the menu. Ramen
bowls are around the NZ$14-17 range, and the vegetable sides are mostly under NZ$10. There are scant few things that beat ramen on a cold evening so make sure you head in to take a look. It’s also advised to try out some of their fantastic sake selection.