More and more Aussies are scouring the cities they visit for high-quality gourmet vegetarian fare. With vegetarianism and veganism more popular than ever in the developed world, chefs have kept up with the trend by whipping up meat-free cuisine that's as easy on the palate as it is on the conscience.
Melbourne is known for its creative, art-loving, forward-moving culture, and there is no better city to visit if you're hoping to rub elbows with foodie vegetarians. If you're heading to the city on holiday, in the mood to eat, and wondering what to do in Melbourne, check out these popular dining options for herbivores.
First and foremost on every vegetarian's list should be Attica, the brainchild of head chef Ben Shewry. This New Zealand-born chef, like most great food artists, bases his creations on the belief that the most important aspect of any meal is the quality of its ingredients. Attica has garnered numerous awards, including the designation of Restaurant of The Year from Gourmet Traveller. It was named Best Restaurant in Australia by San Pellegrino, and boasts three hats from The Age Good Food Guide.
Attica isn't strictly vegetarian, but what makes it so remarkable is the eight-course vegetarian menu it offers. Dishes rotate seasonally and are based on the freshest ingredients in Australia, and each course is easily paired with a vino from the establishment's extensive wine list.
For a veg-only option, try out the cuisine at Shakahari (the Hindi term for 'vegetarian'). In business since 1972, the establishment is located in the suburb of Carlton, and terms itself 'one of this city's most innovative restaurants'.
Shakahari's focus is on fresh, natural ingredients that are sourced from the farms of local artisans - in fact, the establishment promises that no artificial colours or ingredients are used in the making of its dishes.
"With vegetarianism and veganism more popular than ever in the developed world, chefs have kept up with the trend by whipping up meat-free cuisine that's as easy on the palate as it is on the conscience."
Over the past 40-odd years, Shakahari's menu has changed and evolved, but it has maintained its integrity since long before vegetarianism came in fashion. A mouthwatering range of cuisines, including those of the Thai, Chinese and Japanese traditions, are served up 'in a European context', according to the restaurant's website.
Though the menu changes quarterly, consider a few examples of dishes you may come across. Cajun patois - a concoction made from cornmeal and besan flour with Cajun spices and soy milk - is a great option for those seeking both vegan and dairy-free options. Fresh papaya, avocado, and seaweed are a few other ingredients on showcase.
The trendy cafe Yong Green Food dishes up all traditions of Asian cuisine in organic, vegetarian style. But this is no run-of-the-mill restaurant: Every dish is crafted according to yin-yang principles, and the establishment prides itself on its commitment to sustainability.
The menu here includes something for everyone (except perhaps ravenous carnivores). A raw portion of the menu offers strictly non-cooked food for those following raw diets, and an array of noodles, wraps, vegetarian burgers, salads and desserts are also yours for the enjoying.
Of course, if you're veg, perhaps you needn't look too far away from your accommodation for a great vegetarian meal! The Mantra 100 Exhibition hotel is located just a quick walk from Chinatown, which is home to a number of veg-friendly restaurants and cafes.
If you're staying at the Mantra on Jolimont, head to Boundary Line Bar & Kitchen, the hotel's onsite restaurant. All manner of classic dishes are available, so you shouldn't have a problem finding some meat-free fare. From this location, you're just a short walk from the Melbourne Central Business District, which is also home to a wide variety of restaurants.
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