Melbourne's meat-free menus
Quinoa pancakes with coffee soil, ice-cream and butterscotch sauce at Admiral Cheng Ho. Photo: Anu Kumar
Admiral Cheng Ho
The good Admiral has more than new-breed veg cafe food (quinoa pancakes with banana, coffee soil, ice-cream and butterscotch sauce); it's a small-batch coffee roaster (six grinders, for espresso and pourover), with speciality tea too.
Details: Open Mon-Fri 6am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-5pm, 325 Johnston Street, Abbotsford, 9417 1887, admiralchengho.com.au
The Age Good Food Under $30 2014 guide.
This chaat cafe almost redefines what most of us know as 'Indian' with its huge range of street food dishes that swing from yoghurt-tangy to stainingly strong. The bottomless thali – big silver tray with lentil and chickpea-based dishes ladled on, endlessly – are good value.
Details: Open Daily 5.30-10pm; Sun 12.30-3.30pm, Shop 1, 141 Waverley Road, Malvern East, 9571 1188, gujjus.com.au
Monk Bodhi Dharma
With a speciality, small-batch coffee roaster and an all-veg brunchy menu, this hard-to-find cafe (off a laneway) has spunk in spades. Try buckwheat apple pancakes, or slow-roasted mixed mushrooms on pumpkin polenta bread. Friday dinners are vegan, sugar- and gluten-free.
Details: Open Mon-Fri 7am-5pm; Fri 6.30-10.30pm; Sat-Sun 8am-5pm, Rear, 202 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, 9534 7250, monkbodhidharma.com.au
Moroccan Soup Bar
No meat, no menu, no booze, no loitering – there's likely to be at least a dozen people in the queue outside waiting for their turn at the legendary, long-running Soup Bar's fab-value banquet or parade of warmly spiced dishes.
Details: Open Tues-Sun 6-10pm, 183 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North, 9482 4240, moroccansoupbar.com.au
In a humble corner shop, with simple Deco-inspired fixtures, Matt Andrews (Tofu Shop alumni) makes a spread of 20 or so impossibly tasty dishes.
Details: Open Mon-Thurs 9am-4.30pm; Fri-Sat 9am-8.30pm, 371 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North, 9489 4420.
- Recipe: Matt Andrews' vegie burger
Pearl Oyster Espresso
Making Mondays meat-free is part of Pearl Oyster's overall sympathy with ethical food. It offers its full menu, with Asian accents, minus the meat: scrambled tofu with dark soy and shiitake, and rolls like Vietnamese tofu and Japanese salad.
Details: Open Mon-Sat 8am-4.30pm; Sun 9am-4pm, 114 Miller Street, Preston, 9480 2500.
From the original and 40-year veg veteran, Shakahari in Carlton, comes Shakahari Too. Its contemporary menu is a mash-up of cuisines, like udon-noodle laksa in a Thai green curry coconut stock. Everything's vegan, except some desserts: pandan coconut cheesecake.
Details: Open Tues-Sat noon-3pm; Wed-Sat 5-10pm, 225 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne, 9682 2207, shakaharitoo.com.au
Superfood smoothies and raw cakes (beetroot, date and caramel) supplement raw-food lunches and dinners (in small and large) made up of three dishes. They'll likely include a 'wow' ingredient like spicy, crisp clusters of 'buckwheat green pop vegies'. Sunday brunch offers raw 'bread', porridges and pancakes (dehydrated banana and flaxseed served with raw 'Nutella').
Details: Open Wed-Sat 11.30am-4pm; Sat 6-9pm; Sun 11am-4pm, 120 High Street, Northcote 0403 569 019, shokuikuaustralia.com
Tofu Shop International
Into its second generation, this Japanese-inspired eatery has been dishing out made-here tofu in veg dishes since 1982. Choose a size of plate (large could be shared), then from a daily selection of dishes in the bain-marie, including stews, curries and vegetables – most including the justly famous handcrafted tofu.
Details: Open Mon-Fri noon-8pm; Sat noon-5pm, 78 Bridge Road, Richmond, 9429 6204.
Yong Green Food
Yong is jumping. This hip pan-Asian caff offers raw dishes, including the impressive 'rawsagna' (lasagne); macrobiotic dishes; mock meat ('chicken' burgers); vegan aplenty; organic dishes and even Ayurvedic dishes without garlic or onion.
Details: Open Tues and Thurs-Sun noon-3.30pm; Tues-Sat 5-9.30pm; Sun 5-8.30pm, 421 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9417 3338.
Simone Egger is the editor of The Age Good Food Under $30 guide. The 2014 edition is available in selected bookshops and at The Age shop for $9.99.