Get more plants on your plate with Sydney’s best plant-based restaurants
It’s no secret that plant-based dining is being well and truly embraced in Australia, and Sydney’s a hub for some of the country’s best vegan restaurants. With more people making the choice for the environmental, animal welfare, and health benefits of a vegetable-rich diet, Sydney has become a hub for some of the country’s best vegan restaurants. Whether you’re craving Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, there’s a delicious animal-free option for everyone— even the good ol’ greasy American-style burger.
Here’s our pick of plant-based purveyors.
Alibi Bar & Kitchen
In collaboration with US plant-based chef, restaurateur and global plant-based dining pioneer Matthew Kenney, Ovolo has created a 100% plant-based alternative for the already established Woolloomooloo dining hub. Recognised as HM Awards Hotel Restaurant of the Year 2019, Alibi Bar & Kitchen is one of Sydney’s must-visits and absolute must-eats.
Offering a contemporary a la carte menu, Alibi uses locally sourced and seasonal produce to discover a ‘clean’ side to plant-based fine dining at a time when conscious consumption and flexitarians are on the rise. Employing a combination of classical and innovative cooking techniques that showcase locally sourced plant-based ingredients, Alibi’s dishes are designed to share, with the seasonal menu featuring a selection of key constants – kimchi dumplings, charcoal steamed buns and a fun take on the Roman classic pasta cacio e pepe with kelp noodles and crispy olives. The menu features a selection of items that have been created through smoking, fermentation and molecular techniques, with degustation and high tea dining experiences available.
If you’re looking for something that’s a bit naughty, indulge in Alibi’s Dirty Greens vegan bar menu – A selection of mouth-watering, greasy, late night treats. Satiate your cravings beyond your filthiest vegan dreams and get your hands on the Alibi Hotdog or The Beyond Burger using pea protein, Peking D**k Pancakes using pulled jackfruit, Chic Poppers made with wheat protein and more. With the lights low, get down with dirty-but-clean treats to cranked up beats, an extensive and sustainably focused wine list, and theatrical cocktails that steal the show. It’s these unique offerings that saw Alibi Bar take home the Best Hotel Bar at the 2019 Australian Hotels Association National Awards For Excellence and Bar of the Year at the Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW 2019 Award for Excellence.
Now THIS PLACE has a vibe – with emerald walls, disco-inspired beats, and a selection of fresh pastas that don’t rely on eggs to bind them, Peppe’s is Bondi’s fresh take on the traditional trattoria. Combining old school pasta making techniques with a new world plant-based approach, and making all the noodles daily in-house, there’s good reason why you can often wait up to an hour queuing (they don’t take bookings or issue numbers), so it’s clear that word’s spread fast – pasta is still delicious without cheese.
Before diving into the mains, be sure to order some of Iggy’s garlic bread – slices of sourdough, dusted in a paprika and thyme, and coated in garlic olive oil. The generously sized arancini are golden and crunchy on the outside, dense and creamy at their core. The risotto base is made from a combination of nutritional yeast, parsley and veggie stock. They’re served with an aioli made from emulsified soy milk, grapeseed oil, smoked paprika and homemade tomato sugo.
When wandering late at night through Surry Hills, it’s not often you hope to come across Bad Hombres, but in this case, it’s EXACTLY what you’ll be looking for. Originally a modern Thai restaurant, then a Mexican Chinese mash-up with a 60% veg-powered menu, Bad Hombres has now gone full vegan and all over it.
Just like with our very own Radio Ovolo, Bad Hombres snacks and brews are served up with some of the best ’80s house-party tunes in town. You and your Hombres will be rocking out to “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” and Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy.” As you dance the night away, order the Chinese pancakes with a whole, deep-fried head of cauliflower, cashew cream and a punchy salsa verde with fresh coriander. Or try the kale and zucchini flower quesadilla which contains an invigorating amount of chilli and guacamole with extra lime. It’s a dish with all the flavours and textures you’d need – a crispy corn-flavoured tostada with sweet creamy kumara puree and earthy Japanese mushrooms on top.
As a boutique offering, Bad Hombres is very specific with the booze they serve. They’ve got a fruity, funky line-up of local small batch production natural wines that change all the time, and if you can’t quite commit to the full bottle they’ll pour a carafes of anything, so order with confidence.
Plant-based peeps know how to party and Bad Hombres is a clear example of the fun they can have.
In a very short space of time, Gigi’s Pizzeria has gained almost iconic status not just because of its deliciousness, but because after a decade whipping up cheesy pizzas, Gigi’s removed all animal products off the menu in late 2015 and hasn’t looked back. It didn’t require a complete overhaul of the menu – as Gigi’s signature dish is traditional Neapolitan pizzas, simply made without cheese or meat.
As all good pizza aficionados know, true Neapolitan pizzas must be accredited by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), located in the city of Naples and it seems despite their lack of cheese or meat, Gigi’s pizzas still pass the test. Once topped with mozzarella or prosciutto, you can now order amazing combinations that include roast potatoes with truffle paste; a gooey pumpkin calzone; and an astoundingly umami-rich pizza with grilled asparagus and ground yellow tomatoes. Vegan cheese doesn’t feature prominently on the menu, as Gigi’s owner prefers to experiment with fresh, natural produce including seed, nut and fruit products as a natural replacement for the creaminess and umami flavour that animal cheese brings.
Gigi’s knows how to keep you refreshed too. The interesting aperitifs list contains the Gigi Negroni, a mix of Red vermouth, bio bitter, London dry gin, and the Basilico, which blends vodka, agave syrup, lemon juice and fresh basil. Although make sure you leave enough room for dessert! Mattino’s Pastiera is a traditional Neapolitan ricotta cheesecake which replaces the ricotta and barley with cashew cream and walnuts.
Again, keep in mind that Gigi’s doesn’t accept bookings, unless it’s a Saturday or Sunday lunch, and that’s for bookings of 30 people and over. It’s also a cashless restaurant, so come prepared as there’s also no itemised bill splitting.
Mark and Vinny’s Spaghetti and Spritz Bar
The menu at Mark and Vinny’s Spaghetti and Spritz Bar is full of surprises. All but four of the 16 dishes on the menu are vegetarian – providing plenty of #cleaneating options that include a sky-blue tagliatelle pasta. Not afraid to have a bit of fun with their dish names, you’ll also find Gnoc, Gnoc, Gnocchi On Heaven’s Door, a spritz called Nothing Camparis To You, and a big sign that tells diners “don’t be upsetti, eat some spaghetti.” The shelves wrapping the walls are lined with Campari and Aperol bottles, pink neon signs, and a very vegan vibe.
The menu is full of delicious vegan gems like fake mozzarella, made from soy and coconut oil, with heirloom tomatoes and basil. Sure it doesn’t taste exactly like mozzarella, or tofu for that matter, but it’s somewhere nicely in-between. Old-school classic carbonara has been given a plant-based makeover and the chickpea hummus with fingers of grilled schiacciata flatbread is epic with a well-matched Margarita spritz – blended tequila, Cointreau, ruby grapefruit, lime, lemon bitters and bush tonic. It’s one of 20-plus spritz varieties on the list. There’s plenty of plant-based Insta’bility on show at this out-of-the-box restaurant. And just like Ovolo, you can follow Mark and Vinny’s Linguini Playlist on Spotify.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a truly global vegan list if we didn’t include David Nguyen’s authentic Vietnamese offering, Golden Lotus on King Street in Newtown. Tantalize your taste buds with their fresh,100% vegan menu choices that blend healthy foods and fresh ingredients with a great atmosphere and friendly service.
A truly popular local eatery, the huge bowl of pho they serve, made with rice noodles, veggies, tofu and plenty of zest is all you need to solve the world’s problems. If that’s not enough, try the creamy laksa, vegetarian fried dumplings, or tofu, eggplant and mushroom hot pot. All are worth the trip. Golden Lotus is dietary requirement friendly. Oh, and it’s BYO. Both of which make it the perfect spot for a group dinner.
One thing that can’t be argued is much vegan variety there is in Sydney. From a casual meal to fine dining, there’s a plant-based place for your tastes. from 1 October 2020, Ovolo Hotels will be bringing you the most irresistible, forward-thinking all-vegetarian menus with plenty of vegan/plant based options. Learn more about or restaurant offerings.