Forget the sad, standard spinach and feta pie. From exclusive, upscale restaurants through to grungy arcade-bars, there’s a thoughtful and creative plant-based meal for every occasion in Brisbane.
Urbane was perhaps already the best fine diner in Brisbane when star chef Alejandro Cancino came along and introduced his herbivore degustation menu. The restaurant has since won multiple awards on the back of dishes like zucchini flower consommé, beetroot with sesame cheese and verbena mint chocolate. Urbane is about to lose Cancino but his plant-based legacy is set to stay.
181 Mary Street, Brisbane; (07) 3229 2271
Opened in September 2017, Sacha Muchall’s Grown quickly became a beacon for highly evolved vegan food. Grown’s core business is in the mornings when vegos flock to the minimalist space for house-made hash browns and creamy polenta with french lentils but dinners are increasingly popular thanks to occasional vegan degustations. The kitchen uses only sustainable produce sourced direct from local farmers and any waste is composted at a community garden down the road.
21 Buchanan Street, West End; (07) 3036 7213
Chef Damon Amos might be best known for his Kentucky fried duck but it’s arguable his vegetarian offerings that are the real stars of the dual menu (omnivore and herbivore at Detour). Try the Hawaiian curry with sweet potatoes, coconut and lychees and pumpkin smoked with the aid of maple, mustard and pepitas. It’s inspired stuff with an added bonus that dinner here lands you on a heritage block full of excellent shops and bars.
11 Logan Road, Woolloongabba; (07) 3217 4880
If you think plant-based eating is a fad, you need to meet the Zulueta clan. Siblings Choy Zulueta, Justine Khoury and Lexi Golding grew up eating a vegan diet courtesy of their late father, Dicki. When it came time to open their café, it was natural to name it after him. New Farm locals have been lining up to get in ever since, drawn by staples such as buckwheat waffles and crumbed tofu wrapped up with black beans, greens and spicy rice in a burrito. The café itself is a cute little hideaway on Brunswick Street right in the heart of New Farm.
893 Brunswick Street, New Farm; (07) 3254 2341
Hai Hai was a ramen revelation when it opened in an old Paddington shop in 2016. Its killer dish? A vegetarian noodle soup so good it’s at risk of outshining its pork-based brethren. Built on an umami-rich shiitake and seaweed broth and packed full of pickled shiitake, charred corn, bean sprouts and enoki mushroom, you can swap out egg noodles for a Korean sweet potato version if you want to go full vegan.
102 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington; (07) 3876 5947
Naïm marks its menu with items that aren’t vegetarian — that’s how seriously it takes its plant-based credentials. The café slings an inventive pan-Middle Eastern menu inspired by the markets co-owner Adi Shabtay frequented growing up in Israel (“Naïm” roughly translates to “pleasantness” or “contented” in both Hebrew and Arabic). Think shakshuka and latke (Jewish potato pancakes) for breakfast and cumin-rubbed, slow-cooked meats and stuffed Israeli pita at night. The setting, in an old Paddington worker’s cottage, is classic Queensland.
14 Collingwood Street, Paddington; (07) 3172 1655
Botanica Real Food
Inclusiveness is at the heart of healthy takeaway store, Botanica Real Food. Owners Alison and Brett Hutley place a heavy focus on catering for coeliacs but the prized salads in the cabinet are all either vegan or vegetarian. Green-thumbed creations include roasted cauliflower, date and parsley; and beetroot, orange, feta and mint.
3/29 Doggett Street, Teneriffe; (07) 3216 1218
9/1 Enoggera Terrace, Red Hill; (07) 3367 3334
The buzzy, Bali-inspired Pawpaw Cafe treats dietary requirements like an opportunity, offering a stack of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. All but two meals on the breakfast menu are vegetarian, ranging from staples like avocado with cherry tomatoes on toast to Middle Eastern scrambled eggs with eggplant, sweet potato curry, turmeric and basil. The evening shift pedals authentic South-East Asian curries and stir-fries, most of which can be ordered as vegetarian.
Corner Potts and Stanley streets, Woolloongabba; (07) 3891 5100
It’s so easy to be dazzled by Gerard’s Bistro’s fabulous menu of meaty Middle Eastern cuisine that you forget chef Ben Williamson is responsible for some of the best vegetarian dishes in town. Try whole smoked eggplant with turmeric, mint, kishk yoghurt and blackened onion; or fried cauliflower dressed with ras el hanout, tahini, pomegranate and smoked almond. The service is fast and discreet and the ultra-hip location does the rest.
Gerard’s Lane, 14/15 James Street, Fortitude Valley; (07) 3852 3822
Top image: Gerard's Bistro