Sydney has fast become a hot spot for some seriously delicious restaurants for vegans and vegetarians, and few people know the lay of the land better than Sydney indie-pop champs (and dedicated vegos) Lime Cordiale, who stopped eating meat around the same time they started releasing music.
From the fanciest meat-free feeds to drunken post-gig kebabs, the brotherly duo of Oli and Louis Leimbach have chewed their way through most of the city’s vego eateries over the last few years, and were the perfect pair to bring us this list of the best places in for Sydney vegan and vegetarian eaters to grab a feed, with some Masterchef-level critiques to match.
Now that we live in Sydney, we’ve been introduced to a whole new world of food and restaurants
“Like many ‘strayans, we grew up near the ocean,” the brothers tell us. “We stopped eating tuna and unsustainable fish before quitting meat all together about five years ago. At first it was just an experiment to see how long we’d last, but the longer we went, the easier and more interesting it was to not eat meat.
“Now that we live in the city of Sydney, we’ve been introduced to a whole new world of food and restaurants and with all these vegan choices we don’t ever need to settle for shit food again.”
“Like skinny Action Bronsons, when we land in a new city on tour, we do some research and drive across town to find a cheap, killer meal. Four out of five in the band are VJs (and the fifth is on his way there) so we sometimes feel as though Captain Planet is about to be summoned.”
With their powers combined (or at least their stomachs), here’s Lime Cordiale’s guide to the five best vegan restaurants in Sydney. And if you’re in need of the perfect chilled-out soundtrack to your next vego feast, check out their debut album Permanent Vacation when it drops on October 13.
Lime Cordiale are a band who definitely know their vego feeds
Golden Lotus Vegan
341-343 King Street, Newtown
Price: $$ | About $8 for a starter, $12-17 for a main.
I think the hardest thing for us in the early V-days was turning down the meaty broth of a Vietnamese pho. We’ve both travelled to Vietnam on separate occasions as meat eaters and we were overwhelmed by the food there. Golden Lotus is the vegan dream for when you’re craving some Vietnamese street food in Sydney.
Every vegetarian has had the shitty experience at Yum Cha when you realise the only thing on the menu for you is Chinese broccoli. These guys at Golden Lotus have everything: huge bowls of pho and laksa, salt and pepper squid, roast duck, dumplings and even chicken nuggets.
Confused? Yep, it’s all plant based. It’s the place to go if you are missing meat. I challenge anyone to do a blindfold taste test and try and pick the real thing. Even the duck!
The usual format is to head up there pretty early, grab a bottle of something from across the road, a table out front and settle in to watch the flood of Newtowners heading home from the grind. In the kerbside seating we continue a long established argument between the sizzling Eggplant hot-pot, Fried Mushrooms with Salt and Chili, Veggie Pho and Duck in Plum Sauce.
All the food is incredibly fresh and serving sizes are massive. I don’t think you’ll find gluten-free meat here, but there’s so many alternatives to choose from.
170 Emmore Road, Enmore and 1/465 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville
Price: $ | Most wraps and pizzas are about $7 – $8
We’ve gourmeted up our drunken kebab stops. It’s impossible to settle for the average kebab after you’ve had one of these midnight feasts. It’s a good stop after seeing a show at The Enmore Theatre but we’ve also been known to Uber there from across town after a big night out in Sydney. When you get the Manoosh craving, nothing can stop you – surge pricing included.
Manoosh is not strictly a vegetarian restaurant but has a good selection, and we always go for the Falafel or Vegan wraps. Our roommate introduced us to “zaatar” (literally translates to “god herb”), a mix of sesame seeds, herbs and spices that we have added to everything we order. We’ve even bought a huge bag of it for at home.
As for desserts, The Ferrero Crunch was a revolutionary munchie milestone celebrated by all stoners of Inner West Sydney.
If you’re on a budget and a quick fix, this is where you head. No wonder Newtown and Enmore don’t have a McDonald’s. Why would you when you can eat like kings at Manoosh?
Veg out with Lime Cordiale’s latest single, ‘Can I Be Your Lover’
Lentil As Anything
391 King Street, Newtown
Price: $ | Pay as you feel!
Who would’ve thought that you could pay whatever you want at a restaurant? That’s what Lentils is all about, and I can guarantee there is no catch.
The nerve centre of the Inner West hipster / hippy / vegan / vego food community, Lentils is a social enterprise run by volunteers and operates on a pay-what-you-want scheme. There’s no one that doesn’t want to be there so the vibe is up!
A chalkboard on the wall lists a few recommended price points; what it costs for your meal, your meal plus overheads, and the cost of shouting yourself and someone less fortunate. Worried about people seeing how broke you are? There’s an anonymous box for you to slip your money through on the way out!
Of course there are always the slimeballs that abuse the system and do a runner (not that there’s anyone to run from), but we’re always happy to pay a little more after a good vegan meal there. Support the cause and all that.
It’s an amazing system and makes life so much easier when you are waiting for invoices to clear or are at the end of the pay cycle. The place is set up with American high school cafeteria style seating which adds to the community vibe. You’re sitting on a bench, rubbing shoulders and conversing with a variety of interesting characters. Louis is known for getting into in-depth conversations with quirky, interesting homeless guys, whereas our keys player once went off at a few school kids for not paying anything for their meal.
The menu rotates every night with 4-5 vegan dishes, one of which is always the curry plate, and you get Chai on entry and there are dessert options. You can bring your own container and get Lentils to go or even some for lunch the next day.
Best place to take a date if you’re a bit of a scrooge. You brought them there to experience the vibe, right?
49 Perouse Road, Randwick | 111 Glebe Point Road, Glebe | 316 Church St, Parramatta
Price: $$ | Burgers are $10 – $22, chips $4 – $8, and shakes $7.
Sunday tends to get us craving for a greasy burger and a beer. More and more restaurants are doing great vege burgers, but Soul Burger in Glebe has a complete plant-based vegan menu.
You don’t walk into an incense-filled room, greeted by a white Rasta asking if he can match the food with your aura, though – you walk into a burger joint and by God it smells like a burger joint. These sorts of vegan restaurants are pushing the boundaries, challenging Australia’s food culture and your own standards of what is good food.
Definitely recommend the barbecued pulled pork burger (it’s jackfruit!). Add the Soul-B fries and a coconut shake if you want to remain seated and smacking out for a few hours. You’ll probably end up spending 20-30 bucks here if you’re hungry, but they’re putting an easy price on a great vegan outing. I guarantee it will heal your Sunday afternoon anxiety.
417 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Price: $$$ | Entrees are $6 – $15, mains are $15 – $20
This is the vegan / vegetarian restaurant to take a hot date or your lovely Mumma out for dinner. Entirely vegetarian, dim lighting, hip interior design, records on the walls and tables often busy with collared shirts from local offices, Yulli’s food is seriously from another world. They even brew their own tasty craft beers.
But they wait for you to drain the main vein before they really blow your mind. The toilets are disco lit with mirrors from every angle, and the hand basin sits on top of the toilet so you wash your hands with the same water that flushes away your nasties. Bada-bing bada-bong! Recycling.
We went with the waiter’s recommendations; vegan San Choy Bau, Korean Fried Broccolini, the Mushroom Naan Pocket and the Money Bags (aptly named when we ordered a serving for four of us). Probably not a place that you should lick your bowl clean – but Louis does.
Lime Cordiale’s debut album Permanent Vacation is out October 13 through Chugg Music. You can grab a copy here, and catch them on their album launch tour starting next month – check out the dates below.
Lime Cordiale ‘Permanent Vacation’ album launch tour
Friday, 27th October
Amplifier Bar, Perth
Saturday, 28th October
Saturday, 4th November
UniBar, Adelaide (Licensed AA)
Friday, 10th November
Workers Club, Geelong
Saturday, 11th November
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Sunday, 12th November
Wrangler Studios, Melbourne (U18)
Thursday, 16th November
Beach Hotel, Byron Bay (FREE ENTRY)
Friday, 17th November
The Brightside, Brisbane
Saturday, 18th November
The Brightside, Brisbane (U18 matinee)
Saturday, 18th November
Sol Bar, Maroochydore
Thursday, 23rd November
Friday, 24th November
Transit Bar, Canberra
Saturday, 25th November
Metro Theatre, Sydney (Licensed AA)
Friday, 1st December
Republic Bar, Hobart
Saturday, 2nd December
Club 54, Launceston
Friday, 8th December
Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville