Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or simply trying to reduce the amount of meat you eat, it’s always a good idea to have a go-to veggie cafe.
More and more people are adopting a meat-free lifestyle to improve their health and the health of our planet. To keep up with the demand, wholly vegetarian restaurants are opening, and standard restaurants are developing more exciting plant-based options.
In this article, we’ll give you a few ideas of things to look for in a great vegetarian restaurant, as well as a handy guide to some of the best options available in Canberra.
What makes a great vegetarian restaurant or café?
There’s nothing worse than heading out for a nice vegetarian meal only to feel disappointed and ripped off. Here are a few characteristics that separate the average from the very best vegetarian cafes:
- Variety. Think vegetarian meals are all the same? Think again. The best veggie cafes turn regular old vegetables into culinary masterpieces. Trust us – you won’t miss the meat one bit.
- Quality food. Variety is great, but only if the food is of a high quality. In other words, the menu items must be delicious and satisfying.
- Atmosphere. This one applies to all restaurants and cafes. Overly quiet, uncomfortable eateries are not welcoming at all – no matter how great the food is. The best cafes have a great vibe.
- Price. You don’t want to pay a fortune for a stingy amount of food. The best cafes leave you full without breaking the bank.
- Suitable for everyone. Vegetarian cafes are not just for vegetarians. The best of the best will please plant and meat eaters alike.
The best vegetarian restaurants and cafés in Canberra
RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Want something a little bit fancy? You simply cannot go past Sage. While not strictly vegetarian, this award-winning restaurant offers both meat-free and vegan options. With a paddock to plate philosophy, Sage sources much of its fresh produce from its very own farm located just 8.3km from the restaurant itself. Whether you opt for a standard dinner or a 5-course degustation, Sage is one of the best places to indulge in top-quality vegetarian fare.
As Google reviewer and ‘Local Guide’ Peter Davie writes, “We celebrated my wife's birthday here, a wonderful time was had by all. The food was delicious, and the service was excellent. Highly recommended!”
Fresh, healthy, quality vegan food – that’s what Au Lac is all about. This popular eatery offers an extensive menu featuring Asian flavours, and faux meats made of soy. The chefs at Au Lac take great care in the preparation and presentation of their dishes. All produce is sourced daily, and a select collection of speciality ingredients are imported to create a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience.
Facebook user Gayle Catherine left the following review for Au Lac, “I love Aulac! The food is tasty, interesting and has a great variety. It’s great for everyone! The kids even loved it.”
Sweet Bones is a laid-back vegan cafe and bakery where all the food is 100% cruelty free, can be made gluten-free, and is sourced organically and locally where possible. From a vegan big breakfast (featuring coconut bacon) to a stack of pancakes – not to mention their irresistible display of cakes – there’s something on the inventive menu to satisfy just about anyone.
See what ‘Local Guide’ Erin Rowe had to say about their experience at Sweet Bones in this review, “Amazing Vegan cafe, delicious food for breakfast or lunch, I had the basic banana bread that came with delicious topping, amazing, go on and treat yourself!”
Situated between Kingston and Manuka in the chic East Hotel, Muse is so much more than your run-of-the-mill eatery. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and even dessert, the stunning Muse restaurant features an irresistible menu of classic meals and reinvented vegetarian dishes.
As Google reviewer Dani Harris writes, “This is my new favourite restaurant in Canberra!!! Killer Bloody Marys, the souffle is to die for and the customer service is incredible. 10/10!”
The mission at The Goods Wholefoods is to provide pure, unadulterated food that elevates bodies and moods. Whilst not strictly vegetarian, it offers plenty of veg-filled options. With inventive salads, breakfasts, superfood smoothies and healthy treats, this curated salad bar and wholefoods café is dedicated to serving food that is as delicious as it is good for you.
As Natasha Carroll writes in their Google review, “Go-to lunch spot! There is always something fresh, new and healthy to try. The service, coffee and food is excellent every time.”
Your experience with vegetarian restaurants and cafés in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the places listed above? Have we missed your favourite? If so, please share your feedback in the comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it hard to cook vegetarian meals?
Not at all! In fact, not having to use meat will actually make your life easier (and the cost of your groceries cheaper). There are also plenty of recipes that are vegetarian without being "boring" - fried rice, vegetable curries, vegetable stews, and of course desserts are all delicious vegetarian options that you can very easily cook at home.
Should I switch to a vegetarian diet?
This decision is entirely up to you, and unless there are any health concerns there is no real pressure either way. While there are plenty of benefits to not eating meat, you might find that a vegetarian diet isn't for you after all. Do some research and talk to your doctor or a dietitian if you're unsure.
Is being vegetarian better for the environment?
Sometimes. While Canberra is lucky to not need to source its meat from long distances, meat production does have a large environmental impact. Keep in mind though, mass-production vegetable crops do impact the environment significantly as well! All it really comes down to is where you source your produce from, so be mindful when you shop.
What is the difference between vegetarian and pescetarian food?
While vegetarians are strictly no-meat, pescatarians have one exception - they eat chicken, fish and seafood.
Is being vegan better than being vegetarian?
Not necessarily - whether or not a diet is good for you depends entirely on your own body and lifestyle. It's a completely personal choice, so do a bit of research and maybe talk to your doctor or a dietitian if you're not sure.