Going “Down Under” does not mean that a vegetarian has to starve. In fact, there is a wealth of options for us that don’t go for rumps, ribs, roasts or roos.
In the United States, my typical experience with restaurants is that there is usually a little tiny “vegetarian” section on the menu. Or, even worse, listed in tiny print under the burger section is the option to get a veggie patty substitute (which invariably is some frozen hockey puck). It’s more often than not that restaurateurs in the US seem to just sigh, shrug their shoulders, and just throw in one option to appease us non-meat eaters.
In Sydney, however, vegetarian options were sprinkled all over the menus and, lo and behold, these options were thoughtful and creative. The wealth of local organic vegetables must inspire chefs to develop these great vegetarian dishes. When I perused menus there wasn’t just one veggie burger option but two, three and sometimes even more, in the burger section. Was I in heaven?
I had a chance to check out some of great places around Sydney that I stumbled upon just wandering around the city.
The Iko Whole Foods we went to was in a large food court at the bottom of a downtown office building. The really extensive menu featured wraps, soups, casseroles, tarts, pies and more. All of it vegetarian or vegan. All organic.
My black bean curry was served steaming hot with brown rice. The curry included zucchini, carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes and tofu in a really fresh and tasty sauce.
The minestrone with pasta soup was hearty, filling and delicious. How often do you get this type of good food in a food court?
(Note: There were several other stalls in the food court that had great vegetarian choices including Sumo Salad. I had a couple of the toasted wraps from there and they were quite good.)
Cook & Phillip Park (between pool and cathedral on lower mezzanine)
On a walk to the Manly Ferry, we stumbled across a vegan oasis in the middle of the city. What a great way to start the day! Bodhi is located in a very relaxed and scenic part of the city in the Cook & Philip Park between a pool and St. Mary’s cathedral. There is ample outside seating which provided us with front row seats to watch all the early morning swim class attendees march by with their parents.
The breakfast menu includes a variety of yum cha (dim sum) to choose from. My steamed dumplings included a sticky rice, sweet potato and spinach. It was a unique and satisfying breakfast. Not sure what the crowds at lunch or dinner look like, but we spent a nice quiet time eating and planning our day at Bodhi.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I did not personally experience Moo Gourmet Burgers, but someone that went there gave me rave reviews after he ate there. Apparently, he was one happy vegetarian after eating a red kidney bean burger and even happier after washing it down with a nice Aussie beer.
The Moo Gourmet Burger has three vegetarian burgers which include:
- Chickpea burger – Chickpea & couscous patty, Swiss cheese, baby spinach, tomato, home‐made mayonnaise & tomato relish
- Red kidney bean burger – Spicy red kidney bean patty, mixed leaf lettuce, tomato, home‐made mayonnaise & tomato relish
- Falafal burger – Falafel, hummus, cucumber yogurt & chili jam& tomato juice
You can top off your veggie burger with extra toppings such as pineapple, avocado, mozzarella cheese, Swiss cheese, aged cheddar, sweet potato, tomato, beetroot. (I discovered on this trip my love of beetroot on a veggie burger. The earthiness of the beets is something that is quite good.)
Peace Harmony Vegie House
29 King Street
Take out spot – 29 King Street
Restaurant – 44 Erskine Street
This vegan Thai restaurant was right around the corner from our hotel and only steps from Darling Harbor. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to check out the food, but just by looking at the menu, I knew it would not let anyone go away hungry or disappointed. The chef specials included BBQ soy chicken, mushroom steak, soy fish and soy nuggets in plum sauce. They also had several thai salads with veggie lamb, beef or duck. There are also 15 stir fries, 6 curries, and 7 noodle dishes to choose from. Just a heads up, if you’re not specifically looking for this take out spot you may end up just walking by it.
Looking for fancier fare? Check out my review of Harvest Vegetarian Restaurant. Well worth a visit if you’re in Sydney.
By the way, if you’re looking for a specific type of restaurant or location, check out Veggie Friendly for a quite extensive review of vegetarian and vegetarian friendly restaurants around Sydney.