Image via Lancia |
You might think that Wellington, with its reputation of being a haven for hippies and weirdos (♥ ♥ ♥) would be flush with plant-based food options. Alas, the range of vegan food in cafes, restaurants and food hovels around town is a lot of the time limited to a bowl of fries and a side salad.
I love fried potato as much as the next girl – and there is definitely nothing wrong with a great green salad – but there should be more to sink teeth in to than the standard issue duo of spuds and leaves!
It may not be fair, but since I learned how to cook vegan and discovered how delicious and easy it is to make ass-kicking plant-based meals, the lack of vegetables taking center stage in Wellington food haunts just seems lazy, old-fashioned and uncreative. There is this whole world of amazing food that is barely represented at all!
Having said all that, if you know where to go you can find some tasty as hell vegan food lurking about town. The places listed below include a range of brunch, lunch and dinner options, and many of them are happy to make your order to take away. If you are in Wellington and need some plant-based goodness, these are the places that will give you more fuel for your fire than a handful of fries…
Ten Belly-Filling, Body-Loving Vegan Options in Wellington
♥ Sushi! Ahh, sushi. The answer to many of life’s problems. It is probably the #1 default food option for people who want to eat something plant-based on the go. There is sushi everywhere in Wellington and there will always be something vegan. I like TJ on Courtenay Place for takeaway and Hede on lower Cuba for an eat-in lunch (for a quick snack, the ubiquitous St Pierre’s do a rad 4 pce sushi pack, including ginger, soy sauce and wasabi, for under $4; nom nom). Eat your way around a bunch of different joints and see which becomes the favourite. Don’t go to Sushi Bi, though; everyone raves about ’em but don’t listen, it’s a trap.
♥ Aunty Mena’s. A Cuba St institution, and one of the only places in Wellington that have a whole bunch of vegan goodness on their menu. They do amazing things with tofu; the vegan chicken laksa is rad as hell, as are the chicken nuggets. You’ll be spoiled for choice. Big portions and relatively cheap, too!
♥ The garden salad from The Lido on Victoria Street is one of my favourites; it is huge, delicious and packed full of goodness – greens, carrot strips, sliced radish, tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, sunflower & sesame seeds – coated generously with a fucking amazing miso dressing. It is my go-to when I’m in town and feel like I want to sit down to a big plate of something light & hypernutritious. Definitely not your average café salad – this thing rules.
♥ Fidel’s (I won’t bother linking you to their truly awful flash-based website) do a sweet avocado & tomato on 5-grain bread for 8 dollars (cheap!), and a vegan breakfast that includes chilli black beans and oven roasted field mushrooms; yum. They also have a tofu and vegetable stir-fry on the menu. More options than is the usual in this town, but if they replaced the mozzarella with hummus in one their quesadillas: viola! another easy vegan dish. Buy some hummus Fidel’s!
♥ The chefs at the Cross are aware that dairy doesn’t need to be everywhere all the damn time; thank fuck. For breakfast, they do a scrambled tofu on ciabatta or avocado & tomato on 5-grain. Later in the day you can get hold of tempura veges, shroom and tofu croquettes, a huge vegan burger & a marinated tofu stonegrill. Importantly, there is also vegan raspberry chocolate cake on the menu. Mmm hmm.
♥ The vegan big breakfast at Midnight Espresso is really good; they make mean hashbrowns and a delish plant-based aioli that I reeeeallly wish I had the recipe for. There are other savoury vegan options on the menu that are a little bit hit or miss (avoid the scrambled tofu). The vegan cakes and sweet treats on the counter are usually awesome, especially the chocolate cake!
♥ Plum make my favourite avocado and tomato on 5-grain combo in Wellington, which is why they are on this list despite having nothing else plant-based on the menu. They make it pop with grilled lemon, basil and balsamic. Fuck yeah. Twice the price of Fidel’s offering but super tasty.
♥ Meow Café, tucked away in Edward St, have hummus and tomato on toast or tofu scramble to choose from. Their tofu scramble includes mushrooms, tomato and spinach; it sounds so good, I need to get my ass there soon and dig in. It is the only one on this list I’ve not yet feasted upon! I need more tofu scramble in my life.
♥ Baobob Café, on Newtown’s main drag, has a couple of good lookin’ options for vegan eaters: a crispy falafel pita, or a cashew lentil burger; both with yummy hummus and signature salads (quinoa tabbouli on the former, Baobob’s green salad on the latter). These guys aren’t afraid of hummus; I like that in a Café.
♥ Chow on Tory St is open from midday and have a good range of vegan options on their menu, including seven spice tofu, jungle curry and cumin-scented roasted pumpkin salad; not to mention the delicious miso and edamame to snack on. They have a $25 eat in lunch deal that includes a glass of wine or beer and has several vegan options. If you don’t want to eat in, most of the menu is available to go.
Ka Pai on Cuba Mall (also: Courtenay Place and Lambton Quay) do passable wraps and salads – build your own masterpiece or veganize from the menu. Burger Fuel (Courtenay Place and Upper Cuba) have a vegan burger that I think is crap, but you be the judge. Enigma on Courteney Place make a crispy noodle-tofu salad that is a’ight, as well as a tofu burger, though you actually just want to go there for the chai*.
For something a litle special, book a table at Dragonfly; I love this place so much. Green papaya salad, eggplant salad with candied cashews, organic tofu with cloud ear shrooms. Some of the best miso around, and incredible edamame. Also, cocktails to die for.
Last but not least, Scopa on Upper Cuba will make you a great vegan pizza at your (polite & charming) request.
* They do it the right way and use powder instead of syrup ♥