The vegan dining scene has flourished during the past few years. Gone are the days when ordering a vegetarian or vegan meal drew the expectation of a plate of steamed vegetables or a green salad landing on your table. Nor is it just about tofu and tempeh. Now your dining preference may be vegan, lactose free, or keto (to name a few)! The best vegetarian restaurants show us the importance of the freshest locally sourced ingredients, clever food combinations and excellent cooking techniques. Here’s a selection of vegetarian and vegan-friendly food establishments on the Gold Coast (in no particular order):
Cardamom Pod Brickworks (Vegetarian; vegan and GF on request) 3/3 Brolga Ave, Southport Ph: 0424 251 008
When Cardamom Pod Broadbeach began serving à la carte breakfasts, the Gold Coast’s vegan/vegetarian dining scene took a massive turn skywards. With beautifully presented, nutritious meals made to order, Cardamom Pod converted a throng of fans, their fruit and flower laden ‘Pod’ breakfast bowl being named one of the best dishes on the Coast. It was so popular, in fact, that the team decided to start a new restaurant at the Brickworks Centre on Ferry Road, specialising in à la carte.
Open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, the new Cardamom Pod holds many of our favourite dishes (such as the Pod’s special açai or pitaya bowl) as well as some delicious-looking new ones! Salads, koftas, tempura, fritters, rice paper rolls, burgers and tacos… There are so many choices, we’re amazed at the inventiveness of it all, let alone its presentation.
Cardamom Pod is the haven of the super healthy, and good food never looked this good. We’re reminded to eat the rainbow of colours. No matter what you choose, here comes your meal in a bowl perfectly arranged by Debbie, or on a hand-thrown plate adorned by flowers and cacao nibs, or in a coloured glass with fruit edging its rim. Painstakingly presented, gorgeously feminine and markedly Instagrammable, we gorge on this food with our eyes before a bite ever passes our lips. Simply beautiful! So awe-inspiring that we know it must be good for us!
Izakaya Midori (Vegan) 7/ 50 Woodland Drive, Reedy Creek Ph: 07 5645 6625
Midori (meaning ‘green’ in Japanese) is the Gold Coast’s first plant-based Japanese restaurant, our first and only vegan izakaya.
The menu carries many Japanese favourites, from edamame (including a smoked version) to gyoza, and sushi to curries. It’s not all traditional fare though, the chef putting his own vegan spin on well-known dishes and creating original new ones. Amongst other spectacular-looking dishes, taking pride of place is the signature Midori Ramen, a deep rich green plant-based soup containing ramen and vegan pork mince. It’s not only deliciously addictive but also Insta-worthy.
Versace-trained chef and restaurateur Chef Jared Peck, with his Taiwanese partner Chiyun Wu, has opened their first vegan café and bar. Doko Demo V (meaning ‘anywhere’ in Japanese, the V standing for ‘vegetarian’) is situated on the corner of Sunlight Drive, Burleigh, the theme of casual dining amongst natural bamboo complementary to the vegan style of dining.
The all-day breakfast menu features many favourites: Smashed Avo, Eggs Bene with plant-based ham, Pittaya bowls lined with fresh fruit and French toast with berries among the extensive menu items on offer. Each dish is marked as vegan, gluten-free or gluten-free option.
It’s on the lunch menu that we see the emergence of global flavours in the vegan dishes: burgers, hot dogs with sauerkraut, hearty lasagne, trios of tacos, salads and colourful poke bowls stacked with vegetables and rice, all meat-free. From the dishes we tasted, this is a ‘wholefood’ restaurant. Yes, it’s vegetarian, with a wide variety of vegan and gluten-free dishes available, but primarily it’s flavoursome, well-presented plant-based cuisine at a keen price. Our bao are filled with luscious plant-based meat substitute and veg, the ‘BBQ pork’ in the poke bowl particularly tasty and interesting to mainstream diners.
Easy House Vegetarian Restaurant (Vegan) 90 Markeri St., Mermaid Waters Ph: 07 5572 8808
Easy House serves some of the freshest, lightest dim sum found in Queensland. The barbecued pork rolls are cased in the softest flaky pastry, steamed mushroom dumplings contained an exquisite selection of tastes encased in the lightest rice casing. Although the menu sounds familiar to diners, it’s both a vegetarian and vegan restaurant (no dairy, no eggs) and most of the dumplings are gluten free. Mock chicken made from soy paste and mock beef formed from bean curd and mushrooms are subtly flavoured yet tasty and delicious. Yum cha is available all day, or you can choose from about twenty lunch specials. The dinner menu is extensive, with take away also available.
All the Hong Kong style food is made fresh daily and no MSG is used in the preparation. Part of a suburban shopping centre, this tiny shop fronts out to a car park. But what the restaurant may lack in ambience will soon be forgotten once you begin eating.
Govindas Pure Vegetarian (Vegetarian, Vegan friendly) 20 James St., Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5607 0782
An older sister of Cardamom Pod, Govindas is a smaller venue, more suited to faster paced dining. Although your food choices are limited to the dishes on display, it is all very appetising and portion sizes are generous. You pay according to the amount of food you want, for example two dishes and rice costs $9 or three dishes is $11. The food is not only vegetarian, free of eggs, garlic and onion, but also certified organic and free of pesticides, brought daily from the farm in Eungella and prepared on site.
Samosas are generous in size and packed with vegies, the vegetarian curry is delicious, the salad crunchy and fresh with grated beetroot, garbanzos, sunflower seeds and prunes. But the standout dish for us is the kofta balls in a tomato-based creamy sauce. It’s sensational! There’s also a mouth-watering assortment of desserts available if you have room after your main course.
The Milkman’s Daughter (Vegetarian), 1/43 Alfred St, Mermaid Beach
‘Eat consciously. Live consciously’ is the motto of The Milkman’s Daughter. It’s a place where ‘pretty’ and ‘tasty’ meet. Gorgeous enough to send millennials into a ‘perf’ rave about their new ‘fave’, our meals at The Milkman’s Daughter not only meet all the criteria of our disparate group, but they’re also exceptionally delicious and nutritious.
Lemon ricotta pancakes come with custard cream, toasted walnuts, passionfruit and fresh berries; Grain salad has roasted dukkah chickpeas, quinoa and freekeh salad with pomegranate and mint, spiced puree, spinach, house hummus, house vegan aioli and artisan Iranian pita… There are so many flavours, so eat ‘mindfully’, savouring every bite!
Giri Kana Café (Vegan friendly) 82 Marine Parade, Southport Ph: 07 5591 3555
Trying to find good healthy food on the northern end of the coast? Don’t despair, because Giri Kana Café is there! Under new ownership, we have yet to try out Giri Kana’s delights. This inviting café under the H2O building opens its arms to us as a healthy haven, a pure vegetarian restaurant with lots of gluten free and vegan options, as well as great organic coffee.
Goodness Gracias (Vegan), 1114 -1116 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach Ph: 07 5534 4941
With new owners late in 2018, Goodness Gracias made the switch to vegan. Wee love that they’re making food traditionally using organic @donacholita blue and white tortilla chips which taste amazing!
Lord of the Fries (Vegan), 8 Cavill Ave., Surfers Paradise
Vegans rejoice! Lord of the Fries has opened on Cavill Ave., bringing ethical fast food to town. The store is 100% vegan, kosher and halal certified, bringing a plant-based twist to fast food. Chips, burgers and sliders can now be a vegan treat.
Tian Ran (Vegan), 2462 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach Ph: 5572 0678
Tian Ran seems to have been around forever. Boasting one of the most hospitable hosts on the Gold Coast, the ever-smiling Eric, Tian Ran is known for its Chinese/Asian vegetarian and vegan cuisine, using ecologically and socially responsible fresh ingredients. All food is prepared fresh daily from plant sources only. The range of dishes show imaginative use of gluten and soy protein, mixed imaginatively with seaweed, mushrooms and other vegetables. Overlook the mock meat names, and ask which dishes have been deep fried, and you’ll be more likely to land a dish which pleases you! Open daily for dinner from 5.30pm.
Blendlove (Vegan, Raw & Wholefood) 1/253 Ferry Road, Southport
Beginning with a focus on raw wholefood cakes, Blendelove has morphed into one of our most consistent plant-based cafes. Salads, bowls and burgers gives a broad sweep to the menu, but the meals are very generous and beautifully presented. Moreover, it’s a really pleasant place to hang out with a friend for coffee and cake, breakfast or lunch.
Kuan Yin Tea House (Vegan & Vegetarian), 152 Scarborough St Southport Ph: 0426 858 448
A well-respected vegetarian and vegan restaurant serving Asian style dishes, from entrees to soup, noodles, curry and stir fry.
Blossoming Lotus (Vegan), 4/3106 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5661 3805
Thai-style vegan restaurant situated in a Surfers Paradise side street. Cooking without onion and garlic, Blossoming Lotus is dairy free and gluten free. Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner.
Minari (Vegetarian), Shop 2008/5 Lawson St Southport Ph: 0424 767 793
Korean vegetarian restaurant located on the southern side of Southport Central Shopping Centre. Try their Kimchi fried rice, vegan ramen or tempura, hotpots or soup.
Wray Organics (Vegan friendly) 155 Nineteenth Ave, Elanora Ph: 07 5576 7111
Southern Gold Coasters are fortunate to have such a great health food shop on their end of the coast. There’s a little cafe attached which has organic breakfast options on offer as well as salad bowls, juices and raw cakes.