South Australia was voted by Lonely Planet as Number 6 in its Top 10 regions in the world recently for 2017; though we can't forget about the state's capital in this accolade. Adelaide - the city of churches - is bursting with vegan menus at restaurants around town and seems to be overwhelmingly welcoming to the vegans travelling here. Here are my top picks for a vegan tour of Adelaide, and it's advised to hire a car or take your own to reach the full potential of this foodie flight of fancy. Below is only a snapshot and there are many more locales to add to the ever-growing list. Still, it's enough to get the tour started.
Breakfasts and Brunches
A short drive to the inner cusp of Adelaide lives Nagev. The name spells vegan backwards, yet there's nothing backwards in Nagev's approach to modern, minimalist plant-based breakfasts and light lunches. A fresh floor-space with wooden tables and teapots sprouting succulents, and a couple of breakout couched spaces for a a lazier coffee; all exuding Nagev's strip-shop vibe on busy Payneham Road. For a good start to the day, order an acai quinoa porridge with seasonal fruit, raw cacao, crushed nuts and chia seeds, sided by a matcha chai latte. Make your hot drink 'dirty' if you must with a shot of added espresso (an Adelaide concept, I noticed).
Back to Adelaide's CBD on Gouger (locally known as 'Eat Street') pound the pavement to Adelaide Central Market where you'll find an all-day brekkie at Let Them Eat. Chia puddings, short order cooked and cold menu items, cold-pressed juices and 'boosties' can boost the morning energy levels. Watch and listen to the early morning hum of market life while sitting on stools at the long bench before a guilty serve of crispy vegan waffles decorated with strawberries, banana slices, pepitas and dried blueberries all drizzled in maple syrup and topped with a puff of coconut cream. Let Them Eat offers fast service and delicious flavours all to be devoured as the name suggests!
Another sojourn to the inner city to Unley reveals Pollen 185 for brunch. Unley is trendy with a village feel, and Pollen 185's interior is also aptly so, housing a country house aesthetic featuring revived recycled wood furniture pieces and cathedral ceiling. Take a seat at their communal bench and furnish it with a soy peppermint hot cacao. As this raw elixir is sipped, a plate of scrambled Burmese tofu (chickpea flour-based) is delivered; cradled by leaves, juicy cherry tomatoes, sautéed spinach and crunchy, grainy toast, all drizzled in balsamic glaze and edible flowers.
Lunches and Picnic Supplies
In Adelaide's Rundle Mall is where Vego n Loven It can be found. Leave the city's bustle at ground level and walk up two flights of stairs to lunch in this psychedelically grunge terrace house conversion. Eclectic second-hand furniture and curios furnish the cosy dining space while 60's music nourishes the ears. The Beatles joyfully sing ‘All you need is love' and love is served to the table in the guise of a fresh orange and ginger juice. Burgers are served as a full or half-serve, though gluten free burgers are only served as full serves. So, make sure you have an outstanding appetite! Opt for the Absolutely Fabulous Burger – a thick lentil patty, topped with salad leaves, tomato, grated carrot, then coated in an unusually tasty sweet chilli sauce, hummus and avocado combo.
Back at Adelaide Central Market, there's a little Algerian spot that isn't exclusively vegan or vegetarian though has a few options to buy for some picnic supplies. Le Souk spruiks dates, twin-tubs of hummus and falafel and Turkish Delight that’s perfectly spongy. A great idea for picnic shopping if you feel like lunching in the sunny outdoors. Don’t forget Let Them Eat for too, served from mid-morning.
If a casual, cheap spot is sought, then Zenhouse Vegetarian Teahouse is good value for money with fast service. Just grab a seat, order and pay at the counter then wait for the feast to arrive. A quick and simple stir-fry of mixed vegetables in ginger and mushroom sauce, complemented with a serve of salt and pepper fried tofu offers nourishing harmony. A visit to Zenhouse isn't complete without a pot of its specialty blend teas – the sweet-scented and earthy quince green tea is a new addition to the 70+ list and worthy of a sip.
A car is definitely needed for a trip to Mai Kitchen in Ferryden Park and it’s worth the drive. Vietnamese food is one of my all-time favourites and some of my all-time Vietnamese favourites are found here at Mai Kitchen. Mai is the matriarch of this thriving vegan Vietnamese restaurant and her family's culinary passion is infused in the fresh flavours home-cooked in every dish; from a robust bowl of lemongrass vermicilli salad (bún Đậu hủ xào) topped with Vietnamese mint, fried shallots, to lemongrass chilli tofu and veggies (Đậu hủ xào xả Ớt) , spring rolls (chả giò) with lettuce and Vietnamese mint to wrap them in, and even down to the fluffy steamed rice and jasmine tea.
Dessert choices are abound too – three bean colour drink (chè ba màu) and my favourite banana sago soup in coconut cream with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts (chè bột báng xoài hoặc chuối). All elements of a Vietnamese meal are cherished and proudly served at Mai.
Sweets and Treats
The truth is in the name and Two Bit Villains Soda Bar in Adelaide Arcade doesn't refute this. While you can dine here for lunch or dinner, try visiting this retro Tiki styled establishment for supper. Grab a bamboo couch by the first-level window and consume a creamy soda float or a peanut butter salted chocolate sundae. The sundae is devilish, decadent and decisively naughty. A milkshake glass is packed with scoops of vanilla and chocolate soy ice-cream and layered with warmed salted crunchy peanut butter all coated with a rich and thick chocolate sauce and crowned in whipped cream and crushed peanuts. Junky sweet tooths beware!
For more vegan treats, and specialty vegan groceries, take a short drive to Everything Vegan – a vegan, cruelty free grocery stop and coffee stop. Make the trip last a little longer by ordering a chai latte and a slice of raw carrot cake from the coffee bar. The choices for vegan specialty groceries, cookbooks, clothing and ethical products here are unlimited, the service just as friendly and welcoming.
Vendors tried and tested during Adelaide's Vegan Festival, all served up in compostable and eco-friendly cutlery and crockery. Sometimes, these vendors can be found during the rest of the year at various markets around town (links included where possible):
All menu items chosen at each venue were served vegan and gluten-free. Web links have been included where possible so you can conduct your own additional research on these restaurants. Not all locations were strictly vegetarian/vegan.
All meals and beverages were paid for in full by me.
If you're keen to map out your own vegan food adventures in Adelaide, you can also check out my contribution to GPSmyCity. This is a destination where you can create your own customised self-guided city walks through their series of user-friendly apps. Just head to this weblink!