When we first arrived in Melbourne, I was a bit concerned about the food. Some of the veggie “meat” and “cheese” choices at the grocery stores are pretty dry (I’m looking at you “Quorn”!). Fortunately, I soon learned that prices might be high (what do you mean avocado toast is $17?!) but finding solid vegan options in Melbourne was pretty easy. All over the city, the cafe/resto circuit has this whole plant-based living thing down pat.
I’ll be posting a list of my favourites in a separate post, but the queen bee of them all deserves its very own shoutout. Sometimes, I dream about traveling all the way back to Australia JUST to eat at Smith & Deli.
Fitzroy: A Vegan-Friendly Neighbourhood
My partner and I became Smith and Deli fiends from the first time we tried their delicious sandwiches. We also fell in love with the surrounding area, Fitzroy. Fitzroy is one of the funkiest districts in Melbourne and might as well be crowned the hipster capital of Australia. If you’re a millennial on a trip and aren’t sure where to stay, book an Airbnb in Fitzroy and thank me later. The whole neighbourhood is full of fun spots to explore and is only a quick tram ride away from the CBD. Naked For Satan has a great rooftop terrace for a couple of cocktails with a skyline view. Right down the street is another amazing dairy-free dessert shop called Girls & Boys.
As an added bonus, the giant mural of George Costanza in his underpants at George’s Bar is great for a quick photo op.
Philly Cheese Steak? It’s a Vegan Miracle
From the same owners of Smith and Daughters, Smith & Deli is a humble vegan deli counter with a whole lotta heart. As you might expect, the deli offers freshly made sandwiches and desserts for “take-away” as the Aussies say. They also double as a mini vegan grocery store with freezers packed full of frozen delights from all over the world. All of their “meats” and “cheeses” and pastries are made in-house, some with soy, some without. I’m not sure what they are doing back there to make their food taste like perfection, but the result is pure magic. When you see the gothic upside down cross with “EAT VEGAN” written on it, you’ll know you’re in the right place.
I’m still drooling over these sandwiches from one year later. Here are a few of my personal favourites:
1) The Rocky: Philly cheese steak, melted mozzarella, grilled onions and peppers on a toasted roll
2) The Home Alone: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, cranberries and gravy on freshly baked sourdough
3) Foghorn Legless: Chicken schnitzel, bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch and celery
4) Egg McMartinez: Egg, bacon, cheddar on an English muffin (or on a warm croissant)
Bonus points for hilarious dish names like The Wiggum, ultra-friendly staff, killer iced coffee and delightful daily pastries.
Most items on the menu are sure-fire bets that even carnivores can get down with. Unfortunately, the one thing I wouldn’t really recommended is the “egg salad sandwich”. It’s kind of bland and boring tofu, definitely not their best work. I also don’t enjoy the fact that they are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Still, I would say that Smith & Deli is one of the tastiest vegan spots in Melbourne the world. Follow their insta for plant-based inspiration to see what I mean.
Someone please open up a Smith & Deli in Canada ASAP!