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Five Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants to Book for Your Next Birthday Bash

Celebrate another trip around the sun with your best mates, meat-free bites and BYO drinks.
By Kat Hayes
March 05, 2020
By Kat Hayes
March 05, 2020


in partnership with

Celebrate another trip around the sun with your best mates, meat-free bites and BYO drinks.

Deciding on a birthday dinner destination isn't easy — you need somewhere that's well priced, has an excellent atmosphere and, of course, delicious food. When you or people in your group are vegetarian, this can make the parameters even tighter. Luckily, Melbourne has a host of vegetarian-friendly venues ready to host you for a tasty celebratory lunch or dinner.

In partnership with BWS, we've selected some top-notch options for your next birthday bash, whether you're totally plant-based or an omnivore who can really appreciate the beauty of a wholly vegetarian meal. And bonus: they are all BYO, meaning your pals can save a few bucks and bring a bottle of bubbles to celebrate your existence.

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    Craftsmen Organic Chardonnay

    If you’ve ever been to Ladro, the longrunning and much-loved Italian eatery in Fitzroy, you should have a fair idea of what to expect from its buzzing Greville Street sister. Ladro TAP may have opened second but it’s not trailing behind in the taste stakes. Rather, it’s dishing up the same rustic Italian dishes and woodfired pizzas as its predecessor.

    The menu is broken into small share plates, mains and pizzas and there are plenty of vegetarian options throughout — think polenta chips and crispy crumbed eggplant to start, followed by mushroom risotto or spinach gnocchi. Of course, the pizzas are not to be missed with everything from a simple margherita to decadent options like porcini and gorgonzola. An off-the-charts potato, rosemary and truffle oil pizza gets the tick of approval from us, too. There’s also a strong focus on sustainability — local produce is sourced where possible and organic waste from the kitchen is recycled and can be purchased for $2 a bag. And on Mondays, it offers BYO with the $5 corkage fee donated to a local charity.

    Pick up a bottle of Craftsmen Organic Chardonnay

    Image: Tracey Ah-kee

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    Birthday dinners don’t have to be all-out affairs — sometimes all you need is the comfort of diving into one of your favourite dishes while surrounded by your favourite people. And if a pad thai isn’t on that list of all-time meals, you’re lying (or missing out). With an emphasis on good quality, fresh ingredients and tasty recipes that have been handed down through the generations, Jinda Thai is perfect for your next birthday shin-diggy-dig. It’s warehouse-level large (ideal if you want to invite everyone you’ve ever met and their favourite cousin) with a stylish brick and lantern-adorned interior, and the vegetarian options on the menu are endless. The tom yum is spicy, the crispy tofu is the tastiest crispy tofu you’ve ever had, and the mushroom larb is the fresh and zingy salad you’ll want to recreate at home. Plus, you can bring your favourite bottle of dry white to wash it all down. You just know it’s going to be good, and birthdays are the right time for good things.

    Pick up a bottle of The Vegan Wine Project Pinot Grigio.

    Image: Visit Victoria.

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    Fitzroy North’s Horn Please is a little slice of Indian street food imbued with some New York culinary expertise. But it still manages to be a quintessentially Melburnian restaurant perched on the diagonal of St George’s Road by drawing a straight line between ‘authentically yum’ and ‘vegetarians welcome’. Surprisingly concise for an Indian eatery, the menu boasts beetroot paneer tikka, fried cauliflower in a tomato chilli sauce (which is absolutely unmissable) and okra fries. But don’t fill up on starters (hard, we know) and miss out on the butternut squash curry and black lentil dal. We’ve warned you. Ordered something super spicy? Totally fine — house-made kulfi ice cream is here for that very reason, and also because it’s damn delicious. If you really can’t decide, go for the set menu, which includes a variety of entrees, curries, rice, naan and dessert for $50 a pop. And, since it’s a celebratory feast, remember to bring a bottle of vino along — corkage is $10 per bottle.

    Pick up a bottle of Tread Softly Rosé.


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    If you’re looking to break away from the usual fare that appears on every Melbourne corner, Little Africa is well worth a look in. The authentic African cuisine at this North Melbourne joint hits you hard in the tastebuds — think Ethiopian stews, curries, flatbread and more, all served up in a cosy and bright space. Vegetarian? Don’t fret. In fact, come hungry. Try the tumtummo (stewed split lentils in a seasoned sauce) or the fool (fava beans mashed with ghee and chilli). There’s also a pretty rad vegetarian combination — $20 for one person, or $35 for two, which is really all you need to know because that’s a great deal. You can wash it all down with your traditional Ethiopian coffee, served with or without ginger. If you’re looking for something a little stronger, the restaurant also allows BYO.

    Pick up a bottle of Chapel Hill Chardonnay.

    Image: Tracey Ah-kee

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    There might be an abundance of vegetarian restaurants on Brunswick Street, but Madame K’s is one of the best (and there’s another branch in Williamstown for westsiders). Not only does this joint allow BYO wine and beer, but it also boasts an extensive menu. You’ll have to go in accepting that you’ll be beat before you even start — you simply can’t try everything in one visit. All the Southeast Asian favourites make an appearance — from laksa and pad thai to massaman curry and steamed wontons. But there’s a key difference between these dishes and those you may find at other neighbourhood restaurants because every dish is vegetarian. Madame K’s uses vegetables, tempeh and wheat protein to create the ‘meats’ for its dishes. Plus, the pandan cake in the dessert section makes a pretty damn good option for a birthday cake.

    Pick up a six-pack of Burleigh Brewing Co Big Head No Carb Beer.

    Image: Tracey Ah-kee

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Update: Due to the current situation, we understand that going out may not be a possibility right now. Keep this list handy so that, when it’s all over, you can get back out there with your mates (and a bottle) and support these BYO-friendly businesses. In the meantime, check out these venues’ takeaway options and get yourself a bottle to match with BWS online delivery.

Top image: Visit Victoria.

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