If you’ve been to Australia you probably noticed that they love their takeaway shops. There’s a mom-and-pop place on almost every corner, even in residential neighbourhoods. Though I really like to support local businesses, and would have loved to have a quick meal option near home, they often sold food that I would be reluctant to eat even if I wasn’t eating a plant-based diet. The standard Australian favourites like pies (chicken pot pies, beef pies, sometimes a vegetarian option thrown in the mix) were available, as well as the usual standby: chips and gravy. Definitely not the most healthy, nor were they very appetizing looking. In Melbourne they still had their fair share of these types of shops, but thankfully there were quite a few other options for food on the go. These three healthy takeaway shops are noteworthy in their quality offerings for vegetarians, vegans and people with food sensitivities or following specialty diets. As far as taste goes, read on to see which were my favourites.
The Organic Food and Wine Deli
The main attraction of this tiny hole-in-the-wall shop is its location. On bustling and trendy Degraves Street, it provides a healthier choice for those who want to sit and soak up the ambience in an area that exemplifies what many would consider the very essence of Melbourne.
I was impressed with their selection, particularly of allergen-free desserts and their consideration for allergens altogether. There were many signs listing ingredients, which made the choice a lot easier. Or at least helped me narrow it down more quickly. What I wasn’t impressed by was the types of foods they have. They’ve taken those popular savoury Australian pies and made them vegan. They still don’t really appeal to me, as they’re so doughy. I like to get as many veggies as possible. I checked out the salad selection hoping for a greener option but found it a bit bland. I’ve seen healthier and more varied options for salads at a number of other takeaway shops. They were lacking in the creativity department.
I took a very long time deciding what to eat, which for me usually means that I want everything or am not really feeling the menu and am struggling to choose something. In this case it was the latter.
I decided that since there was nothing really jumping out at me, I might as well embrace my last week in the country and go for something Australian. I got a roll. Similar to a pie it’s a bready pocket with fillings, in this case spinach and potato in sourdough. So it basically is a pie…only a different shape. This one lacked flavour and was overly bready. I have to say I was disappointed, but I decided to adopt optimism and hope the lentil salad would redeem the meal.
I also chose a lentil salad with caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar. It sounded tasty but I could see right away in the display that it didn’t have many (if any) onions in there. I’m not one to be shy with balsamic onions, so I was hoping there’d be a wellspring of them in the middle. Wishful thinking. There were a few in there so if you do choose a salad be sure to mix it up well. I also couldn’t stop thinking that some fresh sprouts, cabbage or cucumber on the top would really add some freshness, flavour and crunch. It was fairly bland and I didn’t eat most of it. On the plus side it was very filling. Or maybe it was just all the dough from the pie.
To top it off, I picked up an apple tart that was dairy, egg and sugar free to take home. Again, when I warmed it in the oven that evening and expectantly tasted it, I was disappointed. It too was really lacking flavour and was far too doughy. The apples were well cooked and still had a crunch to them and there were juicy plump raisins, so I just scooped these out of the shell and ate them. Not bad, but not great.
I felt really disappointed about this shop. It’s too bad really because there’s so much potential. I’ve read good things about it and it seemed very popular when I was there, so maybe it’s my personal tastes? They certainly do have an incredible selection of vegan, allergy-sensitive and sugar free foods, all of which are organic. I’d still say head there if you’re in Degraves to avoid the other options, especially if you just pop in for a healthy treat to nibble while you people watch.
Price: $21 for all three items. It also sells a small selection of organic grocery items.
This was a great little find. As I prowled Little Bourke Street one day going in every single outfitting/travel shop (there are many) I came across this simple, appealing shop. I also loved the fact that it’s French as I have been feeling a major draw towards French culture lately.
I went in and was delighted to find that they had a good selection of green juices and a number of vegetarian/vegan options that were really healthy and fresh. I just love it when I find a place that uses the healthier ingredients that I use at home, like apple cider vinegar, and are focused on creating veggie-based meals.
I decided to try one of the salads and was blown away by how fresh and crunchy it was. I chose the Egyptian salad with the perfect combination of grated cauliflower, red cabbage, spring onion, red capsicum, radish, roasted pumpkin, sunflower, chia seeds, chopped walnuts, mint and parsley. Incredible.
I’ve looked at a number of resources online about healthy options in Melbourne and not once did I see this cute little place listed which is unfortunate because it was a highlight for me. I hope more people learn about it because they really do serve great healthy salads in convenient, eco-friendly containers for take away.
This hugely popular shop was just up the street from me, near the corner of Smith Street and Gertrude Street. It’s completely vegetarian and can make any dish vegan upon request.
I have a big love for Mexican food as I really discovered how healthy (or not) it could be when I travelled through Mexico a few years ago. I have honed my skills and can make killer vegan no-wrap fajitas, burritos, guac and all the other favourites at home. For me the freshness is what really makes it good: the crisp, cool flavours of good pico de gallo, the creaminess and tang of freshly mashed guacamole with lime, the satisfying black beans.
Trippy Taco was really tasty, but I found that it lacked that ‘kick’. There was no cilantro to be found-a key for me in adding some zest to the meals, and there wasn’t quite enough crunch for my liking. Don’t get me wrong- I’d still highly recommend it as it was far better than other Mexican dishes I’d had in Australia where they smothered the dishes in cheese. The meals as a whole were all really good, filling and fast, which is big part of their appeal. The lack of that unique depth of flavour definitely didn’t stop me from going there a few times to get my Mexican fix. For takeout it’s a really great healthy option.
Price: Very well priced for the large portion sizes. Around $12 for a burrito, quesadilla or some tacos.
If you're in the mood for something fast, fresh and suitable for your diet, one of these healthy takeaway spots in Melbourne will likely do the trick.