Byron Bay Vegan Finds
One of the most common Google searches on my phone is ‘vegan food near me’. Byron Bay is perhaps the only place in Australia where that search is completely unnecessary. This laid back beach town is bursting with vegan options at nearly every single restaurant, café, bar, and supermarket. It is every vegan’s dream. Simply walking down the street you are bombarded with signs for vegan cafes, vegan cheese at a Mexican restaurant, and even a burger bar with vegan milkshakes and frozen jalapeno margaritas.
In between your beach sessions and free bike hires from Wake Up! Byron Bay, grab a bite to eat at one of my favorite places Byron Bay.
Similar to my passion for vegan burgers is my passion for anything placed between two slices of toasted bread. Enter: Combi’s Vegan Toasted Sandwich. I’ve never been the biggest fan of pumpkin, but the melted vegan cheese combined with the soft pumpkin and oiled, crispy toast is the ultimate comfort food. Combi is located behind the main street of Byron Bay and their chic décor is more than insta-worthy. Grab a takeaway toastie or one of their beautifully deocrated acai bowls and explore the side streets of Byron!
Vegan burgers are an art, and Elixiba has taken it to another level. From the flavor and texture of their burger patties to the creaminess of the sauce and enormous the number of toppings, there is a burger for everyone. Elixiba’s Plant Eater Burger is still one of the most memorable burgers I have ever eaten because it is served towering over a carved wooden plate, topped with coconut caviar, and has the creamiest cashew sauce I’ve experienced on a burger. On my second trip to the restaurant, I devoured the nachos as they fulfilled my wildest dreams.
I have mad respect for the prices at OzyMex because the vegan house cooked pinto beans are, on average, $3 cheaper than the meat options. To me, this more than makes up for the small surcharge for vegan cheese. Who can say no to vegan nachos piled high with beans, vegan cheese, salsa, salad, and chili sauce?
When I hired one of the bikes from Wake Up! Byron Bay (they’re free, FYI), I spent my three hour rental biking to the many health food shops in the surrounding area. Fundies Organics, located right on the main street of Byron Bay, was my favorite. The in-store café serves delicious coffee and the shop is filled with Australian-made vegan cheeses, pesto, snacks, and a few imported items that made me think of home.
The Top Shop
After a three hour hike and going eight hours without eating, myself and my Australian and Canadian roommates from Wake Up! Byron Bay were beyond hangry (that complicated combination of being hungry and being angry about it). The Top Shop is on top of a hill a few blocks behind the touristy areas of Byron Bay. I was blown away by their vegan burger. The patty was similar to a corn fritter and was topped with coleslaw, cos lettuce, and an amazing chipotle sauce. They also have cold brew coffee and kombucha on-tap, not to mention that their chips/fries were my exact preference of crispy and salty.
Main Street Burger Bar
If you haven’t tried pulled jackfruit yet, you are missing out on the most tender, vegan version of pork in existence. Jackfruit is a strange fruit that mimics the texture and appearance of pulled pork when cooked. Main Street Burger Bar offers a vegan pulled jackfruit sandwich and even has a vegan boozy milkshake.
I love when I find the word “vegan” on a menu. It automatically makes me feel welcomed and taken care of. Miss Margarita labels every single menu item that is vegan or can be made vegan. Their happy hour margaritas are fantastic and the taco salad, nachos, burritos, and tacos all look as if they are bursting with flavor. Expect to wait for a table here, the line is always out the door.
After filling my stomach with some of the not-so-healthy (yet still fairly healthy) options in Byron Bay, I was keen to try one of the healthier, whole-foods cafes that fill Byron Bay’s many streets. Manna Haven is located on the main street next to a church. They serve their foods deli style with an option for two or three items. I chose a chickpea curry and a vegan lasagna. It’s been years since I’ve eaten lasagna and I didn’t realize just how much I missed the layered pasta delight! Grab one of the craft kombuchas or no-sugar-added colas from the fridge and sit outside.
The Cardamom Pod
In a similar fashion to Manna Haven, The Cardamom Pod offers deli-style foods that you can mix and match for your perfect plate. The vegan samosa was crispy on the outside and soft and comforting on the inside, just how it should be.
Treehouse on Belongil
The vegan star of the show at this restaurant located conveniently right next door to Wake Up! Byron Bay is the chickpea and pumpkin coconut curry. In addition to the curry, they offer a bowl of veg and mango cup dessert. I haven’t had the chance to try the array of cocktails, but am tremendously awestruck by their use of aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) to create a foamy consistency in drinks such as their gin garden and mamma’s apple pie.
An unexpected find in a tiny alley, Kura is a delicious Japanese restaurant with vegan options clearly labeled. I chose the Teriyaki Tofu but the vegan sushi platter was extremely tempting. The staff is helpful for any questions you might have, too.
I hope my suggestions help narrow your choices amongst the sea of options in Byron Bay. As usual, check out the Happy Cow app on your phone to find more vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants all over the world!
by Janine Denney-Mazzilli
Hi there! My name is Janine and I am a self-professed, travel obsessed foodie from Seattle. I recently graduated the University of Washington and am now living my Australian dream on a working holiday! Follow along on @janini133