It’s pretty safe to say that if Melbourne is known for anything, its cafe and restaurant culture is right up there. I love visiting Melbourne’s cafes and restaurants. Sitting down to a healthy and delicious meal with good company, while outsourcing the cooking and the clean-up, is one of my favourite things to do.
If you're a health-conscious foodie or, like some of our patients here at Melbourne Functional Medicine, are going through a period of prioritising healthy eating, there is no shortage of nutritious and delicious options to choose from around Melbourne.
When it comes to finding a wide range of options that cater to a range of dietary preferences including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, keto and paleo diets, many of Melbourne's cafes and restaurants fit this requirement. But often the benefits don’t stop there. Many of Melbourne’s cafes and restaurants not only provide nutritious and tasty menu options, but also prioritise sourcing ethical and sustainable ingredients. This means that not only can you enjoy your nourishing smoothie bowl, superfood salads and gluten-free vegan burgers, you can do so guilt-free while supporting local businesses and reducing your carbon footprint.
So in the interest of taking the guesswork out of figuring out where your next Saturday night dinner date or Sunday brunch is taking place, I thought I’d help you out with a list of the top 12 gluten-free, dairy-free, or paleo restaurants and cafes that myself and some of the Melbourne Functional Medicine team love to visit.
Top 12 wholesome and healthy cafes and restaurants in Melbourne
In no particular order, here are the top 12 healthy cafes and restaurants in Melbourne the team at Melbourne Functional Medicine are talking about:
- Willow Urban Retreat Wholefood Cafe - located in Malvern, this cafe offers a range of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options with an intention to serve mindfully good food that is seasonal and sustainable. Located in Armadale, their menu has been guided by a nutritionist and naturopath to ensure that each meal is nourishing both body and mind
- Serotonin Eatery - located in Burnley, this cafe is one of my personal favs as it offers a range of paleo-friendly options. Their ethos is based around eating a plant-based diet to ensure the body, mind and earth are all functioning optimally. What’s more, they offer free exercise and monthly educational classes to their community
- The General Food Store - this is a personal favourite of Teagan’s, located in Emerald. If you are not local it sounds like it is worth the trip just to taste their amazing house-made, gluten-free bread. There are plenty of dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian locally and seasonally sourced options on the menu and the space is filled with local arts and indoor plants
- Heal’thy Self Co - located in Yarraville, this cafe offers a range of gluten-free and paleo-friendly options with a seasonally changing menu. The philosophy of this cafe is that humans thrive when eating a plant-based diet using locally sourced organic produce
- Seedling Cafe - located in Melbourne CBD, you might find health coach Bee here enjoying the 100% gluten-free menu. On offer is a range of superfood salads, smoothies and other delicious brunch options
- Cafe Strada - if the city is out of the question, Rebecca recommends Cafe Strada, located in Ivanhoe, as another 100% gluten-free menu offering a range of takeaway bread, pastries and cakes. Keep in mind that 'gluten-free' doesn't always mean 'healthy', especially when loaded with sugar, as many of the treats here are
- Victor Churchill - this Armadale-based restaurant is also one of Australia's leading butchers. Victor Churchill has a well-known reputation for high quality and ethically sourced meat
- Transformer Fitzroy - this vegetarian restaurant in Fitzroy offers a wide variety of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan meals with a focus on sourcing their produce from local, small-scale growers that you can enjoy in their eco-friendly space
- JAMES South Melbourne - local to the clinic and recommended by health coach Liv as a perfect date night restaurant. JAMES offers some mouth-watering delicacies and although not dedicated gluten-free has plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free options and has been awarded a one hat restaurant to boot!
- Half Acre - located in South Melbourne, Melissa from our marketing team recommends this restaurant for its yummy paleo and vegetarian options. Everything is wood-fired and hearty and not only is the food fantastic you can enjoy it in a stunning dining room setting
- Smith & Daughters - located in Collingwood this is a fine dining restaurant catering to vegans. This restaurant is another date night option for those who like fine dining, exceptional customer service and are up for a special occasion splurge
- MeatworksCo - located in South Melbourne and open for lunch and dinner, MeatworksCo is a contemporary smokehouse bar and grill that offers gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian menu options
So whether you function best as a vegetarian, or if your body best fuels on more meat-based fare, or you’re simply keen to try eating somewhere a bit different (knowing that they have our personal tick of approval), I'm hopeful you can find one or more suitable options from the list above.
As only a handful of options have been listed here, if you have any other recommendations for cafes and restaurants in Melbourne that cater to various dietary requirements, I’d love to hear about them. Please share your feedback in the comments below. Oh, and if you visit any of the cafes/ restaurants listed above - we’d love to hear from you as well! Happy eating!