As Gold Coasters grow more health conscious and become increasingly wary about what they put into their bodies, the city’s restaurant scene is diversifying and evolving to meet the needs of those seeking a healthier lifestyle.
Following greater education around health food and a growing desire for sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients, restaurants have shifted their offerings; changing ingredients and creating new dishes for special diets.
This has resulted in a diverse array of consumer diets including most popularly vegetarian, veganism and organic options.
Thankfully, for those restaurant-goers that are looking for those options, gone are the days when ordering a vegetarian meal drew the expectation of a plate of steamed vegetables or a simple green salad landing on your table.
In fact, some might say the top restaurants on the Gold Coast are vegan and vegetarian and showcase the freshest locally sourced ingredients, imagination, clever food combinations as well as excellent preparation and cooking techniques.
Below is a selection of vegetarian and vegan-friendly food establishments on the Gold Coast.
Cardamom Pod’s à la carte restaurant is beautiful, fresh, airy and plant-driven.
With unbleached paper menus adorned with botanical pen drawings and a large henna-like representation of Krishna gracing one wall, it is a destination that all healthy restaurant-goers need to frequent.
“Lots of people come into Cardamom Pod wanting to make healthier food choices,” says chef Prema. “We create a feel-good factor and people notice the difference. Many customers come back twice a day, every day.”
Cardamom Pod is a haven for the super healthy and good food never looked this good – it is a reminder of the benefits of eating a rainbow of colours. In fact, it is so painstakingly presented that we gorge on this food with our eyes before a bite ever passes our lips.
In addition, the venue is BYO alcohol. But hey, why bother when you can have a delicious turmeric latte or super smoothie instead?
Cardamom Pod – 3/3 Brolga Avenue, Southport | 0424 251 008
Greenhouse Canteen + Bar
‘Cruelty free and killing it’ – words that Greenhouse Canteen + Bar live by as it aims to prove that anything you can do, they can do vegan.
With intent to help make a plant based lifestyle assessable and easily adaptable for the Gold Coast community, Greenhouse Canteen offers a menu that breaks all stereotypes.
If you have been advised to increase your green intake then you won’t be grumbling when you see the options available at this local diner.
There’s a great deal of assurance coming from the kitchen, with great balance in flavour and nutritional value.
It’s also a menu which stays true to its culinary principles: seasonal, macrobiotic, raw, mostly organic wholefood using nutrient rich ingredients, with each dish spiced up to please the palate.
Breaking all stereotypes, GreenHouse is also the only licensed vegan (or vegetarian) restaurant on the Coast. Welcome to the modern vegan experience!
Greenhouse Canteen + Bar – 1916 Gold Coast Highway, Miami | 07 5520 7722
Blendlove’s reputation has been built on their specialty – raw wholefood vegan cakes, in over 20 flavour combinations.
Beautifully presented, these little squares of goodness have won over the Gold Coast.
There are some great salads and wholefood coming out of this café as well. Moreover, it’s a really pleasant place to hang out with a friend for coffee and cake, or a light lunch.
Blendlove – shop 1/253 Ferry Road, Southport
Bootleg Juice Bar 90
Since opening in April 2015, the Bootleg Juice Bar serves cold-pressed juices, smoothies, raw cakes and slices, fruit salads, açai bowls, salads and coffee; all vegan except for the option of regular milk, available on request.
With flavours such as bounty, salted caramel, peanut butter choc chunk, cookies and cream and cherry ripe, the raw cakes on sale sound so much naughtier than what they are.
Also on offer is certified organic Bun Coffee from Byron Bay, cold-pressed almond juice, boxed or bottled coconut water, and smoothies made to order.
You can even top up with added protein gunpowder, chia, maca, spirulina, honey or cacao for an added hit of goodness.
Bootleg Juice Bar 90 – 104 Surf Parade, Broadbeach | 07 5539 0615
Chi Ran is a new vegetarian bar in the western section of Pacific Fair.
With the same chef as Tian Ran at Mermaid Beach, the venue offers Chinese vegetarian at prices below $12.
If you are looking for quality rice paper rolls, sushi, gluten-based mock meat and vegetables served with brown or white rice, look no further.
All dishes can be made gluten-free or vegan on request.
Chi Ran – Pacific Fair, Broadbeach
Easy House arguably serves some of the freshest, lightest dim sum found in Queensland.
The barbecued pork rolls are cased in the softest flaky pastry, and the steamed mushroom dumplings contain an exquisite selection of tastes captured in the lightest of rice casings.
Although the menu sounds familiar to diners, no MSG is used, and it’s a vegan restaurant with no dairy and no eggs, and most of the dumplings are gluten free.
Yum cha is available all day, or you can choose from about twenty lunch specials. The dinner menu is extensive, with take away also available.
Easy House – 90 Markeri Street, Mermaid Waters | 5572 8808
Tian Ran, meaning nature, is known for its Chinese vegan cuisine, using the highest quality, ecologically and socially responsible fresh ingredients.
All food is prepared fresh daily from plant sources only and the range of dishes shows imaginative use of gluten and soy protein, mixed with seaweed, mushrooms and other vegetables.
It also features a mouth-watering range of lighter options including fried wontons, pan fried Shanghai dumplings, salt and pepper tofu and ginger and champignon chicken.
Tian Ran – 2462 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach | 5572 0678
The Woodbox is very organic in focus, not only as a meeting place for groups, but also in the food and beverage served.
Sourcing as much organic produce as possible from local suppliers, the café specialises in organic and vegan options, free of preservatives, sugar, wheat, dairy and gluten.
It’s clean eating, with loads of flavour.
Woodbox Cafe – 33 Tallebudgera Creek Road, West Burleigh | 5607 0808
Kuan Yin Tea House
Kuan Yin Tea House caters for the needs of vegetarian diners on the northern end of the Coast.
While it is modest in décor and price, that does not mean a lack of choice. There are several pages to the menu, which is divided into snacks and entrées priced below $7, and meat and rice sets, noodle dishes and soups, almost all under $10.
Drinks are featured separately – two whole pages listing milk teas, black and green teas, Taiwanese specialty teas and fresh juices.
The menu also clearly marks which dishes are suitable for vegans and are all gluten-free.
Kuan Yin Tea House – 152 Scarborough Street, Southport | 5511 5121
Mandala Organic Arts
Mandala specialises in vegetarian, with vegan and gluten free options available.
Using fresh produce from local and hyper-local (its own garden) suppliers, Mandala offers a range of pizzas, salads, rice and stir-fry dishes in a community atmosphere.
There’s a great range of raw desserts, juices and organic coffee on offer, live music, art and events.
Mandala Organic Arts – 2558 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach | 5679 1762
Cardamom Pod Broadbeach
Cardamom Pod is colourfully exotic, yet warm and earthy.
With a lush living wall of plants, complemented by exotic orchids hanging from the ceiling, the venue brings the rainforest inside, the restaurant sticks true to the beliefs of the Hare Krishna proprietors.
Meanwhile, the delicious organic vegetarian food is prepared without eggs, garlic or onion.
Bain-maries are full of samosas and pakoras, Thai and Indian curries, vegetables, polenta squares, lentil moussaka, crisp innovative salads and yummy desserts.
Cardamom Pod – 110 Surf Parade, Broadbeach | 0452 218 108
An older sister of Cardamom Pod, Govindas is a smaller venue suited to faster pace dining.
Although your food choices are limited to the dishes on display, it is all very appetising and portion sizes are generous.
The food is not only vegetarian but also certified organic and free of pesticides, brought daily from the farm in Eungella and prepared on site.
A standout dish is the kofta balls in a tomato-based creamy sauce – it’s sensational!
There’s also a mouth-watering assortment of desserts available if you have room after your main course. There’s another branch of this restaurant in Surfers Paradise.
Govinda’s – 20 James Street, Burleigh Heads | 5607 0782
Giri Kana, meaning food from goodness, is a healthy haven; a pure vegetarian restaurant with lots of gluten free and vegan options, as well as great organic coffee.
Maha, with son Haya at her side, is pleased to have begun her quest to meet and serve local guests, bringing vegetarian cuisine to the northern end of the coast.
In this private quiet oasis, we’re in a calmer more centred place, a world away from the slick frenzied pace outside.
Giri Kana – 82 Marine Parade, Southport | 5591 3555
The Magic Apple
A longstanding institution on the Gold Coast, The Magic Apple offers clever combinations of whole grains, seeds, nuts and pulses which are almost all egg and dairy free.
This combined makes the Magic Apple a go-to place for anyone involved in the wellness revolution.
From burgers to nachos and cakes to juices, there’s an extensive menu of wholesome vegetarian food available from 8am – 8pm daily.
The Magic Apple – Cnr 5th Avenue and Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads | 5576 5588
Southern Gold Coasters are fortunate to have such a great health food shop on their end of the coast. There’s a little cafe attached which has organic vegetarian breakfast options on offer as well as salad bowls, juices and raw cakes.
Many other cafes and restaurants offer vegetarian dishes and are happy to adapt meals upon request.
Wray Organics – 155 Nineteenth Avenue, Palm Beach | 5576 7111
Marie Anita’s gluten-free, sugar-free organic health café caters for a range of diners who are often overlooked on other menus: those who want or need dairy free, sugar-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic and/or raw food.
Marie Anita’s is a pleasant, welcoming space which depends on the quality of the food and service to bring back regular diners. Blackboards display the daily specials as well as the cakes and rustic loaves of gluten-free bread Marie has baked that morning in the back of the shop. Specialty dietary choices (such as DF, V etc.) are clearly displayed on the printed menu. There’s something on the menu for everyone, made using the healthiest ingredients possible.
Accompanying the meals is Global Organic Coffee, roasted in Burleigh, served with your choice of organic cows’ milk, organic soy, almond or organic coconut milk. There’s also a choice of organic loose leaf teas available, many of them caffeine free.
Hot tip: Try Marie Anita’s Chocolate Avocado Mousse Cake. It’s a taste sensation, the avocado smoothing out the cacao into a creamy rich mousse on an activated nut base which is easily digested. A must try!
Marie Anita’s – 1863 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads | 07 5659 1324 or 0431 302 195