The Best Vegan-friendly Spots in Wellington
Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or keen to dip your toes in this culinary world, Wellington is the place to be.
Words by: John Son
Say goodbye to the dry tofu and bland ‘facon’ - vegan cuisine has made giant strides and tastes better than ever. And it's not just vegans themselves who are going plant-based at brunch. With restaurants getting increasingly creative, vegan dishes are attracting all types of diners and introducing them to the wonders of vegan food. From bakeries and Asian restaurants to pizzerias and fine-dining spots, here are some of the best spots in Wellington for a vegan feed.
203 Cuba Street, Te Aro
A superb brunch spot by day and pizzeria by evening, Nolita has become a favourite for vegans, both new and experienced. At first glance, the brunch menu looks standard, but a closer inspection reveals the clever little touches - think scrambled tofu instead of eggs and carbonara made with house-made cashew parmesan. Vegan pizza has never looked so tempting either, with Nolita’s range served on a delicious sourdough base (gluten-free on request).
99 Manners Street, Te Aro
A true stalwart of Wellington’s vegan scene, Sweet Release is perhaps the most inclusive eatery in the city. In addition to a range of brunch classics and comfort food, all made with a vegan twist, you’ll find a tempting selection of donuts, milk buns, and other treats to hit your sweet spot. All the food here is also nut-free, ensuring allergy requirements are looked after as well.
167 Cuba Street, Te Aro
For those after a rich, hearty Asian meal prepared the vegan way, Aunty Mena’s is a great first port of call. One of Cuba Street’s favourite cheap-and-cheerful restaurants, it’s a go-to spot for plant-based, Southeast Asian-inspired curries, noodles, and more. The laksa here has a place in the hearts of vegans and vegetarians across the city, and the deep-fried entrees are always a crowd-pleaser.
Belén Vegan Bakery
104 Lambton Quay, Wellington Central
Belén is so much more than simply a vegan bakery. Since first appearing on the scene in Wellington, the Lambton Quay outfit has piqued the interest of vegans and the vegan-curious alike - thanks in no small part to its inventive creations, such as its mac and cheese pie. With something for everyone, Belen has both the sweet and savoury bases well-covered, with its famous ‘ham’ and cheese croissant equally as popular as its ever-evolving range of filled donuts.
241 Tinakori Road, Thorndon
For a plant-based dinner served with a side of class, head straight to Hillside Kitchen in Thorndon. Sustainability is at the core of the Hillside ethos, so rest assured the food here is vegetarian (although the team doesn’t like putting such labels on its food). Each visit here treats you to an always-changing set menu, each item prepared lovingly with local foraged ingredients.
117 Lambton Quay, Wellington Central
Located in the heart of the business end of town, Seize is a busy weekday spot that caters mostly to the grab-and-go crowd - although you’re more than welcome to sit and chill in this compact, character-filled cafe. From pick-and-mix salads to raw slices and bliss balls, it’s a fantastic spot to grab a healthy, plant-based lunch or snack on the run.
132 Willis Street, Te Aro
A Willis Street institution, Neo is a lively cafe that bustles with activity all through the week and offers plenty of vegan-friendly options. From classics such as wellness bowls and avo on toast to the Biscoff porridge (made vegan on request), along with a rotating range of fresh cabinet salads, you’ll be spoilt for choice no matter your dietary inclinations.
Mother of Coffee
210A Left Bank, Cuba Street, Te Aro
Tucked away in the ever-popular Left Bank, Mother of Coffee is an Ethiopian restaurant boasting an entire menu dedicated to vegans. It’s definitely worth a trip for those looking for a vegan experience with a difference - take a pal and try the vegan banquet for two, which packs a medley of African flavours served on injera, the famous fermented bread that’s a staple in Ethiopia.
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