Drifting back to my hometown Adelaide for a couple months between travels, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how sustainably minded South Australian’s have become, and an exciting vegan movement taking the city by storm. By pure luck, Daniel and I happened to be in the city for the weekend of the Vegan Festival, joining in the celebrations and circumnavigating town for the best Vegan Gains on offer. Here are our favourites:
CAFES AND RESTAURANTS
Two Bit Villains
We heard about this funky soda bar and vegan burger joint through the Vegan Festival, and set about exploring the menu, which to our surprise was loaded with fake meat burgers and vegan milkshakes. Perched atop Rundle Mall on the second floor of Adelaide’s iconic Rundle Arcade, Two Bit Villains hand makes easily the best vegan burgers in Adelaide, and the most likely to convert a meat-eater to go plant-based. After a couple of visits and sampling a good chunk of the menu, our favourites are the Picante Burger special, the El Bandido Burger with vegan cheese, and the Villains’ Classic Veggie Burger; definitely add onion rings on the side. The hand-crafted Botanical Sodas are an all-natural sparkling side kick, but if you’re keen to really indulge we highly recommend the choc-peanut thick shake done on soy.
Not a café as such, but rather an all-inclusive store on Goodwood Road just out of the CBD. This large shopfront is packed with vegan products, books, cosmetics, cleaning products, and a yummy selection of bakery items, our favourite treat the coconut whip ice cream with vegan chocolate sauce. The owners also have an animal sanctuary Freedom Hill Sanctuary, and the public can sponsor rescued farm animals via their online website.
Cruelty Free Bakery ‘Cherry Darlings’
Missing our tram stop one day, we jumped off at Forestville ready to backtrack to Goodwood when our eyes met with the sign ‘Cruelty Free Bakery’ and we marched right through the doors. What a find! The kids were falling over backwards for the ‘snackers’ donuts and vegan sausage rolls, whilst Daniel got stuck into the great range of freshly baked pies; all vegan and our top bakery picks for our kids who are still transitioning to a plant-based diet.
Raj on Taj
Not a vegan restaurant per say, but Raj on Taj has been my favourite Indian restaurant for decades, and since being back home to visit as a vegan I was pleasantly surprised to discover how accommodating the staff were for vegans, suggesting the best options on the menu and even altering some dishes to ensure they were dairy free. Meals are flavoursome and filling, our best Indian pick in greater Adelaide for vegans.
Goodies and Grains
I’ve been visiting the Central Markets on Gouger Street since I was four years old, worked in the centre bar Aces during my university days, and now back as a vegan mother I’m so delighted to confirm the markets are better than ever and a great family outing for vegans. Goodies and Grains stocks a huge range of natural products in bulk, from grains, legumes, flours, nuts, and seeds, to protein powders, muesli mixes, oils, vinegars, tofu, tempeh, cashew cheeses and more, with juices made to order at the main counter. Adjacent to the bulk foods store is their corner café, a place we’ve sampled much of the menu now, particularly the vegan cakes, pots of teas, and sustaining smoothies. Daniel’s number one menu winner is the Amazonia acai bowl smoothie, so much so he vows to order one of these before lunch, because he can’t wait til dessert.
ON THE SIDE
Not a shopfront, but by far the most exciting find in my opinion at the Vegan Festival. Aqua Botanicals are revolutionising the way we hydrate ourselves, minimizing the impact on the planet at the same time. The world’s first water sourced entirely from fruit and vegetables, they produce fresh water from filtering and mineralising the aqueous liquid from the leftover juice concentrate discarded by juice producers. Whilst I am not a fan of buying water due to the impact of the bottled water industry on the environment, I dislike more my family consuming the fluoride found in Adelaide tap water. AB’s water comes in recyclable glass bottles and is doing a favour to the environment, so it’s our water of choice now and you can discover their full story online.
What can I say…a family hit! Thank you Vegan Festival Adelaide for bringing so many amazing vendors together in Victoria Square. Loca Pops are made in the Mexican tradition of la paleta, a fruit based iceblock using fresh, local ingredients, of which Loca Pops source theirs only from locally grown fruits and herbs found in South Australia. Their environmental practices include onsite composting of all their fruit and waste, and pop wrappers from market and festival stalls are kept by the producers and sent away in bulk for recycling. The wooden pop sticks are produced from Australian certified plantation growth, retail packaging is paper based made and printed in SA, and the team works with Minda Inc. on packaging to support “people with intellectual disabilities on their journey towards enriched lives with greater community participation and contribution.” The latter was a bonus discovery for me, who was simply mindblown by how yummy the natural ice blocks were, as my cousin is intellectually handicapped. It’s great to see local businesses holding environmental and social ethics at their core.
And just out of town, in Pt Lincoln...
The Rogue and Rascal
Ok so it’s a fair drive, let’s say around seven hours from Adelaide, but if you’re venturing over to the Eyre Peninsula as we did, you’ll want to drop into Pt Lincoln’s thriving café The Rogue and Rascal. Not all items on the menu are vegan, but they certainly offer a good spread, and the vegan gains we sampled were A-grade. Daniel, in true form, opted for the acai bowl, whilst I went for a hummus and mushroom bagel, and the kids split a vegan banana and cinnamon smoothie. In hindsight I should’ve asked for a side of avocado to smear on top of the bagel as the hummus was a little strong for me, but after a week of camping in the desert these were some serious gains, and the almond chai tea also got my tick of approval.
Find Adelaide Maps, Vegan Books and more below: