Updated: Mar 15, 2019
Pizza, curry, tacos, burritos, plant based burgers and soooo much more! Who says vegan food has to be all salads and sadness?! Most folks head to Queenstown to go big! Big excitement, big thrills and big scenery, so naturally we also want the flavours in our food to be BIG! In this article I'm going to be looking at 13 Queenstown restaurants making amazing vegan friendly food and give you the lowdown on what to try at each one!
The Queenstown Vegan Scene
There's a bit of a running joke about New Zealand being stuck 20yrs behind the rest of the world due to how remote we are, and that's fine with us! There's something comforting about things being simpler and slower down this way and once you are here I guarantee you will grow to love it too. However, there are a few aspects to modern day society I wish we were a little more caught up on. One of those being vegan food options. As a vegan (Haha, I know I just told you I was a vegan with out you asking, but you've seen the title of this article, don't pretend like you weren't expecting it), in recent years I have watched with pure joy as the rest of the world quickly embraced the movement and veganism grew to record numbers worldwide. However, it would seem like every five minutes I was being bombarded with social media content showing off all the amazing plant based food that was being created in the U.S., U.K., Israel, Australia etc, however none of it was to be seen here in Queenstown... until now! Over the last 12 months there has been a really strong shift towards veganising the menus of a number of restaurants and cafés around town as they cater to the growing demand for meat-free, egg-free and dairy-free dishes.
The following venues will have you indulging in amazing vegan food without the worry of being met with a blank stare upon ordering or being asked by the staff if using fish sauce would still count as being vegan...
This place oozes cool! Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, live concerts and events, Yonder has it going on! So it's only natural that a place this rad will have a menu stacked with tasty vegan options. From pancakes to bao buns to sweets, everything in this place is super delicious! As I have to make one recommendation, right now I'm hooked on the jalapeno corn fritters (on the brunch menu). Packed with such great flavours, it's literally happiness on a plate!
2. Farelli's Trattoria
Located in the Steamer Wharf (where the T.S.S. Earnslaw departs from), Farelli's is self described as "simple, casual and rustic Italian style dining at its best" and they sure have that right! One of the few (and first) restaurants in town to offer a full vegan menu alongside their regular one, you can be sure you won't be limited on choice. Chat to the staff when you are there as they also have a range of vegan wines on offer to cap off the authentic Italian dining experience. It's good old Italian food just the way mama used to make it! So try the pasta. Try the pizza. Try the antipasto, you won't go wrong.
3. Bespoke Kitchen
Come for the coffee, stay for the cakes! Bespoke Kitchen is one of my favourite wee spots to get a delicious hot cup of happy juice. And what would a coffee be if you can't get something sweet to go along with it. For too long now, us vegans have been made to watch in envy as our non-veegs sisters and brothers have had unlimited options for biscuits, cakes and treats to go along with their tea and coffee. Well, that all ends now! Bespoke offers an assortment of slices, cakes, bagels all in vegan-friendly forms. For the perfect coffee accompaniment, grab yourself a vegan Cherry Ripe or Bounty slice.
4. Lord Of The Fries
Can we get an 'amen' for vegan junk food! This is one of the newest additions to the Queenstown food scene having only opened in winter '18. If you have never come across LOTF before, it's an ethical fast food chain originating from across the ditch in Melbs (that's Melbourne for those of you playing at home), that as the name suggest makes amazing fries as well as burgers, nuggets, hot dogs and shakes that are all vegan and delicious! Now, we aren't saying that just because it's vegan it must be healthy, but what could be better after smashing some downhill mountain biking or summiting Ben Lomond than devouring a burger or feasting on a mountain of golden potato sticks in a picturesque setting. I like the hot things in life so my suggestion is the Spicy Burger and subbing in a Beyond Meat patty to really take things to the next level.
The aptly named Halo (located next to the town church) is living up to its name by pushing the boundaries on creating some of Queenstown's most inspired and creative vegan dishes. Although not a strictly vegan restaurant, the menu is loaded with so many delicious options that it will have you worshiping at the feet of thy food's creators! At the time of writing, Halo also has a weekly vegan night held on Tuesdays and a vegan fish & chips Fridays. I'd recommend getting yourself to one of these whilst you are here. Booking is recommended and it would be worth checking out their Facebook page for details on how to book!
6. World Bar
World Bar is a Queenstown institution! You can think of this place as Yonder's older and looser (*not loser!) brother. It's no wonder this place has lasted so long...food good, drinks good, vibes good. Yeah, it's good! Whether you are heading there for lunch or dinner, the menu offers a bunch of vegan delights that are sure to satisfy even the meatiest of eaters. I recommend the Korean BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Burger or Kimchi Loaded Fries.
7. Taco Medic
Who says you can't find good Mexican food outside of California (or... I guess Mexico, too)? Taco Medic is the real deal! All fresh local ingredients and tortillas that are made from 100% pure Mexican corn flour, the tacos from this 'hole in the wall' joint will have you itching for your next hit (and don't even get us started on their homemade hot sauces!). Not specifically vegan, however the vegetarian taco 'The Producer' can be made vegan on request without compromising any of the delicious flavour. Plus the chips & dips rock and will cure any hangover.
8. My Thai
Got a hankering for some delicious Thai food? With a full vegetarian menu (much of which is also vegan) and epic views looking over the Queenstown wharf, My Thai is where you want to be. Curries, spring rolls and fresh salads, this place is guaranteed to hit the spot and not burn a hole in your wallet. For fried tasty Thai goodness try the Coconut Tempeh or for something a bit more fresh then check out the Summer Rolls.
On a basic level I guess you could describe Bazaar as a buffet, but in reality it is so much more. It's probably best being self-described as an 'interactive marketplace'. Located in the Rydges Hotel on the lakefront, it also offers incredible views over Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. You will be forgiven for not noticing the scenery past the mountains of food on offer. When you first arrive the host will show you around the food stations and explain how it all works and where everything is. It's at this stage that you tell them you are vegan and they will fill you in on all the options available and introduce you to the different chefs who will be able to whip up something special for you on request. Last time I was there this was a bowl of freakishly chicken-like Cauliflower 'Wings'.
*Avoid 'Smokehouse Sundays' for obvious reasons.
*There is a meat station that may be rather confronting for some vegans, so if this is something you can't handle then this might not be the place for you.
10. Saigon Kingdom
Serving up authentic and delicious Vietnamese cuisine from two locations around Queenstown, Saigon Kingdom has made sure to add about ten different vegan dishes to their regular menu. Most of the dishes are based around tofu which works great for me as I can't seem to get enough of this magical soy sponge. And for all of you haters of the curdy beans, I say you just haven't had it done right. So do yourself a big favour and let the team at this place hit you with some flavour. My all-time go to dish would be the Lemongrass & Chilli Tofu but honestly, you can't go wrong here.
11. Stacks Pub
One of the newest locations to add a fully veganised menu to their regular lineup, Stack's Pub over at the Hilton Hotel is a bit further to reach from town but definitely worth the trip. You can actually take the Queenstown Ferry from the wharf in town almost directly to the front door of the pub (just up the flight of stairs when you get off). Stacks' menu is stacked full of traditional pub style grub to get your mouth watering while you check out the awesome views of the Lake away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown. For all you fun guys out there I say try the Mushroom Bruschetta.
12. Café Society
Also located out of the town center, this café can be found at Five Mile Shopping complex out by Frankton. Not only do they do a mean cuppa, they also have a fully designated Vegan Menu on offer with such tasty delights as açai smoothie bowls, falafel burgers and avacado hash. Despite all these being amazing I would recommend the Vegan Society Breakfast (big breakfast style) for a hearty feed.
13. Blue Kanu
One of the funkiest and tastiest eateries in QTown, Blue Kanu takes the best of Polynesian and Asian cuisine to create an epic fusion known as 'Polynasian'. This is another one of those places where if you let the waitstaff know you are vegan, they will come through with the goods and suggest which dishes are suitable/can be veganised for you. If you are coming as a group of more than two people, make a reservation and let them know in advance you are vegan and want to try the 'Trust the Wok' - a selection of four courses of the chef's faves. *Make sure to give them 24hr notice on this so they can prep some tasty plant based treats for you.
So there we have it - my top 13 vegan eats in Queenstown. Let me know if you stumble across any other gems while you're here. Peas out.