The Mornington Peninsula has long been a destination for boozy brewery lunches and meandering winery tours, but in recent years it’s also attracted a new breed of health-conscious, vegan-focused diners.
Kin & Coast’s Bodie Pierce shares some of her must-visit venues, offering creative, plant-based cuisine with a side of wellbeing.
Named after one of the many mountain bike trails opposite this bustling café in Dromana, Wombat offers a range of hearty vegan fare that appeals to both health aficionados and tradies alike. Here you’ll find generous servings of scrambled tofu, spiced lentil nachos, and loaded vegan hotdogs topped with sauerkraut and vegan cheese, alongside house-made Snickers slice or zesty lemon tart. For something less decadent, their Wombat smoothie with bananas, cacao, Medjool dates, and almond milk is the perfect post-trail ride pick-me-up.
A vegan foodie mecca, Store Fifteen offers up boutique coffee, cold-pressed juices, and raw superfoods aplenty. Their house-made almond milk is a labour of love; blended, pressed and squeezed to perfection each day. Superfood smoothies are all dairy-free, as is their protein-packed ‘Power’ porridge, vegan crumpet stack, and acai bowls. While the menu isn’t 100% vegan, there’s something to please everyone at this quaint Mornington eatery – and it always packs a nutritional punch.
Hunter Café & Store
Located behind the dunes of Rye Ocean Beach, you’ll find the idyllic Hunter Café & Store, a vegan haven with a strong focus on community and sustainability. You’ll find their display cabinet stacked daily with grab-and-go homemade vegetable pasties and sausage rolls, rainbow salad wraps and tempting raw desserts, or enjoy a Commonfolk Godfather Espresso Blend latte with their range of plant-based ‘mylks’.
Miss Green is not your average salad bar. Set in the heart of Red Hill, the vegan eatery serves up seasonal produce in the form of salad bowls, nourishing toasts, warming soups, cold-pressed juices, and superfood smoothies; along with coffee by the local legends at Little Rebel Coffee Roasters. Their entire menu is designed to be taken away in sustainable BioPak packaging, or bring your own cup, plate or bowl to save 50c, and the planet.
Assaggini Wine Bar & Restaurant
Assaggini – meaning “a small taste” – is a cosy Italian restaurant and wine bar located just off Main Street, Mornington. As the name suggests, they specialise in share-style dining served with a sophisticated cocktail and wine list. The service is warm and welcoming and the space has a real ambience, with a distinct date night vibe — you can perch at the bar, sink into a lounge chair or spread your meal across one of their softly-lit tables. The chefs kindly offer a separate plant-based menu for vegan diners. If you’re after assaggini, try the pumpkin and pea arancini with vegan aioli or moreish sweetcorn polenta chips. After something more substantial? The mushroom and spinach risotto with vegan mozzarella is a must. Finish off with a vegan chocolate brownie with traditional-style raspberry sorbet. Assaggini is an intimate, seductive taste of Italian contemporary dining that caters to everyone.
Happy Pants 1549
Located on Tyabb’s main drag, you’ll find the light, bright Happy Pants 1549. A health and wellness hub, it houses a plant-based café, yoga studio, and infrared sauna. Here, vegan jaffles come in the sweet or savoury variety; brimming with peanut butter, maple syrup and banana, or loaded with roasted vegetables and creamy cashew feta. Their drinks menu includes a range of specialty superfood lattes and coffee by Little Rebel -— with an optional scoop of medicinal mushroom powder. They also offer wholesome smoothies and raw desserts to boot. Mosey down to Happy Pants 1549 for a dose of endorphins and plant-based serotonin.
Nature Café Bar
Nature Café Bar is a licensed vegan restaurant nestled in one of Frankston’s busiest side streets. The venue proudly offers up plant-based cuisine from breakfast to after-dinner drinks and desserts. The menu is large and varied, and their meals are naturally colourful and deeply nourishing. To accompany your meal, you can choose from their vegan wine list or a kombucha-spiked cocktail. They also offer hard to find FODMAP-friendly options for those with wheat, dairy, and fructose sensitivities. Nature Café Bar is a restaurant you’d expect to find on Brunswick Street, but locals are thrilled to have it in Frankston.
This well-loved Mornington cafe and wellness emporium caters to vegans and non-vegans alike, with a something-for-everyone menu focused on nourishment. Their cabinet is packed with crowd-pleasing salads and satisfying plant-based options, from chia puddings to rustic falafel wraps. Fresh, flavoursome rice paper rolls are also served up daily; though you’ll have to get in fast to nab yourselves some before they sell out. Turmeric lattes and spiced chai are a popular choice post pilates, when the Plover community spills out of the studio and into the café. Have yours with good-for-you vegan muffins, banana breads and cookies by Sweetgreens Bakery, which have earned a cult-like following. The entire menu is designed to dine in or take away, with the option to peruse the shelves of sustainable, minimalist skincare, homewares, and apparel while you wait. Plover remains the Peninsula’s one-stop-shop for all things health, community, and wellbeing.