Vegetarian options
for Johnston St
Johnston St in the afternoon Johnston St in the afternoon Sara Bosch

There is a common belief that all Spanish food is based on meat. We've all heard about the delicious hams, the community surrounding the seafood paella, the heavenly chorizo... but what is available for us vegetarians and vegans?

I set out on Johnston Street, Fitzroy, armed only with a hungry belly and a craving for tapas, and found that there is more than meets the eye in modern day Spanish cuisine.

Naked for Satan
First stop is Naked for Satan, a reasonably new pintxos and vodka bar which resides just shy of Johnston, at 285 Brunswick St. This San Sebastián-inspired bar, serves an eclectic range of pintxos – a regional version of the tapa consisting of a thick slice of crunchy baguette, which can be accompanied by any number of delicious toppings, which is then crucially held in place by a toothpick. And of the 15 or so pintxos being offered on the day, half were vegetarian or vegan! I carefully selected two:

  • The crumbed and lightly fried eggplant chip with a base of blue cheese
  • Rice ball atop cream cheese, dill and quince paste

Delicious. NFS have also kept the San Sebastián tradition of paying 'per toothpick': keep your toothpicks in a little container as you eat, and pay later for the amount you've stashed! And if you're looking for a really good deal, come here Mon-Fri lunchtime, or Mon-Wed dinner and pay only 80 cents apiece, instead of the usual $2!

Colmao Flamenco
Just up the road at 72 Johnston St is Colmao Flamenco, which holds live music on the weekends in a formal restaurant setting. There are five vegetarian tapas options on the menu, as well as some yummy looking salads and entrees. I spoke to Miryam who tells me that Colmao also run a special summer menu which boasts refreshing salads and bocadillos (baguette-like rolls), which you can munch on while checking out a traditional Flamenco show.

Best picks off the menu?

  • Espinacas Catalanas: wilted spinach with pine nuts, raisins and onion
  • Champinoñes Maytip: whole mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, oregano and white wine

Los Amates Mexican Kitchen
The whole restaurant oozes a cool Friday-night-local vibe, and welcomes you as soon as you step inside. The menu is simply full of vegetarian and gluten-free options, as each dish has a vegetarian alternative. The manager, Arturo, was also a vegetarian himself for five years, and didn't need much prompting when it came to food; he is passionate about sharing the healthy, fresh cuisine that he knew of Mexico.

The most popular dish is the 'enchiladas vegetarianas' which come with a choice of home-made mole, salsa roja o salsa verde.

The whole menu looked incredible, and I can't wait to try it all. I even went across the road to Casa Iberica Deli to buy a few of their salsas to take home, as well as some Chilean caramel biscuits to munch on the tram home.

My verdict?
If you're looking for some real, authentic and delicious tasting Spanish or Mexican food - whether you're a vegetarian, vegan, or just looking for something new - there is a little something for everyone on Johnston St.

Daisy Wallace

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