The Shoalhaven is filled with some of the freshest local produce in NSW, making it easy to find health conscious eateries scattered throughout the region. Dine on some yummy buddha bowls, indulge in a bliss burger or treat yourself to delightful raw vegan sweets - there are plenty of options to choose from. We've popped together a list of our favourite vegetarian, vegan and raw food establishments who serve up creative meat-free masterpieces, all with a side of relaxing South Coast vibes.
1. A Rejuvenating Vegan & Raw Food Retreat
Nourish your body, mind and soul at Back 2 Earth in Berry. Visitors can pop in for just a meal or opt for the full retreat package which includes wellness guidance, massage therapy and an option to add an individualised raw food workshop. Back 2 Earth is a mecca for all plant-based eaters, with dishes on the menu such as vegan Indian curry, raw vegan nachos or rainbow salad wraps. All the meals are raw, which means that the ingredients haven't been heated beyond 46° Celsius in order to pack in the biggest nutrition and flavour punch. The majority of the kitchen's ingredients are grown right there on the farm and the retreat also supports local, organic producers in order to provide only the freshest possible food to diners. Guests will be amazed at the creativity of the raw and vegan cuisine here and will love getting up close and personal with the farm animals at feeding time. There's a complete Noah's Ark at Back 2 Earth, with livestock including mini horses, goats, alpacas, sheep, geese and plenty more!
2. Delicious Wholefood Delights
Overlooking Ulladulla Harbour, Native is a great spot to settle in for amazing coffee and delicious, healthy food. Head here for breakfast or brunch and relax while looking out to all the boats nestled on the water. The café has a super relaxed vibe and the staff embody the essence of chilled out, South Coast hospitality. On the menu, there are many vegetarian options including the chilli eggs, broccoli and quinoa fritters and an ancient grain salad. There are so many amazing, healthy dishes on offer here that you might struggle deciding on what to eat. Our top pick, though, has got to be the scrumptious Açai bowl - loaded with seasonal fresh fruit and tonnes of healthy seeds to fill you up with bucketloads of energy before a full day of exploring. This bowl of goodness comes out looking almost too beautiful to eat!
3. A South Coast Vegetarian Institution
The café favourites we all love, served up with a clean and fresh vegetarian twist. Pilgrims is a hotspot for South Coast vegetarian cuisine and thankfully, there are two locations - one in Huskisson and another further south in Milton. Both venues are often busy, which is an excellent indicator of how great the food is here. The 100% vegetarian menu includes breakfast goodies like buttermilk pancakes, homemade granola bowls plus special Mexican dinner feasts on Saturday nights. For us, though, the lunch menu is where it's at. The bliss burger is a must try, filled with a yummy mixed grain pattie, fried onion, avocado, cheese, tabouli, sprouts, special sauce & peanut sauce. The homemade pies are also a top pick, especially to warm up on those chilly winter days. No matter what you choose, you won't be disappointed - the food at Pilgrims is so fresh and tasty. Vegetarians will love eating here and even the carnivores won't miss the meat!
4. Treats in the Treehouse
A wholefoods café in the heart of Ulladulla that caters to an array of dietary needs. The Treehouse Café has many sweet and savoury options that are vegan, dairy free, gluten free and paleo. The savoury menu includes vegetarian favourites such as a fresh bruschetta or a creative and hearty pumpkin tartine. The shining stars of the Treehouse menu are the raw vegan sweets, though. With decadent concoctions like the lemon and berry raw "cheezecake", the "Grasshopper" peppermint slice or the mango, turmeric and vanilla cheesecake. For that special occasion, book in a five-course degustation dinner and let the experts guide you along a tasty culinary journey. Take a treat to go or settle into the eatery and soak up the cute and quirky atmosphere.
5. Turn Over a New (Vegetarian) Leaf
Enjoy some fresh Asian fusion over at Leaf in Nowra. With a wide-ranging menu that includes your favourite staples like dumplings, stir-fries and baos and noodles, this restaurant is the perfect dinner spot if your friend group includes a combination of meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans. The deep-fried tofu and vegetarian bun entrees will start to whet your appetite before you move onto mains like vegan Tom Yum fried rice or a vegetarian spring roll vermicelli salad. The menu is a little bit Thai, a little bit Vietnamese and a little bit Malaysian, with all flavours combining perfectly to make you feel just like you're dining at a traditional Hawker Market in the middle of South-East Asia.
6. A Vegetarian and Family Friendly Eatery
Take your entire family squad out for breakfast or lunch at Greendales Cafe in the cute, country town of Pyree. The little ones will keep themselves busy in the outdoor play area while mum and dad settle in for a delicious feed in this picturesque country setting. The cafe is surrounded by green, rolling hills and if you're blessed with good weather then we highly recommend dining outside. You can get your traditional café fare here but with a vegetarian and vegan twist. There are many fresh salad options, falafel plates and a vegetarian brekky board that features eggs, feta, asparagus and cherry tomatoes (amongst many other ingredients!) over a piece of yummy local sourdough. The cafe sits inside a historic mill, alongside the Jindyandy Cottages plus many gift and antique stores so make a day of it and take the time to shop and explore.
7. The Perfect Vegan Pitstop
Need a little pick me up to keep fuelling your day's adventures? Grab a freshly made barista coffee and some sweet treats at Craft Surf in Ulladulla. Unwind and nibble on your raw vegan cupcakes on the lovely sun-drenched deck. The café also doubles as a clothing boutique - selling minimalist, beach-inspired essentials from local and international brands so make sure to check out the shop too. The cupcakes here are 100% raw, 100% vegan and 100% scrumptious! The flavours are constantly changing depending on the season but look out for delicious combinations such as the strawberry vanilla, choc peppermint and blueberry vanilla. Spoil your sweet tooth and maybe grab a new coastal outfit to take home as a souvenir.
8. Bunya Wholefoods
You'll find a lot more than ethically sourced wholefoods and dry goods at Bunya Wholefoods in Vincentia. Owner Remi has curated a whole range of zero-waste eco-products to help you reduce your lifestyle footprint too. You'll find this treasure tucked away behind the village near Collingwood Beach and will be inspired to stock up on organic flours, vegan pastas and legumes to cook up back at your accommodation or grab ready to eat treats to pop into your backpack for your next adventure. Check out the skincare and cleaning products too, wellness isn't just about food! Online orders are welcome, and there's even a special doggy parking bay out the front.
9. Vegan and Vegetarian Options Along our Foodie Trail
Download our Foodie Guide for all the info you'll need on farmers markets and local providores, supplying our region with the freshest and most delicious fruit and veg. There are even opportunities to head to a farm gate and even have a go at harvesting your own crop! It's a great way to really see where your food comes from and share an even closer connection to the ingredients we consume. Head to Clyde River Berry Farm to pick berries straight from the bushes or have a go at assisting with the autumn chestnut harvest at Sassafras Nuts. Choosing a few places to stop along this foodie trail is a great way to make your way through the Shoalhaven, stopping, tasting and picnicking as you go.