Fancy eating at Vegie Bar? Then get in line. The 20-year-old establishment is so consistently busy that it’s walk-in only for tables of fewer than six, and waits of an hour or more are not unheard of. Fortunately the staff have a well coordinated system for getting diners in, seated and out again. Names are taken upon arrival, numbered cards assigned and the ravening hordes directed to a very pleasant courtyard, with a large sheltered area and (crucially) a cash-only bar. When a table in one of the dining rooms becomes free its next occupants are found and seated within minutes, almost invariably with a drink already in hand.
The stable-like building, with its high ceilings, concrete floors and brick walls is almost constantly noisy, and odds are you’ll be sitting elbow to elbow with a stranger. The tables are a mix of private and communal, with a handful of long benches for good measure.
Agoraphobics may find the dinnertime rush a little hard to handle, but for most it’s simply part of the experience, and any objections soon melt away when the food arrives. It is, after all, the entire reason for the Vegie Bar’s enduring and occasionally cramping popularity with vegetarians and omnivores alike.
The specials boards are updated frequently and always worth the time to read – perennial favourites on the regular menu include deep-fried mushrooms stuffed with tofu and feta, a bean burrito served with the works, and some mighty fine vegetarian pizzas for under a tenner.
A wide range of smoothies is available and the courtyard and restaurant bars are both well stocked with local and international beers and wines. Even the house recommendations are perfectly respectable. All told, Vegie Bar is worth the wait.