Macau is a fascinating place to visit. With its Portuguese colonial buildings, Macanese cuisine, and flashy casinos, there’s so much to experience.
You can spend time walking through the winding streets, visiting European-style churches, relaxing in Buddhist temples, or wandering through fancy casinos and luxury shops.
It’s not an overly vegan-friendly city. Restaurants are expensive; the cuisine is mostly meat-based; and English menus aren’t available everywhere. The most famous Macanese foods are egg tarts, pork chop buns, and sawdust pudding – none of which are suitable for vegans, sadly. And if you’re travelling with omni eaters, it can be tricky finding places where everyone can order something they enjoy.
Fortunately, you can find good, affordable food if you know where to go! Here’s 3 places I visited recently that I recommend checking out.
Only minutes away from Senado Square, Puffin Café is a small, healthy café with adorable puffin decor. Their menu is extensive – they offer soups, sandwiches, salads, and pastas. For a non-vegan restaurant, I was surprised by how many vegan options they had available, as well as dishes that could be veganized upon request.
They have a build-your-own-sandwich with many vegan options, as well as fresh juices and smoothies. I ordered the Vegan Panini, Soup of the Day, and Raspberry Soy Milk Smoothie. I asked the server if she was actually sure the soup was vegan (it was pumpkin) and she reassured me that her husband and daughter are vegan, so she could guarantee that it indeed was.
The panini was HUGE, perfectly toasted, with a super tasty sauce. The veggies were grilled and I added avocado for an extra $12. The bread was fresh and hearty, and I was extremely full after eating it. The pumpkin soup was smooth, with a hint of basil, and had olive oil drizzled over top. The smoothie was more like a milkshake than a smoothie – thick, creamy, and slightly sweet.
This is a fantastic and cozy place to visit for lunch, with cute décor, friendly staff, and tasty, healthy food. Be aware that during peak hours it can get quite packed.
Puffin Café, 12 Rua de Santa Antonio, Macau
Tapas de Portugal
My friend and I both wanted to try Portuguese food, but I was wary of finding a place with anything suitable for vegans. Tapas de Portugal, however, was a fantastic choice – with an entire vegetarian section clearly labelled.
Located next to the famous Michelin-starred and celebrity chef restaurant Antonio, this tapas restaurant is a slightly more affordable version of the delicious food the main restaurant has to offer. Situated in the picturesque Taipa village, about a 20 minute walk from the casino strip, this place is perfect for a quiet dinner. There’s the option of sitting on the balcony or in the small indoor seating area. Everything in this restaurant is incredibly Portuguese – from the décor to the wine list.
I indicated to the server that I was vegan, but I believe most things are cooked in olive oil instead of dairy regardless. They brought fresh bread rolls before the meal, and gave us oil and vinegar instead of the usual butter, which I thought was especially considerate.
There was no problem when the food arrived. I ordered the Avocado with Stuffed Mushrooms, which was incredibly flavourful. The mushrooms were very garlicky, and the avocado was absolutely perfect, not too soft and not too hard (we all know how much a gross avocado can ruin a good meal!)
I also tried the Spaghetti with Assorted Vegetables, which normally I wouldn’t order since it sounds quite boring, but I’m very happy I did. The pasta was thick and perfectly cooked; the vegetables were crunchy; and the sauce was delightfully savoury and full of flavour. This dish was so big — we didn’t finish it between the two of us.
Finally, I ordered the Patatas Bravas, since I can’t resist a good fried potato! If you’ve ever ordered these at a tapas restaurant before, you’ll know that these are simply fried potatoes, usually served with a non-vegan sauce. Indeed, this version was no different, but I absolutely love the texture of the crunchy fried outside with the soft, warm inside of the potato. They happily brought a vegan tomato sauce when I requested it.
The price point is slightly above average – but the food is incredibly good. There were many other veggie options such as sautéed vegetables and salads that I didn’t get a chance to try, but definitely will in the future. I also enjoyed the beautiful location. Walking through the lovely Taipa village with full bellies was a nice post-dinner treat.
Tapas de Portugal, Rua dos Clerigos No.9, Taipa, Macau
On Thai Loi
This place is a bit difficult to find, since it’s quite far away from the touristy areas and hidden behind a small playground. This all-vegan Thai restaurant (it doesn’t say “vegan” or “vegetarian” anywhere, but don’t worry, it is!) has an extensive menu. You can tell that they don’t get many tourists there, which is a shame because the food is inexpensive and hearty.
Thai cuisine itself is quite vegan-friendly to begin with, so my omni companion didn’t mind coming here at all. There’s also a lot of mock meats in the food. We decided to order the Red Curry Chicken with Potatoes, and rice on the side. The portion was very big – we could only finish half of it between the two of us! With lots of fresh chillies, potatoes, baby corn, and mock chicken, it’s definitely a hearty meal. Just be aware that it’s extremely spicy – we requested “mild” but our noses were still running while eating this.
I asked if they had Pad Thai, but since this is a Chinese version of Thai cuisine, they didn’t have authentic Pad Thai. The server recommended the Thai Style Fried Rice Noodles with Seafood, however, which had a sauce that reminded me of Pad Thai, and was served with fresh lime and peanuts. Again, the portion was enormous and we couldn’t finish it all. The mock seafood was incredibly fishy tasting.
Although this restaurant isn’t super fancy, the food is cheap and filling. The staff are really nice (they refused a tip when we left one!) and they have an extensive English menu. For all the food we ordered and tea, it came to only $116 MOP. I would definitely come back here again if I was staying in the city longer or travelling on a budget.
On Thai Loi, Edificio Man Lei, Rua Quattro Do Bairro da Areia Preta 18-20, Macau
Macau can be accessible and affordable for vegans and their omni companions, if you know where to go. I hope you can try these places in the future and experience some of the deliciousness Macau has to offer.