The Middle Eastern flavours at ZA ZA TA Brisbane are a top choice when you are looking for the best vegetarian in Brisbane with an emphasis on farm-to-table produce. It’s so delicious and filling and perfect for anyone who wants a plant-based diet, vegetarian or vegan dining in Brisbane.
Zucchini Baba. Photo: Kerry Heaney
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ZA ZA TA in the Fortitude Valley Emporium complex is an interesting Tel Aviv-inspired bar offering cuisine influenced by Middle East along with Mediterranean-style food and drink. The Middle East is the place where the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa intersect with cultural influences from a melting pot of ancient civilizations. It’s the sort of food you might expect when travelling in Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.
You are right if you think hummus and falafel, but there’s so much more, and you’ll see the best of it on the vegetarian menu at ZA ZA TA. The menu uses locally sourced produce to create humble and wholesome dishes packed with wood-smoked charcoal flavours.
Vegan diners can enjoy ZA ZA TA’s ‘Garden Menu’ which is full of plant-based delights. It brings the same ethos of ethical eating and conscious cuisine, celebrating the very best of vibrant vegetarian and cutting-edge veg with a completely animal-free, plants only focus. This includes dishes like ZA ZA TA’s favourite Sliverbeet & Cheese Börek Fingers and Heirloom Tomato which is served with vegan cheese.
You’ll find it on the Wickham Street corner entrance of the Emporium complex in Fortitude Valley, next to Ovolo The Valley.
Eggplant h’raime, yellow tomato gazpacho, tahini, and spring bean salad. Photo Kerry Heaney
At the helm is Chef Michael Jackson (previously NuNu Restaurant, Palm Cove, Cairns) joins ZA ZA TA as the new Head Chef. Specialising in farm-to-table food, Chef Jackson says he is eager to bring diners the soulful vibe of Tel Aviv alive through a modern-twist to centuries-old flavours for which ZA ZA TA is so well known.
The menu features standout exotic newcomers such as Chili Haloumi Savoury Doughnuts with Pomegranate and Chilli Jam as well as ‘Batta Harra’ Crispy Chili Potatoes with Coriander and Toum. Do try the Crunchy Fermented Seasonal Veg with Nana and Cultured Cream Dip and the Spiced Antipasti with Grilled Haloumi and Wild Rocket.
Also highly recommended is a serve of Zucchini Baba which is vegan and gluten-free. This is a blend of creamy smokey eggplant loaded with zucchini. Don’t skip the silverbeet and feta börek fingers either. The pastry is stretched paper-thin and includes a blend of high-quality European cheese, spinach and cultured butter, folded-in, shaped, then cut into fingers for easy sharing.
Chef Michael Jackson
On the small plates menu, I tried the hummus umami with abalone mushroom shawarma and semolina pita. I’ve had plenty of hummus over the years, but this didn’t remind me of any of them. Taking the hummus to a whole new level were the meaty abalone mushrooms. Combining it all on the freshly baked mini pitas was a delicious mouthful.
Don’t miss the Yemenite butter bread with ox heart tomato and zhug chilli. These tiny scrolls of buttery bread that also come with a dipping sauce are a must-have whether you’re dining in the restaurant or at the bar.
Best vegetarian in Brisbane
Further down the menu, larger dishes include Middle Eastern dumplings including Shish Barak (pumpkin) from Lebanon with sweet and sour flavours. The Manti Dumplings (lentil and mushroom) from Turkey give way to smokey and creamy flavours. Woodfire and charcoal create a meaty Oyster Mushroom Shish cooked on a robata grill and there is also Eggplant H’raime. This is a rustic Moroccan slow-cooked dish that’s big in flavour and rich in spices. It is served with a vibrant tomato salad to balance the dish with herbs and aromatic fragrances,
ZA ZA TA’s Queensland-inspired décor
Inspired by the Tel Aviv dining scene, award-winning Sydney-based interior designers Luchetti Krelle created a casual, atmospheric dining setting. Think Victorian conservatories leading onto nooks filled with 1940s cocktail glamour.
The Conservatory is the largest dining space. It has a tessellated tile floor and ceiling with painted trellis panelling. The wrought iron furniture has soft velvet upholstery, and there is a vintage kitchen box bench seat at the central communal table.
The concept combines details from traditional Queenslander architecture (think fretwork arches and silky oak doors with leadlight inserts), with a layered Victorian-inspired interior. It’s friendly décor, similar to what you might find in someone’s luxurious home, but on a restaurant scale.
On the Wickham Street end of the restaurant sits The Parlour, a nostalgic bar with a 1940s cocktail feel. The Library, located at the rear behind reclaimed leadlight doors, is a space for lounging. It features Lacroix carpet (Eddy eat your heart out) with an over-scaled Persian pattern and eclectic vintage furniture sourced from all over Queensland.
What you need to know about ZA ZA TA
ZA ZA TA is open for dinner from 5:30 pm, Thursday to Saturday. It is a good choice if you are looking for a vegetarian or vegan restaurant in Brisbane or prefer gluten-free options.
Parking is available in the Emporium complex although it can be competitive and limited, depending on the time. Street parking is available after 7 pm (there is a Clearway between 4 pm and 7 pm) and there are a couple of parking stations close by.
Find it at 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley.
The Ovolo Fortitude Valley is right next door if you want to linger longer.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Ovolo Hotel.