Gone are the days of plant-based eaters having just one option when they dine out: salad. Instead, vegan restaurants are sprouting up across the country faster than the portobello mushroom for your next vegetarian burger can grow, offering patrons a variety of unique and delicious dishes. Even carnivores can appreciate many of them.
Whether you’re a vegan or are trying to impress some plant-based-eating pals, we’ve found the best high-end and low-end vegan restaurants in Canada’s largest cities. Here are all of our favourites:
Treat Yourself: Acorn
The presentation at Vancouver’s Acorn looks like it deserves a Michelin star. Just look at this black bean and roasted Brussels sprouts dish with a shiitake mushroom sauce, black garlic sesame paste and a fermented black rice crisp on top. Yes, this is vegan, and yes, you’re going to want to try everything else on this carefully curated menu.
Cheap & Cheerful: Virtuous Pie
Most vegans claim that cheese is the hardest food to give up, but Virtuous Pie and its impressive pizza offering makes eating a plant-based slice or two totally enjoyable. There are two locations in Vancouver (one in Chinatown and one at the University of British Columbia campus), where pies start at just $10. There’s wine and kombucha on tap, and they also make their own small-batch ice cream. Why yes, this is the most perfect date night spot.
Cheap & Cheerful: Hearts Choices Thai Vegan Cafe
Six days a week, Hearts Choices Thai Vegan Cafe serves up favourite dishes like satay ‘chick’n’ skewers in a homemade peanut sauce, various curries and, of course, pad thai. The portions are impressive (as are the flavours), but make sure to save room for a slice of cashew ‘cheeze’ cake.
Treat Yourself: The Coup
The Coup serves up breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, but its brekky is a must for dishes like maple seared tempeh with greens, cashew béchamel and macadamia Parmesan served on toasted sourdough alongside rosemary hash browns. They make a mean waffle, too. Considering takeout? Bring your own containers and the restaurant will give you a five percent discount. Save the environment; save some cash.
Cheap & Cheerful: Acorn Café at Generation Green
The newly opened Acorn Café at Generation Green, a vegan grocery store in Winnipeg, is the perfect place to pop into for quick vegan eats. Try the ‘cheezy’ mac, a take on traditional macaroni and cheese, which is gluten-free, dairy-free and animal-free.
Treat Yourself: Boon Burger
Boon Burger doesn’t have just one vegetable-based patty — it has four, made from bases of chickpea, black bean and mushroom. Want fries with that? The eatery also does a stellar poutine. Psst, if you live in Ontario, there are locations in Barrie, Guelph, Burlington and Oakville.
Cheap & Cheerful: Urban Herbivore
Urban Herbivore, which has two locations in downtown Toronto (one in Kensington Market and one in the Eaton Centre), does the most delicious sandwiches and bowls — think Subway-style, where you build your own, but with so much more variety and all-vegan sauces. There seems to be an abundance of toppings, but the ‘cheeze sauce’ (which is house-made) is a must-try for anyone who adores queso.
Treat Yourself: Planta
Sitting pretty on Yorkville’s Bay Street, Planta gives off an airy South Beach vibe the second you step inside. (It makes sense, then, that there’s a second location in Miami.) Choose from a variety of mains, like a spicy buffalo cauliflower burger and fries, but whatever you do, start with the nut-based cheeses that are elegantly presented on a wooden serving board.
Cheap & Cheerful: La Panthère Verte
Known for its house-made falafel, La Panthère Verte has become a staple for Montreal vegans, and with six locations across the city, including one downtown and one in the Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin), there’s really no excuse to not eat plant-based in Montreal. Can all Canadian cities have this vegan chain, please?
Treat Yourself: LOV Restaurant
Going out for brunch can be tough for vegans — most meals include some form of pork, or at the very least, eggs. But on Saturdays and Sundays, LOV caters to the hungry brunch crowd, serving up a variety of plant-based options, like the Lumberjack, which is a hash of breakfast potatoes, lentils, fennel, vegan smoked onion sausage and caper aioli. Also on the menu: mimosas.
Cheap & Cheerful: Wild Leak
Wild Leak does comfort food well. This neighbourhood haunt dishes up vegan breakfast seven days a week, offering local favourites likes the “nomlette,” an egg-free version of an omelette. Arrive with an empty belly because you’ll want to eat a main and finish the experience with a homemade brownie or chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake.
Treat Yourself: enVie
At Halifax’s enVie, everything is made in-house from GMO-free ingredients, plus all produce is sourced locally. Menu items range from light salads and bowls to hearty entrees like pulled BBQ jackfruit and thick and juicy veg burgers topped with havarti ‘cheeze.’ EnVie also offer a variety of charcuterie boards where guests can choose from spreads (like a mushroom pate), as well as proteins (fried ‘chick’n’ and tempeh bacon, for example) and cheeses (yes, vegan blue cheese is a thing).