Vancouver foodie guide: local vegan guide
From vegan pizza to squash custard, it’s all about plant-based cuisine in this chilled Canadian city
Looking for vegan restaurants in Vancouver? Want to know where to eat in Vancouver? Local food writer Elizabeth Emery shares her insider tips for the best restaurants in Vancouver, along with where to find the best vegan pizza, vegan ice cream and vegan comfort food.
The Acorn – best vegetarian fine dining in Vancouver
Head to The Acorn for vegetarian fine dining. Go early to get a table, then order a round of craft cocktails and dishes such as kelp salt-roasted king oyster mushrooms. If you can’t get in, try The Arbor, its younger, more casual spin-off a few doors down.
Umaluma Gelato – best vegan ice cream in Vancouver
The organic coconut-milk-based ices at Umaluma Gelato are a must. Try Drunken Cherry, with bourbon-soaked Sicilian cherries and pecans roasted in black pepper and lemon zest; or Panda, a moreish mix of vanilla, chocolate ganache and activated charcoal.
Virtuous Pie – best vegan pizza in Vancouver
Fast, delicious and affordable are the operative words at Virtuous Pie, a vegan pizza joint with two outlets in the city. Order the Ultraviolet Pizza, with walnuts, arugula pesto, cashew mozzarella, oven-dried tomatoes, kale, caramelised onions and pine nuts, or look out for specials on pizza and beer.
Heirloom – best for contemporary vegetarian and vegan dining
After a morning hike, soaking up Pacific mountain scenery and sea air, refuel at Heirloom with mimosas and the signature Heirloom Hash, an energising mix of courgette, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, almond and coriander purée, hash browns and either poached eggs or tofu.
Blue Heron Creamery – best for vegan cheese
Chef Karen McAthy is an authority on plant-based cheese-making and runs courses on it. If you just want to buy the stuff, head to her shop, Blue Heron Creamery (open Saturdays only), for 100% vegan cheeses. Smoke ’n’ Spice and almond ricotta are favourites.
Nuba – best for vegetarian and vegan Lebanese cuisine
A well-loved Vancouver chain with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, Nuba serves colourful Lebanese dishes in a relaxed but trendy setting. The signature dish is Najib’s Special (crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt, and accompanied by a dollop of tahini) but it also does well priced meze-style plates.
Meet – best for vegan comfort food
The three branches of Meet now put vegan twists on comfort food staples: try a double-double burger (with vegan cheese and coconut bacon), or the mac ’n’ cheez bowl (macaroni with cashew ‘cheez’ sauce, ‘rawmesan’, spring onions and a sprinkle of smoked salt).
Vegan Pudding & Co – best for vegan desserts
Seek out Vegan Pudding & Co’s little hole-in-the-wall storefront to try one of its signature Japanese-style ‘custard’ puddings. Made from kabocha squash and coconut sugar, they’re deliciously creamy and sweet but dairy-free. Flavours include black sesame, matcha and chocolate, but the original vanilla version is the most popular.
Chau Veggie Express – best for plant-based dishes
Family-run Chau Veggie Express focusses on fresh, colourful, plant-based dishes at both its branches. Try the Diving for Pearls Broth (with rice noodles, lychee-date broth, organic tofu and kale), or the dairy-free coconut pandan leaf and kale ice cream.
Bandidas Taqueria – best for Mexican-inspired dishes
A much-loved Mexican-inspired vegetarian restaurant, Bandidas Taqueria makes everything from scratch (including its tortillas). Try Dave’s Enchilada, with smoky-sweet chipotle tofu, and a hibiscus tequila lemonade.
Five coffee shops and bakeries in Vancouver
Pure bread – for cakes
As with any self-respecting Northwest Pacific city coffee is treated with an almost religious fervor at Pure Bread in Gastown. Dear lord – the cakes (try one of their heavenly brown sugar apple cream puffs)!
Revolver – for coffee
At drop-dead-cool Revolver, intent chaps stir and brew in a long and narrow store with more than a touch of the science lab. You can order coffee in flights – of beans, or brewing methods – and it's very good indeed.
Beaucoup Bakery – for baked goods
For 49th Parallel coffee with award-winning almond croissants or peanut butter sandwich cookies try food writer Jackie Ellis’ ravishing Beaucoup Bakery.
East Van Roasters – for chocolate and coffee
East Van Roasters is part of the Rainier Hotel, a women’s refuge in Downtown Eastside. A beautiful little room - half café, half chocolate factory - it employs women from the Rainier to help make ambrosial bean-to-bar chocolate, single-origin drinking chocolate, truffles, even couverture for other chocolatiers. Plus coffee.
Uva – for cocktails
Vancouver is huge on cocktails: award-winning mixologist Lauren Mote at Uva serves flawlessly mixed, velvety Charentes Chanson (cognac, craft-distilled raspberry eau de vie, vermouth and chocolate bitters) and Amphibious cocktails (spiced rum, chartreuse, red berry syrup, moondog bitters and fresh espresso).
WHERE TO STAY IN VANCOUVER
Doubles at the Listel Hotel (which offers vegan breakfasts, including steel-cut oats with quinoa, flax and cinnamon cashew froth) start at £99, room only (thelistelhotel.com).
More info: tourismvancouver.com
Elizabeth Emery is a food blogger specialising in plant-based food and travel. She has lived in Vancouver for five years (vancouverwithlove.com).
Images by J Marigomen, Chloe Elgar, Christine McAvoy & Elizabeth Emery