I don’t really miss meat. And if you look around, meat substitutes have come a long, long way! The Beyond Burger took Canada by storm last year, and it’s been a really exciting development in the vegan/vegetarian space, though I, personally, am not a huge fan. They are so much like meat! Too much so for me.
But there are a few things I sometimes still get cravings for that are hard to find good substitutes for. Bacon, for example (I pick up MorningStar whenever I’m south of the border), chicken and waffles (I had an okay vegan version last year in Toronto) and chicken wings.
There’s something about a plateful of spicy wings with a creamy dressing and a beer… it’s feel good food, and meant to be shared with a friend.
So, I set out to research who had the best vegan wings in Vancouver.
The good news is, lots of restaurants are hopping on this particular bandwagon, even chains.
I should just say that the vegan wing trade is divided into two camps: Cauliflower and Soy. Cauliflower makes a perfect substitute for chicken wings. It’s exactly the right size and shape, and is still hearty and strong enough to stand up to a good beer-battering and deep-fry. The other alternative (I’ve tried these and prefer the cauliflower) is a soy version, wrapped around a wooden stick. You can buy these frozen from Happy Veggie World, and they look much more “authentic” than the cauliflower version.
Okay, let’s go!
Vegan Wings in Vancouver
My number one pick for vegan wings in Vancouver is MeeT. They have two locations, Main St and Gastown, and this is a winning combination. They start with cauliflower, beer-batter it, deep fry it, and then serve it to you on a plate doused in thai chili sauce. I could eat this for days.
What’s Up Hot Dog?
This little hole-in-the-wall in East Van hosts a weekly vegan wing night on Mondays. Get there early, there’s a lineup and for good reason. A basket of vegan wings is just $5, and there are 10 varieties to choose from; from plain to sweet to set-your-mouth-on-fire to Asian-inspired. It’s the best deal in town, and it’s also the best variety, but i do notice that the quality of the wings can vary.
I have long loved Panz since it was located in the West End, but it’s now relocated to Frasier St. I was always so impressed by how yummy the food was and how meat-like they were able to get some of the textures. Both 3G and Panz serve the soy version of the vegan wings, so hit them up if you want to try this option.
Earl’s is a pretty big, mid-priced chain, and they are really making an effort to include more plant-based meals on their menu. To me, this makes sense. It’s a popular and easy destination for groups of friends, so by including vegan options, they make themselves more open. Their cauliflower wings were tasty, sauced very reminiscent of a traditional buffalo wing.
This food truck (you can mostly find it near the new Emily Carr/MEC campus just off Main St) is run by Chef Thibault, and everything on his truck is at least vegetarian, if not vegan. This is a sweeter vegan wing, cauliflower-based. They also host beer and wing nights on Wednesdays at the food truck commissary in the Industrial park just off Main St.
This Twin-Peaks themed bar on Broadway just off Main is warm and charming. I’ve been for drinks and quite enjoyed it, but I haven’t yet been back for their seitan drumsticks.
I’ve long been a fan of Rachel Zottenberg. This tattooed badass is behind a few of my fave eateries in the city, all of which have yummy vegan options. The Rumpus Room, The Narrow, and newly-opened Key Party are all great examples of places that make eating fun and communal. The Emerald has two cauliflower-based wing options on their happy hour menu: a spicy szechuan, cooled by an accompanying blue cheese dip, and an Asian-inspired version with a peanut sauce (sauces may not be vegan–be sure to ask).
Bonus: The Stranger Wings Pizza from Virtuous Pie. Okay, okay, it’s not vegan wings per se… but it is, hands down, my favourite pie in the city. It’s basically vegan wings on a pie, with a blue cheese drizzle, on top of a supremely perfect pizza crust. If you haven’t tried this pizza yet, get the to a Virtious Pie!
What have I missed? What’s your favourite place for vegan wings in the city? Comment below and let me know!