Vegetarian Tasting Plates
I would love to be able to say I know all the best veg place to eat in Vancouver, because I’ve eaten at all of them.
But I can’t guys. I just can’t.
You see, I’m just one girl, with one stomach, and we are quite blessed with an abundance of great vegetarian and vegan eateries in this city. On top of that, there’s new ones cropping up all the time.
It’s hard to keep on top of it all. I mean, sure, I can recommend the big ones; Heirloom, The Acorn, MeeT, etc. But I would like to be able to speak more intelligently about some of the smaller, lesser-known gems in the city.
So I was pretty stoked to get an invite to Richard Wolak’s (@vanfoodster) first Vegetarian Tasting Plates last week. I was equally as excited to discover I’d not been to any of the eateries on the list. Yeah. They were all new to me, although quite a few of them were ones that were on my list, but I hadn’t made it to yet.
It was a great opportunity to discover new favourites.
It’s worthwhile to note that at almost every place we went to, the options were overwhelmingly vegan. There were a few where cheese was an option, but you could keep it off, or choose a vegan cheese, and keep the dish vegan.
Yaletown isn’t really known for its plant-based options. The Living Produce Aisle is a really interesting business model that feels quite unique. They house many, many Urban Cultivators, some of which are growing microgreens for themselves, and some of which are producing for local restaurants. I’ve been a big fan of the Urban Cultivator since I discovered them a few years ago, and I wish I had enough kitchen space to own one. Here, you can get smoothies, juices, and grab some microgreens while you’re at it.
I used to work on Davie Street, so I was pretty familiar with the lunch offerings there, but since I no longer work in the neighbourhood, I get there shockingly little (especially seeing as I don’t actually live far from there). Firecrust was one of those places I’d driven past a million times and never gone into. They have a ton of vegan options. One of the things that’s most exciting about Firecrust is that they work with YamChops, so “meats” come from there. My Vegan BBQ Pizza was delicious, smoky, a bit spicy, a nice bite from the onions, and they make their own vegan mozza in house. I will be returning and bringing the kid.
Right across the street from Firecrust is this weird hole-in-the-wall called Saj & Co. Malek Anouti, owner and chef, makes magic in a tiny little space that can hardly even be called a kitchen. The food here is Lebanese, and the joint is named after the saj, which is a domed oven on which Anouti cooks a flatbread to order. It’s kind of a reverse tandoor. When you order, he slaps one on the saj for you, so you get a fresh, hot flatbread with each order. Mezze plates include hummus, salad, and wraps/sandwiches, which are all super fresh, and tasty. I love how vegan-friendly Mediterranean food is. My favourite thing here was the squash hummus, which I will be attempting to recreate for my family’s thanksgiving dinner this weekend.
I was sad when Cafe Luxy closed. It was a favourite spot of mine for many years for delicious pasta. But then Sharv Ramachandran opened up Davie Dosa. If you’ve never had a dosa, it’s cool. I actually only just had dosa for the first time about a year ago, but I was immediately hooked. It’s a kind of pancake or crepe, made from fermented lentil flour, and then stuffed with vegetables. Maybe I didn’t do it justice with my description, but they are freaking delicious. Indian cuisine is another that loans itself so easily to being vegetarian and vegan, so there are tons of options for veg-heads here. One of my favourite things on the plate was medhu vada, a kind of savoury donut made with lentils. I know, it sounds weird, but just go with it. It’s delicious. The service, by the way, was really fantastic. I am looking forward to getting back again to try more on the menu.
Located just off of Granville in the heart of the Entertainment district, I imagine this Nacho Libre-themed cantina does a brisk business at 2 am. The place is frikkin’ adorable, with big murals and Mexican wrestling masks everywhere. The server spoke Spanish fluently, so that made me feel good, like I might be getting an authentic experience. There are 6 different vegetarian tacos to choose from, featuring meaty vegetables like jackfruit and portobellas, not just beans. The carrot tinga was spicy and good, and I also really enjoyed the more moderate smoky heat of the Poblano. It is such a fun location, it’s well worth a return visit.
Hooray! New veg options to love, Vancouver! Now get out there and support some local veg biz.