Best Vegetarian, Veg-Friendly and Pescatarian restaurants in Vancouver?
- ninrn Jun 16, 2011 11:00 PM
We're a group of friends visiting Vancouver for the first time in about two weeks, and would appreciate recommendations for vegetarian, mostly vegetarian, or at least vegetarian-friendly restaurants that are doing really good food. We'd love to try local specialties, and some of us eat fish, so organic/locavorish and seafood recs would be great.
We all also love ethnic cuisine, so recommendations for Thai, Indian, Malaysian, Ethiopian, etc, would be most welcome, too. (Some of us are of Indian origin, though, so the Indian would have to be REALLY good to be worth a visit, -- authentic South Indian would be a plus --, and we're not really into the whole TVP/fake meat thing.)
We'll be at the Pan Pacific and won't have a car.
Thanks in advance,
You'd think there'd be more good full on veg places in Vancouver but I'm racking my brain and coming up kinda empty. Note that I am not a vegetarian myself so I haven't made a point of trying the veg places that would likely pop up in a google search. And I'm not going to comment much on seafood here lest I end up ranting :-).
For me it's more about places that do great veg dishes. Since I was just writing about it, I'll mention Peaceful's potato roll, which I've only tried at their Broadway location but might be worth seeking out at the Davie one, and I know they have other veg items.
The one Southish Indian that *might* be worth seeking out is Saravanaa Bhavan but only for their lunch buffet. I know you are rolling your eyes at the word buffet :-) but it is good stuff, excellent value, and they bring out naan etc fresh to the tables. You might also have an SB near you as they are an international chain.
Of course Vij is a go-to for interesting Indian, and I prefer their veg dishes (the female cooks are all vegetarians themselves I believe) though it gets raves for signature dishes like lamb popsicles. Long line ups to get seated as they don't take reservations, and one bus from your hotel.
Anatolia's Gate has delicious cheese pides, tzatziki and lavash bread but is a bit of a schlep on transit (I've done it from the west side) and there's a lot of meat on the menu so you'd have to order carefully.
The bot chien at Green Lemon Grass to me is worth going across town for but would again be a schlep from downtown (one bus).
Nuba would be a closer option for you -- there are a few locations but the one on Hastings would probably be best for a group. The Najib's special cauliflower can be stellar. Again, not all veg but lots of veg-friendly options and kind of a fun room. Just exercise a wee bit of caution in that area, especially at night.
You could get some items at Bo Laksa King done veg, maybe call first -- he is on Hastings just east of Nanaimo now, not Joyce as listed in the CH database. I think the laphet thoke is worth driving across town for (you could ask him to leave out the dried shrimp to make it veggy) and you would only have to take one bus to get there, but maybe you have Burmese options where you are coming from. He also does a ginger salad that I believe is veg. My favourite dish there is the pickled mango salad but it hasn't been available lately because of sourcing problems I gather -- it could work without the dried shrimp. Plus they have pad thai and "regular" Thai mango salad. For the pescatarians, his squid salad is outstanding.
I've had topnotch vegetarian nigiri sushi as part of an omakase at Kimura, but (broken record?) it's a schlep, albeit one bus, from where you're staying. His nigiri, sashimi and seafood/fish salads are stellar. There are also excellent veg rolls at Tokyo Thyme in Kerrisdale (another one bus schlep) and be warned this is a neighbourhood place, not really special in terms of decor/service. Particularly love the Natto Special which is natto, yamaimo, kaiware and shiso leaf and the Dx Yam Yam which is tempura green bean, avocado, yam tempura, kaiware there. My brother wasn't terribly impressed by the cooked food here FWIW -- I've only had the sushi and been very happy on several visits. The owner/itamae worked at Tojo's for a time, also FWIW.
If you want to go full vegan, you might try Dharma Kitchen, one (longish) bus ride into Kits. Not everything on the menu is a hit but the lemongrass tofu and all the salads are pretty great, and it's a very serene place. The service can be a bit west coast interpretational but very sincere.
Good luck and let us know where you end up.
3667W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6R2B8, CA
1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA
322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA
Green Lemon Grass
1086 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5V, CA
That looks like a good list.
For casual West Coast, you can try Grub on Main & 27th. They are not vegetarian but they have daily vegetarian and vega dish on the menu. They usually have 1 daily vega dessert as well.
It's better to call ahead because it's a very small place.
West Coast Cafe
5142 Cordova Bay Rd, Victoria, BC V8Y2K5, CA
I am a pescatarian and have found some great vegetarian and fish dishes at:
Italian: Lupo and Cioppino's (I like Lupo more but Ciopinno's is wonderful as well)
Japanese: Juno Bistro and closer to you Miku (I prefer Juno)
Latin: Cobre Nuevo (delicious)
Not a vegetarian restaurant but some good veg dishes:
Chinese: Peaceful Restaurant
Not a veg restaurant but great casual seafood i.e. fish and chips although I prefer the fish tacos:
Go Fish at Granville Island
Other causal/fast places I like:
Scuie (pizza, cafe, baked goods, coffee)
Japadog (they have veggie dogs)
I have not tried Saravan Bhavan but my friend who is Indian and vegetarian enjoys it. I am Indian and don't really like Vij's food. It could be because I like traditional Indian flavours and his is just different from what I like. I also don't enjoy the line up and prices. But I do like his next door Rangoli, which is a casual bistro style place for their curry, sabji, and thin roti's but only when I have not eaten my parents home cooking in a while:).
52 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1E7, CA
1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA
1055 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9, CA
Generally I don't think we do very well with Indian of any stripe here, which makes me sad. I get the feeling that the good stuff is all being cooked at home as selena notes :-). SB for lunch is the only place I thought might be okay for the OPs as they have a large group and it might be fun and is definitely good value. I still don't think it is outstanding. I guess I should head back and try out Chutney Villa again but the one time I went it didn't wow me so I haven't been back.
Hey kinnick, is Aphrodite worth another longish bus ride for the OPs? As I mentioned, I don't seek out all veg places so haven't been yet. Tell us more about their savoury stuff, please!
Service @ Aphrodite's is unspeakably slow and the food is rarely better than average.
It's tough to recommend somewhere that does veggie and fish well-Japanese for instance has Dashi in almost everything.
http://www.dhakafishbiryani.com/ is a haul from downtown but delicious and offers some northern Indian veggie as well as Bangladeshi fish dishes.
For a veggie treat in a relaxed setting Bandidas up on Commercial Drive would suit
Afghan Horsemen has some outstanding veggie dishes and it's close to downtown.
For Ethiopian the Red Sea Cafe is a short ride from downtown and the veggie platter is delicious
670 Broadway E (604) 873-3332
Afghan Horsemen Restaurant
1833 Anderson St, Vancouver, BC V6H4E5, CA
re: Sam Salmon
Yes, Aphrodite's can occasionally be on the slow side (a world better than Naam though). They local/organic aspect seemed important to the OP so that's why I mentioned it. It is casual - nothing fancy or gourmet here but I really enjoy their salads, potato crusted salmon (that they often have on the fresh sheet), and soups. Its only a ~20 min bus (#44) from downtown.
I 2nd Nuba (Hastings loc) for a downtown option.
Another Ethiopian a block from Red Sea is Fassil - haven't been to Red Sea but really enjoyed my meals at Fassil.
I like Saravanaa Bhavan's lunch buffet. It is a great deal at $10-$13(?) pp. All you can eat veg curries/sambal/poriyal/etc and endless dosai, pooris, naan. The desserts are pretty good too. It is a much better value than dinner where each dish runs at around $13 each. The dishes aren't as spicy as I would like, though. Still, it is a good change from the usual meaty northern Indian food that dominates the Indian scene here.
For a casual lunch or dinner with a good mix of vegetarian (incl vegan) and non-veg with a strong localvore (very closely linked to the Glen Valley Organic farm co-op) and organic focus (and delicious pie for dessert!): Aphrodite Cafe and Pie Shop
For south Indian, my pick is Chutney Villa http://www.chutneyvilla.com/
I didn't know that Banana Leaf has a lot of vegetarian dishes on their menu.
A lot of the stir fried dishes (including mee goreng) has shrimp paste. (e.g. in common varity of Sambal sauce)
Check with the restaurant to see if they use vegetarian Sambal before you order.
I guess vegetarian spring rolls and salad are your options. And may be some vegetable curry dishes.
820W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V5Z1J8, CA
Nuba and Gorilla come to mind... Gorilla is a Raw Food place on Richards St. Everything I had there was tasty, fresh and overall good. I just wasn't prepared for the Raw part. Another veggie staple in Vancouver is the Naan on West 4th Ave (20 min one-bus transit) and Sweet Cherub on Commercial (25 min one-bus transit), which is in a fun and funky neighbourhood.
I've heard that Rocky Mountain Flatbread in Kits is worth the effort of getting there. Some of my friends will take transit for 40 min, or drive for 30 min to eat there.
322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA
Calabash Bistro at 428 Carrall does good Caribbean styled vegetarian. It's in a bit of a dodgy part of town, but it's worth it.
A short cab ride takes you up to Foundation on Main at around 6th. Hipster surroundings and clientele, but the food is good, and dishes are large.
I like Saravanna Bhavan, and I consider myself pretty picky when it comes to Indian food. I've been there for buffet when the naan and puris and dosas were brought out hot and fresh on an ongoing basis - yum!
If you choose to come to the Westside, Dharma Kitchen has great salads and rice bowls with the best prepared tempeh I've ever had - the Free Tibet bowl and the Protein Salad are my fall-backs.
Also on Westside, Iki at MacDonald and Broadway is a favourite of mine - they have lots of inventive and delicious veg stuff for the specials sheet. I think the chef is trained in both Japanese and French cooking, no boundaries there. Just had an edamame hummus with fried wonton wrapper appetizer there the other day that lingers well in my memory.
Aphrodite is slow and relatively uninteresting. Naam is not worth the effort to get there. Vij is OK, but probably better for carnivores - and it feels like I'm subsidizing the meat eaters at the prices they charge.
Thank you, wonderful Vancouver Chowhounds. Your suggestions are so helpful and we can't wait to try them out.
I'm surprised, too, Grayelf, that there don't seem to be more all-veg restaurants in Vancouver. I really appreciate all your tips and suggestions. I'm especially surprised that I can't seem to find any "gourmet veg" restaurants like Angelica's Kitchen or Candle Cafe in NYC, or Millenium or Greens in San Francisco. We'd planned on doing one splurge dinner at a fancy veggie restaurant, and I was sure you guys would have several such places. But it's no big deal with so many other fabulous options. Maybe there's something like that in Victoria?
Kinnickinnik, thanks for Organic Cafe. It sounds closest to the kind of veg place we were hoping to find and one of us is a pie fanatic.
And, Selena03, your comments about Vij's confirmed what I'd been feeling, so thank you very much, too. It would have been depressing to wait in line, spend lots of money, and then have just some version of what I make at home. We'll definitely try some of your recs.
I'm coming from a city with very little in the way of ethnic food, so I'm really excited about all these restaurant suggestions for Japanese, Afghani, Thai, Ethiopian, etc. Thank you, SamSalmon, AHungryBear, WildSwede and KarenDW, for an embarrassment of riches. I'll be sure to post when we get back.
PS: Has anyone been to Laziza, Seri Malaysia or House of Dosas?
Seri Malaysia Restaurant
2327E Hastings St E, Vancouver, BC V5L1V6, CA
West (on South Granville) is a higher end restaurant that offers a vegetarian tasting menu. They have had a chef change since I was last there but as far as I know is still outstanding:
Most of the high-end and hotel restaurants will have vegetarian options.
Alas, nothing like Greens here. I love the space and the food and still dream of the simple Green Gulch lettuces salad with a little slice Andante Dairy goat cheese - a simple green salad elevated to superb height through the freshness and quality of their ingredients.
In Victoria - Rebar is a terrific vegetarian cafe in Bastion square.
House of Dosas is pretty good according to my SO (I've not been myself).
I thought of Hawksworth but they don't show a veg tasting menu on their website and their posted menu has limited veg options.
That said, any good high-end - hotel restaurants especially - should be able to put a vegetarian menu together upon request and will list a veg option for every course. West is the only spot I can think of (now that Lumiere is gone) that regularly posts a veg tasting menu.
I was at at Hawksworth last night and asked if they would prepare a veg tasting menu on request and they said yes of course but you would have to let them know a couple days in advance so that they could prepare it for you. They did a seafood tasting menu for me last night and it was spectacular and special. I wanted to do the wine pairing with the menu and they did that on the spot as well. I would highly recommend this restaurant for the OP as the seafood eaters could request seafood and the veg, veg (and the food was fantastic). I will do a more detailed review of my experience there last night in another thread.
I'm a very strict vegetarian, and I highly recommend the Foundation (Main and 7th) as someone also recommended!! The service is not always the best and the music can be a bit loud, but the food is AWESOME, large portions and reasonable prices. Also, a very vegetarian friendly Mexican restaurant is Las Margaritas (West 4th and Maple). Again awesome food, great prices, large portions. It is always busy in there so be prepared to wait if you are going at a peak time!
Many people recommend the Nam when they hear vegetarian, but I find the food there very average at best. Good luck!
Thanks for asking, Hockeyandbeer. I've been meaning to post a follow-up, but, actually, food-wise, our trip to Vancouver proved to be a bit of a flop. Thinking we'd be very spontaneous and free, we didn't make a good plan, and ended up skipping meals altogether or having to eat quick, low blood sugar meals at crappy places that happened to be right at hand (like the cafeteria on the ferry back from Victoria). Vancouver is amazing, though, so I definitely plan on going back as soon as I can, and will revisit all your recommendations then.
That said, we did try Banana Leaf our first night there. They had virtually nothing for vegetarians, but the total vegetarians weren't there yet, so it worked out. It was good. I don't know if I'd say spectacular, but solid. I went to Gorilla Food by myself one afternoon and just got a smoothie (excellent). I liked the look of their menu. There are no places at all like that where I live, so it was fun to see what they're doing with just a few blenders and dehydrators. And, after a disappointing trip to Punjabi Market (we were told all the interesting businesses moved to Surrey), we did make it to Dhaka Fish 'N' Biryani. Some of my dining companions were a bit skeptical as it is kind of divey and depressing inside, but It was VERY good. (Thanks, Sam Salmon) We got fish biryani and vegetable curry. Even in good Indian restaurants, the vegetable curry is usually pretty sad, but we felt like we needed veggies urgently, so we ordered it and it was delicious. The biryani had just the depth and melding of flavors I always hope a biryani will have, and I was amazed that everything is cooked to order. The chef there really knows what he's doing. As an added bonus, our waitress was from my home state in India, so that was fun. That and Granville Market were probably the food highlights of the trip.
I went on my own to Whistler, too, to do the ZipTrek, and had sushi at Sushi Village in the main pedestrian mall area. It was surprisingly good,-- definitely the best serendipitously found meal of the stay. I only had a roll and a hamachi salad, but I was impressed by the freshness of the fish and the high quality of the sushi rice and seasonings. Definitely worth a visit if you're in Whistler, I'd say.
So that's it. Not a rousing Chowish success, but we had lots of fun.
Thank you, Vancouver Chowhounds, for all your advice. Hope I can get back and try out some of your other wonderful-sounding suggestions soon. Your warmth and thoughtfulness made me look forward to this trip all the more. If you're coming to New Mexico, please do post on the US-Southwest board, and I'll be happy to help in any way I can.
4272 Mountain Sq, Whistler, BC V0N1B4, CA
820W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V5Z1J8, CA
This is indeed a useful post, ninrn, in large part because it illustrates how important having a plan is to eating well in this city. This is particularly true if you have specific requirements (veg friendly etc) but applies to all visitors. I fear my hometown is not a place that offers up good food serendipitously. There are too many chains and mediocre plces out there. And I apologize to your collective tummies for having to endure ferry food. There used to be a sign outside a restaurant on the Victoria side that read "Caution: ferry food ahead" and never was there a truer warning. We always bring takeaway sushi on board but that is no help to you now. I do hope you come back and try again with a more comprehensive plan. Cheers!