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Jun 16, 2011 11:00 PM

Best Vegetarian, Veg-Friendly and Pescatarian restaurants in Vancouver?

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,

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  1. 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.

    Dharma Kitchen
    3667W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6R2B8, CA

    Vij's Restaurant
    1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA

    Nuba Cafe
    322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA

    Green Lemon Grass
    1086 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5V, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: grayelf

      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

    2. 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:).

      Cobre Restaurants
      52 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1E7, CA

      Vij's Restaurant
      1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA

      Miku Restaurant
      1055 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9, CA

      5 Replies
      1. re: selena03

        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!

        1. re: grayelf

          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.

 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

          1. 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.

            1. re: Sam Salmon

              I second the vote for Bandidas, plus it's two blocks from the broadway skytrain station (about a 20 minute trip from your hotel). Their tortilla soup is a favourite. They also do an interesting and tasty breakfast.

          2. re: selena03

            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.

          3. 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

            1. Banana Leaf immediately came to my mind.

              Banana Leaf
              820W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V5Z1J8, CA

              1 Reply
              1. re: WildSwede

                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.

                Banana Leaf
                820W Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V5Z1J8, CA

              2. 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.

                Nuba Cafe
                322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA