Whether you eat a mostly plant-based diet or love a good meat-'n'-potatoes meal, it doesn’t hurt to veg out and try something new every once in a while. We Vancouverites are a lucky bunch with an excellent selection of vegetarian restaurants scattered throughout the city and these five are the cream of the crop. —Jeanine Gordon
heirloom. If you love upscale dining along with mouthwatering vegetarian cuisine, Heirloom is the place to be. One of Vancouver’s (and North Vancouver’s) finest plant-based restaurants, Heirloom serves up a stunning menu that includes the Dressed Up Hummus platter, Artichoke Tacos, Korean Fried Cauliflower and a range of veg-tastic salads. Picking a favourite dish is tricky, but the Cashew Coconut Curry made with tandoori jackfruit, chickpeas, and cauliflower on brown rice is the stuff that vegetarian dreams are made of. If you’re in the mood for brunch, you’re in luck—Heirloom keeps the omelettes, breakfast bowls and eggs Benedicts coming all day long.
aleph eatery. Aleph’s philosophy of bringing diversity together is evident in its sumptuous Middle Eastern-inspired menu that combines old-world favourites and modern flavours. Located on Powell Street in East Vancouver, Aleph offers a wide range of dishes, including Baba Ganouj, the Glorious Beet Salad, Halloumi Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Enoki Shawarma Tacos for the most delicious use of mushrooms, well, ever. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to indulge in the Coconut Chocolate Tart or the Olive Oil Lemon Cake, topped with pistachio ice cream.
virtuous pie. If you’re a pizza lover (and who isn’t?!) then you’ll want to get your hands on a slice or two from Virtuous Pie. This family-founded eatery (with UBC and Chinatown locations) serves up a delectable array of pizzas, salads and vegan ice cream. We had seconds (OK, thirds) of the Ultraviolet pizza, topped with caramelized onions, kale, pesto, tomatoes, pine nuts and VP's famous cashew mozzarella. Save room for an Ice Cream Flight that lets you sample three of six yummy flavours, perfect for those who struggle with decision-making.
the arbor. The Arbor’s menu is a celebration of whatever is fresh and in season, so you can expect choices that vary throughout the year and delight your palette with the best B.C. has to offer. Plan on spending some time perusing the menu—everything sounds delicious and choosing what to order is no small task. We love the Vegetable Ceviche, Southern Fried Artichoke Sandwich, Funghi Pizza and, of course, the famous S’mores for dessert, made with quince and chocolate almond brownie bites. The Arbor is best enjoyed with friends who don’t mind sharing so you can sample a bit of everything on offer.
chickpea. Chickpea is the cutest little vegetarian restaurant we ever did see. The whimsical décor (menus are bound between the covers of children’s books) translates directly into a playful menu that features a mix-and-match style selection of vegan items. We left feeling full and satisfied after noshing on Chickpea's famous Classic Chickpea Fries and Falafel Hummus Plate, followed by Monkey’s Uncle banana walnut ice cream (made from coconut milk and cashew cream) plus an order of Blueberry Lemon Chickie Pie (yes, we ate two desserts, they were just that good). If you’re downtown and need a Chickpea fix, look for the food truck and plan on taking a long lunch so you can savour every bite.