Vancouver Restaurants – Vegetarian

Vegetarians often have more hassles finding places to eat, so we thought this article would help, especially as Vancouver BC is hosting the Winter Olympic Games next month and many peoples of the world are vegetarian.

Whether for religious reasons or for ethical reasons, people become vegetarian, and most restaurants make a very short-shrift approach to making menus items they can eat, if there are any at all. So, here are well-regarded vegetarian restaurant choices for Vancouver, BC.

___ Radha:
Everyone agrees that this restaurant is the best vegetarian and vegan in Vancouver — no doubts. If you only need one place, go here. It can be combined with a trip beforehand to the famous, Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, nearby.

This is a vegan eatery and yoga studio, so all vegetarians can eat here, as it adheres to the strictest form of vegetarianism. It is part of the asodhara Ashram in British Columbia, and the center’s teachings are based on the those of Swami Sivananda Radha, an innovative yogini who was among the first to bring yoga to the West.

In this retro-fitted, “green”, century-old building, you can enjoy elegantly presented sensational seasonal dinners. Their professional chefs transform organic food into nutritious, artistic creations. You can also join cooking classes to discover their secrets for yourself.

Entering, you’re greeted by warm brick walls, candlelight, hardwood floors, and, if you time it right, a spectacular sunset through floor-to-ceiling windows. By day this is a yoga studio, but at night it becomes a locally sourced, organic restaurant that provides a gourmet menu.

Here you’ll find the best vegan food in Vancouver (and it’s one of the cheapest: appetizers and desserts, $8; mains top out at $15). They have careful presentation and clever interpretations of omnivore standards (try the decadent, yet light, cashew-cream based cheesecake) which prove that vegan cuisine can be refined, elegant and creative.

You’ll find the clientel, Main Street hipsters and buttoned-down baby boomers, enjoying tangy braised tempeh, softly wilted greens, and a crispy potato rösti topped with house-made sauerkraut and a zesty Dijon mustard sauce. Seasonally focused menus ensure that you’re eating fresh. There is always a raw special available for raw-foodists (e.g. fresh zucchini “noodles” tossed with a zippy green cashew curry).

The chefs use ingenious use of alternatives to animal products; some, like the fluffy cashew butter in the Spanish Tapas’ stuffed yellow pepper, are a revelation. Calm servers will walk neophytes through the brief, well-edited menu of appetizers. They do serve beer and wine. They do offer take-away, but the building is not handicap accessible

Their curriculum of courses seek to help you cultivate your heart and mind, as well as the body. “Radha” means cosmic love. Come and taste that love — in the food, feel it in the yoga classes.

Dinners:
Open Wednesday to Saturday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Downtown Eastside
728 Main Street Vancouver, BC V6A 2V7
604-605-0011
Radha vegan restaurant, Vancouver

___ Dharma Kitchen

This is an unassuming, Buddhist vegan cafe which offers the city’s best chai spiced tea — spicy, smooth, and just sweet enough. But some people have characterized the service as aloof, others as calm. It’s hard to know, but a few people’s experience make me wonder about the caring attitude of at least one waiter, if he’s still there.

They offer a lemongrass mushroom appetizer that elevates simple ingredients (garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mushrooms, and citrus) to art, and the hot and sour soup is recommended.

As for main entrees, stay to the right side of the page, to experience what Dharma does best: rice bowls and piquantly sauced tofu entrées. But some also recommend the miso veggie burger as very nicely done.

The red curry tofu, savory and spicy, is served with jasmine or brown rice and steamed broccoli; no self-sacrificing, ascetic vegan stereotype here, but do ask for the curry to just be medium, as some have found it searing. Avoid the miso-tahini and opt for creamy coconut curry or the moderately spicy Thai peanut sauce. The lemongrass tofu and the roasted potatoes with miso gravy are other dishes people have enjoyed.

For rice bowl enthusiasts, try the Nu Cao bowl which is a heaping mound of delicately steamed veggies over rice topped with citrus-marinated tempeh and a fiery peanut sauce. They make their own tempeh, but some liken it to Boca Burgers (which I happen to like, but it is not tempeh). Also consider a fresh herb salad.

The desserts are just so-so, unless you choose the mango tapioca pudding or the fruit smoothies.

This is a good restaurant for kids; there’s only street parking but the place is handicap accessible; they do not serve alcohol.

3667 W. Broadway, 604-738-3899

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