Whoever came up with the brilliant idea of saving room for dessert must have hailed from Vancouver. As the West Coast city continues to cement its position as the country’s vegan mecca—okay, so as a resident, I’m a little biased—one can’t help but think it might be the sweet delicacies following every show-stopping culinary triumph that keeps elevating Vancouver’s veg restaurants from noteworthy to knockout. To celebrate the rainy city’s glowing (and growing) vegan cuisine scene, here’s a brilliant baker’s dozen (in no particular order): 13 of Vancouver’s best and brightest vegan mains and their sinfully delicious confectionary conclusions. What could possibly be better than following up a bold veg dinner with a delicate and decadent dessert? Absolutely nothing.
1. Loving Hut’s BBQ Onion Ring Cheese Burger and High Crow Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie
In fall 2011, this vegan comfort-food cart burst onto the scene and had omnivore bloggers fooled by its mile-high sandwiches dripping in signature sauces. While the Crispy Chick’n Burger is a favorite, the BBQ Onion Ring Burger is easily Vancouver’s definitive veggie burger. Expect a veggie patty topped with tangy-sweet barbecue and ketchup sauce, onion rings, and all the regular burger fixings smothered in cheese sauce and served up on a fluffy bun. The only way to follow this belt-busting burger is with a sweet and simple gluten-free chocolate chip cookie carried right at the cart, courtesy of High Crow Gluten-Free Foods. The cookie’s doughy texture has fresh-out-of-the-oven appeal, and the taste is bang-on classic chocolate chip.
2. Organic Lives Pad Thai and Heavenly Apple Pie
The raw food restaurant has such a devoted following that it started a line of pantry foods, but by and large, the fresh organic eats in its Granville street location are what bring in Vancouverites searching for healthy, raw noshes that still pack a flavorful punch. The Pad Thai combines fresh Young Thai coconut meat from the company’s partner farms with kelp noodles, fresh herbs, and perfectly-chosen spices in a sauce inspired by its life-changing coconut water. The only way to get past the loss of having just finished this amazing dish is to follow it with the Heavenly Apple Pie. The crust is composed of delicately layered, paper-thin apple slices dusted with just the right amount of sweet-enhancing spices, achieving a flaky effect many thought impossible in raw cooking.
3. Wallflower Modern Diner’s Mac ‘n Cheesey and Vegan Crème Brûlée
It’s no wonder People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals named Wallflower Modern Diner’s Vegan Mac ‘n Cheesey among their top five best vegan macaroni and cheese dishes. Paired with a refreshing green salad, the homey dish combines perfectly cooked pasta in a creamy sauce with a generous topping of vegan cheese. And while crème brûlée may seem like an overwhelming follow-up, the classic torched treat comes up light at Wallflower.
4. Gorilla Food’s Ital Veggie Pizza and Dark Raw Chocolate Fudge
Proof that raw vegan pizza doesn’t have to come on a cracker-like crust, the Ital Veggie Pizza starts with a substantial base made of sprouted seeds, buckwheat, carrot, and flax and layers sundried tomato herb sauce under tenderized kale and the café’s walnut cheese crumble. This is the raw version of deep dish, and it delivers. As does the house made Dark Raw Chocolate Fudge, which has chocoholics lingering around the dessert counter daily.
5. Indigo Foods Ukrainian Perogies and Raw Chocolate Fondue
This tiny, mostly raw establishment with Ukrainian roots packs incredible flavors into every single dish. While the Zaatar Crackers have a zesty spice unlike any other, the Perogies just can’t be beat. With dough so thin you can see the filling through it, and a plate accented with smoked mushrooms and drizzled with garlic cream sauce, both the mashed potato and sauerkraut varieties are so stellar a combo plate is highly recommended. As is a second visit, so proper attention can be paid to the glory that is the Raw Chocolate Fondue. One of the dip-able sides is raw, dairy-free ice-cream truffle centers. Need I say more?
6. The Naam’s Naam Dragon Bowl and Dutch Apple-Cranberry Pie
Vancouver’s oldest natural foods restaurant may have been around since 1968, but that doesn’t mean the dishes are getting old. The namesake macrobiotic Dragon Bowl is a heaping dish of the most delectable steamed veggies dressed in peanut sauce and the establishment’s famous miso gravy. A slice of the sweet yet tart Dutch Apple-Cranberry Pie is the ultimate cozy conclusion to a heartwarming meal.
7. Bandidas Taqueria’s Connie’s Burrito and Two-Bite Vegan Brownie
As if it weren’t enough that standout menu items such as the Connie can be given a vegan shakedown, the unconventional flavors of the Bandidas menu are complimented with dessert-chalkboard regular the Two-Bite Vegan Brownie. First, Connie has devoted diners lining up for more than an hour. Ground walnuts, apple salsa, Daiya cheese, and roasted red pepper sauce round out this robust choice with a base of purple cabbage and pinto beans. Get it baked and follow with the aforementioned brownies if you want to stay on speaking terms with the VN staff.
8. Nuba’s Le Petit Feast and Vegan Baklava
Vegan options abound at the Lebanese-style restaurant, but the Le Petit Feast sharing platter tops the list. Featuring hummus bursting with flavor, a deliciously herby taboulleh salad, creamy baba ganooj, and homemade pickles, the dish comes with warm pita and pairs perfectly with the Najib’s Special (a crusted cauliflower dish) and Garden Falafel. Following the entrées with a round of Lebanese Pastries is an intelligent choice, especially given that this second sharing plate features Vegan Baklava!
9. The Juice Truck’s Apron Juice and Raw Chai Brownie
As fresh as you can get, the Juice Truck parks in Vancouver’s historic Gastown and has residents and tourists alike clamoring for a taste of the Apron Juice, a seriously enticing combination of pineapple pressed with orange, spinach, mint, lemon, coconut water, aloe vera, and himalayan rock salt. Bam! Mind and taste buds blown! A juice this good can only be followed by a splendor such as the Raw Chai Brownie. Dates mingle with raw cacao powder, hazelnut, coconut oil, ground flax seed, and maple syrup, while vanilla and chai spices create a warm and subtle spice.
10. The Foundation’s Satay Salad and My Sugar Pie
The Vancouver hangout sits unassuming on Main Street, quietly hoarding a plethora of dumbfounding lunch and dinner dishes. Genius in its simplicity, the Satay Salad assembles simple components of “mixed-up” greens, broccoli, and braised tofu in a warm, organic peanut sauce. Passing up a chance to follow it with the Quebec-inspired My Sugar Pie would be a big, big mistake—especially for sugar hounds.
11. The Acorn’s Zucchini Main and Peanut Dessert
Newly opened The Acorn is taking Vancouver’s veggie scene by storm. With food that rivals some of the best vegan fine dining out there, its best to make it a three-course evening. The Kale Salad is easily the best vegan Caesar in the whole city, thanks to touches like smoked paprika croutons and crispy capers, and must be followed with the Zucchini main. The superb veggie receives a tagliatelle treatment and a dressing of cashew rosé sauce, transforming a little squash into a plate worthy of true pasta lovers. Not to be outdone, the Peanut dessert is swift surrender to chocolate-peanut bliss. Chocolate-peanut terrine, berries, and coconut whip converge with raspberry coulis and lemon thyme on a little plate of heaven.
12. East is East’s Silk Route Feast Tasting Menu and Chocolate Pudding
The best way to start a trip to the silk route is to accept a complimentary cup of East is East’s warm and spicy vegan chai tea. Sip, enjoy, and choose two (bottomless) selections for the Silk Route Feast tasting menu: a warm cup of dhal soup and accompanying green salad paired with boulani, roti, and Afghan and coconut rice. The Alu Gobi and Thai Tofu options are not to be missed. The vegan Chocolate Pudding will cool any lingering heat, while offering a subtle reminder that you haven’t actually left Vancouver.
13. Edible Flours Donuts and Custom-Built Cake with Peanut Butter Icing
OK, so the adorable confectionary only offers dessert options, but who can say no to doughnuts for dinner? The regular or gluten-free chocolate and vanilla pastries are chocolate dipped or topped with a sweet raspberry, classic maple, or dreamy vanilla glaze. Lastly, take the cake and order a custom creation of chocolate hazelnut with fresh fruit filling and the not-to-be-missed finale, peanut butter icing on your way home. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
Photo via acornrestaurant.ca
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