There are plenty of vegan-friendly spots in Vancouver, but most of them are on the casual, “funky” side. Sometimes, you want a fancy meal – maybe it’s your anniversary, or you want to impress your parents. Kaylie and I are asked fairly often where a vegan can take a date for a good meal and a decent drink. We promise that all of the following restaurants won’t play obnoxiously loud hip-hop, have terrible service, or smell like nag champa.
The price points noted below are for, approximately, a complete meal including a shared appetizer and dessert, and one entree each, plus a bottle of wine or some cocktails and tip.
Radha – Main at Union – $80
Note: RADHA IS CLOSED for the time being. Visit their website for updates.
Radha has a seasonally changing menu as well as a menu of constants. They have a raw special every day and always have a raw dessert as well as two non-raw dessert options. Their menu is primarily made up of organic, seasonal vegetables. Every dish is delicious, creative, and beautifully presented, and the beautiful brick-and-hardwood space has a gorgeous view of the city from its Main Street facing windows. For a set price, you can mix and match one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert. They also have a great organic, vegan wine list, as well as kombucha and some other fancy mixed non-alcoholic beverages. On Fridays and Saturdays expect chilled out live entertainment.
The catch? It’s only open 6 – 10pm, Wednesday through Sunday.
Grub – Main at 28th – $80
This incredible concept restaurant is a tiny hole in the wall with a patio. They have a decent drinks list and one of their selling features is three different types of Pimm’s punch. The thing that makes Grub so special, however, is that they offer one appetizer, entree, and dessert daily from each of a number of categories – seafood, chicken, beef, vegetarian, and vegan, for example. So if you visit Grub, you will only have one choice, but it’ll be creative and beautifully presented. You won’t have the same thing twice there, plus your dining companions can choose to eat non-vegan if they’d like to.
Nuba – Cambie and Hastings, or at The Waldorf Hotel, McLean and Hastings – $50+
Easily the least expensive establishment on the list. Nuba has multiple locations but it is their Hastings Street restaurants that are best for a date. Service is impeccable and non-intrusive, and the menu is very vegan friendly. The food is Lebanese-style. For a date, I’d recommend getting mezze platters of three of the vegan options and sharing – there’s something about sharing food that facilitates conversation and connection. Their drink list isn’t cheap but is very creative. The baklava here is loaded with butter, but they do occasionally have vegan desserts, as far as I know.
Wild Rice – Pender at Abbott – $60+
Wild Rice has quite a few vegan options, and while their menu changes every so often, they have a commitment to a dairy-free kitchen, so their vegetarian options are always vegan – they’re clearly marked. They also serve fish and chicken. They provide for tofu substitutions on some chicken dishes. This place is pretty hip and has a drink list to match; it’s also a bit more upscale than the other restaurants on this list, as far as clientele goes.
Vij’s – West 11th Avenue at Granville – $100+
Vij’s is an upscale Indian restaurant that is called the best Indian food in Vancouver by anyone who’s eaten there. There are several vegan items on the menu, and the staff is extraordinarily knowledgeable about vegan options. Most of the amuse bouche items that are passed around to waiting patrons are vegan as well – which is a good thing, because Vij’s doesn’t take reservations, and arriving any time after their 5:30pm opening time guarantees a wait of up to a few hours. Trust us – it’s worth it. The food is carefully, beautifully prepared. Each dish is a work of art with years of expertise behind it. If you want to save a little bit of money and time by sacrificing a bit of quality, visit Vij’s Rangoli next door.
Photo from Nuba at The Waldorf Hotel