“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
I’ve heard Uptown New West referred to as something of a desert – a hostile land where no delicious food can be found. As a vegan who works in the uptown area, I decisively and adamantly disagree. Uptown New West is not a desolate area devoid of restaurants, but a wonderful bread basket of different types of cuisine, almost exclusively family-owned and run.
The difficulty is not finding something to titillate the taste buds, but in deciding which wonderful restaurant to sample on any given day. I’ve compiled a top 7 list of the best vegan food options in Uptown New Westminster.
There’s no denying that falafel is a vegan staple and, really, who could resist deep-fried balls of chickpea or fava beans? All I’ll say is don’t knock it until you try it! There is no shortage of bad falafel on the market, but we are blessed with two outstanding options: Taza Falafel and Zaaki Cuisine, both on Sixth Street. Both are family-run establishments that will make you feel right at home. Just don’t forget the breath mints before heading back to work!
Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
Talk about a hidden gem – you have likely never noticed this hole-in-the-wall spot on Sixth Street at Fourth Ave. I recommend their vegetarian platter which is big enough for two people and gives a sampling of different dishes. The spongy injera bread may take a bit of getting used to but it’s high in iron and unbelievably filling. They can even make it gluten-free with one-day notice. And yes – you eat with your fingers!
Solodko Ukrainian Bakery
The cutest people you will ever meet, delicious borscht, and funky Ukrainian tunes are all on offer at Solodko on Sixth Street. They also have vegan cabbage rolls and vegan perogies. Word to the wise – do not try their sourdough bread. There. I warned you and I will not be held responsible for the consequences (anticipated consequences include eating an entire loaf of bread in one sitting and being judged by your friends and loved ones because they didn’t get a chance to try the bread).
Another family run treasure, Saigon Ivy has an amazing and incredibly unique tomato-y soup that I have been promised is vegan and that allegedly brings in people from all over the Lower Mainland. My regular order is #53 which is a veggie excellent vermicelli bowl topped with spring rolls. Find yourself in a conversation with the owner and you will hear an inspiring story of overcoming hardship and choosing to establish a business in Uptown New West because of the area’s potential. That is, if you’re able to hear him over all the slurping.
Coming Home Café
Coming Home is one of the lone establishments to offer any sort of vegan brunch option in New West. Their tofu scramble gets the job done and they even offer daiya cheese. Plus, there’s something about their fun collection of mugs that gets me every time. Am I the only one who takes pleasure in picking out a funky mug for my coffee?
Taqueria Playa Tropical
Everyone loves Taqueria, including vegans. While there isn’t an abundance of vegan-friendly menu choices, a veggie burrito filled with rice and beans is always a good option. And not because of the whole combining proteins nonsense (that’s a myth!). It’s just straight up delicious. And did you know that margaritas are vegan?
One of the newest additions to the bevy of food choices uptown is Chopped Leaf. They’re packed at lunch time, but their service is extremely efficient. Best of all, everything on their menu is labelled so it’s easy to see exactly what a vegan can eat. Plus they offer smoked tofu as a protein option! I first established myself as a Spa Bowl regular, but have recently branched out into the creatively named Bowl #2. They carry Rain City Juicery’s cold-pressed juices if you need an afternoon pick-me-up.
Where do you eat in Uptown New West and what’s your favourite dish? What restaurants should I add to my list?
*Note: please let the establishment know you are vegan before ordering. While I do ask if items are vegan (no meat products, seafood, dairy, or eggs), answers do sometimes change over time.