We just returned home from a fabulous trip to San Francisco and Vancouver -- the latter being my most favourite place in the world, and the former now occupying a pretty close second. We were in California to partake in the wedding of two good friends [beautiful!] and took the remainder of the week to explore the gorgeous west coast. Of course, that included some sustainably sourced, organic, ethical eats [and man alive, were they good!]
I've compiled the photos of the highlights here, and would be happy to make other recommendations in either city if you find yourself venturing there [or living there and looking for some new foodie inspiration]. I share these to show that eating well while on vacation is not only possible, but delicious. We definitely had to get creative with a few breakfasts and lunches when vegan options weren't entirely accessible [thankful for grocery stores with hummus and carrots on those days, let me say], but with a little creative thinking, some planning ahead, and (mercifully) some great veg-friendly cities on our itinerary, we ate really well during our entire time away.
Feeling incredibly grateful for a restful week away with my husband, wildly rejuvenated by some great friends, and incredibly well-nourished [and full].
We stopped for a quick lunch between visiting the flagship Sprout San Francisco store and checking out the sweet sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf. Litebite, I discovered, is a great option for on-the-go healthy eating, takeout lunches, and take-home dinners. They're really specific on the ingredients in their dishes, which makes dining there super easy when you're working with intolerances or allergies.
Beautiful vegan options, and tons of gluten-free. I had a container of roasted sweet potatoes and beets: the perfect combination for a petit lunch on the run.
1796 Union Street, San Francisco
We celebrated our anniversary on Tuesday night with dinner at Source, a "multi-dimensional dining experience" (read: a vegan/vegetarian extravaganza where meat products on the menu are replaced by the sounds their animal sources make to thank you for not eating them, ie. "moo skewers". Score.) Their menu is expansive and delicious (as was their wine selection, given the relative casual-ness of the place. I suppose that's what one can expect in wine country. Excellent!) Michael and I shared a vegan spinach and artichoke fondue, and while he dove into a vegan mac-n-cheese, I had the Live Platter: hemp tabouli, vegan caesar + green goddess salad, lettuce tacos, marinated mushrooms, and crudites.
11 Division Street, San Francisco
Ask any vegetarian Vancouverite where to eat and they will say 'The Naam'. This place was a favourite spot of mine when I lived out west and we were thrilled to have a chance to visit again! We were there for brunch, and although a little atypical, I felt compelled to have the Dragon Bowl: a fabulous medley of veggies, tofu, miso gravy, and peanut sauce. Ordinarily, it comes with brown rice, but they're very accommodating and because I wasn't feeling super into the rice that morning, they were gracious enough to give me extra veggies instead. So filling. So awesomely plant-tastic.
2724 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
We met some of our closest friends in the world - conveniently also visiting Vancouver from Toronto - at a sweet little spot on Main Street called Burgoo. It's one of several locations in the city, and for a place specializing in 'comfort food' (read: bread, meat, cheese), they have a number of incredibly delicious vegan and/ or gluten-free options. Above is the carrot coconut milk soup (topped with toasted coconut and cilantro), which was so insanely good. I also had a taste of the tomato soup, which was incredible: simple and so flavourful! I love when restaurants make magic happen with just a few ingredients. Worth a visit for sure!
Burgoo (Mount Pleasant)
3096 Main Street, Vancouver
Even before I planned to become entirely vegan, I was a fan of the plant-based dishes at Banana Leaf. It feels like an exotic escape to another world when you step inside, and the food is always super fresh, super delicious, and really unique. We shared some tofu goreng [spicy!] and while Michael had a stir-fried okra and eggplant bowl, I had my old standby, the gado-gado [bean sprouts, cucumber, potato, and green beans with peanut curry sauce]. Whoa, is it ever good. If only they had a gluten-free roti canai...
Banana Leaf (Kitsilano)
3005 West Broadway, Vancouver
YOU MUST VISIT THIS PLACE.
Fable is the farm-to-table diner's dream come true: everything is locally and/or sustainably sourced, fresh, and ever-changing. The day we were there, the 'daily meat' was elk (whoa). I passed that up for their 'Big Salad': a beautiful melange of heirloom tomatoes, greens, hazelnuts, slaw, and quinoa, along with a sampling of their vegetarian fritters (SO SO SO GOOD). The menu is small, which reaffirms that what they do changes frequently, in line with the seasons and the harvest. It's an adorable little spot on West 4th where the kitchen faces out onto the sidewalk so you can watch the magic happen before you begin your meal. Go. Really.
1944 West Fourth Avenue, Vancouver
I sincerely wish a Nuba would open in New York City. This is possibly one of the most delicious restaurants I have ever been to. I miss it tremendously.
We took a voyage to Kitsilano to check out their new location, having only previously been to the one in Gastown and the takeout counter downtown. The new space is gorgeous (again, like venturing into some other world), their staff is super friendly, and the food -- oh, the food. Largely vegan, largely gluten-free, and served in the style I like best (lots of small bites of different flavours).
Their mezze plates are by far the best way to go, and a fun way to cobble together a shareable meal. We shared a hummus, the 'Najib's Special' [read: magical roasted cauliflower that is perhaps the most delicious food ever prepared], falafel with tahini, and the mjadra rice [rice, lentils, and tahini]. All incredible -- and not at all overpriced! The mezze run about $7.00/ each; the servers recommend 1.5 mezze per person to make a whole meal. We had MORE than enough for the three of us. Delicious. Do visit.
3116 West Broadway, Vancouver
The Wallflower is another sweet Mount Pleasant vegan-friendly option with awesome brunch. (We were sad that The Foundation wasn't open before lunchtime, but this little spot was a great find!) Tons of vegan and gluten-free options throughout the menu, and a staff who have dealt with food intolerances of all kinds. I had the Vegan Corn and Black Bean Hash (with grilled tomatoes instead of toast) -- great fuel for a morning of wandering the Sea Wall!
The Wallflower Modern Diner
2420 Main Street, Vancouver
I just had to share that this was a snack: I love that there are so many easy, accessible, real-food options in Vancouver. Who needs crappy packaged snacks when you can have real vegetables and plant-based protein to refuel a very active day? This was a find at the salad bar at Choices Market in Yaletown: a melange of kale, tofu, sprouts beans and edamame, wild rice, olives, and a scoop of red lentils. It doesn't score terrifically on the food combining scale, but man alive, it was delicious (and gave me some power to get through several more hours of pounding the pavement before dinner).
Choices Markets (Yaletown)
1202 Richards Street, Vancouver
Our last meal in Vancouver before heading to the airport was at Gorilla Food, a living/ raw food haven in the middle of downtown. I discovered this gem of a spot in 2009 (prior to which, I'm told, it used to be more like an "indoor food truck" than a restaurant). It has all the trappings of an organic vegan eatery, from the Ganesh on the pillar immediately inside the door to the books on juicing and spiralizers for sale by the counter, to the filtered pour-your-own water spigot, to the compostable takeout containers (yes!).
The menu is incredible. Everything is raw: salads, soups, sandwiches, 'pasta', 'rice', 'pizza'.
Michael and I both had a raw sandwich (which come on your choice of grain-free curry squash or veggie flax dehydrated bread, and I had a blueberry blast smoothie (my one sugar indulgence of the trip... banana, date, blueberry, hemp, almond milk. So good.) Our sweet friend (and chauffeur!) had the coconut curry 'ryce' bowl, pictured here with the broccoli. This is a great place for anyone looking to explore raw food done well.
436 Richards Street, Vancouver