Story by Meaghan Richens
Photo by Amanda Vollmerhausen
As a vegan, I know that finding veggie-friendly spots can be a little tricky if you want to eat more than a salad.
Fortunately, Ottawa boasts a plethora of plant-filled pastures where herbivores can graze. The restaurants below are not just for twig-and-bark eating vegans—they are proven hits with the omnivorous crowd as well, and all of them use fresh and locally sourced ingredients.
So here, in no particular order, are the BEST plant powered spots in Ottawa, according to me.
Westboro – 357 Richmond Road
Centretown– 340 Elgin Street
Pure Kitchen prides itself on being a “scratch” kitchen, which basically means they make everything from scratch with fresh ingredients. It’s pretty dope. Half the restaurant is a juice bar where you can order a smoothie-to-go or grab something ready-made from the fridge, like salad or cold-pressed juice.
While the Westboro location may be more out of the way for students based near Carleton, it features a rooftop patio and is well worth the trek during the warmer months. On the other hand, the Elgin location offers a more comprehensive selection of craft beer and the best sangria I’ve ever had, hands down. And trust me, I know my sangria.
My go-to starter is the delicious Belle Poutine. The poutine is served with a mushroom gravy and the option of real cheese curds or a vegan cashew cheese, which is not as weird-tasting as it might sound.
My favourite dish here is the Liberty wrap, which is stuffed with deep fried cauliflower with barbecue sauce, carrots, pickles, greens and comes with fries and/or salad for $14 (plus tax). With a drink, my bill usually comes to about $30, which isn’t bad for the quality and quantity of food.
The Green Door
198 Main Street
Founded in 1988, this spot prides itself on being Ottawa’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. Located on Main Street in an area I have heard affectionately called “The Hippie Mile,” the Green Door’s buffet-style offerings vary with the seasons.
The seating area is bright and spacious, and you can watch people try to navigate the newly-constructed Main Street through the restaurant’s large, street facing windows. What I love about this place is that you only pay for what you put on your plate. After you have chosen what you want to from the buffet, you take your plate to the cashier where it is weighed and priced. And you’re allowed to go back for seconds.
There are three main sections on the buffet: hot food, salads and desserts. The buffet features everything from tofu and broccoli stir-fry, to marinated spicy eggplant salad and vegan sushi. The possibilities are endless. Every dish is labelled as vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten-free so you can choose any combination based on your dietary needs and preferences.
1230 Wellington Street West
The Table’s set-up is very similar to the Green Door in that they both offer a self-serve buffet of organic, vegetarian food priced by weight. There are also three sections on the buffet: hot food, salads, and desserts. However, there are a few differences in dishes offered, and they vary as seasonal fruits and vegetables become available.
The dining space is bright and comfortable and faces Wellington Street, which makes for great people-watching. The Table features a larger grocery section full of pies, canned soups, condiments, granola, and many other take-out goods.
Perfection Satisfaction Promise
167 Laurier Avenue East
Located in Sandy Hill, this cozy spot was given its unique name by spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy. The restaurant’s website explains their connection, stating “Perfection-Satisfaction-Promise is independently owned and operated and dedicated to the philosophy of Sri Chinmoy, whose vision of world peace and oneness is the inspiration and guiding force behind our food preparation and customer service.”
The servers are very sweet and soft-spoken, and although the dining space is on the smaller side it has a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere.
While the food may seem a little pricey, the servings are quite filling and, in my view, worth the price.
The restaurant offers a selection of daily specials and a fixed menu with plenty of vegan options. In addition to run-of-the-mill veggie dishes such as burgers and salads, they specialize in Indian-style cuisine. Some examples are samosas, pakoras, and the traditional Indian dish dhal—an Indian curry dish made of lentils and mild spices.
Their Perfection Plates give you the choice of a base (rice, mashed potato or sweet potato) and one or two toppings. The last time I went I had the Perfection Plate with tofu tamari on top of mashed sweet potato for around $10, and it was amazing.
According to the restaurant’s website, they have a passion for Ayurvedic preparations, which means “the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing.”
Whatever they’re doing, it’s delicious.
Whether you’re an omnivore, a vegetarian, a vegan or just someone who cares about minimizing their environmental impact while eating fewer sentient beings, Ottawa has plenty of options when it comes to eating out.