I’ve got something a little different for this week’s What I Ate Wednesday post: I’m going to share with you all the awesome vegan eats from my trip to Victoria last week. And their really was A LOT!
Victoria is not far from where I live (just a ferry-ride away), very pedestrian friendly (I don’t drive so this is important), I hadn’t been since a school trip to the Parliament Buildings in like Grade 5, and I’d been hearing rumours of lots of great vegan food. So when I was trying to think of somewhere to go for a quick last-minute getaway before school starts, Victoria was on the top of my list.
I did some research before I went and made a list to take with me of all the vegan and vegan-friendly places in the downtown area that I was interested in. I was surprised at how big the list got, and was even more surprised when I discovered a few more places in my exploring of the city!
I found these sites very helpful in my research:
The Victoria Vegan: Vegan News and Resources
Vegan Mischief’s A Vegan Traveler’s Guide to Victoria
Sarah’s Guide to Downtown Victoria
The Real Meal’s Vegan Food in Victoria, BC
Now on to the food! I’ll just say here, so I don’t repeat myself a zillion times in the following descriptions, that everything I ate ranged from great to amazing and I would eat it all again, no problem. 🙂
I was starving when I arrived, so I headed straight to Green Cuisine after checking in to my accommodations. Green Cuisine is a buffet, so I knew I wouldn’t have to wait long to eat. It is also 100% vegan and has lots of different options. Almost everything is paid for by weight, except for some items such as soup, bread, and desserts that are priced per each. Results of walking straight into line without looking at what was available first: a meal of things that don’t go together but all taste great: Thai noodles in sweet chili sauce, shredded carrots, cucumbers, steamed kale with sweet chill sauce I took from a tofu dish, tempeh in brown sauce, falafel, and lemon cheezecake. The standout here was that lemon cheezecake. It was so light and creamy and lemony!
Dinner was the Carmanah Bowl from Cafe Bliss, an almost 100% raw (a few cooked things) vegan (except for honey used in multiple items) restaurant and juice bar that is pretty much the cutest place ever. Cooked brown rice, steamed broccoli, raw chard, cabbage, carrots, red pepper, avocado, sugar peas and red onion in a sesame garlic sauce and topped with sesame seeds and dulse flakes, plus a multi-seed cracker. I’ll just say that the combination of warm chewy brown rice and cool seasoned veggies was blissful! 🙂 I didn’t take photos, but on a different day we also tried the Hummingbird Juice (orange, watermelon, raspberry, lime) and the Protein Berry Burst Smoothie (banana, blueberry, rice protein, hemp hearts, acai, mylk). I thought it was pretty cool that if you get any of their smoothies or juices to go, you get it in a mason jar. You have to pay a deposit for the mason jar which you get back if you bring it back to the cafe. Or you can just keep them like I did.
Breakfast from the downtown location of Shine Cafe, a bright little place with quick friendly service, that suited the name just fine. I stumbled upon this place because it was one block from where I was staying. This is the only marked vegan breakfast: it’s called Karin’s Brunch and you get to pick four items out of nine options. I choose the hashbrowns, multigrain toast, homemade bean and rice patty, and sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and roasted garlic. Also included in your options are pecan cranberry granola with soy milk, sweet chill sesame tofu, refried beans, grilled tomato, and a fresh fruit salad. Whichever options you choose, its a tonne of food for the price tag! Perfect way to start a full day of exploring. I don’t normally have such big breakfasts, but as you’ll see, Victoria has lots of fantastic vegan breakfast/brunch options, so I had to try some out. Shine Cafe also has a vegan burger patty, a hearty vegan salad, and a few other items on the menu that could easily be veganized by removing cheese and/or mayo.
The Creamy Almond Veggie Sandwich from the Hot & Cold Cafe (Cook Street location). This was an amazing and amazingly messy sandwich! Creamy almond spread, grainy Dijon mustard, cucumber, tomato, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, pea shoots, and red pepper on super soft house-made organic focaccia bread. This little cafe also had other marked vegan items on the menu, including a Red Curry Tofu Rice Bowl, Yellow Coconut Curry Soup, salads, and fresh-fruit popsicles.
Almond milk latte and a fruit/seed/coconut ball (I can’t remember what they called it but it was tasty) from Solstice Cafe. Honestly, I would have preferred the latte to taste more like coffee and less like almond milk, but I’d still go here again. The place is huge and beautiful; definitely the kind of coffee shop you’d want to hang out in for hours. I was here in the early morning, but they have more vegan light meal and snack options later in the day.
Brunch at Mo:Lé for me was tofu scramble, avocado, and pesto hash browns from the list of separate items. So good! That tofu scramble looks plain but it had great flavour and I’m still swooning over those pesto hash browns. Love this place!
Personal pizza from The Joint, with vegan sundried tomato pesto, artichoke hearts, spinach, black olives, jalapenos, and Daiya mozza shreds. The pizzas were amazing, but the place was so warm that we couldn’t stand to stay and eat there. Like it felt like walking into a pizza oven warm. So we sat and watched the lights in the inner harbour as we scarfed down our pizzas. Oh well. 🙂 The Joint is very vegan (and gluten-free friendly). When we were there I was surprised to see that half of the flavours of pre-made cold pizza by the slice was vegan, and all of their made-to-order pizzas, calzones etc can be made vegan! Plus, they had vegan brownies!
Another amazing breakfast, this time from Lady Marmalade. This Organic Tofu Scramble had scallions, spinach, bok choy, and shitake mushrooms, in a sesame soy sauce. Plus toast, potatoes and salad (or you can choose barley or brown rice). This was the only vegan breakfast option but it was packed with delicious flavour! Love seeing a different spin on a tofu scramble!
This was dinner (and lunch the next day) from Lotus Pond, a 100% vegan Chinese restaurant. The place was packed, with a line out the door and its easy to see why. There are a ridiculous number of dishes and they all sound great. It was so hard to choose what to get, but we finally narrowed it down to three. This was some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had, and my sister Jem (who isn’t vegetarian or vegan) commented that it was better than most Chinese food she’d ever had!
#47 Diced vegetables and mushrooms with cashew nuts. It also had some sort of faux-meat in there that tasted good, but we weren’t huge fans of the texture.
Evening almond milk lattes from Wild Coffee, and a shared vegan gluten-free cinnamon roll. At least half of the treats and stuff in the showcase was gluten-free, and this was the sole vegan option. But it was a great treat!