“One particular market in which Edmonton shines exceptionally bright: vegan food…”
by Trista Peterson
In my (humble) opinion, Edmonton has one of the most formidable and criminally under-rated food scenes in Canada, if not North America.
Sure, we may not have the name-association of Montreal and bagels, Chicago and pizza, or New York and… bagels and pizza, but what we lack in fame, we make up for in quality and abundance. We have all the staples you’ll find in any major city: authentic Thai, Greek, Indian, artisanal burgers, Italian fusion, nestled among Edmonton institutions such as the Duchess Bakery and Remedy Cafe. We have a hip take on artisan pierogis and even a Scandinavian bar (you’ll come for the trivia, but you’ll stay for the aquavit).
Although I could spend days talking about Edmonton’s food scene at large, I want to narrow in on one particular market in which Edmonton shines exceptionally bright: vegan food. Really. And I’m not talking about salads or wheatgrass smoothies or whatever else upon which we herbivores are accused of subsisting. I’m talking about mouth-watering pasta. Artisan stretchy, gooey “cheese”-topped pizza. Burgers that require two hands and handfuls of napkins. Baby-sized burritos. House-made gelato that will make a believer out of the most staunch plant-milk critic. Ginger “beef” that’s– and I stand by this– better than the “real” thing.
Most of Edmonton’s non-veggie restaurants now host impressive plant-based options, thanks in part to the phenomenon that veganism has become. The health benefits of a diet free of animal products have flooded the health-conscious discourse, and Canada’s food guide has even been updated to ditch animal protein in favour of veggies, beans, and whole grains. Steakhouse franchises like The Keg now have vegan options, and Earls has a particularly fabulous “plant-based” menu that’s worth a try, even for the omnivores among us.
But I’m not here to talk to you about Earls or The Keg – just about every city has one or both. I want to talk about the local flavours that make Edmonton stand out as an incredible site of vegan cuisine. So, without further adieu, here are just a few of these many outstanding places (there are truly too many to list, and so very many I have yet to try), to serve as a guide for Edmonton’s vegan, or veg-curious, eaters.
Buffalo’ “chicken” Mac’ n’ “cheese”. “Cheese” burgers with a plant-based poutine on the side. Sweet chili heat “vings.” All this and more in a second-story hole-in-the-wall Whyte Ave dive bar. You’ll walk up the steep staircase and be greeted by a dance floor, disco ball, and two patios – one overlooking the hustle and bustle of the street below, and the other suspended over the back alley. Paradise. The music (ranging from classic rock to modern hip hop) is loud, the beer is cold, and the 100% vegan menu will scratch anyone’s pub-fare itch.
My recommendation: The spicy chicken burger– a house-made seitan (meat-like product made from vital wheat gluten and seasonings) patty, fried to perfection and tossed in buffalo sauce, topped with vegan mozza on a bun slathered in vegan mayo and ranch. Try the garlic fries or upgrade to a poutine.
Prices range from $6 to $18.
Find them at 10439 82 Ave with free street parking after 6 PM. The newly-renovated restaurant is currently open for dine-in, takeout, or delivery through Doordash (which you can order straight from their Instagram page).
10439 82 Ave
Remember when I mentioned a ginger “beef” better than the real thing? This 100% vegan restaurant is where you’ll find it. Throw in a side of sweet n’ sour “shrimp” balls or an order of their famous “chicken” curry to experience the best of Padmanadi. The menu is huge– in the dozens of times I’ve been there, I’ve only tried maybe a quarter of what they have to offer. All the more reason to keep going back.
My recommendation: The ginger beef. No question. Get an order of coconut rice on the side and use your chopsticks to fend off your dining partners who will definitely want to steal a bite.
Prices range from $6.95- $15.95.
Padmanadi has two locations: a large dining room with a full menu downtown at 10740 101 St., and an express location with less seating and a smaller menu at 6925 Gateway Boulevard. Park on the street at the downtown location and in their free parking lot on Gateway. As of writing, both locations are open for dine-in during the current restrictions, as well as takeout. Delivery is available through Skipthedishes and Ubereats.
Southside: 106, 6925 Gateway Blvd.
Downtown: 10740 101 St
Farrow, or, as I like to call it, Subway for hipsters, has cornered the market on gourmet sandwiches in Edmonton. Their tiny and eclectic shops are full of fun tile murals and chalkboard drawings, and have very limited seating even prior to COVID. Though their menu primarily features sandwiches made with meat and cheese, they always have a rotating vegan option, the current iteration being the “H*A*S*H,” which features tater tots, scrambled tofu, Frank’s Red hot sauce, cheddar “cheese”, tomatoes, and arugula on a fresh-baked roll. It is absolutely packed with flavour and incredible texture. Divine.
My recommendation: whatever their vegan sandwich is.
The H*A*S*H is $12.
Farrow has four locations: 10240-124 St (paid street parking), 8422 109th St (free parking available), 9855 76 Ave (free street parking), and a brand-new shop downtown at 10542 Jasper Ave (paid street parking).
All locations are currently open for takeout only.
124 Street: 10240-124 St
Garneau: 8422 109 St
Ritchie: 9855 76 Ave
Jasper Ave: 10542 Jasper Ave
The Moth and Café Mosaics
Sister companies Café Mosaics and The Moth, located on Whyte Ave and close to Downtown, respectively, serve up health food that doesn’t feel like health food. Their vegetarian (but vegan-friendly) menus offer burgers with house-made mushroom, bean, and rice patties; a variety of fragrant curries; soul-soothing hot pots; and more.
Both restaurants have all-day breakfast, which, in my opinion, is where they really shine (see my recommendation below). The Moth has a large, open-concept dining space with ample room for larger parties (and we can’t wait to take advantage of this), whereas Mosaics is more compressed and eclectic. The coffee is local, fresh, and decadent, but if coffee isn’t your thing, both restaurants offer a plethora of lattes, kombucha, and “elixirs” (whatever those are).
My recommendation: The “Against All Grain Benny,” but make it vegan: a Café Mosaics breakfast skillet featuring shredded potato and pumpkin topped with tofu bits in lieu of egg, smothered in house-made vegan hollandaise and accompanied by grilled asparagus. Cancel out the health-value by ordering an ice-cold beer from one of their local taps.
Both restaurants are similarly priced, ranging from $10-$19.
Both spaces are open for dine-in under current safety regulations, takeout, or delivery through Skipthedishes. They also offer some of their more popular sauces, spreads, and dressings for bulk purchase (hello, hollandaise).
10844 82 Ave
9449 Jasper Ave
Tres Carnales Taquería
Located just steps away from Central LRT station Downtown, this fun Mexican restaurant offers thumping music and great tacos. Though most of their offerings are meat-based, they never leave their vegan fans hungry. Currently, their vegan taco is zucchini and black bean fried in chili-garlic oil on two fresh corn tortillas. Their hongos mixtos– mushrooms, garlic, and chimichurri served with corn tortillas– can also be made vegan. Don’t worry: no flavour is compromised in doing so. The vegan burrito, stuffed with corn, veggies, guac, salsa, and sweet potato and wrapped tightly in a perfectly crisp-brown tortilla, will satisfy the hungriest of patrons.
My recommendation: whatever the vegan taco option is. On their own, the four tacos that come in one order are a light meal; if you’re hungry, go ahead and order the house-made chips and fresh-made guacamole. Actually, do it even if you’re not hungry.
The tacos are priced at $15, the burrito $15.95, and the chips and guac at $12.
Find Tres Carnales at 10119 100A St, Rice Howard Way, with paid street parking available.
They are currently open for dine-in, takeout, or delivery through Ubereats.
10119 100a St
You’ll smell Doughnut Party before you see it– the scent of deep-fried dough hangs in the air and inspires stomach-grumbles for at least a one block radius. Doughnut Party specializes in house-made doughnuts topped with almost anything you can imagine, ranging from elevated classics like their ever-changing apple fritter to rotating offerings such as the ‘winter peach twist’ (chai frosting with Fuzzy Peach sugar coating). Though their menu changes frequently, usually more than half their doughnuts are vegan, denoted by a ‘v’. Since Doughnut Party is the only party we can currently attend, RVP yes.
My recommendation: The fritter in whichever form it happens to be that day.
Pick up a half-dozen doughnuts for $19.95.
Join the party at 11980 – 104 Ave or 9610 76 Ave (both with free parking). Both locations are open for takeout and pickup, or delivery through their own service which can be ordered through their website.
Edmonton Brewery District: 11980 – 104 Ave
Ritchie: 9610 76 Ave
Made by Marcus
Go to Whyte Ave any summer evening and you’ll see crowds of people disappearing into a gated back alley. Follow them. Not only does this Edmonton-and-Calgary-based artisan ice cream shop have some of the best dairy-free ice cream around, but they have the coolest location, down the aforementioned alley. They predominantly offer dairy ice cream, but always have a rotating vegan flavour.
My recommendation: whatever the vegan option is; currently “chocolate fudge brownie.” Yum.
A scoop starts at $5.
Get your scoop (or pint) at 10426 82 Ave NW. Free street parking after 6 PM. They’re open for takeout, or for delivery straight from their Instagram page.
10426 82 Ave
edmontonscene review of Made by Marcus by Jayden Yang
If the idea of spending an afternoon sipping gourmet coffee and eating a fresh-baked dessert in the comfort of a plush armchair in a more-than-a-century-old brick building appeals to you (and who wouldn’t this appeal to?), this is the place for you.
Ample seating, sturdy wooden tables, and a free library make this café feel like home, only better.
Block 1912 was featured on the Food Network, and for good reason – their baking is delicious and their famous gelato is somehow even better. They typically offer several vegan pastries, pies, or cakes (their triple berry crisp, when they have it, is my absolute favourite) and about half their rotating gelato offerings are usually dairy-free. I’ve loved every flavour of gelato I’ve tried, including tiramisu, avocado lime, rocky road, and black forest, but their Oreo gelato really stands out. Stop at Block 1912 for desert after dinner at its neighbour, The Buckingham, if you’re feeling indulgent. After the year we’ve had, we deserve to treat ourselves.
My recommendation: their vegan crisp with an americano on the side.
Coffee starts at $2.75, dessert at $6.
Block 1912 is located at 10361 Whyte Avenue NW. Free parking after 6PM.
10361 82 Ave
In memoriam: Die Pie
This one is a bummer. Die Pie was one of three sister companies, including Peche and Seitan’s Disciples – all of whom fell victim to the pandemic. Their menu featured hand-stretched dough topped with explosive flavour combinations such as buffalo “chicken”, pierogi, and mac and “cheese”. Their pasta was really a cut above, including dishes such “lobster” (marinated oyster mushrooms) and pasta in a mouth-watering cream sauce. Sigh. I, and many others, will be hoping for their return post-pandemic.
I’m shocked by how often Edmonton’s food culture is dismissed– especially by fellow Edmontonians. I think it’s only fair you forfeit your right to bemoan ‘Dead’monton’s lack of options if you pass up Tres Carnales in favour of Taco Bell (I’m sorry, but I just had to get that off my chest). With so many effective vaccines in arms and on the horizon, we can start to look forward to lightened restrictions and safe indoor dining again. So, while we wait, I hope this guide inspires you to take advantage of Edmonton’s stellar vegan dining options. Bon appetite!