Ottawa is a food lovers paradise and creative chefs are continuously elevating the culinary scene and creating new and unique plant-based dishes. Canada’s charming capital city has vegan options in all types of restaurants ranging from healthy to indulgent so you are guaranteed to find something to satisfy your cravings and dietary choices. My son and I, both vegan for over a decade, visit Ottawa annually and each time we are there we find a restaurant, bakery, or café with new plant-based options to tempt our taste buds. Located along the Ottawa River in Ontario, this family friendly destination is just a 20-minute drive from Ottawa International Airport and there are flights from most major cities in Canada, the United States, and Europe. It’s also a great autumn road trip destination or hop on a train from Toronto. Ottawa’s restaurant scene is packed with delicious vegan options and here are six ideas to get you started.
The Green Door
This unique vegetarian buffet is loaded with healthy, nutritious, and delicious vegan options, so bring your appetite. The Green Door is self-serve and you create your own plate (or multiple plates!) to suit your cravings and appetite and pay by weight to help ensure very little food is wasted. This family owned business has been a neighborhood fixture in Ottawa since they opened their green doors in 1998 with the philosophy to provide local, healthy, and seasonal food to customers.
All food is made from scratch on site using a variety of organic grains, beans, pastas, and lots of fresh produce. Menu items change daily helping make this establishment more sustainable and includes salads, stir fries, noodle dishes, hearty stews, and unique soup (vegan food is labelled). While my son was enjoying a decadent chocolate brownie for dessert I was savoring the best lavender vegan cheesecake I ever had.
Peace Garden is a small hidden gem in the Byward Market, one of Canada’s oldest and biggest public markets first established by Lt-Col. John By in 1826. Peace Garden is situated inside the lobby of a building and surrounded by flowers and plants. This down-to-earth restaurant is vegetarian with lots of vegan options on their ever changing menu. They have done very well by word of mouth (There is no website), so you know the food must be top-notch. Dishes include fresh salads, wraps, soups, smoothies, samosas, thali platters, and a delicious sweet potato burger. Every nook and cranny of this cute eatery has something interesting to check out such as ethically sourced baskets and mediation books for sale. Complete your meal with a fair trade coffee or hot spiced chai tea and a vegan cookie.
Chickpeas is a fully vegan restaurant perfect for lunch or a healthy meal to go. This family business has been serving delicious plant-based food from scratch since 2016. Chickpeas is Ottawa’s first falafel and hummus eatery and everything here is made from an assortment of plants and features yummy chickpeas. We loved the falafel sandwiches wrapped in whole wheat pita and topped with traditional Middle Eastern ingredients as well as the lentil soup, tabbouleh salad, and za’atar wedges. Hummus lovers are in luck with red beet, black bean, avocado, mango, and roasted red pepper varieties to choose from.
The Grand Pizzeria & Bar
Having dined at The Grand Pizzeria & Bar for years it’s fair to say it’s one of our favorites in Ottawa. Also located in the bustling Byward Market, this landmark is built on the original site of the Grand Hotel that opened in 1882. It’s a fun place to have dinner on a patio and although not a vegan or vegetarian restaurant, there are several mouth watering dishes made entirely from plants. Start with the Bruschetta with cashew cheese or spring salad while you wait for your authentic Italian pizza to cook in their wood fired oven. Chefs knead the Italian wheat by hand and dough is topped with raw, pureed Italian San Marzano tomatoes.
Their vegan pizza comes with cashew cheese, tomato sauce, spinach, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and oregano. If you still have room like my teen did, order the rich vegan chocolate brownie and you won’t regret it.
Every time we visit Ottawa Pure Kitchen is on our list. With an almost entirely vegan menu (So close!) they are an Ottawa success story. The Pure Kitchen story began with a love of food and adventure and partners with a passionate dream. The Westboro location opened in 2015 and there are now five Pure Kitchen locations with the philosophy to serve pure nourishing food to guests. The made from scratch appetizers include charred broccoli, lettuce cups, and poutine (make it vegan with cashew cheese). Mains include a kale Caesar bowl, burrito bowl, the awesome burger consisting of a mushroom walnut patty, and the liberty wrap with cauliflower.
They also serve freshly made juices, smoothies, cocktails, beer, wine, and a creamy vanilla matcha latte that goes great with any of their vegan desserts including dark chocolate peanut butter cups.
After a day exploring Ottawa including a long walk along the Rideau Canal, we decided to search for ice cream or gelato. Several places we found in the Byward Market didn’t have any vegan options and we were about to give up and head to our hotel empty handed when we walked past Amore Gelato and decided to try once more. Success! Not only did they have about a dozen vegan gelato or sorbet flavors, but the passionate owner was so kind we stayed to chat. He brilliantly creates everything fresh on site and showed us his thick notebook with handwritten recipes. Upon discovering my son loves chocolate, he promised to whip up vegan chocolate gelato for our next trip. Not that we need another reason to return to Ottawa, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.