By Megan Stulberg
I had a visitor from Texas spend the past couple of weeks with me in Toronto. Looking for a little diversion, we nipped over to Montreal for a few days to see the sights, soak up some culture and eat everything possible.
I hadn’t visited Montreal since going vegan, but I was pleasantly surprised with what the city has to offer. Planning a trip to Montreal soon? Bookmark this page and keep my review in mind!
#1: AUX VIVRES
Aux Vivres is a popular vegan restaurant located at 4631 Boulevard Saint-Laurent. The menu is full of flavourful dishes that incorporate fresh, organic and non-GMO ingredients. For convenience, Aux Vivres has two separate entrances: one for dine-in, and one for take-out. It’s always packed with customers, which is a good sign for any speciality restaurant: it means that the food is enjoyed by local vegans and non-vegans alike!
WHAT I GOT: I ordered the Thai bowl…brown rice, grilled tofu, steamed bok choy, pickled carrot, daikon, peanuts and coriander tossed in a peanut dressing. It was delicious and extremely filling! It actually tasted very similar to my favourite dish from Toronto’s Fresh restaurant: the Buddha bowl. I was craving something sweet, so I also ordered a chocolate smoothie (soy milk, cacao, dates and flaxseed).
WHAT HE GOT: Austin ordered a gyro pita stuffed with seitan souvlaki, tzatziki, tomato and lettuce, served with potato wedges. Of all the meals he enjoyed while in Canada, this was his favourite – tied with the mac-and-cheese burrito from Hot Beans in Toronto.
Aux Vivres is my #1 recommendation! We were actually so taken with this restaurant that we stopped in again before catching the bus home. On our second visit I tried the BLT Caesar salad topped with smoked coconut bacon, macadamia nut cheese and grilled tofu (pictured below), while Austin opted for a traditional veggie burger with mayo, tomatoes, pickles and lettuce. Delicious.
#2: CAFÉ VERDURE
After reading a review of Café Verdure on Yelp – “Cupcakes are a definite standout. Moist, rich, sweet, more heartbreakingly intense than your ex-boyfriend” – I was sold. This restaurant’s menu is entirely gluten-free, vegan, organic and refined sugar-free. Sandwiched in between two other health-oriented restaurants (Crudessence and La Panthère Verte) at 2159 Rue Mackay, Café Verdure is relaxed and casual. Customers can order at the counter, and the food is brought to your table about 15 minutes later.
WHAT I GOT: A veggie patty on a sesame bun topped with mayo, pickles, onion, tomatoes and greens, along with an alfalfa sprout salad and organic pomegranate soda.
WHAT HE GOT: Italian veggie balls with tomato sauce, plant-based “cheese” and greens on a traditional bun, an alfalfa sprout salad and almond milk latte.
We then made a stellar decision to order two chocolate glazed doughnuts to share: one filled with peanut butter and the second with a raspberry compote. Everything we ate here was too good! I’d recommend stopping into Café Verdure for a quick lunch, as this is a relaxed, casual spot.
Crudessence is a raw (entirely gluten-free and vegan as well) restaurant conveniently located right next to Café Verdure. We stopped in on the first night of our trip and were able to enjoy our meal while people-watching and enjoying the warm breeze from their front patio.
WHAT I GOT: I ordered the partially cooked enchiladas (corn-and-golden flaxseed tacos filled with spicy red pepper pâté, spinach, mushrooms, lime-jalapeño cream, raw cacao mole and guacamole), served with microgreens on the side. I also had a refreshing orange, mango, lemon, vanilla and agave smoothie, which tasted exactly like an orange Creamsicle. Mmm!
WHAT HE GOT: Austin ordered the raw pizza — a sun-dried tomato and sprouted buckwheat crust topped with pistachio pesto, aubergine bacon, arugula, cherry tomato and sprouts — served with a side of microgreens. He also tried the “Macaö” smoothie: cacao, maca, banana, coconut, Brazil nut milk (say whaaaat?) and dates.
Crudessence may seem expensive, but as any vegan knows, this is typical of raw restaurants due to the quality of the ingredients used and alternative food preparation. For me, a good dining experience is always worth the extra $$$.
#4: LOLA ROSA
Lola Rosa is a vegetarian restaurant tucked away at 4581 Avenue du Parc. This place is a vegan junk food lover’s dream. You can get everything from nachos to burritos to poutine.
WHAT I GOT: I ordered the chili bowl: red-wine marinated black beans, salsa, avocado, chipotle, lime and cilantro served on top of brown basmati rice, with a side of corn tortilla chips for dipping. The dish did not disappoint, and I’ve had my fair share of vegan chili. It was also extremely filling, so happily I was well prepared for our post-dinner visit to Pub Le Sainte-Élisabeth for a round (or two, or three) of drinks.
WHAT HE GOT: A quesadilla served with a side salad and brown basmati rice. The quesadilla was stuffed with vegan “cheese,” jalapeño and onion-infused sweet potato purée, guacamole and salsa.
#5: RÉSTO VEGO
Resto Végo, located on the 2nd floor at 1204 McGill College Avenue, is a 100% vegetarian buffet with all gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan dishes clearly marked. Plates are weighed at checkout, but there is a price cutoff of $14.50 for lunch and $17.50 for dinner, giving customers the chance to properly pig out. With the exception of a single experience a few months ago at a small Chinese restaurant in Houston, Texas, I hadn’t been able to enjoy a buffet since before I was diagnosed with Celiac disease two years ago. The food tasted great — the only drawback was that I felt like I was eating lunch in a high school, plastic cafeteria tray and all.
WHAT I GOT: Oven-roasted chipotle potatoes, tofu rice vermicelli, fresh chickpea salad medley, and kale salad with tricolour quinoa. For dessert: a piece of raw raspberry, lemon and goji berry cake with fresh fruit. I wish I had bothered to go back for seconds!
WHAT HE GOT: Baked tofu, oven-roasted chipotle potatoes, tofu and rice Imperial rolls, creamy coleslaw, plus a piece of cherry “cheesecake” for dessert.
Needless to say, we both had a wonderful time stuffing ourselves silly in Montreal. I’ll definitely be heading back in the winter to sample more vegan delights.