Calgary, endearingly known as “Cowtown” to some (but not to me), is one of the last places many expect to find quality vegan food. However, the options are there. So, here you have it folks; my comprehensive guide to veganism in the city. Obviously, I won’t be able to list alllll my favourite places, so I have included a link to my Yelp Reviews if you’d like to check out more!
Sarah Louise’s Top Favourite Vegan Eats in Calgary:
The Coup(Central SW)
Hands down my long time favourite vegetarian restaurant in all of Alberta. This vegetarian restaurant is located on the coveted uptown 17th Avenue district. One of my go-to favourites around brunch/lunchtime at The Coup is the Messy Jane! There aren’t many joints I would pay money for a tofu scramble when I make them so much at the home, but the miso gravy is the best thing I’ve ever had.
Other favourites of mine, on the dinner menu, include the Upstream Burger, and Dragon Bowl with green coconut curry. Their sundried tomato hummus is always awesome, as are the cajun tempeh sticks, if you are just cruisin’ for some appetizers before dessert (EAT THE CHOCOLATE TORTE. DO IT).
Blue Star Diner(Central NE)
This is the Bridgeland cousin to Dairy Lane, which is located in Kensington. These two diners have similar (if not identical) menus that focus on local, organic food sources. This is a very omnivorous restaurant, with a couple vegan options! For brunch, they have a unique Vegan Scramble which features maple coconut curry, tofu, basil, veggies, avocados, etc. You can also grab their cozy hot cereal with a pitcher of soy milk and add some hemp hearts! For lunch or dinner? Try their delicious black bean soup, or their Vegan Black Bean Burger with a colorful side green salad! They also serve great coffees and organic tea, and have a good beer selection!
Naaco Truck (SW, various)
This is hands down my favourite food truck option in Calgary that has launched recently. The Naaco Truck only has one vegan option, but the first time I tried it, it was so delicious I almost died of happy. Order the Bodacious Bhaji (chickpea fritters, NOT falafel) on rice with a side order of Mogo Chips. Mention that you are vegan, and their awesome staff will be sure to omit the cheese from your order! Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate their environmental efforts in using all compostable materials, and having a HERB GARDEN ON THE ROOF OF THEIR TRUCK?! Check their website, as they operate on a seasonal food truck type schedule. Their homebase is Kingsland Market, but you can find them around the city if you stalk them on twitter. I LOVE YOU NAACO TRUCK!
Prime Tandoori House (Central NE)
This is my go-to takeout place for Indian food in Calgary. They are always very accomodating when I specify I am vegan (I feel as though I’m probably a regular there by now). I always mention on the phone or online when I order that I need all animal products including butter, ghee, cream, milk, yogurt, etc omitted from my dishes. So, if you’re vegan, and ordering from here, I would maybe be sure to mention this to be safe.
The food is always lovely, and they recently renovated so I look forward to eating in sometime soon!
Taste of Saigon(NW)
The primary reason I’ve chosen to include Taste of Saigon, is because they actually have a whole vegetarian section, and when I first visited here, the kitchen staff were quite knowledgeable as to which of their selections were vegan friendly. They can make you some tasty deep fried spring rolls with rice paper instead of their normal ingredients (you just have to ask and mention you’re vegan), as well as some beautiful fresh salad rolls! Also tried a vegetable curry dish here, which was a win. They have a vegan “fish sauce” as well as a great peanut sauce.
Nestled in the old space of Veggie House in Chinatown, this is my new favourite vegetarian Chinese food place. I would recommend the tofu rolls, dumplings, and noodle dish, and the vegan ginger beef. They also have a great little gluten combo if you are looking for something quick. I was so excited when these guys opened up earlier this year, as Chinatown has been a little short on vegan options with recent closures of other establishments. Guys, the owner is so damn friendly. When I asked for a takeout menu and they didn’t have one yet, he literally gave me the only one he had printed and insisted I take it home with me. Prices are reasonable, and this is an informal, food court type setting. Grab some takeout, and sit by the river!
Buddha’s Veggie Fusion(SW)
Admittedly, I was boycotting Buddha’s Veggie for awhile. A couple years ago, this long standing vegetarian restaurant added a meat menu, which really bummed me out for awhile. However, they have maintained their entire vegetarian menu, and I’ve been told all the veggie food is still cooked separately which is reassuring. For years, even my omnivorous family has enjoyed Buddha’s Veggie. I grew up in a small town outside of Calgary, and this is where we enjoyed many special occasions. The ginger beef is an obvious favourite here. I also recommend any of the shanghai noodle dishes, panfried dumplings, dry ribs sweet and sour pineapple “pork,” and the lemon “chicken”!
Cedar’s Deli (NE, NW)
I am totally aware that most of you are going to roll your eyes at me, because falafel is a very obvious vegan staple food. However, let it be known, that Cedar’s is amazeballs, and extra vegan friendly. Did you know they have TWO DIFFERENT SYMBOLS on their menu to signify when an item is VEGAN or just VEGETARIAN?! Aside from the typical wraps of falafel or tabouleh and hummus, they have quite a few vegan friendly salads, samosas, etc. They have a great sit down location on Edmonton Trail that I’ve long frequented. The staff is friendly, and they have a cute little patio that can seat a few people. There is also now a location in Market Mall.
Tazza Deli and Grill (Central NE)
Tazza easily ties with Cedar’s as my two favourite places to grab falafel in the city. Located in the central community of Bridgeland, Tazza is an ideal spot for a quick lunch. Especially when the patio is open and you can enjoy some sunshine (unless you’re a vampire like me, then you’ll wince at it). While their falafel is bomb, I usually go for their hummus and tabouleh wrap which is equally amazing. They also carry my favourite yerba mate iced teas, the Guayaki tall cans with cheeky graphics of badass revolutionary figures on them. Try the Revel Berry, it’s my favourite!
Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria (Central SW)
Yeah, I’m aware other cities have Famoso too! However, I just thought I would mention these guys as they are kind of awesome! Famoso has a plethora of vegetarian pizza selections, which can be made vegan simply by subbing Daiya vegan cheese at no additional cost! My favourite order is the Primavera pizza (mushrooms, artichokes, olives, nommmmmz) with Daiya cheese, and a side Napoli salad! For dessert, they always have three non-dairy sorbet options on hand, by Calgary’s own Fiasco Gelato!
Oak Tree Tavern
Recently, I have been enjoying this little pub nestled in the popular district of Kensington. I was initially attracted to the Oak Tree Tavern because they have a couple vegan offerings which include a great vegan burger, as well as a vegetarian chili. This cozy pub also posts weekly live music (no cover), movie nights, and a pretty good beer selection as well!
Hop in Brew
This is one of my favourite places to bring friends from out of town. An adorable little character home is the framework for this awesome pub that boasts the best selection of craft beers in Calgary. I almost don’t want to tell you about the Hop because you might start going there and making it busy on weekdays which is my favourite time to go. They have a great tap selection. Some of my favourite go-tos are the Yukon Red, Wild Rose Velvet Fog, Hop Head (Tree Brewing), all of which I can confirm are vegan friendly. I must admit I usually get here when the kitchen is already closed, but once I came here and they made us a cheeseless vegetarian pizza which I was happy they would do at all!
Wild Rose Brewery
Wild Rose Brewery is a serious Calgary gem. Whenever I travel to other cities, I always expect their microbreweries to be as awesome as Wild Rose and then I get let down. This brewery, located a little off the beaten path in the Currie Barracks area, boasts an amazing taproom, where you can either stop in and grab a six pack, twelve pack, or “party pig,” or sit down for awhile and have some brews and eats. They always have a seasonal beer on the go, but my favourite selections are the Velevet Fog as I mentioned earlier, and the Wraspberry Ale is pretty popular as well. I was a little bummed that they took the vegan chili off the menu recently, but I’m still happy to nom on a giant salad with Wraspberry Vinegrette, as well as some tortilla chips with dip or hummus. Their menu is deepfryer free!
Kensington Wine Market
Kensington Wine Market is a liquor store and not a pub, but I am going to recommend it anyways. Not only do they have an overwhelming wine selection where you’re guaranteed to find some vegan selections with ease, but they also have an awesome beer selection! I can always rely on Kensington Wine Market to have the best pumpkin beer selections in the autumn, and something else I haven’t tried every other time of the year! Friendly, knowledgeable staff, too!
Yep. Leave it to me to include an entire selection on vegan frozen treats!
Recently, Calgary was lucky enough to have Tutti Frutti open up! Currently, we only have a location on 17th Ave SW, but I hear two more are scheduled to open up around the city in the near future. This is a fantastic self serve frozen yogurt joint. At this particular location they currently have four vegan friendly options at all times- two soy froyos, and two sorbets! Pick your poison, than go up to their vast toppings bar and go crazy! My first visit was recent, where I indulged in Soy Latte froyo, topped with strawberries, crushed oreo cookies, almonds, coconut, and chocolate drizzle! Needless, to say, I was the happiest girl ever.
This establishment boasts a great selection of non-dairy sorbets, and also carries vanilla and chocolate toffutti ice creams as well! My favourite selection is probably the coconut sorbet when they have it, but they have so many you can visit a dozen times and still have a new vegan friendly flavour each visit!
These folks used to have a storefront, but now they have hit the roads with an awesome gelato truck that I’m always happy to see at summer festivals! This past Calgary Folk Festival, I tried the Blueberry Basil sorbet and it BLEW MY MIND. Like I said earlier, you can also try these fantastic gelatos at Famoso, if you’re so inclined!
Often times, people ask me for advice on where to get my staple foods. I am not going to give you huge descriptions of each place like I have for my favourite restaurants and pubs, but here are a few places I do my grocery shopping!
Calgary Farmer’s Market– For produce at Souto Farms, and mock meats, vegan Thai curries, and friendly banter at Heart’s Choice!
Kingsland Farmer’s Market for random awesomeness, and breads with simple ingredients at Rustic Sourdough. Also the homebase for Naaco Truck.
Community Natural Foods and Planet Organic for decent produce, bulk goods, household supplies, and vegan luxury products. Sunnyside Market is also a cute little market in Kensington that boasts awesome produce, organic products, and the newly attached Sidewalk Citizen Bakery.