May 19, 2024

This vegetarian’s favourite Montreal restos

If I had to choose one last meal, it would be vegan sushi at Shushu Haru, a “chicken” burger at Mimi and Jones or a dragon bowl at Aux Vivres.

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As a vegetarian of nearly a decade living in Montreal, I’ve been interacting with the restaurant scene long enough to witness it change. It felt hard to find somewhere veggie-friendly to eat in the beginning, when it seemed like you could count well-known options on one hand.

With the rise in popularity of plant-based diets came an influx of vegan/vegetarian restaurants across the city, and veggie-friendly options at other restaurants, too.

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It’s a lot easier to navigate now than it was back then; I barely worry about checking menus in advance anymore even if they aren’t specifically vegan/vegetarian. Odds are, unless you’re going to a steakhouse, there will be a few options — and not just a house salad! Yay!

I still love a fully veggie option for more variety. There are also so many tasty vegan restaurants nowadays that I can bring my omnivore friends and family along without having to do much convincing.

So, with that, I’d like to share the top three vegan places (in no particular order) I’ve come to adore:

Aux Vivres

(vegan, various influences)

Aux Vivres has been my go-to from the start (it was the first vegan restaurant in the city) and has remained one of my go-tos ever since.

(Disclaimer: I worked here for two years. However, I loved it for years before then — hence why I applied — and I really do love it still.)

I find it difficult to decide what to order because I genuinely enjoy everything, but my favourite is definitely the dragon bowl — mostly because the sauce is to die for. I’m also a huge fan of the wraps (Mekong and gyro are my favourites) and the appetizers (pakoras, tempeh satay!)

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A bowl filled with veggies and tempeh is sitting on a white tabletop.
The dragon bowl at Aux Vivres. Photo by John Mahoney /Montreal Gazette

Aux Vivres is probably best known for its bowls, composed of rice, lettuce and a variety of vegetables with one of many signature sauces, but there are also lots of hearty options like chana paratha and chilli. There’s something for everyone, I promise. If you’re bringing a skeptical omnivore along (or if you are one), I suggest the chilli!

Open every day, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., 4631 St-Laurent Blvd., 514-543-1267 or 4896 Sherbrooke St., Westmount, 514-842-3479; auxvivres.com

Shushu Haru

(vegan sushi)

Shushu Haru came into my life less than a year ago and it’s the restaurant I went to most often in 2023.

I’ve never actually been a fan of fish, so I’ve never ordered any of the mock-seafood options, but I’m a big fan of the vegetable rolls. I’ve tried many and have loved them all. My favourites are the tempura asparagus with truffle and the tempura sweet potato.

This is a place where I get overly excited about appetizers — in particular, the miso soup, gyozas, and, of course, edamames.

There’s a range of options — in addition to sushi, they have plates like General Tao (also to die for).

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I’d also like to shout out the staff here because they are so incredibly sweet (no shade to the staff at the other places on this list).

Open Thursday to Monday for lunch and every day for dinner, 2602 St-Patrick St., 438-380-9388, shushuharu.ca

Mimi and Jones

(vegan diner)

I almost forgot about Mimi and Jones while trying to remember my vegan go-tos, which is absurd because I regularly go out of my way to get to this one.

I’m obsessed with the chicken burger that used to be on the menu, and also the vibes. It has an old-school diner feel (complete with a jukebox!) that I am particularly attached to for Moe’s-related reasons.

The Caesar salad and fries are also delicious.

I haven’t actually tried anything else because I had no reason to stray from my order, but my partner has tried a bunch of stuff and has loved it all. The menu is composed of diner-inspired food, so burgers and sandwiches and fries. They also have delicious vegan milkshakes, which is fun for the hypocrite in me who will eat cheese but not drink milk.

Open Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m., 5149 Parc Ave., 438-375-4646, mimiandjones.com

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Honourable mention: Chains with veggie options

Now, this may be controversial … but I want to shout out chains like A&W for going out of their way to include mock meats so that we herbivores can have normal human experiences, like when you’re on Highway 401 and need to get food at a rest stop and don’t want to spend $15 on grapes from the convenience store.

I’m also just obsessed with the Beyond Meat burger from A&W specifically. I order it so often that it would be misleading not to include it as an honourable mention. It’s what I order on Uber Eats in a pinch (OK, fine, maybe also NOT in a pinch) and I am always satisfied (except when they forget to include my chipotle mayo.)

KFC has also added plant-based chicken burgers to its menu, as has Pizza Pizza. I’d obviously take a Mimi and Jones chicken burger over one from a chain any day, but alas, sometimes you’ve got to settle for a fast-food option.

I look forward to more well-known chains offering veggie options in the future.

Your move, McDonald’s.

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