Downtown Kingston is the place to be this summer, overflowing with only the hottest patios, swaying with live music and jam-packed with food galore. Our inviting hub seems to have something for everyone, whether you’re a dedicated locavore and craving only the freshest ingredients, in the mood for some savoury authentic cuisine, or just ready to settle down after work with some appys and a few drinks. Yes – we’ve definitely hit the jackpot when it comes to our array of local restaurants coating our waterfront city, and for many of us –the choices of eateries are endless.
Unless you prefer to abstain from meat. Or in this case, refrain from eating animal products entirely all together.
It’s no secret I am a full-blown carnivore – I could never pass up a freshly ‘cued chicken breast slathered in sauce (any sauce at that, admittedly I’ll devour it regardless) and I practically inhale cheese when it and I are in the same room. I’ve never had a problem finding a dish on a menu that would leave me full and satisfied. That being said, I’ve recently been put to task seeking out restaurants in Kingston that offer a range of meat-free options on their menu as I prepare for a visit from my very best, and very vegetarian friend who has recently become accustomed to all-veggie fare restaurants on the east coast.
I got to thinking – where do vegans go to eat when they want to head out on the town? After all, there is an ever-growing vegan population out there and after talking with some pals, it is apparent Kingston has many, many individuals who practice veganism. And besides the typical garden salad, it is challenging to find vegan-friendly meals on the menu in our local hotspots.
Unlike our neighbouring cities, namely Toronto and Montreal, Kingston does not have a restaurant dedicated to serving strictly vegetarian and/or vegan dishes. In 2010, Kingston’s only 100% vegetarian restaurant Lotus Heart Blossom (which debuted a five page menu full of veg platters) closed and we have yet to see a similar restaurant manifest.
With a city so focused on supporting local farmers and community, I think opening up a small restaurant in Kingston focused on local raw foods and vegan fare would be welcomed. However with the size of our town and the recent closures of locally owned restaurants in the downtown strip, that is up for debate.
That being said, though few and far between our brightly dotted downtown streets, we do have a limited number of wonderful – and popular – local destinations that include vegan-friendly choices on the menu.
Harpers Burger Bar: Indeed – this popular local burger joint is a palace to kingstonians, and it is filled with options! In fact, “Vegan Burgers” even has its own section! Gear yourself up for perhaps the best chickpea burger in Kingston (yes – even I’ve had it, vegan bun and all!) layered with soy-glazed mushrooms and smoked paprika ketchup. Delicious.
The Sleepless Goat: Vegetarians and vegans alike can find comfort in the local café! The inviting menu includes a wide selection of breakfast and dinner options for vegans, such as the “non-traditional” breakfast which includes The Goat’s signature vegan Dakota toast or you can take comfort in a lighter option of “granola, fruit and yogurt. As for dinner, you can prepare yourself for the delicious Toggenburger served with the signature homemade mushroom and vegan tahini spread. If burgers just aren’t your thing, you can dive in to the Sleepless Shepard’s pie. I can’t speak on behalf of vegans, but the internet is filled with positive reviews from vegans who are dying to go back for their next meal.
Woodenheads Gourmet Pizza: This one surprised me, as for me, cheese is a necessity when it comes to pizza. But thankfully for vegans, this popular local pizza place up on Ontario St. offers vegan crust and tasty toppings. I have yet to taste cheese-less pizza, but I’ve heard it’s a hit.
Arguably, these aren’t the only restaurants that offer vegan fare in Kingston – simply put, many restaurants have salads available (or salads that can be adapted) that fit the vegan diet. However, the places listed above are places I have enjoyed vegan fare (as a non-vegan) and have noticed “vegan” actually printed on the menu.
Let us know what you think! We would love to hear recommendations (good or bad) below about the vegan presence in our downtown nucleus!