Being vegetarian in Yellowknife can be challenging. This is an unabashedly meat-loving city, and eating outside the confines of your home can be especially uninspiring, with options usually limited to indifferent salads or pasta afterthoughts, leaving you unsatisfied, protein-less and palate-deprived. But don’t give up just yet. Here are some veggie-friendly options to keep in mind for vegetarians of all budgets and inclinations:
Best fast food option: A&W
A&W is the only fast food joint in town with a veggie burger on its menu, and it’s surprisingly decent. Not your typical soy mush, their Veggie Deluxe burger offers a nicely seasoned patty made with mushrooms, oats and brown rice. It’s topped with tomatoes, lettuce, onions, pickles, mozzarella cheese and ranch dressing, but the staff does not make a fuss if you want customization. Pair it with onion rings and a root beer to make it a complete meal. Note: the patty does contain eggs, so it can’t be customized for vegans.
Mon – Sun: 08:00 – 22:00
Best sit-down lunch: The Cellar Bar & Grill
In addition to a veggie burger on its menu, The Cellar offers a different homemade vegan soup special every day. Past options have included curried carrot and potato, black bean tomato vegetable, sweet potato pear, African peanut and Mexican stew. Served with a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s only $8. It gets super busy at lunch, so arrive right at noon to get served first, or skip the rush and take a late, leisurely lunch at 1.
4910-50th Avenue – Lower Level (under Sushi North)
Tues-Fri: 11:00 – 02:00
Sat: 16:00 – 02:00
Closed Sundays and Mondays
Best weekend brunch: Luluz Market
Yes, Luluz is a fancy grocery store, but it has a reasonably priced sit-down café on-site that’s often overlooked. Their coffee is good and their lattes are made with organic milk. A roasted red pepper, fresh pesto and aged cheddar Panini and vegetarian pizza are always available and there’s a different special, soup and quiche offered daily. Shown above: a tasty recent weekend special of French toast, with real maple syrup and homemade jam. It’s a great place to indulge in java and brunch, before shopping for your tempeh and kombucha.
480 Range Lake Road (Centre Ice Plaza)
Mon – Thu: 10:00 – 18:00
Fri: 10:00 – 19:00
Sat: 09:00 – 18:00
Sun: 12:00 – 17:00
Best veggie hack: Red Apple Family Restaurant
Lest anyone confuse a vegetarian diet with just kale and smoothies, Red Apple provides a greasy and surprisingly authentic Chinese meal that’s adaptable for a vegetarian diet. Order the Shanghai noodles with no meat and the Mao Pao tofu with no pork to share with your meat-eating friends. The noodles are satisfyingly greasy and salty, and properly stir-fried with enough wok hay to make your meat friends happy. Wok hay is a Chinese term that translates to “wok breath.” It basically means that the food has been properly “wokked” and cooked with enough fire and heat. The Mao Pao tofu provides a good dose of protein, and is speckled with chilies and bits of crunchy, sour preserved vegetables.
4701 Franklin Ave
Mon – Fri: 07:00 – 22:30
Sat – Sun: 08:00 – 22:30
Best overall veggie option: Zehabesha Traditional Ethiopian Food
Zehabesha is not just Yellowknife good, but reality-based good. Its traditional Ethiopian offerings could fit in and compete with options in any other city. Vegan dishes are always available in Ethiopian cuisine as their Orthodox Church prescribes animal-free eating during Wednesdays, Fridays and lent. Zehabesha’s Yetsom Beyayantu platter has nine different flavourful and well-spiced lentil, cabbage, carrot, potato, green bean, spinach, beet and salad dishes served on top of injera, a fermented, spongy flatbread made with teff flour. A vegetarian/vegan’s dream, basically. Injera is gluten-free if made with 100% teff, but Zehabesha does use a bit of barley flour in theirs. Teff flour is quite expensive and Zehabesha sources theirs from a distributor in Calgary that imports directly from Ethiopia.
Address: 5030 50th Street
Mon-Sat: 11:00 – 21:00