The best things in life aren’t things.
My parents have this quote hanging on the wall surrounded by silly family pictures capturing emotions and moments. This mindset, paired with our minimalist(ish) approach to our recent cross-country move makes shopping for presents pretty easy. Doing stuff > buying stuff. Of course every rule has an exception, so for my husband’s birthday, he got a trip to Vancouver…and a bottle of hot sauce.
We recently moved to Seattle, Washington, so driving up to visit our neighbors to the north seemed like a great weekend trip. I made a map of all the places I thought we should try – and kept track of where we’ve been, so we can try new places on the next trip too. Yes, spoiler alert – we loved Vancouver, and we will totally go again.
Leaving Seattle took longer than planned (gotta love I-5 traffic) so we got to listen to lots of podcasts on the way up. We got in around 8:30 and went straight to Meet On Main for dinner. All the reviews for this place sounded great, and the menu is just our style. Not only are there some faux meats, but they actually have vegetables. That sounds like a weird statement, but it seems like some restaurants can focus too heavily on soy/wheat meats, nut cheeses and other vegan non-vegetables. While that is awesome for the animals and the environment, I don’t know if it’s best for me. I thrive when I can eat the rainbow.
While driving up, we started to get hungry, and the thought of corn fritters with spicy chipotle mayo kept us from stopping before we got to the restaurant we had in mind. When we got there, we saw the table next to us has the sweet chili cauliflower, and made the game time decision to start with those instead.
Next up, we had burgers and fries! Yes, I know I’m an “eat the rainbow” vegan…and there was a side salad with carrots and beets. If you ever wondered, “how can I pile on loads of sauteed mushrooms or mac n’ cheese on to a burger, and have it stay in place?” the answer is onion rings. I ordered The Meet Burger, and my husband had the Mac’N’Cheez Burger. Both had two onion rings included in the description, and silly me, I thought that meant they came with the fries. These onion rings are flavor lassos, and they they keep the burger toppings where they belong.
After this indulgent meal, we headed to our AirBnB for the weekend in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. That dinner (and the longer-than-expected drive…and a long day of work) wiped us out.
Movin’ and Eatin’
On Saturday, we drove to Stanley Park for a scenic 5-mile run along the Seawall, around the lagoon, and through the park. It was a bit overcast, but we loved seeing so many other people out running, walking, or biking. Next time, maybe we will rent bikes!
Although it seems like Vancouver has a good brunch scene, we were still full from dinner, and opted for some fresh fruit from a grocery store to hold us over until lunch. Finally, once that hunger started coming back, we headed to Vegan Pizza House. There are two highly rated vegan pizza places, and this one was older with only the Vancouver location, so we decided to check it out. We got to meet the owner and head pizza maker himself! We ordered a medium pizza with ‘chicken’, peppers, and onions. To my surprise, we got the full rainbow of peppers instead of just green. The “meat” was sliced thin like deli meat – I’ve never had that on pizza, but it works! Sometimes the chunkier toppings just fall off anyways, so this was flavorful and practical in construction. While ordering, the owner offered up bubble tea…and I’ve never had it, so I gave it a try. He offered all sorts of flavors, so I had a mango bubble tea. The drink was light and refreshing, but those little tapioca pearls might take a while to grow on me. My curiosity kept pulling me back in for more sips, and I finished the whole thing (and enjoyed it!) – just don’t think I’ll make bubble tea my regular drink of choice. The pizza menu is pretty extensive, and they have other Mediterranean food as well. I would go back and check out a few more items here too!
As we were leaving Vegan Pizza House, it started pouring rain, so we looked for some indoor activities for the afternoon. On the same day as the March for Science, and Earth Day, we headed to the Vancouver Science Museum. It only made sense! It is arguably targeted for people a fraction of our age, but being kids at heart, we felt at home learning about recycling, and water usage alongside the families and kids.
Whenever I’m at museums, I always get a bit judgmental through my vegan lens, and see all the missed opportunities they have to affect change. In exhibits about water conservation, why isn’t animal agriculture the focal point? In a building that also houses exhibits on digestion and what our human bodies are really designed to eat, why do the on-site restaurants serve meat? The Vancouver Science Museum and tons of other museums are doing so many things right when it comes to education and making this information accessible and fun for people of all ages, but there’s always that opportunity to do a little better. Of course, it all comes down to money, and voting with our dollars at the grocery store is just a piece of the puzzle.
All this science worked up an appetite, so we headed over to Vegan Pudding & Co based on some recommendations. This is just walk-up window on the street, and we almost missed it! I met the owner of this niche snack joint, and asked about the decent list of flavors. You can get a small, but then it doesn’t come with sauce…I never knew I wanted sauce with pudding until we ordered it. We got a chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce, and a vanilla pudding with caramel. I’ve never been big on pudding, but the sauce made it taste like a sundae! The portions are small by some standards (I’m looking at you, American fast food chains and movie theaters) but our mediums were the perfect snack size.
In non-food related commentary, I loved that they use all compostable cups, spoons, and bags. I also really love the old-timey font stamped on to the bag.
Fast forward a few hours and it was time for dinner! I’m not kidding. We ate A LOT this weekend. Maybe not a lot in terms of volume, but we were trying really hard to eat our way through the map I made, so we had to eat frequently. We walked to Budgies Burritos for a low key dinner at this order-at-a-counter place. This restaurant is vegetarian, so they offer dairy products, but know how to veganize things without question. Instead of offering nut- or soy-based cheese in place of cow products, they just offer guacamole…I love this! Why layer on more white foods when you can have bright colors?!
For someone who asks a lot of questions, I’m disappointed in myself for not asking the Budgies guy about the names. Their tacos all have initials, so I had one LD and one RIP taco. The LD had rice, vegan “ground round” meat crumbles, lettuce and guacamole, and the RIP was was, Tofurky sausage, lettuce and guacamole. The flavors were both solid, but the Tofurky chunks were a bit big for me – I would have cut the pieces smaller. Those LD’s on the other hand – I could eat those for days.
The hubby had The Johnny O burrito with jalapenos, rice, beans, lettuce and guacamole. It comes in two sizes so you can decide what best fits your current hunger situation. Bonus points for Budgies Burritos, and their retro diner tables downstairs. All this eating was just exhausting. After dinner walked home and went to bed.
A Sweet End to the Weekend
The next morning, a few of our plans were foiled by road closures for a 10k race, but luckily, we were able to get to Edible Flours for some breakfast pastries. This lovely vegan bakery was on a main drag that was surprisingly quiet; I think it is actually quite a bit busier on a weekday. The bakery has gluten free options and totally understands allergies, so everything is nicely labeled.
Because of the road closures, we decided to head back to Seattle and save some other places and activities for next time. On the way back, we stopped for lunch in Everett. I saw some delicious posts from Cafe Wylde on Instagram, and have wanted to check it out for a few months. While it’s not that far north of Seattle, traffic can make it seem really far away…so a road trip pit stop was the best way to check it out.
Cafe Wylde is a bright space with a cool spiral staircase and mix of patrons. While we were eating lunch, others stopped in for fresh juice or a smoothie after yoga class, or delicious vegan cake slices to go. After a few days of gluttony, I opted for some ancient grains and greens and ordered a Bukhan Bowl with Korean BBQ, avocado, radish, scallions, cilantro, sesame slaw, plus tamari sauteed mushrooms over quinoa. It was perfect. My husband had the BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich on a ciabatta bun, BBQ filling, arugula, red onion, avocado. It also came with some pretty purple house made slaw.
So there you have it. Our “do stuff > buy stuff” birthday weekend in Vancouver still consisted of buying lots of food, but we have fun and delicious memories of the experience.
For your own Vancouver vegan adventures, feel free to use our map below! Blue is lunch/dinner food (darker blue is where we’ve been) and purple is dessert/snacks (darker purple is where we’ve been). If you have any other recommendations, please let us know for our next trip!