Part III, Niagara Trip: Vegan Eats

Niagara-on-the-Lake and other towns in the area have slim pickings when it comes to vegan food, but the presence is still there. For those visiting the area and are in need of vegan fare, I’ll highlight the vegan eats on this last part to our Niagara trip to help you choose from.

Niagara-on-the-Lake

The main area of Niagara-on-the-Lake on Queen Street is where the majority of restaurants reside, but the restaurants at White Oak Resort are the only ones not on that main strip.

Urban Play Cafe and LIV Restaurant at White Oak Resort

We stayed at White Oak Resort and were pleasantly surprised when we learned they have separate vegan menus. Our experience was good, not the best we’ve had, but we appreciated the options. Urban Play Cafe has a bigger selection of vegan food to choose from, and in my opinion, better choices and tastier as well.

After checking into White Oak Resort, we visited Urban Play Cafe for lunch. Nick had the Nilly Sandwich, which he thought tasty but by the end of the meal, he felt it was a bit much. He didn’t enjoy the Daiya cheese that came with the sandwich, and it was a bit too greasy for him.

I had the Holy Kale Caesar Salad, which was gluten-free, with a side of baked sweet potato. They replaced the croutons with roasted chickpeas. The taste and texture were exactly like croutons from the way they prepared it, but because it was too greasy, I wish it was just baked chickpeas. However, I understand why they prepared the chickpeas that way because they were mimicking caesar salad. Regardless, I enjoyed the meal and appreciated that abundance of organic baby kale used for the dish.

On a separate occasion, we visited for desserts one evening. I have to say we enjoyed the desserts more than the meals. We shared the raw berry cheesecake and chocolate avocado cake. The berry spread on top of the cheesecake was like sorbet. Though yummy, I wasn’t quite feeling a frozen dessert.

The chocolate cake was light and spongy and not sweet, which we appreciated. And the ganache on top made the cake. It also had a little bit of coconut cream, which was a nice touch. It wasn’t so much, so the cake was still light. On paper, it sounded like the cake would be heavy because of the avocado and coconut, but it was quite the opposite.

Urban Play Cafe has the most vegan selections you can choose from in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I think most people would enjoy the flavors and creativity of the food there, but it’s not quite up our alley. Prices are more reasonable as well compared to LIV Restaurant. Also, LIV has one or two vegan selections, and since it’s “fine dining,” the prices are a bit absurd for a plate of cauliflower and sweet potato for $35. We ordered food from LIV once, but it isn’t worth the highlight. The desserts were more our style, but for the price of $13 per dessert, it was a bit much.

Bella Vita Ristorante

Bella Vita Italian restaurant is part of a hotel on Queen Street. As a non-vegan restaurant, the staff is accommodating to vegans. They have a couple of options on the menu that are vegetarian and can be made vegan simply by omitting the cheese. We did just that with the Spaghetti Primavera dish we had.

Bella Vita makes their own pasta fresh daily and it is apparent when we ate the dish. The flavors of the dish were robust and though a bit too oily for us, we still enjoyed. It’s hard to go wrong with Italian food, so if you’re craving pasta, give Bella Vita a try.

IL Gelato di Carlotta

There are several places on Queen Street you can get gelato or ice cream at, but IL Gelato di Carlotta is the only place with vegan choices and great ingredients. We visited this place a couple of times during our visit, and each day they have different vegan flavors and options.

Nick had passion fruit and I had lemon flavor. Both were delicious, but the passion fruit was better.

My favorite was this dark chocolate covered papaya bar!

What we like about Gelato di Carlotta is that they use organic ingredients and don’t use sweeteners. The gelatos are made with water and fruit, and that’s it. If you go, try the tropical flavors like papaya or passion fruit!

Niagara’s Finest Thai

Niagara’s Finest Thai is the only Thai restaurant on Queen Street. Just with every Thai restaurant, they have a vegetable only option on the menu. We haven’t had Thai food in so long, so this was a nice treat. We both had red curry, and it was amazingly good. The flavors are strong and tasty with a nice kick to it. My only complaint is that the veggie curry comes with fried tofu, which I didn’t eat. It isn’t listed on the menu so I had no idea it came with it; otherwise, I would have asked for veggies only or asked for non-fried tofu.

It tastes better than it looks.

If you love Thai curries, check them out. Also not pictured, we ordered the mango and sticky rice to go, but you can pass on this if you want. This is one of my favorite desserts/snacks, but the portion is tiny and not the best tasting for $11.

St. Catherines

St. Catherines is a neighboring city to Niagara-on-the-Lake with more vegan selections. We missed out on a couple of places because they were closed, Cafe Garibaldi for Italian and The Frosted Cupcake for cupcakes. However, the two places we ate at are worth mentioning.

The Lemon Tree

This Mediterranean restaurant has a separate vegan menu. What we enjoyed most from here was the appetizer, which was a couple of different hummus spreads with pita. This was full of flavors, delicious, and the best thing we had there. The red pepper hummus was the best! Not pictured is my salad and Nick’s hummus wrap. Both of these dishes were sopping in oil so by the end of the meal, we were so over it.

Rise Above

Rise Above is the only place we ate at that is an all vegan restaurant. They were closed the whole duration of our visit but opened up on the day we were leaving. We made sure to visit before taking off and it was worth it. This was the best vegan food we had on our trip.

Rise Above’s menu is creative and filled with myriad pickings. Nick went for their Backyard BBQ Plate, which he raved about and enjoyed tremendously. I had their House Salad with a side of their house-made rolls, which was so refreshing and hit the spot for me.

Grilled and BBQ sweet potato steaks, served with maple baked beans, house-made cornbread, and zesty cabbage slaw.

Greens, chickpeas and radishes, with shredded beets and carrots, in balsamic vinaigrette.

Nick was full after his meal, but I couldn’t pass up on dessert. I had the raspberry cheesecake, which was divine. It was the best non-raw cheesecake I’ve had. Then for the road, we each ordered their Square dessert bars to go, a Peanut Butter Blondie and Nanaimo Bar (Canadian specialty). Both bars were scrumptious and are worth picking up for later.

This place is not to be missed if you’re in the area. It’s a popular spot with vegans and non-vegans alike, so expect it to be busy. Arrive earlier than regular eating times and you’ll have an easier time getting a seat. Give them a visit and you won’t be disappointed. They have something for everyone.

This sums up our Niagara Trip. If you missed the previous posts, Part I and Part II of our trip cover Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls and Parks.