Skip to Content

Democracy Restaurant: Amazing Vegan Cafe in Hamilton, Ontario

Democracy* on Locke Street is one of the best independently-owned coffee shops in the city, and it’s also one of the best vegan restaurants in Hamilton, too. Democracy offers an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for all who visit the cafe.

Immediately, I noticed the huge chalkboard walls, beckoning people of all ages to create their own artwork or messages to decorate the shop. Board games were stacked on a shelf, inviting customers to stay a while and spend time with friends. I’m going to share more details about our visit to Democracy (including some updated details since our first visit in February 2015 when this blog post was originally published!).

Posts may be sponsored. Post contains affiliate links. I may be compensated if you make a purchase using my link.

Democracy restaurant in Hamilton

Democracy: A Welcoming Atmosphere

Democracy is one of the few coffee shops I’ve visited that wasn’t filled with customers on their laptops. In fact, there were families here spending time together, as well as friends chatting over lattes and sandwiches. Democracy coffee shop has taken a rare stance nowadays – it does not offer a wifi connection at all.

Democracy restaurant and vegan cafe in Hamilton Ontario
Democracy restaurant and vegan cafe in Hamilton Ontario

What, no Internet? Say it isn’t so! This decision was made purposefully by the owners, encouraging people to engage in conversation and spend quality time with one another. Remaining true to its namesake, Democracy suggests that discussion and debate are valuable, and perhaps this coffee shop would be a great place to immerse ourselves in dialogues with our colleagues and loved ones.

Another aspect that made me particularly happy was that there were several tables available on a Saturday afternoon when Justin and I visited Democracy. Maybe this related to the no-wifi thing, or maybe it was because this cafe had plenty of space and lots of tables.

Democracy* Cafe’s Vegan Offerings

We made our way to the front counter, noticing a glass case containing bins full of bagels and numerous baked goods. The word vegan caught my eye and there was another reason to rejoice. When we visited in 2015, about half of the treats were vegan…nowadays, 100% of the desserts are vegan! In addition, many treats are gluten-free. The only dairy that’s offered at Democracy goes into coffee and espresso beverages.

Vegan cinnamon buns

As always, Democracy restaurant’s menu is 100% vegan, so you can be sure that everything on the menu is completely plant-based. The menu has changed over the years, and I’m always able to find a tasty dish or two that catches my interest.

Justin at Democracy*
Lauren at Democracy*

Justin and I took a seat by the giant garage door window, which I imagine could be opened up during the summer months. Justin ordered the BBQ Pulled Mushroom (King oyster mushrooms shredded and sauteed in BBQ sauce and topped with coleslaw) and I ordered the Stuffed Focaccia (smoked tempeh baked right in the dough with apples, maple syrup, walnuts, caramelized onions, and Daiya vegan cheese).

BBQ pulled mushroom sandwich
Stuffed foccacia vegan

The BBQ pulled mushroom sandwich was actually quite light and full of flavour. The BBQ sauce was tangy and delicious, while the coleslaw was crispy. As for the stuffed focaccia, wow was it ever good! Between the smoked tempeh, the sweet caramelized onions and maple syrup, and the gooey cheese, it was a very rich and savory mouthful.

Justin said that it was actually quite meaty in its taste, and that anyone who loved eating meat would really enjoy this sandwich. I’ve never eaten meat before, and I loved the sandwich. It was really filling – I couldn’t finish the whole thing, and I lamented that.

We Love Democracy Restaurant

Chalkboard sign

I thought this phrase on the chalkboard wall was quite funny (vegan/health food humour, anyone?): “Never eat ingredients you can’t pronounce. Except quinoa. You should eat quinoa.” On another wall, someone advocated for signing a petition to ban animal traps on trails. I later discovered was the petition was also advertised on the cafe’s Facebook page. Any coffee shop that speaks up for the safety and welfare of animals is a place that I will support! It also helps that the food was very, very yummy.

Democracy Restaurant in Hamilton

On one way out, we couldn’t resist getting coffee, a huge double chocolate cookie, and one of those decadent cinnamon buns. I’d love to come back for a latte or to enjoy a beer or glass of wine (yes, they serve alcohol, too!). Democracy Restaurant, we will be back (and we have been back…many, many times!).

Follow Justin Plus Lauren:
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Join our Travel Community

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Monday 26th of November 2018

This place does look good even for a decidedly non vegan. (I could never give up cheese). I will have to check it out. I like that they also serve wine and beer. I'm not a coffee drinker. Have you tried Lettuce Love Café in Burlington. It also specializes in vegan cuisine.


Wednesday 28th of November 2018

Maggie, I love Lettuce Love Cafe - been going there for a long while, though haven't been recently. I heard they're opening a new location in Oakville, too! Boon Burger is also one of my favs. I think you'd really like Democracy - my non-vegan friends LOVE it! Let me know if you give it a try and what you think!

Hung Thai

Sunday 14th of February 2016

LOL. Nice shot of the quinoa board. I still haven't tried quinoa yet though - maybe I'll give it a shot :)


Sunday 22nd of February 2015

Oh, the food looks amazing! Thanks for the linkup!


Friday 20th of February 2015

What a fantastically accurate and observant review! The fact that I'm great friends with one of the owners does make me slightly bias, but in all fairness it truly is one of the best places for Vegan eats in Southern Ontario. Toronto has sooo many spots opening up and everyone tries to do what's trendy. When it comes to democracy, they shoo the big city trends and stay cozy, intimate, and appealing. As a meat eater I can vouch for the grilled focaccia... Man, is it ever savory, meaty, and substantial. Now I want one...


Friday 20th of February 2015

I love the decor of Democracy. I'm trying to eat more Vegan Before 6pm (VB6) a book by Mark Bittman. I'm not vegan but would like to eat more vegetables, and this place looks like a great place to eat for me. The food looks delicious and that Cinnamon bun, yum!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.