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An international restaurant food tour of Hamilton Ontario vegan style!
I was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I haven’t lived in the area for a long time. Predominantly known for its steel mills, Hamilton is now emerging as a center for arts and culture. Similarly, there’s a burgeoning food scene in the Steel City. As Hamilton is very multicultural, it comes as no surprise that there are different ethnic restaurants sprinkled around town. Along with several travel and food bloggers and my friends at tripcentral.ca, we embarked on a day-long journey to uncover the best kept foodie secrets in Hamilton. Thankfully, there are many vegan and vegetarian options at these restaurants. Here are my Hamilton Ontario vegan picks from the day. And I thought I knew where all of the vegan food was in the city. I hadn’t even heard of most of these restaurants before the tour, and I’d happily return to all of them.
NàRoma Pizza Bar (Italy)
215 Locke Street South / NaRoma Pizza Bar
Served up in square slices, NàRoma pizza is a carefully researched and tested work of art. Owner and chef Mario Spina studied pizza making in Rome and Naples. Through years of development, he’s combined the best elements of both pizza styles, mastering the most perfectly chewy crust. The dough is prepared over 72 hours using three types of flour. The tomato sauce is cooked from scratch, and only fresh ingredients are used.
The vegan selection was a quinoa salad (quinoa, kale, avocado, red onion, red pepper, black beans, fresh lime juice) and a simple marinara pizza with tomato sauce and basil leaves. On the regular menu, the vegan menu items are clearly marked. I can’t wait to go back and try the “Terra” pizza, with kale, red onion, zucchini, red pepper, artichoke, infornate olives, and roasted garlic. There’s also the option to make your own pizza with the toppings of your choosing.
Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe (Brazil)
211 Locke Street South / Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe Locke St
Second on the tour, we made a pit stop next door for some coffee. This delicious cup of joe gave me an extra jolt of caffeine that I desparately needed. After all, I had a long day of eating food ahead of me! This Brazilian coffee comes directly from the farm to Oakville, Ontario, where the beans are roasted. The coffee shop has a great relationship with the coffee growers in Brazil. This medium roast coffee has an invigorating aroma and a smooth taste. The coffee shop itself was quite unique as the building used to be a church.
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Except for Kenneth (England)
189 Ottawa Street North / Except for Kenneth
With quirky decorations hanging from the walls and a well-stocked bar, Except for Kenneth has a constantly rotating menu to keep things fresh. This British comfort food is mostly suitable for meat-eaters, but they always have an item on the menu for the vegetarians and vegans in the crowd. I was served this adorable amuse-bouche on a tiny spoon. This quinoa salad was the perfect bite (or two) and certainly kept this herbivore happy. Be sure to pair it with a cold pint.
Next up: nestled in the Hamilton Farmer’s Market, here are two food stands with sensational eats.
Hamilton Farmer’s Market – 35 York Blvd / Pokeh
Before the food tour, I’d never heard of poké before. It’s a traditional Hawaiian cuisine that’s essentially a broken down sushi roll into a bowl. There’s rice, veggies, fish, and toppings. The Green Bowl is a regular menu item and it’s the vegetarian/vegan selection: tamari pickled shiitake, tofu, tamari/sesame oil, green/white Onions, cucumbers, black/white sesame seeds, carrots, kale, and edamame. The small tasting wasn’t enough. It was so, so delicious. I needed to have more. But, I had to save room for the other yummy dishes throughout the rest of the day. Pokeh, I’ll be coming back for more.
Eat Ramen (Japan)
Hamilton Farmer’s Market – 35 York Blvd / Eat Ramen
Located across the aisle, Eat Ramen serves up ramen dishes that aren’t your typical cheap noodle dinners. They use high quality ingredients and perfectly seasoned sauces to create the most elegant ramen meals I’ve ever seen. The vegetarian/vegan selection includes their signature mushroom broth, tofu, nori, sprouts and vegetables (for the vegan choice, specify no egg). It will be a tough choice when I return to the Hamilton Farmer’s Market – should I dine at Pokeh or Eat Ramen? I might have to pick up one of each.
The Mule (Mexico)
41 King William Street / The Mule
One of two Mexican food stops for the day, the walls of The Mule are adorned with vibrant sugar skulls. We were presented with beer and several platters of tacos. This is my kind of place! The vegan option is a crispy sweet potato taco that did not disappoint. Since the food tour, I returned to The Mule dor brunch. As it turns out, one of the cooks is mostly vegan. She made the most mouth-watering vegan Huevos Rancheros for me. It’s not listed on the menu. If you go for brunch, mention that you’re vegan and they’ll take care of you. All of the food is 100% gluten-free, too!
150 James Street South / Mezcal
On a Saturday night, was this place ever popular! With a line-up spilling out the door, I could see why it was so bumping. With a dark and mysterious atmosphere and the tunes cranked, Mezcal is the perfect hangout for the college crowd. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for a first date – you won’t be able to engage in any meaningful conversations with your table-mate. I tried the Crispy Cauliflower taco, sans cream sauce, and I loved it. I’d like to go back to try the other vegan offering, the Spiced Chickpea taco. Noms.
In addition to several well known vegan restaurants in Hamilton, such as Democracy Coffee House, there are lots of tasty international vegan meals all over the city. I definitely recommend checking these ones out! You can check out many more tantalizing food photos by searching the hashtag, #HamOntFT, on social media.
Thank you so much to tripcentral.ca for organizing and inviting me on this food tour of Hamilton! All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
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