Gorilla Food

100% vegan

Cuisine: Raw
Tofu puffs: 3 out of 5
Price range: $$
Times visited: Way too many times to count
Location: 101-436 Richards Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2Z4
Hours: Every day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: 604-684-3663; www.gorillafood.com

Gorilla Food

The entrance to Gorilla Food.

This review is a little one-sided. See, only one half of The Vegan Spoonies will eat at Gorilla Food. This is definitely not because there’s anything bad about the place. It’s just that some people don’t like raw food that much. That’s all good.

The original Gorilla Food was located just half a block north of its current location. It was a little takeout window that was perfect for cyclists and pedestrians. In the fall of 2008, owner Aaron Ash moved the restaurant to a larger space—a hip subterranean burrow with a decidedly cozy feel and earthy look. Below-street-level restaurants are unusual in Vancouver, but despite the radically different setting and menu options at Gorilla Food, this place attracts a diverse number of people—everyone from businessmen in suits and dreadlocked Rastafarians to punks and emo kids.

There is a small amount of seating, enough for about 15 to 20 people. Regrettably, the space is not really kid-friendly; there is little space to maneuver with a stroller, so you’ll have to pack it up before heading in. It may also be difficult for some people with accessibility concerns to get down the short but steep flight of stairs leading from the street into the restaurant.

As if it isn’t cool enough that a little raw-food vegan restaurant such as this is thriving in downtown Vancouver, Gorilla Food uses 100% biodegradable sugarcane-based paper containers and cups for most of its takeout food. And they use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap in the bathroom! The hand soap is sort of a big deal when you think about it. We’ve been to many vegan and vegetarian restaurants that overlook the animal ingredient/animal testing aspect of products used in their bathrooms.

Thai Fresh Wraps

Thai Fresh Wraps.

Gorilla Food offers a decent selection of smoothies, fresh juices, sprouted snacks and crackers, appetizers, salads, and main courses. But keep in mind that its kitchen uses a lot of seeds and nuts, so this is not a good place for anyone with nut or seed allergies. Also—and we have to say it—this is not a place that most people we know like to eat at all the time. They say it’s the place they go when they need to feel more nourished and a little healthier. And it’s not cheap; the average price of most menu items is $6.50. And that’s not including a drink or dessert. Keep in mind that Gorilla Food accepts cash only, so don’t forget to arrive with cash in hand unless you want to leave with an empty tummy.

My favourite dish by far is the Thai Fresh Wraps. They are “Three collard leaf wraps filled with a sprouted sunflower seed and veggie pate, sesame seasoned coleslaw and served with a ginger raisin chutney.” They’re actually an appie, but I find them filling enough to eat on their own as a main. Another good main is the Veggie Burger. This is the best item to start off with for anyone new to this kind of cuisine. It looks impressive on a plate and is such an interesting combination of flavours and textures. The Falafel is surprisingly good, but I’d pass on the Green Taco and the Cashew Alfredo Zucchini Linguini—both of those dishes were oddly bland and too watery. And the pizza is an acquired taste, so it’s not the best item to start with.

Sprouted Chili Almonds

Sprouted Chili Almonds.

As far as appies and snacks go, the Sprouted Chili Almonds, the Sunny Ginger Nori dehydrated crackers, and the guacamole and crackers are hits. The guacamole is so creamy and perfectly seasoned with finely minced onions and lime juice that I wouldn’t miss a chance to get some.

The desserts are unusual, and by that I mean really good. There is a hemp-chocolate mousse-like cake not on the menu but that I frequently see in the dessert cooler. It’s lovely. The dark raw chocolate fudge, the Gorilla Biscuit, and the truffles (also not on the menu) are pretty yummy.

If you haven’t tried raw food before, this is a good place to introduce yourself to it. If you feel inclined to give it a go at home, Gorilla Food sells a small selection of staple items, such as cocoa butter, bulk nori and cashews, a spiralizer, and even raw-food cookbooks, to take home with you.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by SAngela on October 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Very accurate review! However, you forgot to mention that because all the food is at its absolute freshest, the wait time before you get your order can be fairly long. If you have time constraints it’s best to remember you won’t be in and out in 1/2 hour. Although, maybe some of the wait could be alleviated if the kitchen was a bit more organized.
    And I wish Aaron was open a bit later, to say 5:30 or 6 so I could pick things up on my way home.

    Reply

    • time has been cut down quite a bit. The last three times I’ve been there, I’ve had to wait no more than 7 minutes for my orders, which is impressive since, as you say, they make assemble dishes from scratch as soon as they’re ordered. I think this really depends on the day and on the staff. Some days are way busier than others. I’ve also noticed a somewhat steady turnover in staff, so this might have something to do with the wait times for orders.

      I hear you on the staying open later issue – there have been a few times that I’ve wished they were open just a little later for folks like us who want to grab dinner on our way home. At least they’re open 7 days a week now – they used to be closed on Sundays, I think.

      Nicole

      Reply

  2. Posted by Kim on December 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    I understand that raw food is healthy, but it gives vegan food a bad name in terms of taste! I like real pasta, cooked and warm.

    Reply

    • Well, as with cooked vegan food, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly too, just like with raw food. It’s really a matter of taste, we think. Some raw food is so incredible, and others, well, not so much.

      Reply

  3. Posted by nouna on January 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    The desserts look delightful, I wish I had the recipes!
    What was the Caramel Cinnamon Pie crust made from? It looks like a real crust, yummy!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

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