The Sacred Garden

Ottawa, Ontario


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We live about 2 hours away from Ottawa but when we find ourselves in the city we head to Sacred Garden! What a place! Clean and comfortable decor, friendly and helpful wait staff and lots to choose from on the menu. I will admit that the mock shrimps are a little too realistic but they are delicious! Our non-vegetarian friends are just as enamoured with Sacred Garden as we are!

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The Sacred Garden only serves vegetarian and vegan Thai food and it is terrific. This place has everything I look for in a vegetarian restaurant; top quality food with tons of vegan choices, friendly and mellow wait staff and a clean and pleasant dining room.
Starting with the food - the seasonings are top notch and the ingredients obviously fresh. These people know what they are doing in the kitchen. There are always new dishes to try and every time I go I am very pleasantly surprized by another new creation.
One word of caution - be prepared for a bit of a shock when you see some (mock) "shrimps" in the Pad Thai and other dishes because they are fairly realistic looking. The menu also lists things like chicken and other meats, but it is all simulated. This place is pure veggie, despite the descriptions. Other than that the surprizes are all really good ones.
The man who usually serves us is very nice, and while attentive and quite quick, seems very mellow at the same time. That's an art in itself. The other servers are all great too.
The decor really adds to the experience. The art is mostly Buddhist and some pieces are really interesting.
It is owned by the same folks who own Sweet Basil.
On our last visit our non-veggie friends, who were initially reluctant to go to a "veggie" place, loved it so much they vowed to return.
The only downside of the Sacred Garden is that it is too popular, so line-ups are the norm on weekends. Go early on week-nights and you should be ok. They open at 5:30. They seem to be taking reservations now for early seatings, but from the look of the line-ups, perhaps not later in the evening.
This is easily my favourite Ottawa restaurant.

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The food is bursting with distinct flavours and the staff is incredibly friendly and attentive. They always remember my preferences and modifications without me even having to mention them. I've tasted about 3/4 of all the dishes on the menu by now and I keep going back week after week. And I love that I don't have to worry about shrimp paste or fish sauce tainting the food because they don't use any.

My favourite dishes are the tofu tod (a great bread-like nugget that's excellent with the sweet chili sauce), the soup with tofu and tomatoes, the spicy noodles (#31), the panang curry with protein (ie, fake) "beef" (#29) and the vegetables dishes in either mushroom sauce, the chili sauce or the garlic sauce (#15, 16 and 21 but I could be off by a number or two). The appetizers are about $6-$8, and the main dishes are about $12-$14. They have a vegan dessert now but it's only indicated on the specials menu, not the paper one. It's a wonderful mix of sweet coconut milk, soft coconut slices and tapioca; the perfect complement to the main meal. On the whole, the food here is, by far, the best vegan food I have ever eaten (Thai or otherwise). My non-vegetarian friends and family also think the food is fantastic.

The restaurant is small (maybe 20 tables?) with a lovely decor and soft background music. Parking can easily be found on Sunnyside or in one of the lots of the neighbouring stores after business hours (at your own risk I suppose, but I've never had a problem). There is informal take-out; I've seen many people walk in, order items off the menu and come back 15 minutes later to pick it up. I can't recommend this place enough!

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