Hamilton’s bustling Locke Street is hardly starved for great food options of all sorts; but one popular mainstay – known for its plant-based focus – has managed to maintain a sturdy customer base for years.
That would be Democracy*: a spacious, inviting coffeehouse and restaurant that specializes entirely in vegan dishes and baked goods on top of its standard coffee, espresso, and tea beverages.
The café first opened 10 years ago at 202 Locke Street South – starting out as the Locke Street Bakery – and was recently taken over by new management who have remained committed to Democracy*’s plant-based approach, meaning you won’t find a scrap of meat, dairy, or any animal products in sight for their rangy menu.
For co-owner Robin Maddalena, the continued rise in veganism’s popularity can be attributed to multiple factors including environmental, ethical, and dietary values; not to mention the fact that the breadth and quality of vegan food options has grown dramatically in recent years.
“We are a vegan restaurant that both vegans and non-vegans love!” adds Maddalena.
It’s true, too: Democracy* even attracts omnivores as part of its regular flow of customers, due largely in part to the fact that the food is great enough to make visitors not miss meat or dairy in the slightest.
Daily breakfast and weekend brunch remain popular fixtures at the Locke Street café, with options including breakfast burritos, avocado toasts, plant-based sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches, waffles, vegan Eggs Benedict, and so much more.
However, what many locals may not know is that Democracy* also has a robust selection of offerings for lunch and dinner complete with a full bar menu of local beer, wine, and cocktails. On top of being a spot for your morning fix, the café also strives to be a popular nightlife spot on the Locke strip.
Modern pub-style fare is much of what can be expected here, with shareable appetizers including loaded fries, nachos, spinach dip, and the café’s famous cauliflower wings which see battered and fried cauliflower florets served with a choice of house sauces like buffalo butter, sweet apple garlic, bourbon BBQ, “honey” garlic, or sriracha lime.
For heartier fare, Democracy* also has a range of bowls including watermelon poké, taco salads, Korean BBQ bowls, or vegan mac ‘n cheese; and some handhelds like a plant-based take on the McDonald’s Big Mac, avocado BLTs, green goddess smash wraps, and Korean BBQ tofu sliders.
The menu shows that vegan food goes far beyond eating bland tofu over a bed of greens. Plant-based ingredients can be put to eclectic use in everything from flavourful light bites to more indulgent comfort dishes, and Democracy*’s menu runs the gamut, proving that the vegan food scene in Hamilton is as strong as ever.
“Simply serving the community their favourite vegan treats and eats is what makes us truly happy,” says Maddalena. “We strive to have an inclusive environment for all Hamiltonians to enjoy!”