Where Veg-Obsessed Chefs and Foodies Love to Eat in Toronto

Going out for a vegetarian or vegan meal in Toronto has come a long way in the past few years. At non-veg places, you’re no longer relegated to one paltry option on the menu (basically, the side dish of a carnivore’s entrée). And plant-based restaurants—both fast-casual and fancy—are trending, mainstreaming meatless pizza and burgers, and serving up fine dining that won’t make you feel like you’re nibbling on rabbit food. We reached out to some notable veg lovers for their must-eats in the city.

Desiree Nielsen, Vancouver-based registered dietitian and host of The Urban Vegetarian on Gusto TV

“When I’m in Toronto for work, I often rely on Fresh, and Kupfert & Kim for a quick bite because there’s usually a location close to wherever I am. After spending the day on a plane, I’m a bit obsessed with the banquet burger, served on lettuce, from Fresh. Kupfert & Kim’s cauliflower tahini bowl is my go-to for lunch on the go. A friend of mine introduced me to Live Organic Food Bar in the Annex. Get the manicotti…so good! And I finally had a chance to experience Planta and loved the energy of the room and the cheeky cocktails. I probably could have eaten three orders of the truffled cauliflower tots! The Moroccan salad was amazing, too. Awai is next on my to-eat list.”

The view from @twohangryvegans (who we hope were no longer hangry after this)

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Doug McNish, cookbook author and vegan chef of Public Kitchen

“When I go out in Toronto, I love to visit places that support organic and ethical food systems. There is a new place in Toronto called Thrive Organic, and I love what they are doing. They not only serve some great vegan cuisine, but support mostly organic products and clean ingredients. I like the pizza especially! For out of town, I like Raw Aura in Port Credit. It was my home away from home for two years—I was their chef for that period of time—and I still like to venture out there for date night every now and then.”

Sam Turnbull, author of the upcoming Fuss-Free Vegan: 101 Everyday Comfort Food Favorites, Veganized

“As a full-time vegan recipe writer at It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken and having just finished up my first cookbook, Fuss-Free Vegan, I rarely get a chance to let someone else do the cooking! When I am so lucky, I love going upscale, so Planta is my favourite vegan restaurant in Toronto. The coconut ceviche and watermelon poké are two must-have apps I get almost every time.”

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Ruth Tal, cookbook author and founder of Fresh

“There are so many more choices for vegans in Toronto these days! My go-to for the past 20 years has been Terroni on Queen Street West, and more recently the Price Street location. I have had many birthday celebrations at Terroni, not only in Toronto but also at their restaurants in Los Angeles. If you ask for it, the server will grab a separate ‘special’ menu that lists all the vegan and gluten-free options, plus all the dishes that can be modified for vegans. I order the funghi assoluti salad with a side of garlic rapini, every time without fail. I love the busy, friendly atmosphere, the patios and especially the wine lists. It’s a place I can meet friends who aren’t vegan, and we all leave happy with our bellies full.”

David Lee, chef of Planta

“It can be hard in the city. I normally travel to the States and we’re behind on the scene when it comes to plant-based. There’s a lot in California and New York. I love what Amanda Cohen is doing at Dirt Candy [in NYC]—everything I’ve eaten there, I’ve loved. Nathan at Awai [in Toronto] is doing some good stuff. Another restaurant that is not plant-based but has great plant-based stuff on the menu is Dandylion. Actinolite as well—some great stuff.”

Mark Kupfert, co-founder of Kupfert & Kim

Awai really stands out to me. The menu has changed, but I really enjoyed the porcini mushroom soup—one of the best soups I’ve ever had—and love the Spanish flatbreads and just the experience. They’re not trying to make a vegan replica, and it’s fine dining but not pretentious. Woodlot is pretty good, too; they have a vegetarian menu that appeals to everyone. At Veghed, the Muay Thai salad is an extravaganza in your mouth. It’s really amazing.”

Alexandra Courts, co-founder of Sweet Hart Kitchen

“There’s Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen, which is awesome. I pretty much like everything Doug makes; it’s all carefully crafted, and a lot of thought and love go into every dish. He’s a professionally trained chef, so it’s all high quality. Bloomer’s is very good, too—a bunch of amazing sweet treats. Their doughnuts are nice and fluffy and beautiful. In terms of lunch, Fresh and Live Organic Food Bar are really good options, especially if I need something delivered. [I regularly order] the clubhouse wrap from Fresh, and the kale caesar from Live is one of the best I’ve ever had.”

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