I love creating healthy food, aka plant-based deliciousness at home, but I also enjoy dining out in the city as you may have noticed from my instagram and twitter feed. So when a twitter follower asked me my recommendations on the best vegan in Toronto, I thought "holy heck I need to do a post on this!".
Now I do realize that some restaurants do not like labels and therefore do not like to be called "vegan". So please note I'm only putting them into the vegan category because many people ask me for my opinion on where to go in Toronto for vegan fare and their food is vegan-friendly. And despite the fact that I'm not a vegan, I'm happy to share my thoughts on vegan dining because I sure do eat it a lot!
Furthermore, I want to preface this by also saying, these restaurant choices are nutritionist-approved. I'm sure there are many other loved vegan spots in the city, but if they serve deep fried tofu junk or GMO soy burger garbage, I do not reco. I put them in the same category as Burger King -- junk food.
You will notice when you eat any of these restaurants below, that your food is always made with love. The food is beautiful and choosing to nourish your body with the most nutrient-dense fare is a gosh darn joyous thing to do!
Joyous Notes: As I'm writing this, I'm polishing off some take-out chai chia pudding. The creator of this pudding and Belmonte Raw is the lovely Carol Belmonte.
Inside Belmonte Raw, it's cozy and charming and if you have time to sit down, I highly recommend the big wood table at the window, it's my favourite spot, especially when the sun is shining in.
What to get: Be sure to start out with a green juice to get your digestive juices flowin' and your liver kickin'. My fave is "uplift". It looks very green, but it's the furthest thing from grassy slime and true to it's name, it's uplifting.
My go-to lunch dish is the raw buritto with jicama root fries (not fried fries of course) and a creamy zingy cashew dip. As for her chocolate, that's worth a whole gosh darn post. I've eaten chocolate from pretty much everywhere and Belmonte's RAW chocolate thimble with raspberry or peanut butter (as per photo), is simply to die for. It's creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, you-wouldn't-know-it's-healthy-goodness!
When I'm feeling chilly, I love her comfort smoothie because it's creamy, sweet and fulfilling, without the belly bloat.
Location: Leslieville, East End of Toronto
Other: She does classes and cleanses delivered to your door too.
Joyous Notes: I have summer nostalgia when I think of Feel Good Guru because I love riding my bike over when it's hot and sunny! The location is perfect for a lazy afternoon if you get take out to sit in the park. If I'm in a rush, it's uber convenient being in the heart of Queen West and it's always quick.
What to get: For some reason, I always gravitate to the same thing. Normally when I hit up this place, I'm on the go so I get a smoothie as a meal (the hemp shake elevate) because it's perfectly balanced with nutrients (protein from hemp, superfoods, fibre) and full of sweet goodness. They do have a variety of delicious salads, wraps, raw pizza (photo below) with a beautiful array of gorgeous colours and lots more so I've got to get my butt over there and work my way through the menu (seems to be a summer thing for me).
I've had the raw carrot cake a few times which has all the wonderful spices of my non-vegan, cooked carrot cake I make at Christmas. Yet, it's completely RAW, incredibly fulfilling and as good as my homemade carrot cake. Yes, you can fill up on a bunch of carrots! And it's really nice to sit in the park and eat cake. True to the tag line, Feel Good Guru is "super-awesome".
Location: Right across (just South) from Trinity Bellwoods park. In the summer, I had many park dates sipping on a smoothie under a shady tree. How can you beat that? There are 4 window seats inside if you like people watching, I mean hipster watching along Queen West.
Joyous Notes: Of all the restos, I've eaten the most from this menu from the juices right through to the dessert. The Yorkville location is a nice visit after a yoga class at 889 Yoga. The walls are always adorned with some sort of beautiful artwork and the servers are always cheery. Plus you can buy a t-shirt that says "I have a Rawlicious body". Yep, I've got one in green.
What to get: I usually always start off with a gingery green juice of some kind to stimulate my digestive secretions (ya, I know that might sound weird, but the nutrition nerds "get me"). Then I will either have the olive-currant nut and seed salad or the taco wrap.
However, it ALL depends on dessert. I will go the salad route if I'm having the raw chocolate brownie (HEAVEN!) or skip it if I have the taco wrap because the wrap is more meaty and filling. Sometimes I will get take out after a yoga class and my go to is a juice and a raw brownie. (Sounds funny I know, but don't knock it till you try it). The brownie is a meal in itself! The power cookies are jam-packed too with seeds, goji berries and more raw gooodness.
In the summer, when I'm in the Yorkville hood, I often stop in for the raw ice cream. My fave so far has been the cardamom vanilla bean. It's made with cashews and it's heaven.
Joyous Notes: The first vegan, gluten-free, healthy restaurant I ever went to was Live. The first kale chips that ever passed my lips were also from Live. Back in the day when I was going to school to study nutrition, I would go there and ask my servers about everything. Yes, I was one of those annoying customers. Oops! I was just curious! I'm sure they must be the first in Toronto to introduce raw/vegan/healthy fare. Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.
What to get: It's hard not to start out with dessert first, buuuut I will because that was my entry point to live - their almond dream bar. Just writing this, makes me want to go get one NOW! The nice thing about Live is that they are open for lunch and dinner AND have a weekend brunch -- hurray! In fact, I just had brunch there a few weekends ago and I had the raw blueberry pancakes which were heavenly deliciousness and seriously hearty. I could only eat one! The creamy goodness in between the two pancakes was a friggin foodgasmic concoction of maple cream, blueberry jam & maple syrup.
My go-to lunch or dinner dishes are the raw sushi which is sunflower seed and cilantro pate, carrots and cucumber rolled in nori with maple miso glaze and the kale salad.
Location: Dupont and Spadina.
So now that I've shared mine, tell me yours!