Hibiscus Cafe is the modern-day health addict's dream come true: gluten-free, vegan and all organic. Nestled in the heart of Kensington Market, this hidden gem keeps the menu simple and fresh and the coffee strong.
Space-wise, the cafe has a decent seating area, although it gets pretty tight during the lunch rush with tons of people coming in and out looking for a table or grabbing take out. The decor sticks with the humble vibes of the cafe with local artists' work hanging on the walls.
Co-owners Andre and Elena Malkov took over the cafe a few years ago from the previous owner, and while they've kept the atmosphere and the menu essentially the same, the most significant change they've made is offering a totally organic menu.
The cafe is best-known for serving up an array of sweet and savoury crepes, all made with homemade vegan buckwheat batter. We start with a savoury crepe, which are all served with greens, zucchini and avocado.
There are eight variations to choose from, but we go for the crepe generously stuffed with vegan mozzarella, tomato, basil, spinach and mushroom ($14). The ingredients are fresh and liberally distributed. The actual crepe is thin and light, making the dish surprisingly filling, but not overbearing.
There's only one salad on the menu and while it made ordering easier, I didn't quite understand why. But then I was told apparently 42 different ingredients are used to make it, some of which include quinoa, sweet potato, broccoli, beans, tofu, kale and basically every other healthy item you can think of. You can grab a large ($11) or a small ($8).
Ginger squash is the soup of the day ($4.50) and it's a welcome warm companion to the salad. It's hard to believe the soup is vegan because of how thick and creamy it is and I would almost have to say this is my favourite part of the meal (partly due to my squash obsession).
There are five sweet crepes to choose from, all served with icing sugar and maple syrup, but the crepe filled with homemade chocolate hazelnut spread and bananas ($10) stands out to us. Mixing chocolate and bananas is always a good call, and this is no exception. It's sweet, tasty and makes for a perfect dessert.
If your sweet tooth isn't satisfied, try out a homemade dessert like a chocolate brownie ($3) or a peanut butter square ($3).
Notably, there's also homemade vegan ice-cream ($4-6), some with a coconut milk base (blueberry, raspberry, mango to name a few), others with a mung bean milk base (brownie, mocha, pistachio) or an almond milk base (almond chocolate).
Of course, since it's a cafe, there's a wide range of cold and hot drinks. Espresso-based beverages range from $2.50 to $4, while a 9-ounce fresh juice is $3.80 and a 12-ounce fruit smoothie is $6.50.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.