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The top 10 vegan non-vegan restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Erinn Beth Langille / December 15, 2013

Toronto vegan restaurantsVegan restaurants in Toronto used to appeal, well, only to vegans. And it used to be a real pill trying to find a good spot to eat if you had a variety pack of diets to consider - meat lovers, pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan. Often if a dish wasn't meat heavy, it was smothered in dairy. But restaurant owners and chefs are increasingly opening their doors and menus to those on a purely fruit, vegetable and grain-based diet.

Maybe it's the trend of local, organic and nutritious, maybe it makes things more interesting in the kitchen, or maybe it just makes business sense to appeal to the broadest range of eaters. Either way people are jazzed about finally being able to eat well (and together) no matter what your preference.

The bulk of vegan-friendly places are still, um, vegetarian restaurants, as well as soup, salad and sandwich joints. What might be surprising to some, is the emergence of traditional carnivore bastions like pubs, diners, burger joints and even steakhouses that now offer extensive vegan offerings. In other words, non-vegan restaurants that serve up great vegan food. Both meat-eaters and vegans catered to at the same place.

With apologies to Yours Truly, Woodlot, The Atlantic, and Actinolite, here are my picks for the top 10 vegan non-vegan restaurants in Toronto.

Disgraceland
Disgraceland on Bloor near Ossington could have been your basic pub - pool, darts and pinball, 13 beers on tap, cocktails, pub food like deep-fried appetizers, sandwiches and burgers - but it's become a mecca for vegans. Nearly everything on the menu can be made vegan, and tasty to boot, so instead of getting a plate of holier-than-thou, you can have a plate full of fun.

Cardinal Rule
This cozy modern diner on Roncesvalles specializes in comfort, with many menu selections that can accommodate vegans. Tons of items on the menu (salads, sandwiches, burgers and brunch) and hella cheap, means both carnivores and their herbivore pals can nosh with pleasure.

Khao San Road
Not only is Khao San Road the best Thai food restaurant in Toronto, it's vegan friendly in ways you wouldn't expect. While Thai menus around the city are no strangers to vegetarians, this Club District spot goes a step further with a dedicated vegan menu (PDF) complete with vegan pad thai, curries, garlic tofu and squash fritters.

The Beet
This Junction mainstay is co-owned by a trained nutritional practitioner and a homeopathic doctor, so it's no wonder they have plenty of vegan friendly dishes on their menu like avocado and tofu wraps, kale salad and vegan mac and cheese. Lesser expected is the other half of the menu designed to win over meat eaters too including bison burgers, steak salad and roast chicken wraps. Maybe you really can win friends with salad.

The Bickford Flexitarian
This less than a year old spot on Harbord says it all in the name (flexitarian) serving up breakfast options made with either regular or vegan eggs and a rest of the day menu that draws diners in for raw tacos and a fish/seafood catch of the day. Smoked ham, rare roast beef and ELT (the E standing for eggplant) round out some of the highlights.

Glas Wine Bar
Glas Wine Bar has been winning over Leslieville locals since it opened last year but carnivores aren't the only ones making a beeline for this spot. The usual menu is small and focused but the real deal comes Tuesdays when Chef serves a vegetarian tasting menu that can be made vegan upon request. It's a novel idea, and should it continue to be popular don't be surprised if it starts making appearances on other nights as well.

Prime Steakhouse
Prime Steakhouse in the Windsor Arms might seem like a counter-intuitive choice for vegans, but don't be fooled. They have a full vegan dinner menu, with several appetizer and main dish options, plus an award winning wine cellar to wash it all down. Midtown vegan never felt so good.

P&L Burger
The new burger joint on Queen serves up juicy beef burgers but vegans aren't left out of the fun. Also on the menu is a vegan tempeh and kale wrap when paired with fries is a complete meal in my books. Fans of the original Parts & Labour location in Parkdale will tell you that the kitchen there can make any of their vegetarian dishes vegan as well, keeping models and straight-edge kids alike coming back for more.

The Steady
This new and popular Bloorcourt spot wears many hats and functions both as daytime cafe, restaurant and nighttime bar and party-spot. It's a good thing the kitchen can serve carnivores and vegans with equal aplomb. While half the table dines on crab cakes, chicken enchiladas and ceviche the others can do their best to win converts via the sloppy vegan (not your grade school Sloppy Joe), vegan pizza and vegan Mexican tapas plate.

Ursa
This West Queen West restaurant's blend of science, nutrition and flavour has been a steady hit since it opened last year. The menu changes often but with a consistent number of creative vegetarian and vegan dishes on offer there's room to accommodate all types. Think of it as the go-to spot for those looking for an inclusive experimental and experiential dining experience.

Top photo of The Steady

Discussion

16 Comments

b.craftie / December 15, 2013 at 09:03 am
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Great list. Thanks!
And, just opened early December,
Harvest Kitchen, 124 Harbord St.
http://harvestkitchen.ca/
and
Windup Bird Cafe, 382 College St.
http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/wind-up-bird-cafe-toronto
Both are absolutely worth checking out.
Fresh, healthy, innovative presentations & great service too.


LC / December 15, 2013 at 03:01 pm
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You missed Hawkerbar. Their soup is the most delicious thing on God's green earth.
Josh / December 15, 2013 at 08:54 pm
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This is one of the most helpful lists I've ever seen on BlogTO, great job!!!
VS / December 15, 2013 at 11:31 pm
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Prime is no longer around, I believe it's called The Living Room now. No more separate menus either. Seems like you pulled this all from my foursquare list 'cept P&L burger.
larissa / December 16, 2013 at 12:25 am
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also Lola's at church and bloor is AMAZING and they have both vegan and non vegan food there.. its absolutely delish with the best quality food!!
Una Rose / December 16, 2013 at 10:10 am
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Most vegans are animal rights activist so I am not sure what the thrill of dining vegan at a steakhouse might be. I am vegan and take my non vegan family and friends to vegan restaurants. The foods great and a vegan meal every once and a while doesn't hurt anyone.
viv / December 16, 2013 at 10:44 am
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Actually The Living Room at Windsor Arms Hotel still has many vegan options:

http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/dining/livingroom/all_day_menu
Evren replying to a comment from Una Rose / December 16, 2013 at 11:02 am
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Hello Una,

It may not be thrilling or ideal to have a vegan dinner at a steakhouse but I think it is important that we (vegans)encourage restaurants to offer more vegan options in their menus and help prove its value. I would rather a steakhouse have one or two vegan options in their menu instead of one or two extra lamb/veal options.

Cheers
Joanna / December 16, 2013 at 02:48 pm
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Great to see the beet and the steady on this list. The beet is a great spot for lunch in the junction, my gf and I frequent a lot! The steady is pretty new to my neighbourhood but a great addition. Thy have a great vegan brunch menu including vegan 'eggs' Benny. The staff are really down to earth which is fantastic. Prices are great at both spots too. I like that I can eat with my non vegan friends in one place that caters to all.
Margaret / December 16, 2013 at 05:51 pm
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What about Rancho Relaxo on College?

That place is great for meeting the needs of EVERYONE.
Pretty much everything on their menu can be made vegan (vegan cheese and sour cream), they even have vegan ice cream for desert!!!
They also have a ton of gluten free options, and of course for the people who do enjoy meat, there's lots of that too.
The room is also pretty big, which makes it a great place for a big dinner party. Everyone gets what they want! I've done my birthday dinner there more than once. Plus the staff is always super friendly.
Junctionista / December 16, 2013 at 07:15 pm
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I don't mind The Beet in the Junction but a great alternative has been Humble Beginnings for me. Tons of gluten-free and vegan items. I eat their cauliflower curry all time and they have amazing salads!
Tony / December 16, 2013 at 10:43 pm
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The Atlantic!
Andrew Gardner / December 20, 2013 at 01:15 pm
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Pretty confused about the presence of P&L Burger here. They're brand new for one, so it's not like they're an established favourite, and I was just there for lunch the other day for the first time. The veggie burger is a plain brick of tempeh. I asked for it vegan, and the guy told me the bun was egg-washed, and the sauce was mayo-based.
So what I got was a (small-ish) brick of tempeh wrapped in limp kale, topped with a tomato, onions, pickles and lettuce. Had to add my own ketchup and mustard. It was incredibly bland. I was very disappointed to have paid $9 for the thing, and still hungry.
Its presence of this list is just baffling to me. Big Smoke Burger has a way better veggie option.
vegan / January 9, 2014 at 09:19 pm
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Hogtown vegan??
sewa mobil / February 11, 2014 at 11:14 pm
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Now I am going to do my breakfast, once having
my breakfast coming yet again to read additional news.
sonyia / February 18, 2014 at 05:58 pm
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Hello everyone, a new Caribbean restaurant just opened up on college and spadina called tasty's they claim to offer vegan options such as a veggie plate or a roti, but today at lunch time i ordered a veggie roti and i found bits of chicken in it while i was eating it. it was as if the potatoes and chick peas were cooked in with it together. This made my stomach sick since i didn't realize this until i had already started eating it and was far away from the restaurant before i noticed. My stomach became very sick afterwards. anyone who is vegetarian or vegan should avoid eating there since they advertise vegan and vegetarian dished then serve you chicken!

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