The top 10 vegan non-vegan restaurants in Toronto
Vegan 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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