D-Beatstro is a community-driven vegan cafe by day and a DIY/DIT event space by night in Bloordale . Found in the former home of Bike Pirates , this rockin' spot carries on the punk spirit with a focus on accessibility and inclusion.
A completely wheelchair-accessible cafe and events venue with gender-neutral bathrooms is a rare thing in this city, and D-Beatstro's diverse all-ages programming covers everything from live music and comedy to ASL classes, drag king shows, Magic: The Gathering draft nights and even punk yoga (plus pop-up markets, art workshops and film screenings).
Co-owners Jess Montebello and Chris Cammarata have each spent over a decade involved in local music scenes, and met running in the same circles. They're both vegetarians, and here they're serving up classic comfort food, vegan-style, with a focus on being tasty.
Locally roasted, fair trade organic beans grown by women coffee farmers come from Dark City , with drip ($2/$2.50), cold brew ($3.5/$4.50), espresso-based beverages ($2-$4.75) and other seasonal specialty drinks (matcha white hot chocolate, apple pie latte, etc.) available. Montebello is also a herbalist, and hand blends her own loose leaf herbal teas ($2 each).
During weekdays, there are eats like a breakfast sandwich ($4) with soy bacon, "cheddar" and a tofu-and-chickpea "egg" patty on an English muffin or the Hail Seitan "turkey" club ($7.50) with roast "turkey" seitan slices and coconut bacon. Everything is made in house, including baked goods like salted caramel butter bars and Oreo Rice Krispie bars ($4 each).
Cammarata - who also cooks at The Good Fork - whips up vegan brunch, coming up with specials like banana bread French toast, Oreo pancakes, eggs Benedict and mac & cheese (all meatless and dairy-free, of course) in addition to the regular brunch menu.
If you go for brunch, the red velvet waffle stix ($9) are a must as a shared starter or dessert. They're light, cake-like delights in waffle form served with maple syrup and "cream cheese" frosting dips. The frosting is delicious (it's actually made with vegan buttercream and lemon), and actually tastes like cream cheese.
Gluten-free "huevos rancheros" ($11) consist of a tofu scramble (or "scramz," as the menu calls it), baked beans, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and cilantro piled high on corn tostadas. It's flavourful and my friend is a fan, but I find the salsa a bit too sweet for my taste.
I personally am partial to the deluxe breakfast ($12), which comes with the tofu scramble, two house-made seitan "sausages," home fries, toast and fresh fruit. (A gluten-free version, $11, substitutes the sausages with beans.)
While the sausages won't fool any meat-eaters (and maybe that's a good thing), the tofu scramble (turmeric gives it its yellow colour) is really good, and I almost do feel like I'm eating scrambled eggs (again, depending on why one might choose to eat vegan food, this may or may not be a good thing).
Photo by Jesse Milns.