Eat Nabati is an affordable, vegan, Middle Eastern restaurant serving hulking falafels and boxes to go.
Joining the strip of subterraeneous shops in the Kensington Market Lofts, this colourful spot upkeeps 160 Baldwin's longstanding tradition of vegan businesses (it was Veggie D'Light before) with a totally meat-free menu.
In Arabic, the term 'nabati' refers to plant-based cuisine, something that owner Israa Ali says is extremely common in Egypt where meat is actually a luxury.
Following years of eating meat, Ali — who co-owns the small business with Tamer El Shazli and Josh Dias — says her health struggles and career path as a nutritionist led her to veganism, from which Eat Nabati was born.
The restaurant honours some classic Middle Eastern favourites, while keeping all but one item on the menu under $10.
Past the psychedelic mural by local Kensington artist Rowell Soller is the takeout counter where you can order their signature stuffed falafels, $4 a patty.
They're massive fava bean-based mixtures with tons of parsley and a thick inner stuffing of a rubbery halloumi cheese made from soy and cashew, plus a ring of chilli and caramelized onion.
Tahini is the driving force at Eat Nabai, with three types, all gluten-free: a traditional lemon-based sauce, a harissa tahini, and the standout sweet and smoky beet tahini made with maple syrup.
The Mama Shawarma pita ($7.99) is a best-seller, made with a seasoned soy-based 'chicken', garlic sauce, pickled radishes and cabbage. As with everything on the menu, you can also get the shawarma in a bowl of rice and lentils or fries, both for $9.99.
The za'atar cauliflower bowl ($8.99) is super hearty and easy on the budget for the size, using large chunks of cumin-tossed cauliflower with a za'atar spice blend.
It's doused in the addictive sweet beet tahini sauce.
Cairo Kofta in a bowl ($10.99) forgoes ground beef or lamb and uses a heavily-spiced blend of grains and non-GMO soy seasoned with parsley, onion, sumac and nutmeg. It comes with hummus and drizzles of tahini.
Soothing iced hibiscus ($4.75) is a sweet and tangy cooldown moment.
For dessert, there are a few vegan takes on Egyptian household favourites like a seasonal kunafa ($6.50) made with mango, housemade coconut cream, and a top layer of kataifi noodles and pistachio, usually eaten around Eid.
A twist on chocolate sponge cake ($6.50) is delicious, with layers of pistachio custard, coconut cream and a mixed berries compote.
Eat Nabati also has a location in Oakville where you can eat meat-free Middle Eastern fare.