toronto food/activity recommendations?
November 20, 2016 4:18 PM   Subscribe

please direct me to the finest vegetarian food toronto has to offer.

i'll be here for the next 6 weeks, so i have lots of opportunities to explore. i'm car-less and staying near front and spadina. i'm equally interested in vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly options, as my friends and co-workers lean more carnivore.

also - tell me what to do after i'm fed! interests include live music, film, whiling away the hours in a cafe with a book, strolling through cool, picturesque neighborhoods, museums, yoga, etc.

posted by fingers_of_fire to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Woodlot and Sabai Sabai are two great restaurants that have both veg and non-veg menus.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:22 PM on November 20, 2016

Neighbourhoods: Bloor West, Roncesvalles, Parkdale, Little Portugal, Kengsington, Chinatown, Leslieville, on and on, there's so much to explore and all easy to access by public transport and walking from where you'll be.

Grab a copy of the local free papers like NowToronto for events, online there's NowToronto, BlogTO, Torontoist, many more I'm sure but great for parsing restaurants too. Lots of great vegetarian options from around the world.

Cafes abound, I don't live in TO anymore so I can't be more helpful sadly but pick the treat or coffee or whatever you like and google "best X Toronto" and you'll find it from croissants to donuts to cupcakes.
posted by lafemma at 4:56 PM on November 20, 2016

I haven't been in a while, but I used to love Fresh -- particularly the Buddha Bowl, but all of the food is delicious, vegetarian, and tasty and filling enough to keep omnivores happy.
posted by cider at 5:00 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, Greg's Ice Cream -- yum. And there are tons of great museums -- check out the ROM, the AGO, the Bata Shoe Museum (and the Ontario Science Center if you can get there -- not sure if it's accessible without a car).
posted by cider at 5:03 PM on November 20, 2016

You'll want to visit Kensington Market, where you'll find the amazing Hibiscus - everything on the menu is really, really delicious. One of the Urban Herbivore locations is in Kensington, and the food there is good, too.

One Love is worth a visit, especially if you're up exploring Bloor Street - get an amazing roti there (specifically, one with spiced Jamaican pumpkin filling).

Cider mentioned the Fresh restaurants - there'll be one pretty close to you on Spadina just south of Queen Street. Everything's good, but be sure to try the quinoa onion rings.

Also seconding severyearlurk's recommendation for Woodlot and Sabai Sabai as solid omni-veggie meeting places. Other meatytarian places with delicious veggie options: Pomegranate (College/Bathurst) and Ethiopian House (Yonge/Bloor area).

Hope you have an amazing six weeks!
posted by Hellgirl at 5:36 PM on November 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding Fresh! I'm not even vegetarian, but you bet I'm going back there on my next visit to Toronto. And Salad King near Dundas Square is a great Thai restaurant with lots of vegetarian options.
posted by mossicle at 5:37 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Haven't been, but I know lots of vegans who travel and are food obsessive and maintain spreadsheets of their favorite restaurants. I've heard nothing but great things about Doomie's.
posted by Gymnopedist at 5:40 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nazareth near Dundas West. Vegetarian platter for two (could feed four). The best Ethiopian food I've ever had, and it's super cheap. You will never regret doing this.
posted by transient at 7:53 PM on November 20, 2016

Vegetarian Haven on Baldwin. Even my non veg friends like it. So delish.

Kings Cafe in Kensington.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:58 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hogtown Vegan! Near Bloor and Dufferin. Love the food there.
posted by cozenedindigo at 8:04 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Planta just opened and it is divine, but on the spendy side. Blood and Yonge.

+1 for Doomies.

Short and sweet list possible to-dos relatively close...
-skating at harbour front for requisite winter activity
-401 Richmond for wandering a gallery
-octopus garden is great yoga (though might be a bit far for a daily place to practice)
- VIA trains go lots of neat places both east and west if you want to get out of the city. Book Tuesday to get the cheap fare.
-TIFF for films
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 8:26 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

One Love Vegetarian is a quick walk north of Bathurst Station and their pumpkin curry and corn soup are yummers.

Ethiopiques Ethiopian is walkable from the Eaton Centre or the Gay Village.

Golden Thai is tasty and has the added benefit of being reliably vegan (a very strict vegan friend eats there and trusts the staff not to accidentally serve her dishes containing anchovy sauce).

Live makes the kind of high-effort vegan food I think it's worth going out for, because frankly I will do many things in life but soaking and sprouting things to blend them until they turn into other things just won't be a part of it.

Take the carnivores for Sunday night dinner at The House on Parliament- on Sunday nights they do a good prime rib dinner; I've never eaten their veggie food but I'm sure it's good, because their menu is just reliably wonderful and the service is friendly. Lots of beers and cocktails too.

Terrible for vegetarians but great for carnivores is Korean Grill House (Queen & John or Yonge & Bloor). It's like $25 for all the meat one can eat, so if you have a protein-head friend on the trip send them there and they'll love you. But don't join them- the entire experience is just raw meat that you grill yourself- (it is seasoned and flavourful without being spicy), plain rice, and little bowls of kimchee. You'd starve and hate me.

Cheap, cheerful and delicious: Burro Burrito (College/Grace, good for a stroll through Little Italy, or Richmond/Spadina, on your way home). The soy "meat" they do is tasty and for your carnivore friends, the Chicken Tinga is fantastic. I'd be confident calling it the best burrito in Toronto.

Brunch at Starving Artist (waffles!), or Insomnia (saucy delicious magic hash brown potatoes!), or House on Parliament are all great.

As for activities:

Rent skates and go skating at Harbourfront Centre (which also has a little art gallery and often has free cultural events or music or theatre stuff going on too), or Nathan Phillips Square which is the New City Hall with that big iconic Toronto sign you see all over social media. It's a very Torontoey thing to do.

Bata Shoe Museum is cool if historical or iconic shoes interest you. If you go, Fresh Restaurant is really close by.

Ripley's Aquarium
is a nice afternoon; be aware that the food in that area isn't the best though. Walk up to King Street and eat in the TIFF Bell Lightbox (the Toronto Film Festival building). Canteen on the main floor is good, and Luma, their upstairs restaurant is fancier and pricier but has amazing cheap happy hour cocktails. And maybe stay to catch a movie after.

The Royal Ontario Museum has the Chihuly glass exhibit that's getting great word of mouth

Go for a daytime walk through High Park, it's a pretty big city park (like 1 square mile) with a petting zoo and a pond.

Stroll through Trinity Bellwoods Park, especially after work or on a weekend afternoon - a very central, busy city park that's about 2 blocks square, and end with coffee, amazing macarons and a fancy croissant at Nadege (corner of Queen and Gore Vale). That neighbourhood (West Queen West) has lots of shops and little galleries and is a nice walk in the afternoons or evenings. And I highly recommend you eat just down the block at Terroni, which is easily the best Italian food in Toronto. I think it's better than anything in Little Italy, and has great atmosphere and awesome service. Fantastic place to bring a group- among many circles of my friends, it is inarguably the standby. Thin crust pizzas, fresh pastas, it's all amazing, and they have a dessert called "Caramel Budino" which is really great too. I'm a lifelong Torontonian and it's my favourite.

I recommend you put the Uber app on your smartphone; Toronto is a great city for Ubering.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:19 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

a fun thing to do on a nice day is stroll along queen west from spadina to ossington and visit all the little art galleries there, and finish off at poutini's where they have the best best best poutine, including vegan poutine.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:00 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm not usually one for the fake meat experience but I have dreams about Grasshopper's pulled pork sandwich. Oh so good (better than Doomie's IMO).
posted by stray at 4:46 AM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, also, Mother's Dumplings on Spadina. Good assortment of vegetarian and meat dumplings, really delicious and fun to eat, and SO affordable. I believe it's cash or debit card only.
posted by stray at 4:49 AM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

OKAY LAST ONE Sukho Thai is amazing. The flavours are complex and delicious and not just awash in 'sweet' like you might find at a place that's pandering to a western palate. Eat in at one of the two bigger locations (Parliament is tiny) or call for take out.
posted by stray at 4:51 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Off the top of my head, the "uniquely excellent in Toronto" restaurants I love are:
-Banjara -Indian at Bloor & Christie
- Tacos el Asador - el salvadoran, also at bloor & Christie
- Ravi Soups - multiple locations
-Maizal -Mexican in liberty village
- Butter Chicken Roti -Indian curries vegan friendly in spite of the name, Queen W at Ossington
-North of Brooklyn Pizza -multiple locations
-the Tibetan places on west Queen west for momos
These are all casual (some even more like a snack bar), and all really thoroughly delicious.
You will have no shortage of things to do!! The only problem might be squeezing it all into 6 weeks.
Has anyone mentioned The Distillery yet? It's a great little shopping district.
posted by dotparker at 6:57 AM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Film, you say?

Hot Docs Cinema is fantastic. As the name suggests, it skews heavily towards documentary fare. It's located between Bathurst and Spadina on Bloor (a little closer to Bathurst), so you can get there by hopping the Spadina streetcar.

As people mentioned above, check out the TIFF Lightbox, which has some great year-round programming outside of the Toronto International Film Festival (aka TIFF).

A 15-20 minute walk east across Front St. take you to the St. Lawrence Market. It's open Tuesday to Saturday. The food options there are plentiful.

Weekdays outside of the lunch hour are pretty quiet there. Saturday's the big market day when it's quite busy. It's open until 6 on weekdays, except Friday, when it's open until 7.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:11 AM on November 21, 2016

Also, tastes vary, but I'm a fan of the coffee at Balzac's. They have several locations, and the atmosphere at most of them is pretty conducive to sitting down with a book and a coffee at off-peak times. There's one right beside St. Lawrence Market, and one in the Distillery.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:18 AM on November 21, 2016

The Fisher Rare Books Library is worth a visit. It's usually only open on weekdays.

It's located a short walk from the Harbord stop on the Spadina streetcar line.

It's open to the public and has frequent exhibits on display. Here's the inside of the library (large full-size jpeg here).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:27 AM on November 21, 2016

Note that the Distillery district mentioned above has it's Christmas Market on, so it will be packed with extra vendors, food, and people. Saturdays get really packed.
posted by Kabanos at 2:57 PM on November 22, 2016

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