Toronto is home to a growing number of incredible vegan and vegetarian restaurants, converting curious carnivores with delicious vegan pizzas, plant-based fried chicken and barbecued fake meats – dishes that often rival the real thing.
Lucky for plant-based eaters, it feels like the entire world is shifting and becoming a more friendly place for vegans and vegetarians – and Toronto is at the forefront of that change. Like many major cities in North America, you’ll find your fair share of plant-based options in just about any mainstream restaurant (which is great if you find yourself traveling with omnivore friends), but Toronto has also made a serious case for vegan-specific dining. So much so that this list mostly features vegan restaurants, with a few gluten-free and paleo spots thrown into the mix. Here are 15 restaurants where vegetarian plates are the star of the show, and not just a side dish.
Rosalinda for chicharrón made of wild grain chips
Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
Courtesy of Rosalinda Restaurant
Located in the heart of Toronto’s Financial District, this vibrant, feel-good vegan restaurant brings Mexico straight to downtown Toronto. Highlights on the menu include the al pastor tacos and sikil pak chicharrón; ceviche with apple and celery; and the potato flautas. Any plant-based eater will appreciate the impressive amount of delicious Mexican classics made vegan. While you’re here, don’t skip on the drink menu – Rosalinda has an impressive cocktail list. Think upgraded versions of refreshing classics like the margarita, colada and shandy.
Apiecalypse Now! is among the most beloved vegan restaurants in Toronto – and for good reason. All of its pizza dough is entirely plant-based and made from scratch in-house using only local ingredients. Many items on the menu can be made gluten-free upon request. What’s more, each pie is brushed with a signature oil blend, which comprises olive oil, melted vegan butter and smoked coconut grease (which creates an umami-packed, meaty flavor). Make sure to try its dipping sauces while you’re at it, which range from cool ranch to vegan cheddar and jalapeño.
Clean, fresh and fun food reigns supreme at this Queen Street West vegan destination. Guests can expect wholesome yet indulgent dishes that are as clean and locally sourced as they are delicious and satisfying. It’s best known for its unique take on mac and cheese and veggie burgers, with some of the stars being a truffle mushroom mac and a blackened cauliflower steak burger. Parka also offers a handful of craft beers from local brewers around Toronto, which you can savor in its bright and airy downtown dining room.
Awai is elevated, plant-based dining at its finest. This vegan establishment has made a name for itself largely due to its team of creative, innovative chefs. Using their respective backgrounds, this group of restaurateurs is cooking up some of the most exciting vegan fare in the city. Expect dishes like artichoke barigoule ravioli and seedling salad with za’atar; porcini mushroom and cauliflower soup; and charcoal gnocchi. All the ingredients are locally sourced, and the menu reflects the change of the seasons.
What was once a family-run convenience store has been transformed into one of the coziest plant-based restaurants in the city. The tapas-and-more spot serves up classic vegan fare like smoothies and chia bowls but also offers more savory dishes such as veganized bibimbap and pulled pineapple sliders. While Hello 123 does brunch and dinner well, it really shines with its cocktail menu – a list of fun and relatively healthy creations (some popular cocktail ingredients include kombucha, grapefruit juice and aqua fava).
Celebrity Pure Vegetarian for to-die-for Trinidadian doubles
Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian
Fans of Carribean food will be particularly excited about Celebrity Pure Vegetarian. It can be hard to find completely vegetarian-friendly Jamaican cuisine, but this casual comfort fare establishment does it well. Celebrity Pure Vegetarian is run by Sherlock Shepherd, who also happens to own Celebrity Touch Hair Studio next door. Tucked into Little Jamaica on Eglinton West, this veggie-first restaurant is brimming with delightful options – from sweet ‘n’ saucy barbecue tofu ribs to fried eggplant “fish.”
Vegan junk food is king at this plant-based Parkdale eatery. Here you can expect indulgent appetizers such as fried mac and cheese balls, jalapeño poppers and “chicken” fingers, complemented by over-the-top mains like peanut butter and bacon burgers, philly cheesesteaks, and fried chicken and waffles. It’s greasy, spicy, decadent and delicious – all while being completely plant-based.
Get ready for all the comfort classics you loved as a kid – but made vegan. Residents have come to love The Hogtown Vegan for its unique spin on Southern classics. The no-frills joint serves up “wings,” shiitake fried clams, pulled “pork” sandwiches with shredded textured vegetable protein and house-made barbecue sauce, along with “unchicken” and waffles, and decadent mac and cheese. The Hogtown Vegan takes every preconceived notion of what veganism is and throws it into the wastebasket – this is the spot to bring your omnivorous friends who think plant-based eating is healthy and boring.
Planta started with a simple goal in mind: to create delicious food that helped propel environmental sustainability – and delicious meals. Since then, Planta has found a happy home in cities all over North America, but Toronto is where you’ll find the flagship location. The chic, light-flooded locations across the city look nothing like what you’d expect from a vegan restaurant, and the food that follows is just as surprising. Here you’ll find artful dishes that range from poke bowls and ceviche to cauliflower tots and smoked carrot hotdogs. Make sure to try a cocktail while you’re at it, many of which are crafted using fresh-pressed juices.
This cozy, informal eatery in Kensington Market stole the hearts of local vegans and vegetarians largely due to its super-satisfying Caribbean rotis and curries. The choice of fillings and plates range from traditional curried chickpeas to more innovative fare like jerk seitan. Whatever you opt for, don’t forget to ask for the house-made scotch bonnet hot sauce, which takes the level of heat from mild to wild – in the very best way.
Cosmic Treats for ‘chicken’ pot pie and other pub classics
Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
Residents have been flocking to this Kensington Market mainstay since it opened its doors in 2015. The offbeat vegan restaurant has something for everyone, with dishes ranging from greasy pub grub to ice cream. Think of it as a modern-day diner, serving up boozy vegan milkshakes, “chicken” pot pie, Southern fried tofu and more. If you don’t have time for a sit-down meal, don’t skip over Cosmic Treats’ takeout counter, which boasts everything from vegan cheesecake to fresh-baked croissants and pain au chocolat.
La Limonada for a vegan, Caribbean speakeasy joint in Little Italy
Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian
Quietly nestled in a Little Italy basement, this extremely low-key Caribbean restaurant is a favorite to many, largely thanks to its to-die-for vegan Trinidadian doubles (and fresh-squeezed lemonade – thus the name). To get to La Limonada, hungry diners must head down a back alley behind the Toronto Spiritualist Temple, down a set of stairs and into what looks like a community center, where chef and owner Jane Frank waits at the counter.
Perhaps the best option on the list for vegan and gluten-free eaters is this “wheatless and meatless” hotspot known for its organic, locally sourced smoothies, bowls and salads. Guests can also expect a slew of environmentally conscious touches, such as compostable takeout items, discounts to those who bring their own containers and an approach that produces little to no food waste whatsoever. Don’t let that fool you though – Kupfert and Kim knows how to make healthy, environmentally conscious food taste delicious.
Ital Vital for homestyle Caribbean fare in Kensington Market
Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian, Caribbean
This Rastafarian restaurant in Scarborough is worth the commute outside of the city center for two big reasons: Arnold ‘Makus’ Freeman and Michael ‘Drey’ Stephens. These two Rastafarian men have been vegan since childhood and recently decided to take their love of animals to the Toronto suburbs. Here you’ll find an ever-changing menu that boasts vegan-friendly recipes such as shepherd’s pie and lasagna, but also more traditional plates like Caribbean pumpkin stew and West Indian chow mein. Dishes are budget-friendly and yield more than enough to take home for tomorrow’s lunch (or tonight’s midnight snack).
Grasshopper has three locations across Toronto, each specializing in “uplifting” vegan eats. Depending on location, plant-based eaters can expect anything from Japanese curry and kimchi to mac ‘n’ cheese, arancini balls and stuffed cremini mushrooms. Whatever your pleasure, every dish on the menu caters to conscious eaters who don’t want to compromise taste to enjoy ethical and environmentally sustainable eating.