[Don't miss the rest of this week's vegetarian and vegan special here.]
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Even with jerk chicken and oxtail glaringly absent from the menu, Ikeila Wright’s tiny Annex kitchen is one of the city’s best-regarded Caribbean restaurants. Your one must-order is One Love’s corn soup – laced with coconut and Scotch bonnets, it’s the stuff of legend – but heartier appetites can round it out with chickpea-potato or pumpkin roti or a smoky-sweet BBQ tofu stir-fry with rice and peas.
854 Bathurst, at London,416-535-5683, oneloveveg.tel
21199 Dundas West, Toronto, Ontario
Ex-Spoke Club chef Ren Mercer scaled down to this cozy take-away joint on Dundas in 2014, making grab-and-go veggie eats (including boxes, salads, soups and grilled cheeses) from whatever’s available fresh at the produce market that day. Pick up a smoked cheddar and truffle honey grilled cheese if your dietary proclivities allow – but if not, you’ll be well-served by greenery-packed daily bowls likeMercer’s painterly summer gazpacho (top).
1199 Dundas West,at Lakeview,416-841-6673, instagram.com/veghed_bar
Feel left out at backyard BBQs? Next time, show up with a cooler full of delights from this vegetarian butcher shop (surprisingly, not an oxymoron) on College. The vast range of meatless mains include beet burger patties, Indonesian grilled tofu, pork-less pulled pork, Szechuan “beef” and Korean seitan ribs. Grab yourself a takeout lunch bowl and stock up on nut cheeses, vegan yogurt, house-made condiments and dairy-free desserts on your way out.
705 College, at Montrose,416-645-0117, yamchops.com
The soothing, cozy vibe has sealed the mainstay status of this Kensington café. Then again, that might be due to its soul-warming soups, impressive 42-ingredient lunch salad (it’s the answer to life, the universe and your grumbling stomach) or the array of gorgeous sweet and savoury crepes, which come plated to the nines with an eye-popping arsenal of toppings (real and faux cheeses, vegan dulce de leche, a produce stand of fresh fruit). Finish things off with a scoop of vegan ice cream, made in-house.
238 Augusta, at Nassau,416-364-6183, hibiscuscafe.ca
Would you rather be surrounded by a rich, sumptuous, inviting restaurant atmosphere or just chow down on some of the best dosas in town? This spartan – if gleaming-clean – basement spot in Little India makes the choice easy. Able servers will help you navigate and narrow down the lengthy menu of dosas, uthapam pancakes and thalis accompanied by flavourful yet tamely spiced house sambals and chutneys. But with the spot hitting its 15th year, you can rest assured – they’re all delicious.
1460 Gerrard East, at Rhodes, 416-405-8138, udupipalace.ca
Seventeen years after opening, Ruth Tal’s vegetarian empire now boasts four eateries – and a matching quartet of cookbooks. The staples Toronto vegans have been thriving on for years – smoothies and green goddess bowls, wraps stuffed with tofu steaks and faux bacon, even roundly praised quinoa-crusted onion rings – are ever-present on the menu, but the already vast selection has stretched to reflect current trends, with items like squash tacos and cold-pressed juices.
This jumpin’ spot, handily positioned to reach both U of T students and Kensington bohemians, expanded westward with a second location in the Junction this year. Both feature laid-back lunches like quinoa mac and cheese, wraps and a whack of vegan banh mi options. The Junction shop does brunch daily until 4 pm (hello, chick-un and waffles), while the College shop is licensed. Seriously, vegan or no – would you turn down a London Fog cocktail made with whiskey, coconut cream and Earl Grey syrup?
310 College, 647-340-3666; 3080 Dundas West, 416-604-3474; grasshopperrestaurant.ca
This west-side mainstay opened at 668 Dundas at the turn of the millennium (hence the name), then packed up and headed to swankier digs (or more sterile ones, depending on who you ask) a few blocks west in 2012. But the menu, an all-veggie pan-Asian jumble, has blessedly remained the same. Faves include Hawaiian fried rice with pineapple and faux pork, battered bean curd veggie duck, deep-fried eggplant swathed in coconut curry, and a host of faux meat stir-fries, all in shareable, economical portions.
885 Dundas West, at Claremont, 416-703-0668, cafe668.com
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