T.O.’s greenest restos

Head to these spots for the best in eco-aware menus


Café

Agora

3015 Dundas W, at High Park, 416-761-9991. agora.cafe.googlepages.com. Splendido this ain’t. But a rotating roster of fair trade roasts served in biodegradable cups, a short, mostly organic sandwich ‘n’ salad card and a selection of her mom’s retro desserts make Ciara Bracken-Roche’s eco-concious café a palatable mix of the old and new. Best: at lunch, panini like chicken breast, artichoke heart, creamy feta and strong grainy mustard on a house-baked bun with Tex-Mex-inspired bean salad in dilled citrus vinaigrette at brunch, Eggs Tuscany, poached free-range eggs over stewed tomato and peppers, sided with crostini Welsh Rarebit sauced with Guinness and sharp Irish cheddar 50s-style cupcakes topped with marshmallow meringue. Complete lunches or brunches for $10 per person, including all taxes, tip and a fair trade organic coffee. Average main $7. Open Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8 am to 4 pm (brunch 10 am to 2 pm). Closed Sunday, most holidays. Unlicensed. WiFi. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN

Grapefruit Moon

968 Bathurst, at Follis, 416-534-9056. grapefruitmoon.ca. Long a student favourite, this funky, mostly vegetarian storefront café gets cred for a socially conscious card based on locally sourced product. Bonus: several local micro-brews on tap and vintages by the glass. Best: at breakfast and brunch, grilled and amply packed flour tortillas stuffed with egg and optional avocado, black beans, sun-dried tomato and five varieties of cheese at lunch, Sunny’s Grilled Cheese with avocado and onion at dinner, vegan bean burritos with mixed greens and oven-baked corn chips, or house 8-ounce organic beef burgers on toasted kaisers served with baby spinach tossed with feta, sprouts and roasted red pepper. Complete dinners for $25 per person (lunches or brunches $20), including all taxes, tip and an organic lager. Average main $10. Open daily 9 am to 10 pm, bar till close brunch Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 4 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN

Contemporary

Edward Levesque’s Kitchen

1290 Queen E, at Hastings, 416-465-3600. edwardlevesque.ca. Chef Levesque’s converted greasy spoon has been wowing local foodies since it launched in 2003, long before Leslieville was a trendy dining destination. Uninviting from the street, this spacious room’s retro decor mirrors a menu of modern comfort food that often employs homegrown organic veggies. Best: from a seasonal card, grilled prosciutto-wrapped figs over arugula in balsamic syrup spaghettini with garlicky grilled sardines sirloin meatloaf ‘n’ mash and beer-battered Vidalia onion rings dark chocolate cake with peanut butter ice cream at brunch, poached eggs with Cumbrae breakfast bangers or Italian sausage, chipotle corn bread and potato pancakes. Complete dinners for $60 per person (lunches/brunches $28), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $24/$12. Open for lunch Friday 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, dinner Tuesday to Saturday 5:30 to 10 pm. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 3 pm. Closed Dec 24, 25. Licensed. Access: four steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN

Thai

Thai To Go

452 Gerrard E, at Sword, 416-515-8424. thai2go.ca. As its name suggest, this tiny spot by Regent Park specializes in takeout and delivery. And while most of the Bangkok-style street eats are impeccably prepared, owner chef Prasai Wangtao often turns down the heat and ups the sweet. Bonus: 10 per cent off pickup orders, 14 per cent if you supply the containers. Best: ketchup-free Royal Pad Thai with tofu, chicken or shrimp addictive Mee Krob (Rice Krispie squares meet sweet deep-fried pad thai) crisply fried duck spring rolls with greasy-good breast meat and a flotilla of veggies Kanom Buang, eggy turmeric-tinted crepes with stir-fried chicken and al dente bean sprouts, carrot and mushroom cooling curried carrot soup. Complete delivered meals for $25 per person (pickup $18), including all taxes and tip. Average main $10. Open Tuesday to Thursday noon to 9 pm, Friday noon to 10 pm, Saturday and Sunday 4 to 10 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. Unlicensed. Delivery. Access: short ramp at door, no washrooms. Rating: NNN

Vegan

Hot Yam!

International Student Centre, 33 St George, at College. hotyam.blogspot.com. Thursdays at noon, this U of T student-run vegan cooperative cafeteria opens to the public as an inexpensive exercise in sustainability, dishing up locally sourced and often organic veggie lunches along with sides of delicious idealism for all of four bucks. Check out the crew’s website for terrific eco-conscious seasonal recipes. Best: from a menu that changes weekly, sweet ‘n’ sour beet soup with Ontario cucumber salsa creamy potato salad with silken tofu green beans in basil pesto veggie chili and flaxseed cornbread roasted veggies and tempeh on house-baked rosemary focaccia spread with black-olive tapenade cayenne-dusted corn on the cob cranberry ‘n’ wild rice salad oven-roasted rutabaga frites maple syrup carrot spice cake: root vegetable shepherd’s pie vanilla cupcakes with vegan butter-cream icing to drink, hot mint tea. Complete lunches for $4, first week of the month pwyc. Open for lunch Thursday noon to 2 pm. No reservations. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNNN

Urban Herbivore

64 Oxford, at Augusta, 416-927-1231. fressenrestaurant.com. Now three times larger with the addition of a wraparound porch and the living green roof above, Fressen owner/chef Stephen Gardner’s completely vegan and mostly organic café in Kensington Market whips up a short lineup of salads, sandwiches and soups. Best: massive wheat-free spelt muffins thick with sweet potato and raspberries, or almonds, dates and apple DIY salads like baby spinach in cranberry vinaigrette dressed with shiitake mushroom, grape tomatoes and broccoli enormous veggie sandwiches like roasted red pepper and sliced yam on multigrain or olive ciabatta spread with spinach-walnut pesto and olive-date tapenade to take home, returnable Mason jars of soups like garlicky cumin-kicked Mexican black bean with carrots, corn and celery. Complete meals for $15, including all taxes, tip and a lemonade. Average main $9. Open daily 9 am to 7 pm. Closed some holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: four steps at door, no washrooms. Rating: NNN

Vegetarian

Calico

1226 Bloor W, at Brock, 416-536-1883. calicocafe.ca. You can’t get much greener than former Fressen chef Jared Davis, who either grows most of the produce that makes its way onto his inventive vegetarian card in the resto’s backyard garden or buys it from nearby Dufferin Grove organic farmers’ market. Best: grilled lobster mushrooms with caramelized fennel and cashew cream quinoa-crusted tempeh with baked acorn squash, tomato-basil purée and kasha pillaf apple bourbon cobbler in coconut pastry gluten-free chocolate brownies with fudge sauce at brunch, egg or scrambled tofu frittata-style omelettes du jour with organic house greens and paprika-dusted home fries to drink, rosemary green iced tea. Complete dinners for $30 per person (lunches/brunches $20), including all taxes, tip and a juice. Average main $13/$10. Open for lunch Wednesday to Friday 11 am to 5 pm, dinner Wednesday to Saturday 5 to 9 pm. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm. Closed Monday, Tuesday, holidays. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN

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