The city’s best vegan dishes, doughnuts and cheese—yes, cheese—right now
Toronto has never before been so spoiled when it comes to attention-grabbing eats made without animal products. These vegan dishes are so tasty, even carnivores will bite
The best vegan dishes
For breakfast, brunch, lunch or a multi-course dinner, these orders take top billing.
Hogtown Vegan’s Unchicken and Waffles
Even the most virtuous vegans crave an occasional grease fix. That’s where Hogtown Vegan comes in. For five years, the west-end destination has been turning out enormous plates of soul-satisfying southern-style comfort food, like tortilla salad and the beer-battered tempeh Phish n’ Chips. The menu’s star attraction is its Unchicken and Waffles: deep-fried wedges of breaded soy “chicken” piled harmoniously atop a delicate corn waffle. Matching mounds of sweet potato mash and garlicky sautéed collards provide a salty-sweet counterpoint. Drown the whole dish in maple syrup, then nap the rest of the weekend away. 1056 Bloor St. W., 416-901-9779, hogtownvegan.com
Doomie’s Philly cheesesteak
Doomie’s, which opened its first Canadian outpost in Parkdale in April, still has lines out the door. And while the “secret” faux–Big Mac gets the glory, the revered L.A.-based purveyor of vegan comfort food scores points for other guilty pleasures. The Philly cheesesteak, for one, is a surprisingly faithful imitation of its meaty counterpart, with strips of wheat gluten tucked into a fluffy hoagie, and smothered in a mushroom, onion and pepper gravy and a dairy-free cheese sauce. Fries can be upgraded to Philly fries—drowned in the sandwich’s toppings—to complete the experience. 1263 Queen St. W., no phone, doomiestoronto.com
Kupfert and Kim’s miyeok guk
Finding a good, nourishing bowl of vegan soup can be a challenge, but Kupfert and Kim—the self-proclaimed “wheatless, meatless” chain best known for its vibrant grain-and-veg bowls—serves an animal-free miyeok guk, an outstanding take on the soupy, meat-based Korean staple. Shiitakes and wakame seaweed add subtly briny layers to the clear broth, which is packed with tofu, mushrooms, scallions, and a tangle of crunchy carrot and daikon ribbons. First Canadian Place, Path level, 100 King W., and other locations, 416-504-1233, kupfertandkim.com
Alo’s five-course tasting menu
Alo’s widely acclaimed and imaginative five-course tasting menu is a showcase for meats and seafood, but chef Patrick Kriss’s keen attention to seasonal, local produce makes it a haven for herbivores too. (Those wishing to order an all-vegan menu must do so at least 24 hours in advance.) There’s not a cube of tofu in sight—the kitchen finds inventive (and beautiful) ways to isolate and heighten the essential flavours of even the most common vegetable. The menus are ever-changing, but Kriss’s vegan creations have included a deconstructed radish-and-avocado salad that looks like a jewelled necklace, and a tower of zucchini, cerignola olives and preserved lemon delicately balanced atop a glistening, puck-size round of Ontario tomato (pictured above). 163 Spadina Ave., 416-260-2222, alorestaurant.com
Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen’s eggless Benedict
For omnivores contemplating veganism, brunch can be a dealbreaker: is a life of huevos-free rancheros worth living? Ask the eponymous plant-based-eating visionary at Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen, where ovo-esque options abound. McNish has invented a convincing take on poached eggs, a feat that involves tofu-based whites and a runny yolk made with yeast, sodium alginate and a dash of pungent black salt for sulphuric funk. The vegan Benedict is revelatory: blanketed in a zippy vegan hollandaise sauce, those yolks are perched atop tranches of smoked tofu, a roasted tomato with a crunchy fennel seed and cornmeal crust, and sautéed spinach, all on an English muffin. 561 Marlee Ave., 647-341-1736, dougmcnish.com
Graceful Vegetarian’s dim sum
Though the sheer number of items on offer at this family-friendly restaurant near Pacific Mall may seem overwhelming, home in on the classic dim sum. The expansive menu at Graceful Vegetarian includes a chilled “jellyfish” salad made of chewy vegetable protein threads, and cottony steamed barbecue “pork” buns bursting with impressively meaty smoky-sweet chunks. For those turned off by meatish options, seasonal vegetable dumplings are delicate, translucent pouches of shockingly fresh steamed greens. 8-7131 Kennedy Rd., 905-479-8381, no website.
Related: What’s on the menu at Planta
The best vegan doughnuts
Almost every decent bakery serves up a vegan doughnut these days. Here, five of the best.
Tori’s Bakeshop’s vanilla cake
Tori’s Bakeshop’s very pink doughnut may look like many a frosted ring, but it’s made with unrefined cane sugar and applesauce—arguably the healthiest doughnut in town. 2188 Queen St. E., 647-350-6500, torisbakeshop.ca
Bloomer’s signature doughnut tastes like your grandmother’s best baking. The glaze on this pillowy confection is complemented by a roasted-nut crust that makes it perfect for dunking. 873 Bloor St. W., 416-551-0532, bloomersto.com
Bunner’s cinnamon sugar
Bunner’s gluten-free, vegan doughnuts are available only on Saturday mornings at the Junction bakeshop, and their irresistible version of this classic would fool even the most devoted Tim’s junkie. 3054 Dundas St. W., 647-352-2975, bunners.ca
Apiecalypse Now’s D’oh nut
Apiecalypse Now’s signature bakery item remains the Simpsons-inspired doughnut: imagine Homer dredging Wonder Bread in a vat of hot-pink icing sugar and you’ll be close. 735 Bloor St. W., 416-516-4555, apiecalypsenow.com
Through Being Cool’s Reverse Boston cream
Through Being Cool’s bakery case overflows with tempting treats, including this cream-filled round with a light vanilla glaze and a milkshake-thick, tofu-based chocolate cream filling. 1277 Bloor St. W., 416-998-3321, facebook.com/tbcvegan
The best vegan cheese
Our favourite local, dairy-free fromage.