I spent this past weekend in Toronto visiting friends and family. It had been almost 3 years since my last trip to Toronto. That was when I was first starting to eat more plant based food, but long before I had the idea of starting Health is Happiness. I didn’t really make any plans for the weekend. My plan was to just play everything by ear and see what happens. Of course I was hoping to be able to visit a few vegan restaurants while in Toronto to see what they are all about. What is it like being a vegan in Toronto? My sense is that you have a lot more choice than being a vegan in Montreal!
Fresh has been on my list of places to visit since I found out about the restaurant chain through one of their cookbooks called reFresh. Hot Beans, a vegan burrito spot in Kensington market area, was also on my radar. I got a few other suggestions from friends and the Health is Happiness community.
Friday was my first day in Toronto, and I headed out with my uncle for lunch and a visit to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). We did not have a specific lunch destination chosen. As we walked through Kensington Market I spotted, out of the corner of my eye, a place called Urban Herbivore. I suggested we go take a look and see what it’s all about.
Upon inspection of the simple but enticing menu, we decided to stick around and eat our lunch there. Urban Herbivore has a selection of sandwiches, a couple bowls, and a couple of stews not to mention a soup of the day. They also have a selection of freshly made juices and sweets. I have included pictures of the restaurant menus so you can get a better idea of what they have to offer.
64 Oxford St, Toronto, ON M5T
My uncle ordered the avocado sandwich and I ordered the coconut curry, both pictured below. For some reason my feet were freezing from our short little walk so I was happy to order a nice warming stew.
When you order a sandwich you are given the choice of 2 different breads. Pictured here is the focaccia bread. The sandwich looked delicious and according to my uncle was just that. Avocado, with tomatoes, sprouts, a sunflower sauce, and some kind of vegan butter and more. Served with a little salad on the side. We were told that the sandwiches all had the same base of sauce and butter and sprouts. The other options are sesame tempeh, grilled vegetable, bbq tofu or B.L.T. To be honest, they all sound absolutely delicious and my feeling is that they are, based on the vibe I got from this place, and what I could see going on around me.
Both stews offered, the Moroccan stew and the coconut curry, are made from the same base. I believe it is tomato, onion, celery, possibly carrot and spices. The coconut curry has, coconut milk added as well as tofu, and wait for it…pineapple. Pretty cool, and pretty darn good. The menu also had the option of adding tofu or tempeh, but when I ordered was told that the coconut curry already had tofu. The menu also said that the stews were served with a mix of black and wild rice, but you had the option of choosing quinoa instead for a small extra charge. The extra charge part didn’t make sense to me, because where I shop quinoa is much cheaper than black and wild rice. I didn’t specify a preference, assuming that meant i would be served the rice and not the quinoa, however it came with the quinoa. I was happy it did because it went much better with the stew than black and wild rice would have. It also came with two slices of bread which were a nice accompaniment and great for scooping up my delicious stew.
We both ordered a juice to go with our meal. I had a few drinks the night before so wanted to give my immune system a little ginger boost, so I ordered the Ochre Juice which is apple, carrot, ginger and lemon. A classic combo and delicious as always. No complaints here.
We didn’t order any desserts. We were more than satisfied after our meals. However, I did get the chance to try a cupcake from Urban Herbivore the next day at a gathering I was at. It was moist and incredibly delicious, not to mention vegan and gluten-free. Trust me you would never know or even care. Chocolate and banana cream was the flavour I tried. If you are into sweets I don’t think you will be disappointed by what they have to offer.
Would I go back to Urban Herbivore? In a heartbeat. Did it blow me away? No. That being said it is exactly the type of place and food I love to eat, and was looking for. If you like tasty, fresh, and healthy food then you will most likely appreciate Urban Herbivore in the same way I did. Not to mention it is affordable, very affordable. All the meals are under 10$. The space itself is bright and clean and the staff was warm and friendly. Highly recommend the Urban Herbivore if you are looking for a quick, healthy, and delicious lunch. Who would say no to that? Not me.
I also will say that whether you are vegan in Toronto, or a meat-eater, I think you will love eating at the Urban Herbivore.
Would love to hear about your experiences at the Urban Herbivore in Kensington Market. Leave a comment below.
On a side note. I was surprised to see that Toronto keeps their Bixis out all winter! Vegan’s like to bike all winter no? That’s what I call a stereotype but it is partially true. Vegans tend to be more eco friendly and active people who get around on bikes. So if you are a vegan in Toronto hop on a Bixi and go to lunch at Urban Herbivore.
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