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Jul 13, 2008 04:04 PM

Great Veggies Downtown


We're not vegetarian but often want a meal that is veggie-focused, both because we enjoy them and because they're good for us.

When I say veggies here, I'm not talking about non-meat, like soy, cheese and beans. There are lots of non-meat options available, but most are based around proteins and starches and the avoidance of meat, instead of being centred around lots of great veggies.

It seems like our options are mostly limited to chinese/thai or salads. We like salads, chinese and thai, but we would love to find some other options for meals we can feel great about. Indian tends to use starchy vegetables and beans, all loaded with high fat sauces. Italian tends to treat veggies as a minor ingredient to complement pasta or meat. And so on. But I know there are exceptions out there.

Where do you go, or order from, when you want great veggies downtown?

  1. I have also been looking out for similar places with these critiera. I am a pescetarian so when I don't want to feel loaded with carbs after a meal I usually go for Japanese (sashimi) or Portguese (I just order the fish without the sides)

    For good veggies,
    I would recommend:

    Fressen (I prefer the Queen st location; love their okra gumbo)
    Alice (I respect their love and care for Ontario grown produce)
    Urban Herbivore (really enjoye the seasonal grilled veggies, and of course, yummy salads)
    Harbord 93 (love their musakhan(sp?), bulgur, and I know you said low carb but, very delicious rissotto)
    Fresh/Juice for life was good a few years ago, but these days I am tired just tired of their limp lettuce and undercooked veggies.


    1. I like Urban Herbivore as well. Haven't tried Alice but it sounds good!
      Also Le Commensal is okay, at least there is a buffet so you can pick the veggie heavy stuff. Live is also nice if you don't want any gluten and want to make sure you are eating organic produce.

      I would not recommend Fresh either unless you want to be treated badly...

      2 Replies
      1. re: albanis

        I wouldn't recommend Le Commensal because the food is not good. I was taken there a few years ago and I thought the food was bland and boring and expensive because they charge you by weighing the food.

        Some people on here seem to have had bad treatment at Fresh, but I've never been treated badly at either of the Bloor or Queen St. locations.

        idnas - try Le Cafe Vert on Queen East at Morse. Also, Jean's Vegetarian Kitchen on the Danforth between Greenwood and Coxwell. They do have fake meat, etc., but a lot of their dishes are just full of good veggies. Another option is Matahari on Baldwin. They are both Asian focussed, but they they do provide good food.
        Also, you can try something like Mezes on the Danforth, where you can order a lot of veggie appetizers.

        1. re: albanis

          I've seen Urban Herbivore but have never been there. Is it a straight salad place or do they do other creative things with veggies? (Any examples you can think of?)

        2. Cafe 668 on Dundas (885 Dundas I think) supposed to be very good...I have only heard good things and will be going there myself to check it out....

          1. Ethiopian veggie platters around town are one of my faves, although you do get a blast of carbs from the injera. Locally I like Dukem and Meskerem, but there are plenty others around town.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Pincus

              Thanks, everyone. It's kind of sad that most of our veggie-focused options are meat-free. Maybe there will be a few restaurateurs who eventually twig to the market of meat eaters who want veggie-heavy options without going all the way to vegetarian. Meanwhile, a few new things to try out and reminders of a few old favorites. Thanks.

              1. re: idnas

                Quite a few French restaurants serve salads that are veggie-focused, with a small amount of lardons, duck confit, or foie gras added to the salad. In fact, when I'm trying to eat more vegetarian, I often wonder why the chef/management felt the need to add pork or poutry to the salad.

                Auberge du Pommier has a salad with quail eggs and lardons IIRC. You can find Salade Nicoise in pretty much every French restaurant in the city- usually you end up with some tuna, and a lot of veggies.

                Going to a restaurant serving tapas, mezes or small plates is probably the easiest way to end up with a little meat and a lot of veggies. The serving size of the meat dishes is quite small at most of the small plates restos, like Blowfish, JKWB, Lee, Kultura, etc, so it's quite easy to order a lot of veggies and less meat if you order mostly veggie small plates.

                Most Greek restaurants on the Danforth will add grilled chicken to any of their salads, if you ask.

                If you find yourself in a Portuguese restaurant, the caldo verde might work for you- kale soup with usually a small amount of sausage.

            2. Urban Herbivore has huge sandwiches and really amazing salads I think. It's cheap compared to other veggie places of that kind. There was an amazing raw restaurant across the street but it's gone now.

              I wouldn't highly recommend Le Commensal either but it is fine if you don't want starch and are not into fake meat (I am not either).

              There is also Bo Duyen (my spelling is off) on Spadina which is completely vegetarian and cheap. There is fake meat but it's easy to avoid, you can get really good taro balls and bok choi.