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Toronto-Vegetarian/vegan and family friendly restaurants

t
tonyg Aug 13, 2009 06:46 AM

I'll be coming to the city on Sunday with my family, including two young girls, 4 and 1.5, for a 4 day stay. We'll be staying at the Grand Hotel but will have a car. I'd be lying if I said my children were quiet and well behaved, beacause at this stage they are not, but we do our best to take the little one out when she gets too noisy. I'm looking for recs either within walking distance or a short drive for good family friendly ethnic vegetarian/vegan food. Bonus points for restaurants that offer both veg and meat choices. We plan on going to both St. Lawrence and Kensington Markets as well. Thanks in advance.

  1. TorontoJo Aug 13, 2009 06:49 AM

    Rashnaa is a great South Indian/Sri Lankan spot. Yummy dosas and kothi roti. It's at 307 Wellesley Street East, a short drive from your hotel.

    1. pinstripeprincess Aug 13, 2009 07:21 AM

      one of your best bets will be ethiopian and one of the best places for children would be lalibela. i've seen kids running around there with the servers not batting an eye. there are meat and veg options (i'm particularly partial to kitfo, rare, and any veg variety platter) but they do take a while to get stuff out so just be aware that having a deadline to go somewhere after might not work out great. i think they're one of the best overall in toronto so you cannot go wrong here. it is a bit farther afield but completely worth it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pinstripeprincess
        t
        tonyg Aug 13, 2009 07:33 AM

        Thanks to both of you. Those sound like great suggestions.

      2. s
        simplepieman Aug 13, 2009 07:47 AM

        You could try Annapurna or Grapefruit Moon; they're both on Bathurst between Bloor and Dupont. Families with active kids always welcome, from what I've witnessed. Annapurna is veg; Grapefruit Moon is not ethnic but has both veg and meat options. Food best described as cheap and cheerful.

        6 Replies
        1. re: simplepieman
          food face Aug 14, 2009 04:22 AM

          I Second Annapurna. Simple fresh comfort food. Great salads with home made dressings. Their tahini-mayo over steamed veggies, tofu and nori is out standing. Their grilled tofu sandwhich comes on home made chapati. Their tradional vegetarian food is better than their indian dishes.

          1. re: food face
            Ediblethoughts Aug 14, 2009 05:25 PM

            I'd be at Annapurna all the time if they had wine with dinner! I like some of their Indian food but the other stuff is very good.

            1. re: Ediblethoughts
              food face Aug 14, 2009 06:37 PM

              I took a couple friends there once and after they looked over the menu they exclaimed..."This place is dry!".

              1. re: food face
                Ediblethoughts Aug 15, 2009 05:51 AM

                I sympathize with their moment of horror!

                1. re: Ediblethoughts
                  food face Aug 15, 2009 11:19 AM

                  I didn't want to totally dis their Indian food. It's pretty good. It's probably just not as decadent as other Indian resto's because they are not using tons of ghee butter in the curries. Their Indian food is cool too becasue it often will be studed with cashews.

                  1. re: food face
                    Ediblethoughts Aug 16, 2009 06:21 AM

                    Yes, the do lose a little on taste (though I think only a little) because it's healthier.

        2. g
          grubgal Aug 13, 2009 04:23 PM

          You could try Udupi on Gerrard st. East - its vegetarian and has a great variety. It also has a kid friendly menu with some fusion items and closer to the downtown where you are staying. There are other options too on Gerrard st ( veg and non veg).

          1. b
            blinknoodle Aug 13, 2009 06:23 PM

            Magic Oven for pizza
            Fresh would be ok for kids, too

            5 Replies
            1. re: blinknoodle
              1sweetpea Aug 14, 2009 05:35 AM

              Le Commensal is a large buffet-style vegetarian restaurant. It can be expensive, because the plates are weighed when you pay at the cashier. The upside is that there is a ton of variety for all members of the family, the food is fresh and well-laid out and it is cafeteria style, so you can depart as soon as you've finished eating and the kids start getting restless.

              There are definitely veg options in Kensington and St. Lawrence Markets. Most Vietnamese places are very family friendly and offer vegetarian options (usually tofu, vegetables and either rice or noodles), though you should be specific with them about not using fish sauce in the cooking or dipping sauces, if you or the family are a strict vegetarians.

              1. re: 1sweetpea
                ChalkBoy Aug 14, 2009 09:46 AM

                Some of the food is fresh at Le Commensal. But a lot of it is shipped in FROZEN from their plant in Montreal.

                And its been my experience in many Asian restaurants that they often have no idea what "vegetarian" means.

                Unlike Cafe 668:

                http://www.cafe668.com

                1. re: ChalkBoy
                  Ediblethoughts Aug 14, 2009 05:24 PM

                  Cafe 668 is my fave Asian veg restaurant. But I'm not sure how kid-friendly they are. I was there with a baby once and it was fine but the baby was a good baby. Not sure how kids running around would go over.

                  1. re: Ediblethoughts
                    ChalkBoy Aug 14, 2009 06:00 PM

                    Patio?

                    1. re: ChalkBoy
                      Ediblethoughts Aug 15, 2009 06:28 AM

                      Do they have a patio? I didn't realize that. I've only ever been in the winter... is it on Dundas?

            2. p
              piptal Aug 14, 2009 06:51 AM

              Although not exclusively vegetarian, here are some vegetarian (unfortunately I don't know if they have any vegan options) and kid friendly options:
              In the East end, try Lil Baci for pizza (Queen East near Logan) or Mimi's Vietnamese (Gerard E. near Broadview). Both are very kid friendly (we take our 2.5 and 4.5 yr old girls there frequently) and Mimi's platters allow everyone to choose what they want to put in their rice wraps..the staff at Mimi's were particularly nice to us one day when our 4 year old had such a bad meltdown we had to take our dinner to go (luckily we live nearby)!

              Terroni on Adelaide (near Yonge) is also kid friendly Italian if you go for an early dinner (although, beware of their (in)famous "no substitutions" policy on their menu items - search this board to find more info.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: piptal
                t
                tonyg Aug 14, 2009 07:04 PM

                Thanks everybody for the wide variety of recommendations. I'll report back after the trip.

              2. r
                resonate Aug 15, 2009 06:13 AM

                Hi Tony,
                Just saw your post while eating leftovers from One Love Vegetarian Cafe (854 Bathurst, one block north of Bathurst Station). Went to this tiny, but lovely place last night for my vegan partner's birthday. Nothing fancy - just fresh and delicious Jamaican vegan food.

                We ordered:
                1 large chana (chickpea and potato) roti (in paratha wrapper) - $8
                1 order of the stir-fry (a sweet and savoury blend of mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, avocado, plantain, bell peppers over rice and peas) - $10
                1 glass of the Lemon GoGo Berry juice (a seasonal concoction of organic strawberries - they said they just got a shipment in so based the drink around them - organic lemonade, Jamaican mango, and mint) - $5

                Couldn't finish either meal in one sitting. Will have to remember to bring my own containers next time. Overheard another customer singing the praises of the Lemon Coconut icing cupcake (grabbed one while paying for $2, surprised by how moist the cake was, but found the icing too sweet after the naturally sweet juice).

                If you're near Bloor and Bathurst (we took a leisurely 1hr walk from St. Lawrence Market area), you must visit One Love. I really hope the word gets out so they become a permanent fixture.

                1. z
                  Zengarden Aug 16, 2009 06:25 AM

                  Vegetarian Haven is at 17 Baldwin Street. Nice atmosphere and completely vegan but I am a meat lover who enjoys coming here because of the food. This is just a 10 minute walk from Kensington Market if you're going to be there anyway.

                  Hisbiscus has been named by Now Magazine as the number 1 gelato in Toronto. It is located in Kensington Market.

                  1. a
                    AngelaThrust Aug 20, 2009 07:20 AM

                    You MUST check out The Toronto Vegetarian Association's Vegetarian Directory.
                    Here is the Kensington market page. http://veg.ca/content/view/85/108/
                    The page has restaurants, food stores, farmer's markets... everything!

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