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Toronto restaurants for people with food restrictions

northernstardust May 9, 2013 09:11 AM

I am going to Toronto next weekend with two friends. One of them is vegan and gluten-free. I would love some recommendations for restaurants. On past trips, we've had luck with small, chef-driven restaurants that either offer vegan options or can prepare something off-menu that is not just a pile of veggies.

We are staying downtown and using public transit. We don't have a limitless budget but we can do one splurge meal. Any cuisine is fine. We like good service and someplace quiet enough for conversation, but food is key. Two of us do not drink for medical reasons so wine lists are not important.

We've never been to Toronto and are looking forward to some delicious food.

Thank you!

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    bytepusher RE: northernstardust May 9, 2013 10:35 AM

    URSA may be a good choice for a splurge, I'm pretty sure they can accommodate vegan and gluten-free. I like the room and remember it as conversation friendly.

    1. v
      Vinnie Vidimangi RE: northernstardust May 9, 2013 10:58 AM

      Govinda's , The right person in the kitchen should be back .
      Dirt cheap but superb if he is. Call.
      See my prior recent post

      2 Replies
      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
        garfield RE: Vinnie Vidimangi May 9, 2013 12:44 PM

        I doubt that Govinda is vegan or gluten free. Do they claim so?
        On my last visit I saw cheese (paneer ) and okra in cheese.

        1. re: garfield
          Vinnie Vidimangi RE: garfield May 12, 2013 05:18 PM

          You have to pick from the offerings. But it is really , really good (when the right person is the kitchen) and really ,realy cheap.

      2. TorontoJo RE: northernstardust May 9, 2013 11:45 AM

        Woodlot would be a good choice. They have a separate vegetarian menu that is delicious, and I'm sure they can adapt to accommodate vegan requests.

        Re: Govinda's, this would not qualify for your "splurge meal" criterion, as it's the buffet meal at the Hare Krishna church.

        1. g
          garfield RE: northernstardust May 9, 2013 12:47 PM

          For the not splurge meal you can try Urban Herbivore in the Eaton Center.

          1. j
            JennaBean RE: northernstardust May 9, 2013 12:52 PM

            Another non splurge option is Fresh on Spadina. They go both gluten free and and vegan options.

            1. g
              gembellina RE: northernstardust May 9, 2013 01:23 PM

              Maybe Glas for the splurge meal? I know they have great veggie options, not sure about vegan. You could give them a call and see fi they can accommodate.

              1. estufarian RE: northernstardust May 9, 2013 02:34 PM

                A good choice would be Live - it's a bit off the beaten track but only 2 minutes from Dupont subway stop. Mostly raw food, although they do accommodate non-Vegans.
                It falls in-between - not fine dining but not cheap either. But one of the few places that a meat-eater will not miss that option (myself included).

                1. b
                  bringonthelbs RE: northernstardust May 10, 2013 10:41 AM

                  Well, I am GF and my best friend is Vegan. So between the two of us eating out together can be a little challenging.

                  There are the standard restos that are exclusively GF/vegan, but there are also a ton of places that accommodate to both if you're not feeling the raw, macro, everything else which we usually don't.

                  We've had great experiences at:

                  - Prime at the Windsor Arms (exclusive vegan menu that ROCKS). This is $$$ but if you're looking for a splurge and the guarantee that you can both find something delish then consider here

                  - Trimurti on Queen (Indian). These guys are so great that when we go they start a fresh pot of oil for us (since the reg. oil would have been fried with samosas and not GF) to fry the onion bhajias which are made with chickpea flour. Pretty much everything on their menu is GF and if you stick with the veggie side it's also vegan and they are extremely knowledgeable on both.

                  - Blowfish (Sushi) While a little pricey they are very accommodating and have quite a few interesting vegan rolls. They will also use corn flour for any of their fried items if you mention you are GF

                  Khao San Road & Sabai Sabai (Thai). Both excellent choices for both. About 80% of each menu is GF and they have a separate vegan menu too with more than the typically 2 items.

                  Good luck!

                  1. b
                    blinknoodle RE: northernstardust May 12, 2013 03:53 PM

                    I am vegan but not GF, so I can't vouch for the GF options.

                    My favourite restos are:
                    1) Belmonte Raw- this is vegan/GF, healthy salads and dishes. very flavourful and fun. usually only 3-4 options each day which change daily. lots of smoothies/drinks. chocolate is very nice. moderately priced but not high-end. Out east from the downtown core but I think it is worth the street car ride over. :)
                    2) Hot Beans- this would be for a fast food option. Delicious, flavourful burritos, tacos, etc. For the GF in the group, you can get it in a bowl sans wrap. All vegan.
                    3) Banh Mi Boys- this is an omni fast food resto with good vegan options, GF too. I usually get the sweet potato kimchee poutine and a green papaya lemongrass tofu salad meal (both off-menu, btw). Seating can be difficult to obtain unless you arrive early
                    4) Jump. They have one vegan option (also GF, I think, but they do sub requests), a bean-based Moroccan tagine with falafels and jasmine rice. It is actually very good. More of a higher-end resto.

                    5) Prime - this was mentioned already but I didn't really like the vegan options. But if you want high end vegan, it can be done.

                    Hope this helps!


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: blinknoodle
                      LexiFirefly RE: blinknoodle May 12, 2013 05:01 PM

                      Kimchee often is made with fish sauce. Definately not vegan!

                      1. re: LexiFirefly
                        blinknoodle RE: LexiFirefly May 13, 2013 04:26 AM

                        It is vegetarian at Banh Mi Boys.

                        1. re: blinknoodle
                          LexiFirefly RE: blinknoodle May 13, 2013 06:26 AM

                          Awesome to know!

                          1. re: blinknoodle
                            GirlRancher RE: blinknoodle May 13, 2013 02:10 PM

                            I'm allergic to shellfish and kimchee is usually made with fermented shrimp paste (less often with fish sauce). When I was at Banh Mi Boys last year, they had the kind with shrimp. Have they changed since then? I couldn't eat there b/c the kimchi drips into the other condiments in the condiment table (I looked closely)

                            1. re: GirlRancher
                              blinknoodle RE: GirlRancher May 17, 2013 06:39 AM

                              They must have changed because I am allergic to shrimp, too, (beyond being vegan) and I have had no issues.

                              They are also listed here with vegetarian kimchi:


                      2. g
                        GirlRancher RE: northernstardust May 13, 2013 04:09 PM

                        Grasslands is new (I haven't been) and vegan tapas. You'd have to check on the gluten-free. It got a good review from NOW Magazine (it's by the same guy who does Urban Herbivore recommended in this list as well):

                        1. n
                          northernstardust RE: northernstardust May 15, 2013 07:15 PM

                          Thanks! I am not a great reviewer but I will post next week about our restaurant experiences.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: northernstardust
                            blinknoodle RE: northernstardust May 17, 2013 06:40 AM

                            Awesome, please do.

                            As well, this may be helpful:

                            I haven't been to K&K yet although it looks promising for you


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