I’ve always wanted to visit Toronto ever since I met Lisa, the Viet Vegan, who is an amazing Asian vegan blogger who lives a little outside Toronto. She kept saying “You have to visit,” and I kept saying “I know! It’s so close to NYC!” After weeks of going back and forth like this, I decided to make a week long trip to see this friendly city up North. Toronto feels like a city made of glass because of its incredible skyscrapers. It’s also a cultural melting pot, full of amazing people and food (especially my favorite, Asian food). Here are my top suggestions on what to eat, do, and see in Toronto:
What to Eat:
If you’re looking for a cool high-end spot in Toronto, Planta is your place to be. All the dishes are vegetable-forward like the watermelon poke (amazing) and served in a plant-decorated trendy space. The restaurant was packed, even on a Sunday night, and everyone looked cooler than me. They also have amazing drinks, so if you want to treat yourself while on vacation, come here.
Nestled in between Kensington Market and Chinatown lives Saigon Lotus, which is a vegan Vietnamese restaurant. Whether it’s pho or rice rolls you want, Saigon Lotus serves it. Having warm vegan noodle soup is also perfect for a cold day up North.
Hogtown Vegan specializes in vegan junk food, and I couldn’t resist getting the vegan mac and cheese, fried chicken, and collard greens plate. If you’re not feeling plates, because, lets be honest, you’re on vacation, the un-chicken burger is impressive with its thick piece of seitan and the double sesame seed bun.
If you’re from Toronto, you know about Fresh…at least that’s what people tell me. Fresh is a chain of restaurants that specialize in healthy plant-based food. “All my non-vegan friends want to visit Fresh when they visit,” said one Toronto stranger when I asked where I should eat vegan food in the city. It’s tasty, filling, fresh (haha) and can meet both your healthy (acai bowls and super salads) and indulgent cravings (cauliflower wings).
If you love (or have never had) Malaysian food, you should go to Soos because they do an amazing job of making classic Malay dishes vegan. Since my family is Singaporean, I always crave Malay dishes, but can rarely find vegan versions of the dishes I ate as a child. Soos is a dream come true for me, and even though they aren’t a fully vegan restaurant, on Mondays and Tuesdays, they do a special popup called Fat Choi, where the entire menu is vegan.
I’m a sucker for vegan pizza and when I heard about a pizza shop that specializes in a Big Mac Pizza, I needed to go. I got the mac and cheese chili pizza (yup, it’s as good as it sounds), mozzarella sticks (they’re so thick and full of gooey cheese), and vegan poutine (cause when in Canada, eat Canadian food). I went hard on the carbs, and it was worth it.
If you’re looking for a popular spot to eat in Toronto with non-vegan friends, Khao San Road has a separate vegan menu that includes most of the popular dishes off their regular menu! This restaurant is super popular among locals, so get there early to enjoy their spicy curries and noodles.
“Hole-in-the-wall” doughnut counter that specializes in dipped doughnuts in Kensington Market. Their menu rotates regularly, but they almost always have 4 vegan doughnuts that are super fluffy, warm, and dipped in sweetness. This place is super popular even though there aren’t any places to sit, so grab your doughnuts before they sell out!
This is a separate section just for ice cream because I ate a lot of ice cream on my trip.
This popular ice cream spot is known for their ice cream sandwiches, and when I heard they had vegan options, I knew I had to go. The cookies are warm + fresh, and their ice cream flavors change, but they know how to get the texture of vegan ice cream down.
Bang Bang Ice Cream is also across the street from Soos, so definitely go for an after dinner treat.
Vegan ice cream and ice cream bars that are so cute and yummy!
A block away from Sweet Olenkas meant that I was eating two ice creams within an hour. Cosmic Treats specializes in a cashew based ice cream that I thought was super tasty. They also are known for their fried mac and cheese balls.
Eva’s Chimney Cones are so Instagramable, but also so tasty. They make fresh vegan chimney cones that are perfectly warm right out of the oven, cover it in sugar, and fill it with amazing toppings. They have both vegan and non vegan soft serve + topping options, but I got the mango sticky rice. The combination of warm, sweet carbs and the soft serve left me dreaming for more.
My friend called this the most “Instagramable” ice cream spot in Toronto, and they serve up vegan soft serve. They only had one vegan option when I went - a vegan mango and coconut, but they really pile on the toppings and soft serve to make beautiful deliciousness that will make you say “Sweet Jesus” when you see it.
Places I Couldn’t Try but were Recommended to Me:
Hello123 - trendy + healthy vegan plates and bowls
Bloomers - vegan bakery
Early Bird Coffee and Kitchen - cute vegan friendly cafe
Virtuous Pie - vegan pziza
The Wren - not fully vegan but accommodating + beer
Tori’s Bakeshop - bakery
Blossom - vegetarian buffet
Sorelle and Co - bakery
Rosalinda - vegan Mexican
Hibiscus - vegan crepes
Grasshopper - healthy vegan food
Kumfert & Kim - fast casual healthy food
Boon Burger - all vegan cafe
What to Do:
I didn’t get to go to Toronto Islands because it was cold when I visited, but Toronto has a series of islands that are great for outdoor activities.
Thrift stores, cool local restaurants, and very hip area. It’s fun just to walk around and explore!
Huge indoor food market that you can buy groceries, produce, knick knacks, and there’s also a vegan raw restaurant in the bottom floor!
I didn’t go up the Tower, but it’s pretty to look at from afar.
Snack on Canadian Specialties
Ketchup Chips + Maple Cookies (make sure they’re vegan!)
Day Trip to Niagara Falls + St. Catherines
Niagara Falls Boat Ride
Take a boat ride to get up close and personal to the falls! You’ll get wet, but they give you ponchos.
St. Catherines Hike - Tews Falls
Where to Eat in St. Catherine’s
Niagara’s first and only 100% vegan restaurant and full of lots of fresh dishes including an incredible kale caesar salad and fresh seitan.
The best doughnuts I’ve ever had are at Beechwood because of the fact that they are fluffy, warm, and not too sweet. They also have a cronut (croissant + doughnut), which is amazing (I brought one home with me to NYC). If you still have room in your stomach after eating a dozen perfect doughnuts, then you need to get the soft serve, which is seasonal (I got pumpkin spice) and has an amazing texture and mouthfeel.
Where to Stay
I stayed in this beautiful penthouse Airbnb with floor to ceiling windows and amazing views. It’s in a more residential area full of other luxury high-rise apartments, but it was a 15 min walk to everywhere I wanted to go.
Special Thanks again to Lisa (The Viet Vegan) for her Toronto tips & letting me stay with her.
Me and Lisa at Niagara Falls!
Pumpkin and vanilla soft serve