Vegan Oasis on Queen West in Toronto

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I recently traveled to Toronto on an overnight business trip and decided to ask around for vegan restaurant recommendations beforehand. Was surprised to find out that there aren’t that many 100% vegan restaurants in Toronto. Further investigation revealed Grasslands, on Queen West and now I’m the one who can make a recommendation.

My travel companion was a good sport and agreed to try a 100% vegan dinner. Since he was also paying, this was clearly a win-win for me. I searched Yelp and found Grasslands to be well-reviewed and worth a visit so it was the top choice to see if we could locate it immediately upon our arrival. Driving straight into the city, we parked a few blocks from the address and walked down Queen West until we located Grasslands (the name and interior was recently changed but the owner remains the same), in spite of the fact I’m not even sure if the name was over the door. It is a dimly lit, long restaurant and bar with plenty of seating and a cozy atmosphere. The man behind the bar quickly seated us and soon became our server. Also a vegan, who used to live in NY, we all ended up taking about the lack of vegan restaurants in Toronto and how lucky we are to have NYC within driving distance.

We ordered appetizers and entrees and the food came out quickly, was generously portioned and was … delicious. If all restaurants followed the lead of Grasslands in food quality and presentation, all restaurants would go vegan. There were no flavors or textures lacking in my polenta app with a bed of greens and sauteed mushrooms. My dinner of gluten-free rigatoni was alive with flavor and I wished it never ended. Meanwhile, my travel partner’s sobi noodle and greens appetizer was well-received and the main dish (mustard crusted tempeh with maple mash, Chinese broccoli and seasonal vegetables, shown here) was as robust and delicious as any dish in any restaurant. C’mon … it had gravy and potatoes.

Toronto is a five hour drive for us but the energy of the city and another chance to try something new at Grasslands makes me want to return soon. If there were five stars available, I’d give Grasslands five stars.

Go vegan.

PHOTO:  Caroline Aksich from PostCity.com

8 thoughts on “Vegan Oasis on Queen West in Toronto

  1. Vegetarian In Vegas

    I have been to grasslands a couple of times now and it is great! That being said with in a few minute walk there is also Lovin Hut and Fresh. Lovin hut is 100% vegan and Fresh is about 90% vegan. Hogtown is an amazing vegan place as well as Sadies and Hot Beans, of course are all vegan as well. Kings Cafe in kensington is amazing. All in all there are about 50 100% vegetarian restaurants in Toronto and a large % of those are vegan – 🙂 Glad you liked Grasslands, they just opened up their brunch menu.

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  2. Hey there! Thanks for sharing this great review of Grasslands. Perhaps you haven’t yet heard about the Toronto Vegetarian Association’s vegetarian directory. If you take a look you will see Toronto has LOTS of vegan restaurants! Too many to choose from in fact. Check out veg.ca/directory for a full listing and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions or want recommendations next time you’re in town!

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    • Thanks SO much for this information! I was, in this case, looking for 100% vegan restaurants since I wanted to “prove” how delicious food can be without using eggs and dairy (since the egg and dairy industries support animal cruelty as much as the meat industry).

      Vegetarians are one cheese omelette away from being vegan (and I cannot understand WHY they cannot commit to those last two ingredients).

      I hope to return to Toronto and explore every one of these restaurants and cafes (and convince them to GO VEGAN).

      Thanks again!

      Eric

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  3. Tikka

    If you look through the Vegetarian Directory that Barbi of the Toronto Vegetarian Association mentioned, you’ll see more than 30 100% vegan restaurants and cafes listed in Toronto – and we’ve got at least 5 100% vegan bakeries, and other vegan places that don’t advertise in the Directory. I’m sorry you were served by a newbie to Toronto at Grasslands, because we do in fact have lots of international vegan joints here! While NYC is a fabulous city to visit and dine in, we Torontonian vegans have lots of delicious options that cater to our lifestyles! Come visit us again soon!

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