3 Amazing Vegetarian Restaurants Have Opened in Toronto

A New York vegan chain, a Montreal-loved hotspot and an Israeli cafe-meets-restaurant have arrived in Toronto—and they aren’t the average plant-based spaces you’re used to.

When searching for where to eat, we typically look for two things: “the best [insert type of food] in [insert city]” and good ambiance. Rarely do vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Toronto appear high on the search results page, despite the growing number of vegivores in the city, but that’s changing.

In 2019, three note-worthy plant-based hotspots have opened, all featuring more than just standard meat- and dairy-free options. Decadent comfort food, interesting pairings, stunning decor and warm settings make these places enticing to both the veggie-focused set and more traditional foodies. Two are strictly vegan, offering mock meats and dairy products for dishes like lupini tempeh lasagna and poutine. The other is solely vegetarian, but plenty of vegan fare can be found on the menu.

Here, everything you need to know about By Chloe, Lov, and Shook.

(Also, if you’re looking to eat less meat, check out our beginner’s guide to plant-based foods.)

by CHLOE

by Chloe Toronto yorkdale exterior
Image Credit: George-Pimentel

What is it?

By CHLOE was founded in New York City and has since opened other US locations in Boston, Providence, and Los Angeles, and overseas in London, England. “Our goal has always been to offer delicious food that only happens to be plant-based,” says Samantha Wasser, founder and creative director of by CHLOE. “When we started in 2015, ‘vegan’ was still a scary word to many, so we’ve always aimed to offer the most familiar, comforting menu in a fun and approachable setting.”

Tell me about the ambiance.

Toronto’s location is in Yorkdale Mall but looks like a charming Manhattan boutique from the outside. Inside, it’s a bit of an Instagrammer’s dream with vibrant colours, a neon sign, and seating that hangs dreamily from the ceiling.

guac burger at by chloe toronto
Image Credit: by CHLOE

Best dishes?

According to Wasser, the best ones are the Pesto Meatball (made primarily of portobello mushrooms), Quinoa Taco Salad (featuring spicy seitan chorizo) and The Guac Burger (the patty being black bean-, quinoa-, and sweet potato-based).

Most interesting dish?

The poutine, which is exclusive to the Canadian location, naturally. It’s made with air-baked fries, vegan mozzarella curds, and gravy consisting of a vegetable base, vegan margarine, and various herbs. Other Canadian menu items include the Maple Bacon Cheese Burger, a Nanaimo bar and, coming soon, a butter tart.

LOV

lov restaurant toronto
Image Credit: Patricia Brochu

What is it?

With four locations in Montreal, Lov has become a sort of vegan cult-favourite. It’s known for its plant-based takes on classic dishes as much as its stunning decor. “I couldn’t find [vegan] restaurants that I could go to without compromising on other elements I valued when dining out, such as a beautiful setting, good wine, great cocktails, and tasty fare,” says Dominic Bujold, founder of LOV. “When I started LOV, I basically created the restaurant I felt was missing, and it just turns out I wasn’t the only one with those unmet needs!” The restaurants use organic products when they can and aim to incorporate superfoods into their dishes. “We try and balance our menu with items that are good for the soul, the taste buds and the body,” says Bujold.

Tell me about the ambiance.

The space features an earthy colour palette, with copper touches and airy accents, and is basically dripping with plants. “Our decor is meant to feel very homey, bright and trendy,” says Bujold. “The environment is meant to be lush and peaceful.”

plant-based food at lov in toronto
Image Credit: LOV

Best dishes?

“The LOV lasagna is made with our proprietary recipe for homemade Lupini tempeh, which is very high in protein, and has a satisfying texture,” says Bujold. Other must-try dishes include the LOV Wedge (a salad made with gorgonzola, tempeh bacon, and in-house ranch dressing) and Coconut Curry (featuring swash, kale cashews and basmati rice). Despite the fact that these classic dishes are made without their prime ingredients, “the taste experience is amazing,” says Bujold.

Most interesting dish?

The HERO, featuring marinated lupini tempeh, veggies and noodles, gets the medal. “Every ingredient in that dish was chosen for its incredible health benefits,” says Bujold. “The konjac noodles are super low in calories while being extremely satisfying.”

SHOOK

shoot restaurant toronto
Image Credit: Benson & Oak

What is it?

SHOOK (reopening January 2020) offers original takes on Israeli-inspired cuisine, which owner Hanif Harji describes as “a melting pot of Eastern European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food.” In the Israeli culture, vegetables are a key component of the cuisine, so the menu items are based on true ingredients, as opposed to mock meats. “Vegetables like eggplant and cauliflower have been elevated from side-dish status to main courses,” says Harji. All dishes are made with local ingredients and a blend of ancient spices.

Tell me about the ambiance.

Upon entering SHOOK, you’ll first note the warm aroma of the smoky fire used to cook their dishes. You’ll then appreciate the inviting decor. The space was designed in a natural colour scheme, inspired by Israel’s landscape—“the sand, sky, water and the open-air markets, [Jerusalem market] ‘The Shuk,’” says Harji. A woven chandelier acts as a statement piece, complemented by an art installation that cascades across the length of the restaurant and a bar boasting architectural curves.

shook israeli food toronto
Image Credit: Benson & Oak

Best dishes?

Harji is partial to the Zaalouk (an eggplant-focused dish with burnt tomato and caramelized shallots) and the Muhammara (made with charred red pepper, walnuts and pomegranate). He recommends the hummus, as it’s unlike any other. “We lightly ferment our soaked local chickpeas to give our hummus a more acidic flavour,” says Harji.

Most interesting dish?

Pita may sound standard, but Harji explains it’s the most interesting dish as there’s an art to making it just right: “Pita is a foundational element in Israeli cuisine, and creating the perfect pita was a labour of love and an intricate process for Executive Chef Ben Heaton. He spent weeks testing locally milled flours, levels of hydration and lengths of fermentation to ensure the ‘just right’ formula. Ultimately, he selected an indigenous red fife flour blend from Ontario’s K2 Milling, which gives the pita an ideal airy crumb and perfectly balanced crust. Finished with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of house-made za’atar, our pita is hearty and flavourful, and the perfect size for both sandwiches and dipping.”

Next, learn about the new meditation studios in Toronto.

Popular Videos