If I could give an award to a city for its vegan cuisine, Toronto would take the prize.
During our one-week stay there in September, my sister and I scarfed down more memorable meals than we’d had since leaving our beloved, veggie-friendly Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago. Add Fresh on Bloor to the list of incredible culinary moments from our around-the-world trip.
Fresh was opened in 1999, and four locations throughout the city serve the vegan and vegetarian community, as well as those curious about meat-free cuisine.
“Since our first days, we have made it our mission to prove that vegetarian food can be satisfying, energizing, and crave-able,” Fresh’s website reads. “Our food is made daily in-house, from whole, natural ingredients, and our juices are made right before your eyes.”
I have to agree with the “crave-able” part. I still crave the BBQ burger, an almond and grain patty creation topped with garlic mayo, napa cabbage, hot banana chilies, lettuce and tomato, and the kicker: crunchy, salty onion rings, as hot and greasy as they should be.
Listed under the tasters menu are the Indian dosas—savory, crepe-like creations filled with curried chickpeas and vegetables and served with coconut curry sauce.
And there was no way I was going to miss out on the poutine, a Canadian classic that can be off-limits to vegans because of the obligatory cheese. The vegan version served up by Fresh comes with roasted mushroom gravy and a cheese sauce. If I was missing out on the “true” poutine experience, I never would have known. The dish is irresistible and may be a little hard to share if you’re dining in a group.
Fresh’s menu includes so much more than I had the opportunity to try. Our server told us that her favorite was the BBQ burger, and that it was the most popular hamburger, so I went for it. But I also had my eye on the grilled tofu tacos and the clubhouse wrap. There’s also nearly a dozen salads and a healthy list of fresh bowls to try (the Buddha Bowl looks amazing).
And should you find yourself thirsty, there’s a massive drink menu that includes smoothies, vegetable juices, immunity shots, power shakes, and immune elixirs, as well as other cold and hot drinks that you’d expect to find at a cafe. It’s all a little overwhelming, really, especially if you only have one week in Toronto and one shot to get it right.
Here’s my advice: Go hungry, bring friends, and sample as much as you can.
Fresh on Bloor
326 Bloor St. West
Mon.-Fri.: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sat. and Sun.: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Weekend Brunch: Served until 3 p.m.