Writing a blog post about Urban Herbivore in Toronto while we’re road tripping through rural America is sheer torture.
Looking through photos of their cupcakes is even worse!
When I first arrived in Toronto, I found it very difficult to eat. It wasn’t a lack of choice for me. There are plenty of fantastic veggie and vegan restaurants and cafes in the GTA. You only have to look at our blog to see places like Fresh, Grasslands, Rise Above, Hot Beans, and Lettuce Love in the GTA to know the plant-based eaters have great options.
It was actually the lack of choice at “normal” restaurants, cafes, and even in food courts. It seemed that there wasn’t a huge range of options as soon as you went out with your friends with “normal” diets.
Where North Nomad and I lived on the beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in Australia, it was very easy to eat together. I’d get tofu tacos from Beach Burrito Co, while he’d have chicken or beef nachos. At Moo Gourmet Burger, there were three veggie burgers (lentils, haloumi and falafel) and an entire menu of things for North Nomad. Even Hurricane’s Ribs at Bondi had an enormous vegetable platter for the vegans and veggies.
I also really missed Iku, a vegan, GF friendly chain in Sydney. I was spoilt for choice – two Ikus next to my workplace (Westfield Pitt St Mall and MLC), and two Ikus on my walk home (Paddington and Waverley).
It’s still one of my favourite places to eat, but thankfully, I found Urban Herbivore, my Iku replacement in Toronto!
If you’re new to Canada like I was, it can actually be a bit tricky to find Urban Herbivore if you don’t do your research. This is not due to a lack of visibility, but because the branding isn’t obviously vegan or vegetarian. And some items like the “BLT” might throw you into thinking it’s meat – like I thought before I Googled the company.
When North Nomad and I have to face the evils that is shopping at the Eaton Centre (it’s probably on par with Dante’s Seventh Level of Hell), it’s my go-to place while he has sushi or something a little more deep-fried and chickeny.
Urban Herbivore is my favourite type of vegan eatery. It makes everything from scratch on its premises – even the delicious desserts! I like knowing that everything is baked freshly and made to order.
And aside from being tasty and good for you (with no nasty preservatives or ingredients), sustainability is one of their core values. Where feasible, they use local and organic ingredients. Their produce is hand-selected by farmers, and they use seasonal ingredients.
All of their packaging is biodegradable (and I always save their cupcake containers for my own baking), and 97% of UH’s waste is compostable or recyclable.
I order one of their sandwiches with a side salad, and a cupcake or muffin for an afternoon treat. My favourites (in their order of favouritism) are:
- The Teriyaki Tempeh, made with marinated tempeh, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, red-leaf lettuce, and lemon tahini.
- The “BLT”, which has smoked coconut bacon (not real bacon, but coconut that has been smoked and dried with a bacony type consistency/texture), crispy tempeh, tomatoes, red-leaf lettuce, and cashew mayo (also not real mayo).
- The BBQ Tofu – similar to the Teriyaki Tempeh, but with basted tofu.
You get a choice of focaccia or olive ciabatta. I hate olives (yeah, I’m a weirdo, I know), so I always have the focaccia. And your bread is toasted, and buttered with miso sunflower butter.
Urban Herbivore offers plenty aside from sandwiches: juices, soups, stews,and create-your-own salad bowls. I haven’t ventured beyond the sandwiches purely because they are so freaking delicious.
I’ve noticed a lot of Torontonians bitching about the price on Yelp and Urbanspoon, which is a bit bemusing. The sandwiches range between $8.85 and $9.51, and come with a side salad. The sandwiches are so large that I eat half with the side salad, and take it home to finish off for a later meal.
Apart from a large meal, you’re also paying for local, sustainable food with environmentally friendly packaging. I guess if you want something cheaper you can always go to McDonald’s and get a burger.
The past couple of weeks I’ve been craving their BLTs and cupcakes. Not too long my pretties… only four or five weeks we’ll be back in the T.O. and I can eat UH to my heart’s content again!
Locations: Ryerson University on College St Toronto, and the Toronto Eaton Centre.
Contact Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica, over at Google+.