Written by By Homa Khaleeli, CNN
It might be Toronto, but a vegan dish can easily be found in the GTA (Toronto Metropolitan Region).
On any given weekend, you’ll find throngs of people from the surrounding areas, often with no other meal option in front of them.
But the huge student population in the GTA has a prime opportunity to mingle with like-minded people and nosh on a great vegan meal at one of the following participating vegan restaurants and restaurants — all in Toronto’s suburbs.
There’s no hard-and-fast method for choosing the best spots to order vegan but, with help from What The Veg author Tara Oram, we’ve managed to assemble a top five list of the best vegan restaurants in the GTA.
Rank: 5. Northside
1/2 Tim from Forever Vegan tells CNN’s Homa Khaleeli why he loves working in food. Credit: Courtesy Northside Toronto
Head to Northside Vegan Bakery on Highway 8 just outside Toronto and you’ll be greeted by a stylish, ultra-healthful landscape. A steady flow of eager customers can be found queuing up at the counter to sample some of the cafe’s 60 or so desserts and other treats.
For dinner, diners can order one of the family-run bakery’s award-winning pizzas, with toppings such as mackerel, mushroom and passion fruit.
Getting a piece of pie for dinner might sound odd, but according to Tim McKellar, the cafe’s managing partner, it’s a hit.
“People will see something on social media. It’s a really big deal if people share it on Facebook, they tweet about it, people post about it, which makes you even more hungry.”
A vegan pizza. Credit: Northside Vegan Bakery
Ask Tim about the coffee, though, and you’ll probably get more of a serious answer. Northside’s coffee is made using a blend of organic, fair trade, single origin and organic, Fair Trade Colombia, grown exclusively by coffee grower Odelle.
“We do a lot of research and develop different blends using different varieties of beans,” McKellar said. “And we use a lot of organic coffee so it’s not a chemical by-product. You can smell the difference.”
As a result, the Northside coffee is considered a premium product with a distinct taste and aroma.
The award-winning coffee is made from beans sourced from Fair Trade Colombia, Fair Trade coffee certified, organic, Fair Trade Certified Colombia. Credit: Northside Vegan Bakery
Northside “Mirror Becca” coffee is produced in collaboration with Community Coffee Roasters in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, NY, who hand roast their beans directly onsite. The store also sells organic and fair trade teas and juices, as well as numerous homemade breakfast dishes.
Since opening in March 2018, Northside Bakery has experienced significant growth.
“I think it really works well to open in the suburbs because people have a budget and don’t have to commute to go somewhere like Toronto proper,” McKellar said. “Most of our customers are young professionals. They all have day jobs, they just want a good, healthy meal and they’ve never tried a vegan dish before.”
Street scene: a glimpse inside the Northside space Credit: Courtesy Northside Vegan Bakery
Ours is only the second location for Northside, so the cafe is looking to set itself apart in the Toronto market. “We really want to be a community hub, be a gathering place,” McKellar said. “Hopefully, the energy we get and the attention it’s getting will carry over to our next location.”
Northside Vegan Bakery, 38191 Highway 8 West, Brampton, on Twitter
2/2 One of the shop’s standout beverages Credit: Courtesy One of the shop’s standout beverages
If it isn’t too cold outside, One of the Shops’ signature Street Sandwiches is a must. The bright pita wraps up thinly sliced, spicy barbecue chicken, fresh cilantro, avocado, sweet pickles and a squeeze of lemon.
The shop’s specialty coffee is from London and Lebanon, including the café’s favorite — Araaj Oref — a spiced Arabica blend with roast dates and apricots.
“Most of our customers are young professionals. They all have day jobs, they just want a good, healthy meal and they’ve never tried a vegan dish before.” Credit: One of the