A guide to Toronto’s healthy restaurants with Greenhouse Juice Co’s Hana James and emma knight
I think we can all agree that keeping up with the Toronto restaurant scene can be a challenge. It feels like we leave for two months, and suddenly 20 new restaurants have popped up. While we have our favourite go-tos when we’re home, like Kupfert & Kim, Nutbar and recently Sweethart Kitchen, to name a few, we thought we’d go to the experts, Greenhouse Juice‘s Hana James and Emma Knight for their favourite healthy spots in Toronto. Here’s what they had to say:
One of the best perks of living and working in Toronto is the endless array of restaurant options in every neighbourhood of the city, with new spots opening almost every week (and I don’t just mean Drake’s latest). From fancy to fast-casual, many of these cater to a health-conscious crowd, without ever sacrificing delicious-ness. Although not every spot on our list of favourites is exclusively plant-based, each offers a number of vegan, vegetarian, and/or gluten-free options, and each puts the focus on fresh, local, and organic ingredients whenever possible.
Café Neon (Queen + Ossington) is around the corner from Greenhouse’s Head Office, and offers all day breakfast (the best three-word combination ever, no?). It’s a great spot to grab a fresh breakfast wrap when we know we’ve got a green juice and a pile of emails waiting for me our my desks.
Lola’s Kitchen (Bloor + Church) highlights fresh and local ingredients, and serves an incredible weekend brunch, with a great variety of gluten-free and vegan options — like their Warm Granola, which is served with a fruit compote and coconut cream.
Another one of our favourite brunch spots is Maha’s Egyptian Brunch (Gerrard + Greenwood). As you likely guessed, it’s an Egyptian brunch spot—with easily the BEST falafel and foole in Toronto! Vegans must try their Lentil Soup.
Lastly, iQ Food Co. (multiple locations) is a must for a quick and healthy bite. We share a shop with these inventive creators at First Canadian Place in Toronto’s financial district, and our whole team survives on their avocado toast, overnight oats, and chia pudding.
Can we pick iQ Food Co. (multiple locations) twice? We promise, they’re that good. The team at iQ makes it a priority to sustainably source seasonal ingredients, and their resulting menu of snacks and salad boxes never disappoints. Sparta and Lima are two gluten-free favourites, both of which can be made plant-based with substitutions. The team also prepares delicious seasonal soups!
La Palma (Dundas + Euclid), is an Italian spot, close to Trinity Bellwoods Park, and not too far from our shop on Queen West. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner, especially if you like small sharing plates. You must try their vegetable dishes. (Vegetarians: go for the Ontario Corn + Beluga Lentils, an amazing salad with feta!)
Mocha Mocha (Danforth + Logan) is a hidden gem on the Danforth — the Warm Brown Rice Salad is killer!
Hibiscus (Kensington Market) is a family-run vegetarian café, with life-changing buckwheat crêpes. Try them savoury or sweet. We also love their composite salad bowls, and can’t resist their incredible vegan ice cream!
The Beet (The Junction) is an organic restaurant with lots of different options, no matter what kind of eater is in your lunch group—including kid-friendly dishes.
Kwan’s (Yonge + St Clair) is perhaps not what you would expect to find on a “healthy” list, but they have an amazing vegetarian dim sum offering, most of which are steamed in rice paper. The truffle mushroom steamed dumpling is the BEST.
Abokichi (Dupont + Spadina) offers the most inventive and amazing Onigiri (a traditional Japanese snack), plus sandwiches and wraps — with GF bread from Thornbury’s!
Market Street Catch (Market Street) is located just outside of Toronto’s St Lawrence Market, with the freshest fish you can get (at an affordable price) if your diet includes it. They’re best known for offering fish deep fried with French fries (which is admittedly great), but we often opt for the grilled version with a salad — it’s a great light lunch!
Planta (Yorkville) is an upscale, 100% plant-based restaurant from Chef David Lee. It’s a lovely space with a creative menu—great if you’re celebrating a special occasion. The Habibi Salad Bowl is a favourite.
Café Nervosa (Yorkville) is a typical Italian restaurant, and maybe another unlikely addition to the list—BUT they have incredible, meal-sized salads, the kind that make you feel like you’re not even eating a salad.
Sushi Nomi (Roncesvalles) offers fresh fish (mostly flown in from Vancouver and Japan) and inventive rolls (like the Coconut Spicy Tuna). There are a number of vegan and vegetarian rolls on the menu, plus an amazing white rice alternative, Haiga rice (better than brown rice, in their opinion). Sushi Nomi’s house-made soy sauce is also a highlight.
Udupi Palace (Gerrard + Greenwood) is in the heart of Little India, with a focus on Southern Indian vegetarian cuisine—think less cream/butter, and more spices! Must-haves: dosas (rice crepes), the best okra, and dahl for days!
Flock (multiple locations) is the healthy answer to Swiss Chalet! Free-range chicken is done on the rotisserie with various sauces (like chimichurri). Flock also offers a number of interesting sides (Grilled Rapini + Broccoli, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Marinated Steamed Green Beans) and meal-sized salads.
Tabule (Queen + Broadview) and Tabule Souk (Canary District) are great for dinner. This Lebanese family of restaurants has four locations in Toronto, and we find ourselves frequenting these two the most. Tabule in Riverside is more of a sit-down restaurant, with a number of great sharing plates. Tabule Souk is less formal—order at the counter and seat yourself—but no less delicious. Both locations offer the freshest Middle Eastern cuisine, with lots of gluten-free and plant-based options.