We recently spent a long weekend in Toronto, Ontario, and you can imagine how we spent our time. That’s right – seeking out amazing restaurants and cafes to fill our bellies with delicious, healthy and nutritious meals! Mainly, we were seeking places that offered food that was gluten-free, high quality (meaning organic, sustainable, local, pasture-raised meats when possible), and, most importantly of course, delicious! We scoped out a few places online ahead of time and picked out a selection of spots serving food that checked our parameters. Once we arrived, we set about hitting up some of the options that were relatively close to our downtown base and that would provide us the energy we needed while out adventuring around the city. Here are some of the tasty highlights from our trip:
We were so excited to see that this place was right across from our Airbnb and ended up eating there three times! The night we arrived, we hit iQ for a much needed dinner for two weary travelers. We were not disappointed, enjoying a huge bowl each of delicious, healthy goodness! Their plant powered bowls were absolutely delicious and provided the perfect start to our culinary adventure. I enjoyed their Maple Greens Bowl while Gareth went with the Lima Bowl. I also ordered a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie for dessert! Return trips saw us quaff some sweet smoothies and sample some of their energy boosting breakfast options. iQ Food focuses on seasonal, sustainable foods and makes everything from scratch. They strive to include local and organic foods when possible and provide plant powered dishes while also offering meats and fish. We also thought it was pretty cool that they showcased a list of local farms where they source their ingredients!
Our first adventure on our first full day in Toronto had to be to The Big Carrot on Danforth Avenue! We were super excited to go check out all the food items and see what delicious snacks we could pick up during our stay. This beautiful health food store and community market is packed to the rafters with products that are local, organic, non-GMO, and sustainable! We started off in the grocery section of this amazing store, picking up some dairy-free cheese by Culcherd along with some accompanying healthy crackers to ensure we would always have a healthy snack on hand back at our Airbnb. We also found some other necessities in their body care section, and stood in awe at the vibrantly colourful produce section piled high with sumptuous fruits and veggies! From there, we visited their dispensary and lastly hopped over to the Juice and Smoothie bar where Gareth enjoyed a wheatgrass shot and I nourished my body with an immune booster hot beverage – the perfect hot, wholesome drink for a cool fall day!
We ventured out for lunch at this beautiful downtown restaurant and just had to go with the featured item of the day – burgers! We were super excited to learn that their meats were pasture-raised, they partnered with local farmers, and their focus was on organic, high-quality foods. Even their condiments were made from scratch! We wanted to eat pretty much everything on their menu – which is fully gluten-free with paleo and vegan options – but with time limiting us to just one visit, we were more than satisfied with our selection. The burgers were big, juicy, and delicious. Another great place that checked off many of our boxes, their beverage menu also deserves a mention, featuring bone broths, adaptogenic elixirs, superfood coffee, smoothies, and fresh-pressed juices. They sure made an impact on us!
We absolutely love cafes! Finding a new coffee shop to slink into and sample the treasures inside is one of our favourite things to do together. (That and chocolate factories – but that’s another story!) Finding a gluten-free cafe was a definite must, and the Almond Butterfly more than delivered. Offering a completely gluten-free menu full of sweet treats and delicious dairy-free lattes, this was our idea of heaven, and the whimsical decor, soft lighting, and pale pastels give this place a definite hint of the divine – a perfect piece of paradise right on – yet far away from – the bustling city streets! If I’m in heaven, I’m eating a cinnamon bun, but being gluten-free makes this a piece of paradise that’s hard to find. Of course, the Almond Butterfly delivered to me a serenely tasty cinnamon bun to accompany my delicious decaf dairy-free latte. Gareth also went with the latte, as well as chowing down on a vegan chocolate peanut butter cupcake! An hour of sensory heaven in the ideal place to take a break from wandering West Queen West.
After meeting with some relatives and doing a little shopping, we decided to drop into Flock on our way back to our Airbnb. It was a cold evening, so we wanted something warm and satisfying. Flock provided just the answer, with warming dishes featuring natural and humanely raised rotisserie chicken. We went with a quarter-chicken meal and opted for the roasted sweet potato side. Kind of Swiss Chalet done more healthy and humanely, Flock is a great quick-food option when exploring the big city, offering dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options!
This was the last stop on our food adventure, and we may just have saved the best for last! We went to Live for brunch and had a hard time deciding what to order as their menu was truly amazing. The server said we had to try the pancakes, so that’s exactly what we did! Because we were so intrigued by their menu, we decided to share a couple items on the side, ordering up a mushroom appetizer as well and a warm beverage each to fend off the effects of a cold, rainy morning. I ordered their Hot Chocolate and fell instantly in love, while Gareth enjoyed their Breakfast Coffee. The pancakes were simply sublime, and the mushrooms didn’t disappoint either! We were so happy to know that their entire menu was gluten-free, organic, and that they used no refined sugars! They also source their ingredients locally when possible and seek out high-quality and non-GMO foods.
That summarizes our nutritious foodie adventure in Toronto! We thoroughly enjoyed each eatery and every dish. In fact, our only regret was that we didn’t have time to go back to these places and check some more of the many healthy spots Toronto has to offer from our list! (Oh well, there’s always next time!) In the meantime, if you find yourself looking for healthy eats on your own Toronto travels, all of the above get a heartfelt Some Good Thumbs Up!