Toronto boasts some exceptional vegan restaurants and for a foodie like myself (and horrible cook), I am grateful for it. Whether it’s raw food you’re looking for to Asian fusion, or a simple vegan-friendly option, you have some great choices in this city. Hogtown Vegan is no exception.
Located in Toronto’s Junction, this little hole in the wall, boasts a fully vegan (100% animal product free) menu, inspired by Deep South comfort food. The atmosphere is very casual and up until recently accepted only cash. Overall a very simple establishment, with dark wood tables, plastic black chairs and old-school record covers the only décor on their turquoise walls. But don’t let that detract you from trying their savory food.
They serve brunch (weekends only), lunch and dinner. And most recently I stopped by for their dinner menu.
We started with their BBQ “wings” as the appetizer ($9). These lightly battered tofu triangles coated with a sweet BBQ sauce and served in a basket with dill and hot sauce dip was the perfect start to our meal. For those looking for an extra kick, the wings coated in the buffalo sauce are quite spicy. (What can I say? I’m a wuss when it comes to spice… sadly, enough).
From there, we ordered the Southern Combo dish [$14], a combination of mac ‘n “cheese”, collard greens and soy “unckicken” strips served with a side of BBQ sauce. The collard greens were very savory, sautéed in garlic. The mac and “cheese’ was the obvious winner in this dish, which for non-dairy cheese proved to be very creamy.
The other dish we ordered was the “Bacon Cheeseburger” [$13], a soy patty served with Daiya cheese, tofu “bacon”, pickles, onions, ketchup, mustard and shredded lettuce on a sesame bun. The dish comes with a side of fries or coleslaw. I have to say the “cheeseburger” at Hogtown is my favorite dish and have never been disappointed with it. The “bacon” topping wasn’t anything exceptional and I would have been okay with just the Hogotwn Burger (which is the same just minus the “bacon”).
For those unfamiliar with Daiya, it’s a non-soy based, fully dairy-free cheese, which comes as close to the real thing as I’ve tried. Most “vegan” cheeses are made from soy or contain casein, an animal by-product, which gives it a creamy consistency. Adding the Daiya cheese to the burger gives it that little bit of extra something to feel as close to a real cheeseburger (minus the cholesterol and trans fats).
At that point, we were a little too full for dessert but couldn’t say no either. We ordered the Deep-fried Banana Split [$7], deep fried banana, served with coconut ice cream and dark chocolate sauce. Who could say no to that? And yes, I had to pull in an image from TripAdvisor because we were so eager to dig in, I forgot to take a photo.
While not my first choice to take a non-vegan because the menu does contain a lot of alternative options that may confuse those unfamiliar, like TVP, seitan, etc. And may be a little too experimental for someone not quite used to the food. Sort of like taking that person who thinks Jimmy the Greek is exotic for sushi, only to have them stare at the menu in horror. It is a good option for those curious to try to a creative vegan-take on otherwise traditionally meat-heavy dishes.