Best Yuppie Vegetarian Food in Toronto: Fresh

FA Rating: FF
Price: $$

Walking Through the Garrison Commons (by Fort York), I passed a lesbian couple with three adorable dogs (only two of them were theirs). Starving, I took the opportunity to ask them if there was somewhere good nearby where I could eat. After a bit of consultation, they said that if I didn't mind walking a bit there was "a nice vegetarian place, though it's kind of a chain," called Fresh (Toronto: Queen West) at Queen and Crawford.

If you look closely, you can see the gays.

While I don't even consider a walk to constitute "a bit" until we're talking at least 1.3 miles, I did have my reservations about their recommendation. "Oh of course," I thought to myself, "Two lesbians (with three dogs) telling another lesbian about a vegetarian place. And it's a chain! Oh, lord."

Fortunately by chain they meant a place that has expanded to three locations, all in Toronto, which is totally fine with my foodie asshole standards. The point is to have something unique to the city I'm exploring. And I mustn't forget that vegetarian and vegan places tend to be wonderful places for even the most omnivorous of foodies since they tend to push the innovative agenda. Hell, when you're in a city that doesn't have much going on culinarily, the vegetarian and vegan places are sometimes a foodie's only refuge. As Fresh's website says, they have a "passion for researching current food trends and updating our menus with unique ingredients."

Deciding what to order took me about fifteen minutes, and I think my waitress assumed I was insane. I did what I could to maximize what all I got to try, but there are so many dips and sauces and soups that got away. I envy Torontoans (yeah?) their ability to come here time and again and to try everything.

I got the BBQ burger as a salad but with peanut lime dressing (peanut butter, lime, sambal oelek, coconut milk) subbed in for the BBQ sauce. I couldn't decide if I regretted doing it as a salad when that would probably mean an added $2 charge since the salads are more expensive, but the menu says a burger can be made into a wrap or salad and doesn't mention a charge, and I was going to have to get sweet potato fries in order to try another dipping sauce, so it had to be done in order to make this indulgent fiasco a little easier on my carb/calorie/digestive situation. I also had to add fries so that I could get a dipping sauce (avocado chipotle). I hoped they understood I still wanted the garlic mayo, which was largely the point of ordering that burger.


Vegan BBQ Burger: "tangy bbq sauce, (+peanut lime dressing), quinoa onion rings, garlic mayo,
napa cabbage, hot banana chilies, tomato & lettuce" as salad, served with Marinated Kale Salad, with sweet potato fries added

I'm sure the cook must have been scratching his head in the back wondering why anyone would ever order this mayonnaisey, onion ring laden BBQ burger salad without BBQ sauce. Christ.

A look inside the vegan burger


My waitress asked if I wanted ketchup or hot sauce. My answer of hot sauce brought me some kind of spicy Indian sauce, woohoo!



The vegan garlic mayo (the best vegan mayo I've ever had) was awesome as was the peanut lime sauce, but the avocado chipotle was surprisingly disappointing. It had that old avocado, baby foodish flavor and consistency. At least you can cross that off the list of the six house made vegan dipping sauces you need to try! Then again, if you've never had good guacamole, you'll probably enjoy this.

Avocado Chipotle Sauce

The marinated kale salad was nice, though nothing to write home about. The sweet potato fries were great of course. The thing I really want to talk about though are fried quinoa onion rings that came on my burger:

Quinoa Onion Rings that came on my burger. Also orderable as a side for $5.50: "Made-from-scratch and coated with breadcrumbs & puffed quinoa, with dip add $1"

They were so crispy and crunchy and good.  I think you need to see them closer still.

Whew, get a load of that.

This is one of those veggie/health restaurants that has everything available. Burger, Wraps, Salads, Bowls (all completely customizable), Fries, Juices, Power Shots, Smoothies, Shakes (with all sorts of boosters add-on-able), coffees, teas, breakfast, brunch, daily soups. So if you're like me - plagued with indecision and only able to go there once - study the menu and go with a plan (if you don't want to end up like me, eating too much and paying $20+ Canadian for lunch). If you're a normal person, I'm sure you'll be happy ordering whatever you like best.

After lunch, just west on Queen St., stop by MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art).  It's free every day!

A cool sculpture out in front of MOCCA, arguably made cooler with graffiti


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