First Day in Toronto – Cruda Cafe, Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant, and a Vegan Danish Bakery

Well I got in to Toronto yesterday morning (5:30 am!) and one of my friends insisted that I stay with him and his wife (it wasn’t hard to convince me). It is so much nicer than sitting at a hostel. Usually I love hostels, but I think the morning would have been awful. I would have either had to stay awake until check in (at 4pm) or tried to beg for an early check in. Plus it’s so great to be with familiar folks. I’m glad I cancelled my reservation because I would have missed out on a lot!

This trip was entirely too last minute for me and it’s upset my urge to plan quite a bit.  A couple places I know I would like to visit are the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) both of which I missed the last time I was in Toronto. And of course another visit to Naked Beach can’t be missed, just because it exists.

After I finally woke up (at 11am) my gracious hosts took me over to St. Lawrence Market (92 Front Street E), which is open Tuesdays through Saturdays as a normal market, but on Saturdays it also becomes the venue for a Farmer’s Market and increases the number of stalls. So much great stuff to choose from. If you’re looking for heirloom tomato’s that’s the place to go. So much cheaper than the San Francisco and Edmonton Farmers Market, it was really surprising. Reminded me a little of Pike’s Place in Seattle.

Inside the St. Lawrence Market building there is a little raw vegan place called the Cruda Cafe. They had a great selection of raw vegan items, my friends got the crepes and a soup, and I ordered the Gnocchi. It was amazing. I’m guessing the gnocchi were made with some kind of blend of cashew and pesto, topped off with savory spiced sauce with sesame seeds on a bed of zucchini pasta covered in a creamy sauce. I got the impression that my dish was slightly tastier than what my friends ate, but I didn’t try any of theirs.

Raw Gnocchi from Cruda Cafe

At some point later I met up with other friends I hadn’t seen since the last time I was in Toronto (almost exactly) two years ago. We went over to Thornhill to visit the very awesome Vegan Danish Bakery (7718 Yonge Street, Thornhill, ON).

Vegan Danish Bakery

I thought it was just going to be danishes, which was actually exciting in and of itself, BUT it had a variety of other Danish baked goods (like marzipan cookies, and kransekake ) as well as vegan chocolate bars, chocolate soft serve,  cookies, brownies and biscotti. The woman that runs the bakery is so sweet and friendly, I felt like I could talk to her all day about food and not get tired of it. Another great part about this place is that it’s inside of a costume shop. Can’t go wrong with that.


I ordered the Brownie, and it was decadent, moist, sweet and perfect all rolled into one.

Chocolate Brownie

After the heaven of the Danish Bakery, we all got back into the car and drove to Richmond Hill to go to Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant (280 West Beaver Creek Dr. Richmond Hill.) I’ve been told that this place is one of the best vegetarian Chinese restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area, and judging by some of the dishes we had, I can see why.

We ordered five different dishes: the Hot and Sour Soup, which was excellent (and probably the best one I’ve had… possibly ever.) The Veggie Chicken with Sweet & Sour Sauce, which was good, but everyone seemed to enjoy it more than me.

Sweet and Sour Chicken from Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant

The Bean Curd Stick with Veggie Tender Beef Hot Pot Which was a bit strange looking but smelled like cinnamon so that immediately endeared it to me. I liked the rolled up texture of the bean curd stick in the hot pot sauce.

Bean Curd Stick with Veggie Tender Beef

We also ordered the Shanghai Noodles and the Veggie Beef in Satay Sauce. This last dish was my favourite, though admittedly anything with pineapples (especially ones that don’t seem like they’ve come out of a can) usually guarantees that I’ll enjoy the dish at least a little bit more than a regular one.

Veggie Beef in Satay Sauce

I was shocked when they brought us the bill. It was so much food, for a comparatively small amount of money.

Then I ended the day meeting my friend’s daughter for the first time. What a great first day in the city!