Vegan in Toronto, Part 1: One Love, Holy Hogtown & the King of Carrot Flowers

Vegan in Toronto, Part 1: One Love, Holy Hogtown & the King of Carrot Flowers

Quick! Name as many starches as you can in this dish from the all-vegan One Love in Toronto, Canada.

I’ll help you. 1) Green banana, steamed… 2) sweet potato… 3) yucca… 4) yellow yam… 5) plantain, as well as cooked greens and some fresh avocado slices. As the darling name implies, One Love is a Caribbean take-out restaurant, bringing their unique Ital cuisine to the very diverse Seaton Village neighborhood of Toronto.

With its gorgeous mural, One Love’s hard to miss. The place’s atmosphere is calm and benevolent and its food, simple and delicious. After all, it was 2009’s Critics’ Pick for Best Vegan restaurant in Now Magazine, Toronto’s Village Voice-equivalent. Prices are a tad high, but we found that to be true of everything in Toronto (No joke, 75$ CAD to fill up the car. It was $50-ish in The States.).. but luckily not true of our parking ticket.

Though I had created the loose itinerary for our last summer hurrah to Toronto, it was CandyPenny‘s keen eye who caught sight of the v-bomb as we ventured down the eclectic Bloor street for the umpteenth time and luckily we were able to stop and eat. The Hogtown Vegan, an all-vegan restaurant serving scrumptious comfort food… barely a month and a half old… simply blew us away.

Though we were taken aback by the horrid traffic on the QEW, a gazillion lane highway connecting Buffalo, New York with Toronto, and confused by the hectic metropolis we battled through at the mercy of our GPS, we were so impressed with what we ate. Hogtown Vegan was the perfect remedy for the urban sprawl. From the brainchildren of Hot Beans, an all-vegan Mexican take-out and donut shop in the hip Kensington Market, and Hello Vegan zine, comes some thoughtful grub. We split the roasted sweet potato sandwich: roasted sweet potato with some fresh greens, dressed with a tangy drizzle and some pepitas for texture. Collards on the side. So damn good.

Behold their fancy-pants fries! Housemade cheese, housemade cashew sour cream, housemade “bacon” bits (see the trend? Housemade makes me feel as good as “all-vegan”) and some green onion. Unbelievable. Can I reiterate how happy I am they are not relying on Daiya for cheese or Tofutti for sour cream? If I wanted store-bought, I’d go to the store.

These made us happy. But we had to run…

It was time to head to the Trinity St. Paul’s United Church to see the one and only Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. Yes, the sought-after tickets I nabbed in late February (blog after-math here) were finally picked up at will-call. Though we had driven by the church earlier, frightened by the length of the line, we hurried in after dinner easily and secured an upper level pew to watch the show. It was a gorgeous setting to finally see him live.

The show, as expected, was fantastic. His powerful and familiar voice traveled high in the domed steeple of the church leaving me stupefied and 16 again… when I traveled for music, when it was that good. The polite crowd and I were on the same wavelength, just so happy to see him. Not a sea of cell phones cameras, in fact I saw none during his hour-ish set and encore. But I had to snap something to take home with me.