Vegan and Gluten Free at Hibiscus

Posted in restaurants, Toronto

I can’t believe I haven’t written about this gem here yet. Rich and I had known about it for a while, but hadn’t bothered checking it out until I started my rather limited diet. Once we were there, we wondered why we waited so long!

Where’s this place I’m talking about? Oh, right. Hibiscus is an all vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free-friendly restaurant in Kensington Market. Their small menu offers salads, a daily soup, crepes, vegan ice cream and a variety of beverages (coffee, tea, juice, smoothies, etc). Everything I’ve tried on the menu has been fantastic.

The buckwheat crepes are available sweet (toppings such as nutella or lemon and sugar) or savory (cheeses, pesto, various vegetables). All of them can be customized if need be – vegans can order them without cheese, or someone who doesn’t like one vegetable can ask for a different one.

Hibiscus: crepe

Their salad is a mixture of wonderful things – quinoa, beets, marinaded tofu, carrots, broccoli, seeds… way better than the typical green salad you get at most places.

Hibiscus: Salad and cracker

The soup is always freshly made and always vegan, and comes with a gluten-free cracker made in-house. The last two times I was there, they had a fall soup on – once butternut squash and once pumpkin.

Hibiscus: soup!

My favourite thing on the menu is their soup and salad combo – for under $10 you get a giant bowl of salad and a wonderful warm cup of soup. It makes for a very filling lunch for one, and is healthy without being the least bit boring.

I have yet to try their vegan ice cream, but on our last visit we learned they use a variety of milk alternatives for it, depending on the flavour. Soy, rice, almond and mung bean are all possibilities – just ask if you’re trying to avoid one of those options. The flavours are really interesting and go beyond the usual strawberry, vanilla and chocolate – black sesame seed, earl grey tea, and mango are just some of the possibilities.

The staff are friendly and attentive, and happy to make ingredient substitutions if you need or want. Last time we were there, Rich went up to the cash to pay and noticed a tray of gluten-free vegan chocolate peanut butter squares. Since I rarely find treats I can actually eat, he opted to get two of them to go. The guy taking the payment said he’d make sure to give us the two biggest squares in the tray. I don’t think this was because we’re there fairly often – I think they really are just that nice to everyone.

This has been one of the real highlights of eating out with my food restrictions, and when eating there haven’t felt one bit like I was missing out.

Hibiscus: sign

Hibiscus Cafe – 238 Augusta Avenue – 416.364.6183. Lunch for 2 with beverages, $20.

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