A Gluten-Free Tour of Toronto : Top 5 Gluten-Free Restaurants

I moved to Toronto in 2005 from the Canadian Prairies. Like any normal person arriving here from Manitoba, I nearly fainted at the selection of food. Bakeries in every neighbourhood! Five shawarma joints on one street! Korean BBQ on a residential road! Jerk chicken all around! Those first few years, I ate, ate, and ate. “I heart this city,” I thought between bites.

Then in 2009, I discovered I was gluten- and dairy- intolerant. My list of regular restaurants shrank dramatically, since I’m sensitive to the cross-contamination in restaurant kitchens. Suddenly I was a tourist again, looking for new corners in Toronto’s food scene.

But four years later, I’m happy to report that I’ve settled in with a new list of favourites. As with many large cities, Toronto’s gluten-free scene overlaps with offerings for other special diets, such as vegan/vegetarian and raw cuisine.  Here are my top five haunts:

1. Camros Organic Eatery

Self-described as “Persian-inspired,” this deli-style restaurant uses entirely gluten-free/dairy-free ingredients (with the exception of some desserts). The whole menu is also vegetarian. An extra bonus (for people with additional food sensitivities) is that each dish is displayed with a list of its individual ingredients. Ultra-sensitive diners might want to clarify with staff about specific sauces or dressings, though. 

http://www.camroseatery.com/

2. Kensington Cornerstone

Essentially, this is gluten-free “comfort food.” A great option for carnivores, its menu includes chicken fingers, cheesesteak, and pulled pork sandwiches. The entire kitchen is gluten-free, and the owner/cook is really accommodating to people with additional sensitivities (such as dairy). A few vegetarian & vegan options are also available. 

http://www.kensingtoncornerstone.com/

3. Live Organic Food Bar

Entirely gluten-free/vegan (with the exception of occasional specials). Although raw food is the main feature, Live also offers cooked options for more reluctant visitors. Overall, diners can choose from an array of burritos, tacos, burgers, salads, and pastas. Plus, they have killer desserts—in my opinion, their dessert slices taste better than regular cheesecake. 

www.livefoodbar.com

4. Magic Oven

Overall, this place is known for its innovative pizzas (and is not billed as a gluten-free/vegan restaurant). But it offers gluten-free pizza crusts, which are cooked separately from regular pizzas to avoid cross-contamination. I have also found most waiters to be well-educated on the subject of gluten (and other allergies), and staff will usually provide ingredient lists upon request. The menu also has several vegan options. Warning: Service can be a bit slow at some locations; but if you’re only there for the food, you’ll likely walk out satisfied. 

http://www.magicoven.com/

5. Bunner’s Bakery

All items in this take-out bakery are gluten-free/vegan (and many are also soy-free). I personally love the cupcakes and cinnamon buns, but they also have bread, pies, muffins, butter tarts, and other tasty things… 

www.bunners.ca


This list is only a beginning. For the rest, you’ll just have to come to Toronto and see for yourself. ;-)

…now if you’ll excuse me, I need a butter tart.