Restaurant Review: The Hogtown Vegan, Toronto

I can’t imagine that every vegan in the GTA wasn’t excited to hear The Hogtown Vegan was opening. In a city where raw plates and rice bowls are always at hand, this girl would sacrifice an arm and a leg at the sound of just two words: comfort food.  

Sister restaurant to Hot Beans (‘latin-inspired vegan takeout in Kensington Market’), The Hogtown Vegan serves up heartwarming and soul sustaining dishes like chipotle mac n’ ‘cheese’, po’ boys, biscuit sliders, unchicken and waffles, and cheesecake. If you’re looking for something lighter, they offer a variety of sandwiches and salads topped with fresh and flavourful ingredients.

Located two blocks east of Ossington Station, the restaurant is relatively unassuming. With a simple black sign painted with their name and logo, you guessed it, a hog. Inside is a clean, fresh, minimalist space. You can catch a glimpse of the boys at work in the kitchen while you sit and relax in the turquoise and white dining room.

The weather was incredibly humid and relatively warm during our visit. Besides several pitchers of water, we tried the house made lemonade as well as a Blue Sky Creamy Root Beer. The lemonade was fresh and tart with a slight sweetness. I found it perfectly thirst quenching, however a companion thought it too sour. It’s a matter of taste, I suppose. I am not a huge root beer fan, but I have it on good authority Blue Sky is a good one.

To start the table shared the chipotle mac ‘n “cheese” (below, bottom right) – ‘best vegan mac ‘n “cheese” ever, topped w/ bread crumbs - $7’. A good size to split between two people, three is a bit of a stretch unless you’ve ordered a second app. Mac and cheese is something I have truly missed since going vegan. I’ve tried a few different recipes on my own but THV’s offering is the best I’ve yet encountered. Zesty and wholesome with a crunchy baked top that adds some excellent contrast in texture to the al dente elbow macaronis. My only criticism would be that the sauce could stand to be slightly more thick.

Since it was the promise of comfort food that brought me running, I couldn’t resist ordering the biscuit sliders (above, top left) – ‘veggie sausage patties, topped w/ creamy mashed potatoes, peas and smothered in our house-made mushroom gravy sandwiched, between two flaky biscuits - $12’. The sausage patties were a delicious, guilt-free, almost exact version of the real thing. The potatoes were indeed creamy and the pop of fresh peas, delectable. A gravy connoisseur, I fell in love with THV’s mushroom version. It was so hearty, with so many layers of flavour; I could have drunk it by the glass. The biscuits were perhaps a bit too tough for my liking; more gravy would have softened them up. A great dish, days later I’m still thinking about it.

The Reuben (above, bottom left) – ‘shaved house-made seitan, sauerkraut, horseradish mayo, garlic butter, alfalfa sprouts on pumpernickel rye - $11’ – was one of the best sandwiches I’ve in recent memory. I cannot possibly express how excellent the shaved seitan is. The seasoning was so well done, it would fool your average meat-eater any day. The cabbage, sprouts, mayo, and butter were perfect additions – crunchy, moist, zesty.

Last but not least, the roasted sweet potato sandwich (above, top right) – ‘roasted sweet potato, marinated red onion, chickpea salad, kalamata tapenade, alfalfa sprouts on multigrain toast - $11’. The tapenade was what stole the show when it came to this sandwich; the olives cam through so clean and clearly. Overall the sandwich was light and refreshing and a great addition to the menu to balance out the many heavier dishes.

I highly recommend The Hogtown Vegan to everyone, vegan or otherwise. THV delivers exactly what it promises: comfort. There really isn’t anywhere around the GTA quite like it.


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