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Finding paleo-friendly eats in Toronto used to be no easy feat. But over the last few years, the city’s health-food scene has transformed into a veritable paleo playground, with more menus offering grain-free, dairy-free, and unprocessed meal options to please even the most discerning cavemen.
Here are a few of our picks for the best paleo-friendly eateries in Toronto.
This organic, gluten-free cafe in the Annex quietly features an array of paleo options on its menu. Their Kale Caesar salad—made with coconut “bacon” and almond “parmesan”—tastes just like the real deal, while a plate of potato-noodle Pad Thai is the perfect paleo cheat meal when a carb craving strikes.
Though not exclusively paleo, Athletes Kitchen emphasizes whole foods and protein-rich meals for physically active types looking to build muscle. Their in-store menu offers helpful “ketogenic” options, such as the bun-less Keto Burger and the Gladiator Salad with swordfish, which packs a whopping 44 grams of protein. Need to refuel after your morning workout? Opt for avocado toast with paleo bread for breakfast — perfect in a pinch (especially if you’re sick of eggs).
This Corktown eatery’s entirely gluten-free kitchen offers both paleo and vegan food options, though it’s their Power Bowls and Weekend Brunch menu that tend to steal the spotlight on Instagram. The Paleo Waffles, in particular, are a sight to behold, stacked high and smothered in cashew cream, maple syrup, and fresh berries. You’re not limited to a pre-set menu, either — handpick your own protein, greens, and dressing and build your custom Lean Bowl for a culinary choose-your-own-adventure story, paleo-style.
Slinging simple dishes in the heart of Roncesvalles, the Simple Kitchen is based on a simple ethos: good food starts at the source. Simple Salads offer paleo versions of your favourite dressings (ranch and honey mustard), while Simple Boxes—made with locally sourced beef and chicken—swap in zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice for grains. For a paleo breakfast, try a stack of Simple Waffles made with just five ingredients: organic eggs, banana, chia seeds, coconut oil, and cassava flour, plus some coconut whipped cream or paleo granola if you’re feeling fancy. In addition to their delicious prepared foods, they also carry paleo pre-packaged snacks, including legit paleo bread and paleo nut butter.
This Junction spot takes its organic food seriously, which is good news for the growing number of paleo dieters who are primarily concerned about where their meat comes from. Not only do they offer plenty of unprocessed meal options, but their eggs and meat are sourced from antibiotic- and growth hormone-free farms. Fitt Tip: you may have to ask for some clever substitutions to keep grains and dairy off your plate, but that’s nothing new to a paleo eater.
Offering both cold and steamed boxes to tickle your taste buds, this lunchtime locale now has three downtown locations (Richmond and Adelaide, King West, and the TD Centre). On the cool side of the menu, the Banh Mi Box (grilled chicken breast, massaged kale, avocado, tons of pickled vegetables, and more) is just the ticket. On the steamed side, warm up with the Il Padrino 2.0 Box, loaded with zucchini pasta, massaged kale, lemon roasted eggplant, pico de gallo, local feta cheese, sweet potatoes, pecans, cilantro, and lime juice. Just ask for no feta if you’re dairy-free.
This bustling spot on Queen West features some fascinating food items, from the jam-packed Antioxidant Salad (spinach, goji berry, shredded beet, tomato, butternut squash, cauliflower, and all the fixin’s to a daily selection of soups and stews. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, try one of their acai parfaits made with coconut milk — simply substitute granola for extra fruit to make it purely paleo.
Who says you can’t indulge your sweet tooth on a paleo diet? Paleo muffins, coconut bites, and even paleo lava cake (drool) are available for pre-order at this speciality bakery near U of T. All baked goods are gluten-free and soy-free, and most are dairy-free, too — but be sure to ask about any items that aren’t specifically labelled paleo. The best part? They’re on Uber Eats, which means you can have your paleo cake delivered straight to your door (and eat it, too).
This plant-based quick-service spot has six locations in downtown Toronto and show their dedication to wholesome eating by making nearly everything they serve in house. They also get fresh produce delivered every morning — and those ingredients are, of course, naturally gluten- and dairy-free! Concerned about how much trash those single-use takeaway containers produce? So are they; you’ll get you a 35-cent discount if you bring your own container. Try their granola with gluten-free oats, seeds, berries, and pecans or one of their delicious smoothies made with coconut milk, banana, walnuts, and cacao.
Folks who love getting their daily dose of yum at iQ’s six downtown locations will be happy to know the outfit has a new flagship store at Yorkville Shopping Centre north of the city centre. That means it’s easier than ever to pick up the smoothies, salads, and sweets your heart desires. The vast majority of dishes they whip up are gluten-free and use milk substitutes. And even better — the majority of ingredients in the iQ kitchen are sourced from within 100 kilometres of the restaurant. Now that’s good food you can, well… feel good about!
Fresh is approaching two decades in the Toronto scene and now has five locations in the city. While their kitchens are not entirely gluten and dairy free, be sure to ask for their special gluten-free menu, where you’ll find plenty of paleo-friendly choices. It’s long — a full two pages of goodness, including salads and bowls that are guaranteed to curb a mean paleo appetite; try the Rebel Wrap, grilled shredded power greens with cashew cheese, avocado, pickled yellow beets, and garlic mayo.
**Updated by John Sandham, December 2018
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