Right on the theme of work-related Ontario travel ;)… I went to visit my boyfriend in Sudbury last weekend, where he’s located for five weeks of entomological field research. (very glamorous I know!)
While I was expecting a weekend of butterfly nets, bugs and small-town diners, I was surprised by a few fun discoveries. Not only was the drive to Sudbury scenic and peaceful, the city has its own teeny vegandale!
There are three stand-out spots on Kathleen Street in Sudbury that will definitely catch your eye. Unlike their surroundings, these businesses are distinctly branded and have the kind of street appeal you expect from competing downtown storefronts. An interesting observation: all three are vegan, but you wouldn’t immediately know it. None of the establishments rely on their plant-based niche for marketing. (And they don’t need to. The food is incredible by anyone’s standards).
Disclaimer: Not much of what we consumed during the weekend was what you might call….healthy. But if you’re looking to relive a delicious vegan junk food crawl, read on!
I had to blink when we stepped into the Tuco’s patio, an enclosed outdoor lounge with barnboard, colourful wooden stools, greenery, umbrellas, strung lights and a vacation vibe. The decor at this place is amazing, with charming details like painted mosaic stool-tops, and nods to the namesake film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Decor wins big points with me – and the ability to transport me from an otherwise unremarkable stretch of Sudbury is pretty impressive! Trust me when I say that you will not want to leave this patio! It’s the kind of place you could post up at for a long night of relaxed conversation or live music.
But the real star is the menu, which impressed me so much that I went back the next day to pick up lunch before leaving town! All of the fare is fresh, authentic and plant-based. The offerings are mostly street-style comfort food, sometimes with a fun twist (like macaroni in your burrito or beer-battered tempeh), served with hand rolled tortillas and homemade salsa.
It was almost impossible to choose, but we tried the Buffalo Tempeh and Carnitas Jack tacos and the Mac and Cheese burrito. All were outstanding!
Pictured: Carnitas Jack Tacos
Griddle seared jackfruit in achiote sauce, lettuce, pico de gallo, pickled onion, crema
I loved the texture of the jackfruit paired with the tangy crunch of the onion. The taco was mild in its spice profile but there was a house green chile hot sauce on the side if desired. The flavour was perfect for me, paired with the achiote, fresh crema and a squirt of fresh lime!
Pictured: The “Buffalo” Tempeh
Beer battered organic tempeh, dipped in spicy buffalo sauce, red and white cabbage, cilantro, crema lime.
As someone who is obsessed with buffalo sauce, this was an unsurprising favourite. We loaded ours up (it came with extra Buffalo sauce on the side) and enjoyed the cool sweet crunch of the coleslaw as a counter-balance. These were delicious, but they do sit a little heavy. I was glad we split the order.
Pictured: The Good Mac and Cheese Burrito
Mac ‘n cheese, lettuce, crushed totopos, salsa verde, green onion.
We both agreed this was the best vegan mac and cheese we’ve tried. I don’t know what the base is comprised of, but the macaroni was completely savoury; it didn’t have the nuttiness or sweetness that I find typical of veganized “cheese” sauces. Paired with green onion, the crunch of lettuce and crushed corn totopos, it was indulgent and delicious. I couldn’t finish much of this, but it was SO worth trying!
Tuco’s, you are amazing!
In spite of a funny sign out front that reads “No Hipsters” this cafe would be right at home in the heart of Queen West. It’s a sleek, minimalist space offering espresso beverages and a daily rotation of tempting baked goods. The cinnamon buns were too incredible looking to pass up, so we bought them to enjoy with coffee in our hotel room in the morning.
They were even better than I had hoped. The buns were moist, sticky, flavourful and indistinguishable as vegan. For some reason I tend to expect vegan baked goods to be firmer and drier than non-vegan sweets, but this wasn’t the case. This was one of the best vegan baking treats of my life.
As our final stop, we knew we had to swing by Flurple’s, the cheerful, purple polka-dotted ice cream window across from Tuco’s. They have a variety of non-dairy frozen treats including vegan soft serve :O – which I’ll be trying if I find myself there again. We opted to split an amazing chocolately sundae with vegan cookie dough and coconut whipped cream, and it hit the spot.
So there you have it – proof that your wanders can always surprise you, and that delicious plant-based indulgences can be found anywhere!
Have you found any hidden gems lately?