After a morning & afternoon of ambling about Koreatown<3, we rested at our Airbnb for approximately 20 minutes (lol sorry Henry) before I declared it was coffeetime. Henry consulted a map, because that’s what big strong men do, and determined that we could just walk to the cafe I chose (Hailed Coffee, read more a few posts back if you’re so inclined) and then walk a few blocks to a subway station to set off for Hogtown Vegan, where we unanimously decided to eat dinner.
Neither of us were particularly hungry yet after stuffing ourselves at Korea House, but we figured with all the walking we were about to do, we’d arrive at Hogtown Vegan right before my hunger turned me into a claw-bearing, hissing hothead.
Our walk to the subway took us through Greektown! It was really tempting to hang out there and get some falafel. Toronto, you have too many options!
By now, I was feeling fine with the subway. If we had relied on our own car or Uber, we never would have had the chance to experience Toronto this way. I’m glad Henry listened to me when I suggested it.
(Lol jk – this was all his plan and my initial reaction was YOU WANNA WHAT?! WHY?? because you know me and that public transportation battle.)
This time when we exited the subway at the Christie stop, we went right on Bloor instead of left, where my beloved Koreatown <3 is. (Don’t worry, babe—we’ll be back.)
I was just wondering out loud if there was also a Little India when we crossed over to another block and the beautiful stench of curry filled our nostrils. I don’t know it was an official India section of town, but there were definitely a lot of Indian restaurants! So again, I was tempted to trade in Hogtown Vegan for some paneer and samosas.
It was around this time that I made Henry look up incoming flights from NYC, because I wanted to go to the airport and
stalk greet G-Dragon.
“That’s what kids do!” Henry cried, but he still looked up the flights like a good boy. He claimed that all the flights had already landed and that there were no more NYC flights listed for the day, but he could have told me anything and I would have had no choice but to believe him since I couldn’t verify on my own phone, thanks Canada-less data plan.
Hogtown Vegan was roughly 7? 8? blocks from the subway station. Who knows. Hopefully no one comes here looking for accuracy. We’re all about the FAKE NEWS ’round here.
“We’re” — you know, me and my staff.
I just learned that Hogtown is a nickname for Toronto. I couldn’t figure out why else a vegan restaurant would be named Hogtown because typically, if I saw a restaurant with that name, my mind would go straight to bacon and I would think it was some mega-meat hut.
True to Toronto’s form, the staff in this joint was so great! I really liked our waitress — she was so fucking cute and when I started my order with my signature meek inquiry of, “Can I have….”, she answered, “Of course you can!”
I don’t know why I order food that way. Instead of being all assertive and STATING what I want, I always pose it as a shaky question. Maybe because I’m so used to the waiter coming back and saying, “OH I’M SORRY BUT WE’RE ALL OUT OF THAT” or “WE DON’T ACTUALLY OFFER THAT ANYMORE YOU HAVE AN OUTDATED MENU I GUESS TOO BAD SO SAD” so now I feel the need to question if I can have what I want.
Ugh, my life.
Henry got something. He liked it.
I ordered the Unchicken and Waffles, which came with a dollop of sweet potato mash (it was terrific, better than Thanksgiving) and collard greens which I just can’t like, sorry Mother Earth for rejecting one of your babies. Anyway, my entrée is what Hogtown Vegan is known for and I’m not surprised — that was the best fake chicken I’ve ever had in my 21 year meat ban. Typically, when I eat things like this, I have to go into it with the mindset that I’m not eating something that is meant to replace the thing that I no longer eat, so that I can fully appreciate the thing for its own unique flavor.
DOES THAT MAKE SENSE OR NAH?
But this unchicken was fucking bomb. It tasted real! The texture was SICK! I have never had fake chicken with such realistic mouth-feel!
The food here was hearty as fuck. I couldn’t clean my plate so Henry had to help me (and he was happy to, believe me). When you eat at a place like this, it will quickly dispel the myth that all vegans are malnourished waifs.
Meanwhile, there was family of three at the table next to us. Their little boy was probably about 3 and he made me miss Chooch SO MUCH that I actually started crying for a minute or two. Henry rolled his eyes and reminded me that if Chooch was there, we would probably be bickering because that’s our schtick.
We bicker. Quarrel. Nit-pick. Compete.
But being there with Henry made me realize that as much as I love being together as a family, sometimes it’s necessary for Henry and I to get away for a bit and be a couple. I think he was less stressed because he only had one person’s happiness to maintain all weekend, instead of contending with me and Chooch crying about being hungry and wanting him to buy us things and CARRY US HENRY, WE’RE TIRED. So in other words, this was almost like a real vacation for Henry!
There were moments of tension—because we’re a couple and we’re traveling, nerves are gonna be struck eventually—but this particular evening was WUNDERBAR.
We finished up dinner and continued to stroll around Bloor Street, stopping at a super new-age-y pet shop called EarthEchoes, the proprietor of which was strutting about the shop in bare feet and some really scary guy with face tattoos was feeding the reptiles.
“Jesus Christ, that guy looks like he just got out of prison for murder,” Henry said.
This place was nuts. There were snakes and chameleons and tropical birds EVERYWHERE. I totally fell in love with Bradly, the store’s pet Savannah Monitor.
“Are they mean?” I asked Henry while Bradly was flicking his tongue at me from between the cage bars.
“Um, yeah,” Henry said before I shoved my whole arm in the cage to caress Bradly.
Henry pulled me out of the store before I took off my shoes, got a face tattoo, and started luring in homeless people for Bradly to feed on.
I talked about how awesome that store was for like, three whole blocks until we dipped into a junk store.
Then Henry distracted me before I found a new wheelchair for the collection by suggesting that we get a beer, which is something that I can do now.
“Get a beer.”
Except that I have to ask questions like, “Do you have wheat beer? OK but if I like <x> and <y> then will I like <z>?” and then I order the opposite of what the bartender suggests and Henry is like, “You won’t like that” but then I like it….
…for the first two sips, until the after taste kicks in.
And that’s exactly what happened at Disgraceland!
I got something that I can’t remember. It was on tap and Henry said I wouldn’t like it but the bartender let me taste it and I was like, “Wow this isn’t bad” and it actually wasn’t bad except that at the end of the day, I just really don’t LIKE beer. I have just found a few that I can TOLERATE. I’m learning that this is a big difference. But at least I’m trying, unlike Henry and coffee!
I love a good basement bathroom!
The bartender was really great. He was very helpful, and also super apologetic that he didn’t really have much in the vein of wheat beers to offer me, so he started listing off suggestions in the area of bars that are well-known for their crazy beer collection and how this broad at this bar used to be the bartender at some other bar, and blah blah blah. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we were dumb Americans on vacation and had no idea what he was going on about.
I just appreciated that he was attentive but not overbearing. And I really enjoyed the ambiance of the bar. The music was grungy, the art on the wall featured spider people and I wanted to buy one but the one I wanted, one that reminded me of Robert Smith and Lydia Lunch, was already sold. :( Henry was happy though because they were all $200.
Disgraceland has a vegan comfort food menu! I wished we hadn’t just eaten dinner, but now at least I have somewhere else to add to the food list if and when we visit Toronto again.
Oh I just checked their menu and I believe I drank the Amsterdam 3-Speed and by that I mean that I nursed it forever and then made Henry drink the last third.
“I was just going to ask if you guys wanted another round, but considering she just gave you the rest of her beer….” the bartender laughed.
I felt like I had to justify the fact that this was actually good for me, that I basically considered it a win, because he was nice and I felt like I was offending him, like he hatched all the beer himself in his bedroom beer-incubator.
Also on Bloor, we went into Through Being Cool, which I had heard about via some Toronto vlogger, because why Google when you can just have pretentious local YouTubers tell you about all the cool shit to do in town. Through Being Cool is a vegan bakery but they also sell vegan goods from other local companies too. I’m not sure if they’re named after the Devo song or the Saves the Day album, but their name is definitely what drew me in.
I’m easily hooked.
I had no idea that this place was even on our route, so it was a happy accident.
Neither of us had any room in our bellies, but we wanted to get some donuts to take back to the room with us, save them for breakfast, chuck them at orphans, use them to play ring toss with a nude Mounty on Viagra, it’s really none of your business.
However! While we were looking at the packaged food in the cooler (things like vegan chicken salad and homemade vegan cheese), a couple came in and ordered a bunch of donuts. Then another guy came in and got to the counter right before us and he ordered a dozen donuts which made Henry agitated because “Who orders a dozen donuts at 7:30pm?!”
But then he fucking took the DONUT I WANTED. Some raspberry thing and it was THE ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND.
JUST LIKE G-DRAGON.
IT WAS THE G-DRAGON OF DONUTS AND THAT MOTHERCANUCKER TOOK IT.
So I did my “JUST FORGET IT” song and dance and we left.
It could have ruined my night. In Pittsburgh, my night would have been shot to hell. I probably would have flipped a garbage can. But Toronto Erin was minding her temper, although she did bring it up at 37 sporadic moments during the night, but just in a casual, “Remember when that guy took my donut? I hope he chokes” kind of way.
And then we began our trek back to Leslieville, which was supposed to be via subway but it was a really beautiful night and we were enjoying the sights, and the next thing we knew…