Have you ever left a restaurant feeling over-stuffed, heavy and maybe even a little bit guilty? Don't worry — we've all been there. But that certainly won't be the case when you leave Rawlicious. This unique restaurant with Toronto locations in Yorkville and on Bloor West offers up scrumptious, healthy fare that you won't find anywhere else. The owners, Angus Crawford and Chelsea Clark own the two locations, as well as a third in Markham and have franchises in Barrie and New York City.
A Place for "Real Food"
The two hardworking entrepreneurs are firmly dedicated to serving their guests only what can truly be called "real food." You won't find any additives or preservatives here. There's also no meat, gluten, dairy or refined sugar allowed. But what there is, is an abundance of healthy, creative and vibrant dishes. Owner, Chelsea, says it best when she explains that everything they serve "you can understand, name and grow." In a world where half the ingredients on the side of a package seem like a foreign language, this is a very refreshing change.
What Is Raw Food?
The raw food movement is essentially "a movement towards eating more real food," explains Chelsea. "When you cook food you break the cell walls and lose the nutrients housed inside. The enzymes also denature (break apart) and are rendered useless… this is the biggest reason to eat raw. Enzymes are so critical to our bodies and without them our bodies must use their own enzymes which are really intended for fixing and repairing," she advises. To that end, foods that are considered "raw" haven't been cooked to anything above 118 degrees F. In order to make sure you are getting everything you possibly can from what you eat, all the items at Rawlicious are not cooked. A few of their ingredients such as balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast are considered to have been "cooked" by some in the raw food community. But for the most part, you're getting pure, all-natural, uncooked goodness.
How It Got Started
In 2008, Angus' partner at the time was dealing with cancer and they were looking for alternative healthcare options when they came upon the concept of raw, un-processed, vegan food. In a short span of time he converted from being a meat and potatoes kind of guy to eating 100 per cent raw. This paired with his dream of opening a restaurant lead him to open the first Rawlicious location in The Junction. In 2009 Chelsea came on board and they have been opening new locations and bringing the benefits of raw food to more and more people ever since.
A Convenient and Welcoming Atmosphere
The Yorkville restaurant is conveniently located at 20 Cumberland St. which is just one block north of Yonge and Bloor. It is a clean, comfortable and welcoming space. Fresh flowers sit on the tables and original pieces of artwork hang on the walls. Even though the restaurant isn't all that large, the tables are well spaced so you can enjoy your own space and quiet conversation. And unlike other restaurants where the chefs are off working mysteriously in the back, the kitchen at Rawlicious is actually part of the restaurant so you can see all your delicious raw treats being made.
Open to Everyone
Perhaps the best thing about Rawlicious, next to the incredibly healthy and yummy dishes, is how real and accessible everything is. You won't find any complicated "health food" terminology on the menu. Instead, you'll be happy to discover you recognize all the ingredients with ease. Both Angus and Chelsea firmly believe that you shouldn't have to fit into a certain box in order to enjoy a good, raw meal. If you want to have a healthy lunch or dinner in a warm atmosphere, then you'll feel right at home at Rawlicious. And if you do have any questions, the servers are more than happy to explain how everything works. The prices are also very accessible as well. Appetizers fall in the $6-$10 range, entrees are in the $9-$15 range and you can finish off with a sweet treat for anywhere from $2 to $9.
What to Order
After a heaping bowl of Pad Thai or a sizeable chunk of meatloaf at another restaurant you would almost certainly leave feeling heavy and over-full. But at Rawlicious where their noodles are made of zucchini strips and their loaf is crafted out of nuts, seeds and vegetables — you'll depart feeling perfectly satisfied. If you're feeling really hesitant about trying raw food, Chelsea recommends starting with dessert to see just how real and relatable it can be. And who can argue with an excuse to have dessert? Trying out a chocolate dipped macaroon, a brownie or a creamy cheesecake is certainly no terrible cross to bear. Plus they're made of healthy, all-natural ingredients so for the first time ever you can indulge in dessert completely guilt-free!
Planning Your Trip
Going vegan in Toronto, or even just including less processed, animal products in your diet, is far easier than you might expect. And a great way to see that for yourself is by checking out the flavourful and unique dishes at Rawlicious. The subway is just a couple of minutes walk away from the Yorkville location and Green P and street parking are available after 6pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. Eating a creative, satisfying and healthy meal has never been so easy!
Sunday – Thursday: 11am to 9pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am to 10pm
All photos courtesy of Rawlicious