After an afternoon at the Royal Ontario Museum, Justin and I were hungry! We found out about this restaurant/bar called Disgraceland and after a quick look at their menu online, we discovered that there were lots of vegan choices on the menu. It also was within walking distance of the ROM. Other than that, we really didn’t know too much about this establishment. It ended up being one of our favourite places to dine in the city!
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Sometimes when it comes to a restaurant, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. The outer facade of the bar didn’t leave much to be desired. The name of the bar was haphazardly nailed to a few boards, and tacky Christmas lights illuminated the front window (and of course, it wasn’t even close to being around Christmastime!). However, it wasn’t until we walked inside the building that we truly discovered that this really was a dive bar. We were instructed to seat ourselves wherever we liked. There were a couple of free booths despite the restaurant being nearly filled to capacity, which was surprising for the middle of the week. There was a large bar with many bar stools centrally located in the middle of the restaurant, and there was a large chalkboard on another wall that displayed the names of several different cocktails and beers on tap. Disgraceland could definitely use a makeover. All of the red pleather-covered seats in the booths were ripped to shreds. There was a kitschy Elvis bust displayed on the bar, along with other random toys and clutter. Or perhaps these details added to the bar’s charm. To top it all off, this place was dark – there wasn’t much lighting around, which contributed to the dingy atmosphere.
With all of that said, the food was fantastic! We had a lot of fun relaxing and chatting to each other, plus the service was great. We had so many meals to choose from on the menu. Disgraceland wasn’t just a restaurant for vegans or vegetarians. Almost every meal came in its regular meaty form, but almost every item could also be made vegan! Each dish could be altered in such a way that it contained no meat, dairy, or eggs.
There were so many dishes to try that I hadn’t eaten in years…or had never tried! I’ve been a vegetarian for my entire life (and a vegan for going on 5 years), so I’ve never eaten KFC or fried chicken before. We decided to get two appetizers and split them, one of these being “Popcorn Tofu” – Tofu done “KFC style” with coleslaw and a side of gravy. The other appetizer we ordered were perogies, one of my personal favorites (it must be the Ukranian heritage in me!)
The tofu was breaded, very flavorful, and deep-fried to perfection! The coleslaw was crunchy and tangy. I’d never eaten anything quite like this tofu before, and it was something I would definitely consider ordering again if we go back (or should I say, when we go back!). The perogies were also fried and crispy, with a delicious potato and onion filling.
There were many delicious choices for a main course. We could have ordered from a lengthy list of salads, sandwiches, or other main meals that included vegan versions of turkey and gravy, vegan rib dinner, vegan cheesesteak, or vegan chicken fried rice. There was also an entire section of the menu called Fryland, devoted to french fries and a Canadian comfort food – poutine! Usually, poutine consists of cheese curds and gravy, but they had vegan versions of these as well. The several types of poutine were very tempting, but in the end, we both felt like trying out the veggie burger with fries. I know, we ordered the same thing! But, we both felt like a hearty, substantial burger!
We were able to add whatever extra toppings we wanted to the burger, so I added vegan mayo, sauteed onions, and sauteed mushrooms. In addition to those toppings, Justin added the vegan pulled pork to his burger! The burger also came with all of the standard toppings (lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion. Some of the toppings were pretty unique – you could add curried gravy, deep fried tofu, pineapple, peanut butter, black bean salsa, hummus, tahini, and vegan turkey on top of your burger! Maybe not all of those all together….
The food was so tasty, and the veggie burger was one of the best I’d had in Toronto. I couldn’t quite get through the mountain of fries, but the ones I had were really good. And when I wasn’t already full enough…we decided to order a piece of vegan chocolate cake to split, which was also quite good.
Disgraceland also had an entire wall with many shelves filled with different board games. There was also a lounge area towards the back of the bar where you could play games, play on a foosball table, or play pool (all for no additional charge). I could see why this was such a popular place and a favourite hangout spot for so many. You could order tasty food (at a reasonable price, I might add), drinks, spend time with friends and play games. Disgraceland stays open until last call at 2:00am, so the party can go well into the night.
So, looks can be deceiving, but Disgraceland definitely delivered for excellent food and great service. There are so many other things that we need to try on the menu, so I’m sure we’ll go back!