They’re also making some of the best falafel in the city.
Toronto’s Eat Nabati reinterprets Egyptian cuisine with a plant-based approach. Owner Israa Ali describes the menu as “veganizing the classics I grew up with.” The casual spot in Kensington Market is sister to Dar Nabati, a similar plant-based concept in Oakville that’s also owned by Ali and her business partners. Both restaurants take their name from “nabati,” an Arabic word meaning plant-based or “made of plants.”
A former nutritionist, Ali adopted a plant-based diet in 2014 and also suffers from several food allergies. “I grew up with a lot of flavour but I couldn’t find places that accommodate food allergies and also were creating something that was really flavourful, “says Ali, adding that the dishes at Eat Nabati are inspired by her Alexandrian mother’s own recipes.
“We have soy, we have non-soy, we have gluten, we have gluten-free. Whatever you feel like and whatever your restrictions are, you can eat here,” she says. “I wanted to show that anybody can enjoy plant-based cuisine, you don’t have to be vegan.”
Eat Nabati’s space is small and cheerful, decorated with flowers and plants as well as a colourful mural. Diners place orders at the front counter and have a choice between a few simple tables inside the restaurant or a handful of patio tables out front if they choose to dine-in. Takeout-friendly food and affordable prices also make this spot a popular option for grab-and-go.
The Food and Drink
Eat Nabati follows as a classic quick-service model of allowing diners to build-their-own pitas and bowls. Most dishes are priced under $10, with diners choosing between fillings like Mama Shawarma, a “chicken” shawarma made from soy; and a beef-style kofta marinated in parsley, onions, garlic, and a signature blend of spices. Diners pair their filling of choice with a base of pita, rice and lentils, or fries, and everything is topped with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickled veggies, and tahini.
And let’s talk about that tahini, which is a highlight of Eat Nabati’s offerings. The restaurant branches beyond the standard tahini flavours with offbeat varieties like beet and maple syrup, which Ali says is a nod to the duality of her Egyptian-Canadian heritage.
The off-menu sample platter, which we tried, allows you to choose 3-4 different items ($15.99 or $22.99). It’s an easy, shareable option if you want to nibble on a little bit of everything.
For drinks, Eat Nabati does a refreshing iced hibiscus as well as a mint lemonade ($4.75 each)
The Essential Order
Ali says she finds it amusing that the falafel is one of the best sellers at her plant-based restaurant, considering that falafel is vegan wherever you get it. Eat Natabi makes their Egyptian falafel ($5.99 – $8.99) with fava beans rather than chickpeas and with baked patties. The result is a healthier take on fried falafel that achieves the coveted crispy exterior and moist interior.