Sipping a cup of orange pekoe, gazing out the floor-to-ceiling windows of our Yorkville Airbnb condo, I was eager to join the masses below. Reflecting on happy memories from years past when I lived in the neighborhood, I watched the usual suspects pass by… individuals decked out in designer fashion walking their equally coiffed fur companions, business executives slipping into Uber XLs with a phone already glued to their ear, patrons enjoying their ritualistic alfresco breakfast at the espresso bar, and construction workers weaving cement trucks through a bevy of Rolls-Royces, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis.

Pusateri’s Fine Foods

Keen to show my step-sons around my old stomping grounds, I coaxed them out of bed with the promise of breakfast at Pusateri’s Fine Foods. Visiting the market on previous trips to Toronto, the boys were well acquainted with the store’s expansive selection of gourmet foods.

Establishing itself as a mainstay in the lives of Toronto’s “foodies” since 1963, Pusateri’s has three locations throughout Toronto and even offers a food delivery service to Muskoka’s cottage country. This beloved luxury market often draws comparisons to Harrods’ renowned Fresh Market Hall, as it too is regarded for its tantalizing selection of prepared foods. 

Similar to Harrods, Pusateri’s shelves groan with excess – hosting some of the world’s most desired sweets, preserves, oils, and spices. In addition to its selection of imported delicacies, Pusateri’s is equally adored for its artisan baked goods and local produce.

With a plethora of options to choose from, the four of us wandered through the market. My step-sons decided to order sandwiches from the deli, while my husband and I perused the premade options and breakfast bar. On the menu board, my husband spotted an all-time-favorite – avocado toast – and promptly placed his order.

Photo: Courtesy of Fresh City Farms

As for myself, I needed time to get acquainted with my options. The majority of vegan items seemed to reside in the frozen goods, produce, or pastry departments. While their selection of baked goods looked tempting, I thought sitting down to a cookie-dough tart, a slice of fudge cake or Nanaimo bar would set a bad precedent. However, I did start to formulate an argument as to why eating espresso cheesecake at nine in the morning would be entirely acceptable.

Truly craving something savory, I moved onto other options. Sadly, the fresh breakfast items available for plant-based individuals were slim to none. There were a few soups to choose from, including creamy coconut carrot, Mediterranean lentil, and golden cauliflower. The salad selections were also impressive, with unique dishes such as tofu korma, peanut soba, and tempeh buddha catching my eye.

While I love salad, I was not excited to devour a bowl of leafy greens first thing in the morning. Neither did I feel like sitting down to a bowl of steaming hot soup in 30+ degree weather (Celsius). With freezer options obviously ruled out, I finally settled on a smoothie with a shot of wheatgrass, for good measure.

Chocolate Layer Cake from Dufflet
Photo: Courtesy of Dufflet

Overall, I was disappointed with the plant-based breakfast items available at Pusateri’s. While my family enjoyed delicious, hot meals, I had to sit there sipping my “too healthy for vacation,” green smoothie.

That said, I was happy to see they had expanded their vegan lunch and dinner inventory, since my last visit. In particular, I found the vegan pastry items to be the most impressive. Sourcing items from established bakeries such as Sweets from the EarthThornbury Bakery, and Dufflet, there were plenty of sugary options available.