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TonTon’s falafel plate with a green salad and tzatziki sauce. Photo by Maureen Flanagan Battistella

Delicious, gluten free and vegan at TonTon's

TonTon’s Artisan Café is situated in walkable downtown Talent and serves as a pleasant and nourishing spot to fuel up and rest your feet.

The bright blue and yellow building has an indoor space with huge windows that catch the sun and warm the soul and outdoor tables for fresh-air dining.

TonTon is known for its four hummus dips: original, white bean and dill, black bean with ghost peppers and spicy pinto. These and other Mediterranean specialties are served at TonTon’s.

Mostly vegan, all gluten-free, TonTon’s Artisan Café is actually two restaurants in one. Yes! Bakery serves breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m., with a full menu that includes bagels, cashew cream cheese, acai bowls and hash brown nest filled with vegetables. At 11 a.m., TonTon’s expansive lunch menu is available, with salads, falafel, dolmas, Greek nachos, pizza and more. Cheese is vegan except for feta, an imported Bulgarian sheep cheese, available on order.

Choosing among some of my favorite foods and spices was not easy. The sampler plate at $10, made up of nachos with two hummus spreads, dolma, falafel and gluten-free pita, would have been my usual choice, but there was so much to think about. Small plates, mezze, were tempting. A selection of labneh toast (yogurt cheese on sourdough with seasonal fruit and honey), muhummara dip (a Syrian red pepper, walnut and molasses spread), Za’atar spices with olive oil for the accompanying pita, and, of course, TonTon’s famous hummus, were all tempting at $4-$6.

My choice for the day was an entree, falafel for $8, and I added in a bowl of soup served with pita for $8. The falafel plate was beautifully plated: Four small house-made chickpea rounds, baked rather than fried, served with a large, mixed-greens salad, topped with olive tapenade and feta. Rounding out the plate was a serving of tzatziki, tart and sour, creamy and wholly satisfying.

The soup changes when the pot is emptied, and today’s selection was creamy cauliflower with spinach, served with pita. The pita was great, crisp, dense and flavorful, but I found the soup too spicy for my taste, with more red pepper than I’m accustomed to.

A full range of coffees, espressos, teas, chai and specialty drinks, as well as local beers, wines and ciders are on the menu. TonTon’s and Yes! Bakery also host traveling comedy shows, opening evenings for these special events.

TonTon’s is actually a maker space for five businesses at last count. Entrepreneur Michael Antonopoulos started with a couple of delicious hummus recipes and these are now found at growers markets and in specialty food stores throughout the Rogue Valley. He has worked hard to build the business, and the café is only the newest venture. In addition to Antonopoulos’ wholesale, retail and restaurant businesses and Yes! Bakery, seven gluten-free bakers make their goods in the cafe’s kitchen.

There’s a crossroad ahead for Antonopoulos. He says he can expand the café for dinners and offer a new menu with lamb, salmon and chicken. Or he can relocate and refocus on his wholesale business and grow that market segment. Stay tuned for TonTon’s newest venture by following the business on Facebook, or stopping in for a fresh, delicious breakfast or lunch.

TonTon’s Artisan Café, 109 Talent Ave., is open Monday through Saturday. See artisanaffections.com or call 541-708-3069.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Maureen Flanagan Battistella at mbattistellaor@gmail.com.

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