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schwarma in toronto

k
Ken Apr 11, 2006 12:12 AM

ok, i go to school in London and it's got the best schwarma ever at Barakat on Richmond St.

i am in toronto often to visit my girlfriend and i've tried a few places in Scarborough that don't even come close. i find this hard to believe with such a big middle eastern population in the city. someone's gotta have a good recommendation.

please help! i need my weekend schwarma fix while i'm in the city!

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  1. r
    ravenous Apr 11, 2006 12:14 AM

    I find the shwarma/falafel place at Yonge and Bloor (just south of) pretty good. Ok, I usually go late at night...but they lure me in with their special hot sauce and tasty beef...

    3 Replies
    1. re: ravenous
      z
      Zaheen Apr 11, 2006 02:40 PM

      Is this Sarah's?

      This was the where I first tried Shawarma, and it was so unbelievably good, I have never been able to experience a shawarma this good after that inital introduction.

      This has been my favourite place.

      I have also tried Armenian Kitchen at Victoria Park and Eglinton, which was ok..totally did not live up to my expectations, and La Zeez at Gerrard and Jarvis. Also not as good.

      What are your opinions on these places?

      1. re: Zaheen
        p
        Paolo Apr 11, 2006 04:20 PM

        The place is not called Sarah's. I believe it is called Falafel House, but I am not 100% sure. It is on Yonge, just south of Bloor at Roy's Square, on the east side.

        Where is this Sarah's place? When was the last time you were there? I cannot recall a Sarah's in the Yonge and Bloor area.

        1. re: Paolo
          s
          sake Apr 11, 2006 04:49 PM

          Sarah's is on Bloor, a couple blocks west of Spadina, on the South side. The schwarma is good, not great, but it's cheap.

    2. j
      jayseeca Apr 11, 2006 12:34 AM

      I also get shwarma late at night in Toronto, and I usually go to the closest place that's open, and is delicious... its at Bloor-Spadina, on the corner next to the Miles Nadal Centre and Greg's Ice Cream... but I don't know the name of the place...

      1 Reply
      1. re: jayseeca
        s
        Super Nintendo Chalmers Apr 11, 2006 01:44 AM

        I've never been but I think it is called Pi-T-Q.

        Marketing wizardry that was not.

      2. j
        jennjen Apr 11, 2006 12:35 AM

        Go to York University, Falafel Hut. Best shawarma and falafels and pitas EVER. :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: jennjen
          c
          Chester Eleganté Apr 13, 2006 01:15 AM

          ahh c'mon! their falafels are the worst things there! at least they used to be. shawarma/souvlaki is nice though.

        2. g
          Goober Apr 11, 2006 05:40 AM

          Did you try Farhat at Warden and Lawrence?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Goober
            g
            Goober Apr 11, 2006 05:42 AM

            Also,

            Aladdin's Palace (see link for previous review and location)

            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            1. re: Goober
              k
              Ken Apr 11, 2006 01:00 PM

              yeah, i have tried Aladdin's and quite disappointed. i've gone a few times just because it's close to where i stay in scarborough, but nothing close to Barakat...

              I've tried Oasis at warden/lawrence and they are pretty good, but i'm looking for something fast and take out. still not as good as Barakat.

              maybe i'll try Farhat. though i just spoke to some friends on the weekend who said the last time they went it wasn't as good as they used to be. maybe it was an off day.

            2. re: Goober
              c
              Cindy Apr 11, 2006 11:33 AM

              I've tried the schwarma here and it doesn't come close to Barakat, which is awesome. Pretty disappointed given the rave reviews on this board.

            3. m
              mainja Apr 11, 2006 08:17 AM

              my favourite is red and white on yonge between wellesley and college (it's actually near maitland)

              1 Reply
              1. re: mainja
                p
                Paolo Apr 11, 2006 09:40 AM

                The red and white is good for lunch. I tried it a dinner once, and the meat was all dried up. Don't know if it was an off day or just that over the day the meat dries up. Regardless, I have never gone back for dinner.

                Another good place is further south of the Red and White, on Yonge just south of Gerard, on the east side. Cannot remember the name of the place, but it is next door to the Big Slice. Very tasty shwarma.

              2. h
                Harissa Apr 11, 2006 09:19 AM

                There's a place on the north side of Richmond just east of Victoria called Pita Express. I haven't tried the beef (or maybe it's lamb) but the chicken shawarma is sublime. They also make a great falafel plate with smoky, savoury babaganoush. Plus the owners are soooo delightful I keep going back just for their smiles!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Harissa
                  c
                  Cheech5001 Apr 11, 2006 01:27 PM

                  Just tried to go here after reading your description of the food, to find out it is now out of business.

                  1. re: Cheech5001
                    h
                    Harissa Apr 11, 2006 01:32 PM

                    Nooooo! I was there a couple weeks ago... It always saddens me to see yet another talented, likeable restaurateur lose his shirt pursuing his dream.

                    Thanks for the update.

                2. l
                  lb Apr 11, 2006 11:47 AM

                  Ken, when I was younger I lived in Saudi Arabia and got introduced to the pleasures of the Shawarma. Nothing that I have found here yet compares, I think because they were made with either lamb or goat which is not the case here.

                  However, there is a great one available at Doner King, which is on Yonge south of Gerrard. The family that operates this place is Turkish and they make an awesome sandwich with shaved VEAL and a homemade hot sauce that I've become addicted to.

                  Good luck in your quest.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: lb
                    h
                    Harissa Apr 11, 2006 01:23 PM

                    That's too funny, lb! I spent a year in Riyadh when I was a kid, and while you have memories of shawarma, I have memories of fresh-baked pitas sold out the back door of our local bakery, still warm from the oven. They were thick and chewy -- totally unlike the dried out, shrivelled versions we get here. My father and I would share one on the short ride back to our compound.

                    Thanks for the tip re: Doner King. It's about 15 minutes from my office so I'll have to walk up for lunch one day. As I don't eat veal, is there anything else you can recommend?

                    1. re: Harissa
                      p
                      Paolo Apr 11, 2006 01:34 PM

                      This is the place I was refering too in my other post.

                      They also have chicken shwarma available. (And you can also ask them to give you half veal, half chicken.)

                      1. re: Harissa
                        l
                        lb Apr 11, 2006 04:43 PM

                        Harissa,

                        They serve a beef plate with rice, potatoes and salad for $5.99! The ground beef is done Turkish-style, formed on a flat skewer and then over the grill to cook. I often order this and a pita on the side for a complete meal. You have to make sure that you get some of their homemade hot sauce, too.

                        I also have the memories of fresh-baked pita from a local bakery with a wood-burning oven. Nothing at all like what you get here.

                        My Dad was with Aramco in the late 70's and worked at the Ras Tanura Refinery. I did all of my junior high there.

                        My favourite shawarmas were from Al Khobar, where we went to shop every couple of weeks. There was a stand near the bus stop and the vendor sold them on a hot dog bun with garlic and hot sauces for 1 riyal!!!

                        1. re: lb
                          h
                          Harissa Apr 11, 2006 07:21 PM

                          Perfect. I can't wait to try the beef AND the hot sauce! Too bad the pita doesn't stand a chance of living up to what I remember.

                          My father was a physician with Bell Canada, but he worked predominantly in Riyadh, with short stints in Jeddah and Dhahran. My time frame is identical to yours. :)

                          Thanks again to you and Paolo for the tip!

                    2. s
                      scaryL Apr 11, 2006 12:19 PM

                      Yeah that is the best, when I was at UWO we would go there after clubbing...yum! The closest that I have found is a place called Sammy's in Streetsville (an area in Missisauga). They also grill the shvarma and include all the pickles just like Barakat.

                      1. c
                        Claire Apr 11, 2006 03:04 PM

                        the best schwarma I've found is on Bloor Street, just east of Ossington on the North side. The guy used to own Ali Baba's at Queen and Bathurst but then he sold it and the schwarma was as good there. Then recently my husband and I stumbled on him again in this shop at Bloor and Ossington.
                        Try it!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Claire
                          d
                          Delish Apr 11, 2006 04:42 PM

                          I think you're talking about Falafel Jarash. The chicken shawarma is very cinnamon-y. I like it lots.

                          858 Bloor St. W.(
                          416) 537-7334

                          They deliver and have daily specials like 2 shawarma sandwiches for a few bucks.

                          1. re: Delish
                            m
                            malcolmjolley Apr 13, 2006 05:32 PM

                            Very good homemade hot sauce there...

                            Believe his provenance is Algerian, for whatever it's worth (based on photos of Algiers on the wall).

                        2. n
                          neighborguy Apr 11, 2006 06:26 PM

                          Shwarma Empire
                          s side of Lawrence, just east of Pharmacy

                          Goober, I will try Farhat

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: neighborguy
                            red dragon Apr 16, 2007 12:44 PM

                            Tried Farhat for the first time on the weekend; very tiny place but fairly good shwarma's. I did not like the beef though; found it very tough and chewy. My husband had the lamb. Next time I'll try the chicken. They're priced 2 for $5.99.

                            The place is not ventilated so be prepared to walk out smelling like the shawarm's .... LOL

                          2. b
                            Ben Reiner Apr 12, 2006 12:25 AM

                            I think there are a number of really good options here, and it's nice to see the shawarma culture thriving. One thing worth noting is that the preparation style differs depending on where the owners are originally from (look up hoummous recipes from Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Greece, to give you an idea. Personally I think it's difficult to deem a winner, provided the meat is cut from the spit fresh to order (and is of good quality) and that the toppings are fresh and of sufficient variety. Anyway, here are personal faves along with culture or nationality from what I've gathered

                            * Yummi's - Israeli
                            * Red & White - Iraqi
                            * Grab & Wrap (or something like that- it's at Yonge/College SE corner) - Lebanese
                            * Armenian Kitchen - hopefully this one's self-evident from a cultural perspective :)

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Ben Reiner
                              p
                              Paolo Apr 12, 2006 11:49 AM

                              Can you provide approximate locations? Thanks.

                              1. re: Paolo
                                b
                                Ben Reiner Apr 13, 2006 06:43 PM

                                Yummi's has (at least) two locations:
                                One about two blocks north of Eglinton on Yonge (east side), another about 2 blocks north of Wellesley on Yonge (west side).

                                Armenian Kitchen - 1646 Victoria Park Avenue

                                Grab & Wrap - College/Yonge SE corner, a couple of stores down

                                Red & White - roughly a block south of Wellesley on the east side

                                1. re: Ben Reiner
                                  n
                                  Negaduck Apr 14, 2006 06:40 AM

                                  Another Yummi's is between Finch and Cummer on Yonge on the east side, where Toby's used to be.

                                  1. re: Negaduck
                                    b
                                    Ben Reiner Apr 14, 2006 12:28 PM

                                    Cool - not too far from my new place. Thanks for the tip

                            2. c
                              Chester Eleganté Apr 13, 2006 01:11 AM

                              I'm still loving Sababa's (near Yonge & Steeles) shawarma when you can get it hot. Their interplay of the tahini and chicken is tremendous.

                              1. a
                                aser Jun 13, 2006 05:46 AM

                                This is such a hole in the wall, but I love love love the schwarma here. Personally I think it's the best in the city. They offer beef or chicken, although I do wish they offered veal or lamb.

                                King Shawarma Restaurant
                                392 Queen St. W
                                416.203.8046

                                west of Spadina, on the north side of Queen. Just a few spots down from the stinkiest McDonald's in the city.

                                ps: the various permutations of spelling for schwarma/shawarma/schwarama makes googling a tedious process.

                                1. u
                                  unregisteredfoodcritic Feb 26, 2008 05:46 PM

                                  pita Q: spadina and bloor...sauce tastes like mayo.

                                  1. p
                                    pakdawgie Mar 7, 2008 07:19 PM

                                    There is a relatively new shawarma place located on Yonge St. south of Charles (i.e. between Wellesley and Bloor) called "Best Shawarma" which is definitely the best shawarma that I have had in Toronto. It took me a while to find anything as good as I used to get while I was living in Montreal.

                                    1. w
                                      Wylie Mar 8, 2008 09:12 AM

                                      One needs to look North for great Shawarma. Personal preference mya decide between them but they are generally within a 3 block range around Steeles, between Hilda and Bathurst:
                                      1) Me Va Me
                                      2) Sababa
                                      3) Meron

                                      Many others but these are my favourites. Many other terrific middle eastern items on the menu, and my personal favourite for all things you dip pita into is Sababa...also the best Pita in my opinion.

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