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Best Street Eats in Toronto?

Hello everyone! I am producing Toronto Dining for Rogers Television this summer and I want to add a segment called "Street Fare". Think Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi". Places in city you know of where you can quickly grab a great hot dog, soup, burrito, hamburger, fries, sandwich, noodles, pretzel, taco, gyro, baclava, ice cream, patties, samosas, whatever! That little dump that people go great distances to get to. That mom & pop store that have them lined up out into the street. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Charmaine

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  1. Hey Charmaine

    I think the epitome of what you are looking for is Mr. Jerk in the Peanut Plaza. It's beside Becker's.

    Enjoy
    DT

    1. Off the top of my head,

      Gandhi
      Burrito Boyz
      California Sandwiches
      Red & White
      Mustachio's (St. Lawrence Market)
      Carousel Bakery (St. Lawrence Market)
      Akram's (Kensington)
      Something 2 Talk About
      Sage (McCaul St.)
      Yung Sing (Baldwin)
      Mother's Dumplings

      Searches (here or Google) on these will bring you some more information.

      2 Replies
      1. re: xtal

        I agree with Burrito Boys, they have an excellent halibut burrito (really try it!). Yet, for beef and chicken, I prefer Burrito House on the Danforth (& make sure you get some chipotlé sauce).

        1. Not sure of the exact restaurant names, but how about all of the places that sell Bahn Mi (Vietnamese subs) on Spadina for $1.50 each... or is it $2 now? Regardless, they are a great snack. I love the spicy ones.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tara9000

            i agree. i love those buns. you can even get cold rice spring roll for $3. they are deeelish!

          2. I thought that amongst the objectives of this foodie chat room was to keep our faves in business. Better to not get in once in a while because it's crowded rather than not get in because it's gone. I just love the welcoming & sharing environment. But that's just me...

            1. the Rose Cafe on Broadview for Bahn Mi.....

              1. Hmm Street eats.

                For ice cream it absolutely has to be Ed's Real Scoop in the Beach. Amazing ice cream and Ed himself is a super nice guy. I agree with the post about Carousel and Mustachio's, both are awesome.

                The only other other spots that I can think of off the top of my head are Big Fat Burrito in Kensington market and Balzacs in the Distillery for coffee...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Otonabee

                  Or Hollywood Gelato on Bayview

                  DT

                2. GANDHI!!!!!

                  located at 554 Queen St.W.

                  I live no where near it now, but I still make the long drive every 2 weeks to get my fix!

                  It's really grungy inside, and service is not always with a smile, but WHO CARES?! It's all about the food!

                  1. Ho Su on Queen & John... Chicken Korean & Tempura Lunch for just over $6 huge shrimp and lots of chicken.. and the owner (who always has a smile on her face) remembers almost everyone who comes in..

                    BTW I love Toronto Dining but can never find contact information to which I can email recomendations...

                    1. mmm.. poutine at that chip truck in front of city hall.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jayseeca

                        If in the 'malls' qualify ....I think 'New York Fries' is hard to beat...I frequent the one in Dufferin Mall and have never had a bad day...they are usually crisp, hot and freshly made.

                      2. I'll put a plug in for the Sultan of Samosas at St Clair and O'Connor - not the cheapest samosa around, but the tastiest IMO. Love the spinach and cheese in particular, they have 6 standard flavours and sometimes specials.

                        1. Hot veal sandwiches from the original - San Francesco at Clinton south of College. With a brio and a twist of spiced olives. Sorry but California sandwiches are nowhere near as yummy. For dessert, Greg's roasted marshmallow ice cream which is a touch of heaven and which I hear Ben and Jerry's was tying to procure.

                          1. New York Subs on Queen near Bathhurst

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: industry worker

                              I second New York Subs, but remember they do not serve subs!!

                              1. re: tasoid

                                So what then do they serve??

                                DT

                                1. re: Davwud

                                  They serve many different types of burritos. Very tasty, but you always come out smelling like fried grease! :)

                              2. i deal in kensington for coffee...

                                1. Samosas in Samosa King at Middlefield and Finch. 5 for $1. Normally you need to line up for the freshly fried samosas.

                                  1. I'll mention Carousel in SLM again. I just got back from the market and couldn't resist a peameal on a bun. I swear it was better this time than ever before.

                                    DT

                                    1. glad that you're recognizing chowhound as a valuable forum, i know that the producers of street eats at suntv haven't utilized it as they should. you might want to check their programming schedule to see what they have, or possibly haven't covered.

                                      i'm slightly surprised that you don't have a show researcher taking care of some of this for you. i might suggest that you do a search of the past threads because by putting out such a general request this way you'll get many one off opinions of what is the "best", which is already happening. if you narrow it down to asking for 3 or 4 items then you'll get numerous options to choose from. there are YEARS of past discussions available to you that will likely be very helpful.

                                      anyhow, to add to what i've just warned you against... i'd throw my nomination in for moonbean coffee in kensington (the staff is super nice and will do you up a bodum at 10pm if you want a specific coffee) and double happiness for the best quality/price ramen.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                        Au contraire pinstripeprincess- we look at the boards ALL the time to see what's out there, new or favoured. There are a lot of ways to research for a show like ours- and this is but one of them.

                                      2. I'm repeating a report of my trip las month. Toronto is a great street eats city.

                                        Dear Toronto Hounds: Many thanks for your advice in making this trip an excellent chow adventure. You should be very proud of the diversity and quality of the small mom and pop places throughout your fair city. I had an epiphany on this trip: the strip mall is the chowhound’s best friend. These obsolete low rent complexes are an unoccupied ecological niche that allows small ethnic places to survive while catering to their own culture, thus maintaining food that is not diluted to fit western tastes. My best eating was to be found in multi-cultural strip malls (Roti, baklava amd Pho in the same set of storefronts) that dot your otherwise dull suburbs. Here is a list from my three-day trip. Happy to elaborate on any of them. All in all, great eating and loads of fun. Now, back on the diet.

                                        B&B Roti (Steeles near MacCowan): excellent goat Roti, Trinidadian-Guyanaese style

                                        Carnevale (Hwy7 near Beaver Creek): large variety of OK Brazilian BBQ. highlights were the lamb and grilled pineapple.

                                        Al’s Fish and Chips (Village by the Grange), excellent fried cod but only so-so chips.

                                        Island Foods (same) Channa double nice and very inexpensive)

                                        Blue truck near City Hall poutine with excellent fries (much better than Al’s)

                                        Hot dog cart (southwest corner University and College) polish sausage, wonderful as always

                                        Fillipino foods (Eglinton at Dufferin) cheap chicken satay

                                        Osgoode Hall (Queen at University) excellent value French prix fixe for lunch ($14/$18)

                                        Hong Fatt: (Dundas near Beverly) great soy sauce chicken wings ($2 for two large wings)

                                        Armenian Bakery (Victoria Park near Lawrence) light perfect baklava

                                        Johnny’s (Victoria Park at Sheppard) Very good thin patty burger (much better than Harveys)

                                        Embassy Samosa King (Finch at Middlemarch) superb samosas (5 for $1!) trip highlight

                                        Paul Kee (Birchmount at Finch): Lobster Yee Mein, beef chow fun, preserved duck egg congee. OK and a bargain ($25 for 3 with leftovers).

                                        Elegant View (Victoria park at MacCowan) former favourite, was only so-so.

                                        Mary Brown (Dufferin near Wilson) decent fried chicken thigh but not worth the calories

                                        European Deli (Wilson near Keele) meat croquette and Polish dount (good and very cheap)

                                        Dosa Darbar (Albion at Islington) Excellent masala dosa for $5 (eaten at the airport).

                                        1. I'm glad gourmaniac reposted his excellent trip report. I bookmarked the original for future reference.

                                          I'd also add Hopper Hut (Ellesmere and Kennedy) to the list. I've not had their namesake dish, but their Madras Dosa was excellent. It is out of the way for me, but I'm planning a return trip soon.

                                          1. There is a great place for pupusas on Bloor St. at the back of a small latin grocery store. I'm sorry I'm not sure about the name of the store, or the address. I do know for sure it's west of Christie - closer to Ossington for sure - but defintely east of Dovercourt. And it's definitely on the north side of the street. They have a few plastic covered tables set up with slaw and hot sauce. Good eating...

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Delish

                                              Sounds like you're talking about a place in Kensington. I can't remember the name of it though. Someone will post the name.

                                              DT

                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                No - this place is on Bloor. I know there is also a place in Kensignton, but this isn't it!

                                              2. re: Delish

                                                I think u are talking about tacos El Asador

                                                1. re: superizzy

                                                  No - Tacos El Asador is a restaurant. This is a small latin grocery store. Might even be called "Latin World" or something like that.

                                                2. re: Delish

                                                  EMPORIO LATINO (243 Augusta, at Baldwin, 416-351-9646) Complete meals for $7, including all taxes and a Latin American soda.
                                                  http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005...

                                                3. BBQ corn with chaat masala and lime juice from the vendors along Gerrard East, LIttle India.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: DylS

                                                    amen!!!

                                                    and the other indian street foods, with the crispy hollow balls with potato salad

                                                    1. re: chalenegirl

                                                      If you want to order it again, its called pani puri or golgappas.

                                                  2. Pacific Mall and their tiny shops of Asian street eats - from curry fish balls to dumplings to Korean walnut cakes!

                                                    1. Little House of Kebobs on Yonge north of Dundas for yummy yummy persian food.

                                                      Coconut Grove on Dundas close to University for the cheapest west indian food arount. $3.00 lunches!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. Ghazale on Bloor and Bathurst (504 Bloor). It's right beside the Bloor Cinema. A little take out place with great middle eastern food. The aromas coming from the place are fantastic, it's hard to walk by without being enticed in by the fragrance. And they're open late, until 4 or 5 on weekends. The price is nice too, sandwiches starting around $3, $5-$6 gets you a plate with a choice of sides.

                                                        Vena's Roti on Bloor near Lansdowne (south side, about a block east of Lansdowne). Really good rotis, really friendly people running it. Ambiance is zero but when the food is this good who cares? They make their own roti bread and hot sauce too.

                                                        Gotta agree with the Vietnamese sub suggestions on Spadina for $1.50 ($2 for large).

                                                        1. Esther, Queen of Soups, makes the best lentil soup in the universe and it's gigantic. $3.50!
                                                          Croissants at Clafouti are the best. $1.25 each.
                                                          Rotis at Gandhi on Queen West are amazing, although they require some forethought (and at least 45 minutes to prepare - best to order ahead).
                                                          Jumbo Empanadas in Kensington is very tasty. And jumbo. Cheap, too.

                                                          1. I'm a noodle freak so definitely Sichuan cold noodles for $4 at the mom and pop PALS WT at 376 College (or all the way up at Spicy Mama in Markham) or my fave mom and pop fake meat place Kee Hong Bar B Q (396 Spadina, at Nassau) - crazy noodle special under $5. And I totally agree about the Vietnamese Subs.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. Yeah, I had a Vietnamese Sub (banh mi) yesterday from my current favourite spot, Rose Cafe on Broadview, just south of Gerrard ($1.50). Waaaaaayyyy more flavourful and full than the places I've tried on Spadina, since Co Yuen closed.

                                                              12 Replies
                                                              1. re: Yongeman

                                                                Okay Yongeman.

                                                                I gonna have a Vietnamese sub this week. I'll go to Rose Cafe. What is the best one to order. Tell me what to tell them so I can find out what all the fuss is about.

                                                                DT

                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                  Just ask for a banh mi. I like it with spice, so I ask for a banh mi, spicy. Let me know how it is, Davwud.

                                                                  1. re: Yongeman

                                                                    Okay, Yonge

                                                                    I went last Friday and ordered the spicy, just like you told me. It was great. I started eating it and I though, it's good. It really started to grow on me. By the time I was finished, I wanted another. I had to settle for a peameal on a bun from Carouselle.

                                                                    Thanks
                                                                    DT

                                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                                      Hey Davwud,
                                                                      Glad you enjoyed it.
                                                                      I don't go to St. Lawrence Mkt. very often, and don't really know the famous Carouselle back-bacon-on-a-bun very well. I do go to the Saturday Weston Market (at Weston Rd. and John St.) and love the BBOABs from Grandpa Ken. They put on about 5 or so pieces and you garnish your own with fresh sliced tomatoes and onions etc.

                                                                2. re: Yongeman

                                                                  What about Ngyuen Hong (I'm sure I spelled it wrong)? I love their banh mis there.. spicy, yes! But they went up in price!

                                                                  1. re: jennjen18

                                                                    I don't remember the names of the places where I've tried the banh mi on Spadina or Dundas. I used to love them at Co Yuen, and I've tried several other places in that area since then, but I like the ones at Rose Cafe best.

                                                                  2. re: Yongeman

                                                                    I tried my 1st ever banh mi today.... I ordered a deluxe banh mi(spicy) at Rose Cafe. I have to admit I was a little disappointed, but then again I didn't know what to expect. I liked the marinated carrots, cilantro and cucumbers, but was surprised the meat was so much like an ordinary assorted sub- should I be trying another type of banh mi? Have you tried the veggie/tofu version?

                                                                    1. re: phoenikia

                                                                      Yes, the meat usually assorted sub-like. But the fact that it comes on a super fresh bun, and sells for $1.50 (versus the $8-10 dollar subs of Subway, Quiznos, etc.) is what makes it a good cheap snack.

                                                                      I've also had the 'sausage' kind (on Spadina) that includes a skinny sausage-like item, and the usual carrot, cilantro, diakon radish toppings. I like the assorted meat ones (always spicy) better.

                                                                      1. re: phoenikia

                                                                        The thing I really LOVE about banh mi's is the pate (with an accent agU, haha!). I dont normally have pate, so whenever I have banh mi's, I usually eat the side that has the pate separately. I'm so weird. :P

                                                                        1. re: jennjen18

                                                                          Do you know if it's chicken liver or pork liver pate that they use? I couldn't tell by the taste of the pate they use at Rose...
                                                                          Also, do you know if they use some sort of Vietnamese pate, or are they just using a standard Canadian one? Just curious-

                                                                          1. re: phoenikia

                                                                            Well, I dont get my banh mi's at Rose, I go to Nguyen Hong on Spadina (operated by Vietnameses), so I wont know what they use at Rose. But at Nguyen Hong, they sell their ready-to-eat banh mi's, but they also have a deli section, where they sell all their meats as well. I'm not sure whether they sell their pate, but next time I'm there I can check. But dont count on me going soon... I hardly visit Chinatown anymore! But if you do want to visit, its called Nguyen Hong, on Spadina, north of Dundas, and its a bright yellow sign with red letterings.

                                                                            Also, other than banh mi's and their meats, they also sell cold noodles, spring and cold noodle rolls, and dessert. Enjoy!

                                                                          2. re: jennjen18

                                                                            I agree, jennjen. The pate/mayo mix is one (2?) element that makes banh mi unique. The 2nd is the mix of pickled and fresh veg. Then the fresh, crunchy French bun. I don't think the meat is like a traditional assorted sub from Subway or Mr. Sub at all. Nothing preserved or salty like salami or ham, really. Of course, the $1.50 price is pretty seductive, too.

                                                                      2. ok, I'm not sure if this qualifies as street food, depends on your sensibilities I guess. I say yes, as I was in a hurry and wanted to grab a quick bite to eat on the subway. I just had the most amazing sandwich ever at the Holt Renfrew Cafe, quite possibly the best sandwich I've ever had.
                                                                        It was a prosciutto, gorgonzola and fig butter with a bit of arugula. She drizzled olive oil and grilled it until the crisp, crunchy bread was fused to the silky, salty prosciutto with the gooey cheesy goodness...ahhhhhh.....
                                                                        The best $7 I've ever spent!

                                                                        1. Another option that's off the beaten path: Harbourfront. I went to the Ritmo y Color festival today, and had the most amazing roast pork with beans, rice and salad; plantain with feta cheese, churros with chocolate and churros relleno, filled with milk caramel. There was a guy hacking open coconuts that had a long line as well. I enjoyed the pork so much, I went back and got an order to bring home for dindin. For people who live in the Harbourfront area, it's a great source of street food that doesn't normally come to my mind, but after today, I will be frequenting it much more often!

                                                                          1. Sway,
                                                                            Can you be specific about where this is?
                                                                            There are many vendors at Harbourfornt.
                                                                            Thanks

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Debinko

                                                                              harbourfront center. There are seasonal stalls in between the building and the bandshell.

                                                                            2. For a quick bite, I love the beef patties in the Bathurst TTC subway Station

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: bbbradk

                                                                                I've heard that the Jamaican patties sold at Warden & Bathurst subway stations were Allan's patties. I remember, back in the day, often taking a quick stopover at either station to grab that oh-so-flaky treat.

                                                                                Can anyone confirm if these were or still are that brand of beef patties?

                                                                                1. re: juniorcruz

                                                                                  I know Bathurst subway station makes their own patties, and are not Allan's. Allans are flakier and a bit smaller than the ones sold at the station.

                                                                                2. I acutally have started a blog in street eats, but it isnt too full yet.

                                                                                  http://streetfoodgoblin.blogspot.com

                                                                                  I recommend:
                                                                                  allan's jamaican patties
                                                                                  randy's jamaican patties
                                                                                  rose cafe banh mi
                                                                                  california sandwiches veal sandwich
                                                                                  sausage vendor at queen and spadina
                                                                                  kim moon bakery
                                                                                  jumbo empanada in kensington
                                                                                  chinese egg waffles
                                                                                  curry fish balls
                                                                                  coconut grove roti
                                                                                  belly buster submarines
                                                                                  bozo's chip truck
                                                                                  asian legend glutinous rice roll
                                                                                  samosa king
                                                                                  SOOOO many more...ask me, I'll have an answer.

                                                                                  hopefully, I can get more entries into my blog with pics, but have been realy busy. =)

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: qtxniki

                                                                                    jumbo empanada in kensington - Had them but not impressed, on the dry side and not too flavourful. I much prefer the mini veggie empanadas at Noah's (the health food store)

                                                                                    asian legend glutinous rice roll - the rice rolls at T&T Supermarket are much better, you select the ingredients (even black gl. rice) and they make it fresh in front of you

                                                                                  2. There's some argument about 'best fish and chips' but Chippy's on Queen West has great fish and chips. The batter is nice and light and it's crispy and not at all heavy. They have different fish: halibut, code, or scallops even. Delish.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: artificialard

                                                                                      i had chippys on bloor, its nice that the fish is cooked fresh but i found it to be dry and overcooked as a result of this, not enough batter maybe??

                                                                                      1. re: jen2202

                                                                                        I hear that Penrose Fish & Chips on Mt Pleasant is good. Anyone been there?

                                                                                          1. re: ognir

                                                                                            I'm apparently in the minority, but I find their stuff greasy, stodgy, and heavy. It may be authentic (cooked in beef fat and all), but it's a recipe for heartburn.

                                                                                            Shoot me now, but I much prefer Olde York Fish & Chips on Laird.

                                                                                            1. re: embee

                                                                                              In all fairness, I haven't been in a while. I drive by Olde York often and think about stopping.

                                                                                              DT

                                                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                                                Olde York is fantastic...best F&C I've had in the city. AND I saw Mel Lastman getting takeout there once.

                                                                                        1. bacchus roti on queen is excellent, especially the jerk chicken roti.

                                                                                          the gyros at messini on the danforth are fantastic, and so are their roasted potatoes.

                                                                                          1. MOTI MAHAL RESTAURANT has BY FAR the best samosas!!! 1422 gerrard st.e

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: indianchik

                                                                                              Oh yeah; they're huge, greasy, and sooooo good :)

                                                                                              Every time I see this Sultan of Samosas place mentioned it makes me cringe.

                                                                                              1. re: NovoCuisine

                                                                                                oh i SO agree with u on the sultan place.. EWE. anyplace that sells a certain # for $1 u know their quality and taste sucks!

                                                                                            2. I went through this entire (amazing) thread and while there's a ton of great stuff here, I'm surprised no one mentioned Black Camel's pulled pork sandwich. I've only been to the one at 4 Crescent Rd (there's another downtown). It was freaking heaven. Maybe it's not street food, but it's pretty much a take out place.

                                                                                              Oh, and there's the crepe place in the bottom of St Lawrence Market. Also excellent!

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: ognir

                                                                                                Phil's on Danforth makes the best pulled pork sandwich I've ever had.
                                                                                                Falafel World on Bloor at Jane makes a fantastic chicken sandwich (shwarma) for $5.
                                                                                                Apache Burger on Dundas at Kipling has incredible onion rings and fries.
                                                                                                DiSalvo Panini at Jane Finch mall has the best veal and steak sandwiches I've found to date.

                                                                                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                                                                                    Sorry, my mistake, Phil's Original is on College between Dufferin and Ossington.
                                                                                                    http://www.philsoriginalbbq.com

                                                                                              2. As I recall, there are two places on Augusta that do empenadas - Jumbo, and I forget the name of the other one, across the street - both pretty good (disagreeing with an earlier posting). On Cumberland just west of Yonge, on the north side is a hole-in-the-wall pita joint that does a very good chicken shawarma. Ognir mentioned Black Camel, and I've had the pulled pork (I always go for the charmoula mayo) from both the Crescent Rd and the Adelaide St locations, and have noticed no difference in quality. The first time I had that sandwich, it changed my life.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                                                                  The spot across the street from Jumbo is:

                                                                                                  El Gordo Fine Foods
                                                                                                  214 Augusta Avenue
                                                                                                  Toronto, ON
                                                                                                  (416) 205-9981