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Current Best Greek on the Danforth?

Yes, yes. I know this question has been asked many times over the past few years but a search reveals outdated info, links to websites that no longer work, etc. So I'm asking again. Here's the situation. I moved to Toronto last month and the 'rents are coming for a visit this weekend. To make it more complicated, step-father is Greek and a bit of a pain in the ass at times. So I need a place on The Danforth that is unpretentious, doesn't cost a mint, but has Greek food good enough to please, well, a Greek. Suggestions?

TIA -

Matt

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  1. I really like the http://www.pantheonrestaurant.com/ The prices are a little higher that most but still not too bad.

    www.mishsplayground.com

    1. Seconded. The grilled calamari at Pantheon is not to be missed, flavourful and tender. You can have it as appetizer or entree.

      1. Bad weekend. Tell them to come back next weekend for Taste of Danforth (2.5 day street fair, lots of food).

        But if they must come, Mezes is my place of choice. Best fried Calamari. Great service too! But I've never been to Pantheon, so I can't compare.

        1. I would second Mezes. They have a huge list of mezes to choose from. It is also the busiest place on the strip so be prepared to wait for a table.

          The other place I really like is Avli, they have a lot of different dishes that go beyond the usual souvlaki/rice/potato/salad combos. Their Rabbit pie is really good

          1 Reply
          1. re: iamam

            I third Mezes!

            The grilled octopus is heavan and the roasted eggplant sprikeled with feta is the simplest but best I have ever had!

            Jenna

          2. I'm probably going to get roasted for saying this, but I've always liked Omonia. Unpretentious & cheap would be an understatement. It's all about the food.

            http://www.omoniarestaurant.com/

            1. I third Pantheon! I agree the grilled Calamari is the best.

              1. Oh no! Taste of the Danforth is great, don't get me wrong...but you may have a very hard time getting into a restaurant...also just simply moving on the street. It is usually so packed!

                1. A fourth for Pantheon. The calamari is good, but don't forget the grilled octopus. So tender, so charred, so yum! I've been going there for years and never had a bad meal.

                  1. Pantheon. Closest to what I had in Greece.

                    I'd avoid Omonia. Worst souvlaki on the Danforth, in my experience.

                    1. Nothing new, but...

                      Avli has recently had the most interesting menu and the best cooking in my opinion. The lamb shanks with orzo, stuffed chicken, savoury pies, and dips have been very good-to-amazing. The vegetarian food is terrific, unusual for Greek in Toronto. Try the lentils with walnuts and cheese and the imam bayildi (sic). Don't bother going there for souvlaki.

                      Zorba's is pretty depressing, but the only place left for things like lamb avgolemono with artichokes, meatballs in tomato sauce, and other lovely stews. The gigantes (lima beans in sauce!) are blissfull and it's the only place that serves whole lamb heads. The also do a rotisserie chicken that's not Greek but beats the Swiss Chalet. Extremely cheap.

                      Mega's is reliably good if not especially exciting.

                      Kalivia does great calimari and has cheaper grilled whole fish than the norm, but I haven't been impressed with much else.

                      Omonia can be very good for souvlaki and the like, but has many bad days. They abandoned their unique specialty - whole lambs barbecued in the window - a few years ago, a great loss.

                      Ouzeri can be excellent and fun, but also has many bad days and ends up cosing more than expected.

                      I've never understood the enduring popularity of Mezes - a vast choice of overpriced food that doesn't taste very interesting. A recent eggplant dish was (literally) inedible.

                      Astoria, Asteria, Mister Greek, and the Friendly Greek have been popular for many years. I'll never understand why. Feh.

                      Pan used to be one of the best restaurants in Toronto, but I now find it mediocre and expensive for what's on offer.

                      Christina's used to be a good souvlaki place with a great vibe, but I've found it sorely lacking under the current management. Don't bother.

                      I've heard good things about the fish at Pantheon, but haven't been there recently.

                      I think I spend too much time on the Danforth...

                      As to Taste of the Danforth, it can be fun, but it's very crowded and probably the worst days of the year for a good dinner.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: embee

                        Buddy, you are Taste of the Danforth. Well done.

                      2. We've just about always had good experiences at the Ouzeri and we've been going there 15 years. We've only been to Mezes twice, and weren't so impressed - we probably wouldn't go back.

                        We have never eaten in the Friendly Greek (and I don't think we would bother to go there), but it is handy when you want delivery. We've ordered from there a couple of times when we aren't interested in leaving the house.

                        1. If it has to be Greek, I think you've had some good suggestions.

                          If it doesn't, I'd send you to 7 Numbers. It's Italian, owned by relatives of Gio Ranna (he of the "big nose on Yonge Street/Queen East" fame), and has a very earthy vibe. The food is delicious, served in small quantities for sharing, and the wine list is surprisingly affordable.

                          1. Thanks for all of the recommendations and some amazing foodie writing to boot. Will let you know where we end up and how it was.

                            Cheers

                            Matt

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: mattmend

                              Ditto on Pantheon when I want a good meal. I don't bother with Mr. Greek anymore now that I know better. If you have friends who are vegetarian but willing to go out for supper, Pantheon does a nice vegetarian brochette ("souvlaki"). I enjoy Avli when it's a special occasion though my unadventurous friends don't like their modern take on Greek food and hence, we end up at so many of those other places that others have mentioned.

                              As for Waste of the Danforth, I hope that people realize that they aren't coming for anything that is remotely cultural. The streets will be packed. Watch out for your little ones cause it does get treacherous when there are so many people, especially ones who walk around with lit cigarettes.

                              1. re: mattmend

                                Not sure if it needs to be repeated, but Pantheon is first rate and it is authentic. Fresh fish and seafood; calamari really is fantastic! We prefer Megas over Mezes.

                              2. Friendly Greek and Mr. Greek, and for some reason Astoria, seem to be less "intimidating" to those who are not really adventurous when it comes to dining out. They want to go for "greek food" but don't want to go to an unknown place with a non-English name. At least that's the vibe I get from friends who want to go to those places. Maybe I'll ask them that next time! :-D

                                And Mezes is "hip", it's popular for the atmosphere more than the food.

                                1. I like Mezes, but I think it's just because I'm addicted to their skordalia. The rest of the food isn't terrific.

                                  1. Ooh, my first post on ChowHound!

                                    For good quality and cheap eats, I love Asteria (north side of danforth pretty far west towards Broadview). Although I do like Pantheon, this is just my fave of all. Their pork souvlaki is always perfect, they're really fast and have a great patio out back.

                                    Cheers.

                                    1. DON'T waste your time at Mr. Greek or Friendly Greek, in fact a good rule of thumb is to avoid any restaurant that has "greek" in the name. It's fast food served at mid-scale restaurant prices. We've had french fries that taste like fish (reusing the oil I guess), and not in a good way.

                                      Highly highly recommend Avli. It's friendly, family owned, very tasty authentic food, with a great wine list with wines from all over greece; the last time we were there, there were some greek tourists at the next table who claimed the grilled octopus was better than they got at home.

                                      1. Another "Must-Miss" on the Danforth? Pappa's Grill. I've been there many, many times before (although admittedly, not in many years). My friend and his two kids joined my wife and me and our six-year-old for a meal there on Simcoe Day and - well:
                                        -Apparently, the club sandwich was time-limited, as in, not available at dinner;
                                        -My daughter's dinner (plain pasta and French Fries) arrived a good 10-15 minutes after all the other meals, and then only after I had to get up from the table and find the server myself;
                                        -Food temperature was uneven - neither consistently hot or cold, as appropriate;
                                        -The server never came back once during the meal to check on our food, clear dirty dishes or ask if we wanted anything else (say, a drink beyond the one beer I'd ordered);
                                        -The apologetic manager, when informed of our experience, offered to comp dessert for the kids - which was then added to the bill (although later removed when we complained);
                                        -The dessert my six-year-old requested had the distinctive taste of liqueur about it; and
                                        -the entire bill for six of us - with exactly one alcoholic beverage (the afore-mentioned beer) - was $118.

                                        I won't be going back any time soon.

                                        1. Avli - also has interesting selection of Greek wines - well worth investigating.

                                          1. My new favourite place for souvlaki and especially gyro is Messini...... repeat after me: NO ICEBERG IN THE SALAD!!!!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Fredster

                                              Another vote for Messini's here, sadly it seems everyone is discovering them, as the recent line ups out the door prove

                                            2. Like most people we started off at Mr. Greek, but that was 18 years ago. Ouzeri was fun for a time, but then it was sold and all of their good staff went off to Myth when they opened.
                                              Myth was great...for a time. Lately I'm not sure what's going on there. Avli we've been to a couple of times, but never went back for some reason. We've always been happy with Mezes though - great food and friendly staff. Sure, sometimes they miss on a dish or two, but this ain't haute cuisine people!
                                              It's great for what it is, and it's a nice atmosphere as well.

                                              1. I used to go to Pappas Grill a lot in the late '80s, when they opened. They had a gorgeous fish soup then, but the last time I was in, after a long absence, they'd discontinued it, which I took as a bad sign overall.

                                                I'd second the vote for little Asteria at 292 Danforth, for the chicken souvlaki on pita.

                                                1. Menzes is a hit with us. So many of the others are just run of the mill. Pappas grill is mediocre if nothing else.

                                                  1. No one has mentioned the excellent house-made lamb sausage at Pantheon. It seems to have a hint of orange. Excellent sausage, although the last time I had it, it was icked up with a few too many grilled peppers. Moderation can be a good thing.

                                                    1. I really love the lamb chops at Megas, its really well priced, so we cant complain.. Just avoid the potatoes and ask for fries instead (theyre less greasy than the potatoes if one can imagine). If you're just looking for a gyra, go for messini.

                                                      1. Mezes is very good. They have great dips, lamb chops and grilled octopus. I used to go there with my ex and just spend 2-3 hours hanging out and having great convo with a good bottle of red wine and their lambchops and grilled octopus.

                                                        1. on the other side of the city (in oakville) there is another
                                                          mr. greek restaurant. its different than the ones on the danforth. the locals know it very well. its always packed at
                                                          lunch and dinner and the service is top notch. you can tell the staff want to be there. you can have a long pleasant meal or eat and run. just let the friedly server know.

                                                          1. ASTORIA no QUESTION!!!!! Top Notch food...EXCELLENT HUMMUS AND Tzaziki (spelling?) and the lamb everything is perfect...a nice selection of drinks and EXCELLENT service...only thiing is you may have to wait a few mins. for a table...for a big party try to make a reservation...try it you'll like it!!!

                                                            1. One of the best Helenic restaurants in TO isn't on the Danfoth but in midtown. its, IKAROS on Yonge street, 3 blocks south of Eglinton. Authentic Greek food in a much more refined atmosphere.