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Jul 26, 2007 07:12 AM

Best Persian in Toronto


This is my first posting and I'm so excited, since I've lurked for a number of years gleaning tips and wisdom...

I was recently in Montreal and loved Byblos on Laurier. Had never had persian food before, and fell in love. Can anyone recommend good persian food in Toronto along those lines? We had breakfast and I'd love a repeat of something similar for breakfast/lunch.

Also, I'd love to hear about cheap, medium, as well as upscale options. Go crazy...

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  1. i too love, love, love byblos. i am in ottawa and there is nothing around here that compares.

    1. Have only been to one - Pomegranate on College by Bathurst. Had a wonderful dinner experience there. Waitress explained things really well and helped us with choices. I had a special lamb stew with dried limes - something I had never even heard of, so always a bonus. Appetizers were incredibly fresh dips, feta and walnuts. The bread was fantastic. Mid-priced - about $25 per person, I believe. And I do think they're open for lunch.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Julie McCoy

        Ditto on Pomegranate.

        The Boy and I tried it based on a Persian friend's recommendation, and we were very impressed. It's run by a husband and wife team (she works the front of the house, and he works in the kitchen) - very personal service and excellent food.

        It's a very small place and often very busy, so reserve ahead. Price-wise, it's on the upper end of the price scale (about $15 for an entree). However, they only open at 5pm, so if you show up for lunch you will definitely be disappointed!

        1. re: tartiflette

          I third the Pomegranate recommendation. Just stay away from the eggplant dip that has an aroma of stale cigarettes -- something about whey, and apparently an acquired taste.

          Anyone been to Banu on Queen?

      2. Not sure that it is the best but the food is good and reasonable at Banu also known as the Iranian Vodka Bar (Queen West)..They also make great drinks..Try the lamb testicles if you are daring!!!

        1. Zaffron on Yonge Street south of Steeles, West side.

          1. Please tell me Persian is not just kabobs & saffron rice!
            I have tried several locals (Zaffron, Alborz & North) in the Yonge Finch area and have come away underwhelmed. They all seemed to have the same single plate. Very boring. Pile of saffron rice the size of your head, burnt tomato, some kind of kabob - you pick the animal.
            We once tried Patough (6437 yonge) which seemed to provide very different food, but the staff seemed unable to explain it to us non-persians. The food was tasty but we were left mystified & confused. My impression is that they did not follow the N/A 3 course's accompanied by wine (no liquour allowed?), but continued questions (based upon genuine interest?) only made the staff ignore us more. Maybe my fault?
            I am still interested in learning more and trying authentic persians once again.

            5 Replies
            1. re: dancingTimmy

              Pomegranate on College has a more interesting menu.

              1. re: dancingTimmy

                Since you seem to be in the general area, I go to a place on Pharmacy and Ellesmere (I don't know the name, but it is right on the intersection, advertises Halal meat and is 2 doors down from a Philippino restaurant). They do the grilled meat and burnt tomato thing but also have hot dishes (meats and Veg) that they dish out cafateria style. They have no seating so I normally eat it at the food court in the mall across the street. They are very friendly and always give me a spoon of anything I ask to sample as I buy my kabob. Of the non-kabob items I've ordered their meatball (with rice in it) that's the size of a baby's head, a potato and meat stew, okra stew and a deep fried veal and potato cake, all which were very tasty. I still like my kabobs though. Also, I too have tried Zaffron and Alborz, I think my place is better.

                1. re: eco987

                  i have never found a place like byblos in montreal and the toronto places don't sound remotely close. they refer to it as 'iranian' food and i have not found it like the persian food i have had.

                  for breakfast there is a lot of feta, rose petals, pistachios, special marmalades, various strengths of sweet mint tea, some oriental seasonings. it is really wonderful and unlike anything i have found in toronto or ottawa.

                  the lunches and dinner gets slightly more persian like, but i still find byblos more delicate with some many subtle flavours, not just a plate of rice and veggies!

                  i'd like everyone to go and try it, but then the tiny cafe would become far too popular!!!

                  1. re: hipfunkyfun

                    Agreed, no one does a breakfast spread quite like Byblos. However, Byblos describes their cuisine as "moyen-orient", which encompasses a far larger area than just Iran/Persia. You could travel the world and still have to come back to Montreal to satisfy the craving for a Byblos breakfast.

                    That said, if you haven't checked out Pomegranate, I think you're premature in your assessment that Toronto's Persian restaurants only serve "plates of rice and veggies" and don't have subtle flavours. The chicken and quince stew I ordered from their daily specials last time I went was a masterpiece of subtlety... and there ain't a kebab in sight on their menu.

                    1. re: hipfunkyfun

                      Persia adopted the name Iran in the 1930s. Persia and Iran are both accepted names for the modern day state.

                      While visiting Montreal earlier this summer I was walking back to sister's house from downtown when a car pulled up alongside. The man on the passenger side leaned out the opened window and inquired of me, "Do you know where is Akhavan?" "You mean the Persian supermarket [a fine shop for all manner of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods]? "Yes," he replied without skipping a beat. I directed them to turn around on Sherbrooke St and head back a dozen blocks.

                      The Pomegranate looks to me to be as authentically Persian/Iranian in terms of cuisine as one can get. My fiancée and I will be dining there next week and I'll report back. Pomegranate is open only for dinner (5PM to 9PM), so there is no breakfast or lunch to be had. I expect this is because the restaurant is a husband and wife operation (she is the hostess, he the chef) and it would be extremely taxing for him to prepare courses for three different meals.

                      Montreal is blessed by comparison to Toronto with a sizeable Persian community, hence a relative proliferation of Persian eateries and shops. BTW, Teheran, a restaurant across from the Vendome metro station is also a fine restaurant (or was, I haven't been in a few years).

                      In closing, I must say, based on reviews and the menu, that I am very much looking forward to our meal at The Pomegranate.


                      Persia was one of the geatest ancient empires and so collected influences on its cuisine from a wide range of peoples. Here is an excellent overview: