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Taste of the Danforth

OK. I know. I know. It is probably the worst way to check out the food on the Danforth. But I am going on Saturday night and I would like to know if there is any place that towers above the rest. Preference would be Greek and I anticipate eating at the restaurant as opposed to eating on the street. Thanks.

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  1. Messini is the best by far for souvlakis, gyros, tzatziki and greek salad. They even have amazing veggie pitas with olive tapenade - absolutely fabulous!

    1. Saturday night may be the worst time of all for crowds. Be glad if you survive the melee at all let alone make it to a specific destination. I gave up going the year I saw the crowd nearly crush a baby in a stroller. Who needs a gyro that badly?

      1. I live in the neighbourhood and have avoiuded this event for a few years now. The crowds get so bad on Sat night, that I have seen near fistfights, people almost getting crushed, and vendors gouging people by making up prices almost on the spot (I think this is under control now). Heaven forbid there is ever an emergency at the event. As far as what to eat? Whatever you can get close to. Any souvlaki cooked over a charcoal fire is generally good.

        1. Sorry, another naysayer. I live 4 blocks from the Danforth and make a special effort to leave town on this special weekend.

          Based on my few experiences they set up huge displays across the Danforth that leave pedestrians a few feet on either side to squeeze through. Multiply that by 100,000's of thousands trying to walk around. Record for one weekend was 1 million people.

          But if you must go, go Friday night when it is the most civilized. The roasted corn from Mexican restaurant is usually good, as Zengirl says Messini is good and Avli is pretty solid. Avoid the sushi, I know you know 34 degrees and sushi do not mix, but I saw the health inspector make them throw it all away one year. Inside the restaurants is usually a good bet because for some reason everyone wants to be pushing each other around on the street.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Mila

            Yeah I felt pretty guilty too being one of those people that says what not to do. Not terribly helpful at all. I understand TOTD is okay in the early afternoon. Perhaps lunch with the friends and then run to a nice uncrowded patio in another neighbourhood for drinks.

          2. i'm all about avoiding it at all costs because it's just chaos and really not all that fun with lots of overly priced food (you can see the cheaper regular prices just two feet behind each the food stalls at pretty much all restos).

            if you do insist on going... make a reservation if you possibly can and hold onto that table, especially if it's a patio. you've jsut gotten a coveted spot! proprietors won't kick you off since they're more concerned about the people standing in line that are willing to pay ridiculous prices for overcooked meats on skewers.

            1. Just another word of warning... some restaurants create a "special" menu (read: menu with limited selection and hiked up prices) for TOTD. It's meant to let them to focus on pumping out the overpriced souvlaki sticks at street level, rather than on the less-profitable clientele sitting inside the restaurant.

              I'd also recommend planning for an early dinner. As the evening goes on (starting around 7pm), the street will be so badly clogged with people that you'll need to allow at least 10 minutes per block to get to your destination.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tartiflette

                Actually, I have had it take up to FORTY minutes per block. The big displays in the middle of the Danforth that force people into such a narrow space are a disaster waiting to happen. Further, I think some of the vendors go into a feeding frenzy: those "special" menus are just insulting to locals, and the final straw for me was having a guy I'd been buying meat from for 5 years try to charge me an axtra $2 for pita and tatziki when the posted price clearly stated it was included with the souvlaki. He kept charging people an extra 50 cents for drinks on the posted price and most didn't challenge it. I think they've cracked down on this, but it left a bad taste in my mouth (so to speak, as I told him what he could do with his souvlaki). Never went back there and he's since retired.

                My wife always leaves town during this weekend as well.

              2. A good place for decent Greek food is Asteria between Chester and Broadview (not Astoria, which is on the corner of Chester). Good food at good prices. I don't know if they participate in TOTD, but they might not (wishful thinking maybe). They have a nice shaded back patio.
                But avoid TOTD as much as possible.

                4 Replies
                1. re: merlot143

                  I agree....we went once or twice way back when it first started and it was very enjoyable. But back then you could walk freely and even had our bikes with us. Alas, like many other good things, once word gets out - forget it. Like a few others said, it seems like a disaster waiting to happen. We now dred TOTD. It's the last place I would wanna be.

                  1. re: millygirl

                    Ditto, I don't enjoy it as a resident. I had my parked car smacked by someone who didn't know how to parallel park. I have also noticed a huge mark up on items that normally do not cost that much on a normal day.

                    Interestingly, I know that some of the vendors don't enjoy this event either. They are the smaller guys who feel a need to participate because of revenue losses for sitting out.

                    I love the Danforth but visit when the street isn't a hazard.

                    1. re: Zengarden

                      I agree, most of the retailers hate it. Last year I was in one of the accessories store when a group walked in eating corn on the cob. Needless to say the shopkeeper threw them out. Even Sun Valley was closing early each night to avoid the hassles associated with the masses. That was pretty surprising to me that they choice not to participate.

                      1. re: millygirl

                        I did notice we were eating ribs in front of this clothing store and another older gent with a stool sitting down in front of his store. The owner quickly came out and shooed the old man away. I understand that his "display" is being blocked, but c'mon, that was rude. I know I personally would not want to shop at a store that had an owner with that kind of attitude.

                2. Because of the rain on Sunday, the crowd was quite manageable after 5 when the rain stopped. However we went to my favourite Pantheon, and the usually very tender grilled squid was disappointingly not as good as before (including at past Taste of the D).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Teep

                    That's cause by that time no-one is gonna cook fresh food, their just trying to off-load. Believe me.

                  2. TOTD is always a nightmare, I haven't gone in a couple years and don't plan on it..

                    1. Was talking with my neighbours last night as we listened to the main greek stage wing down, from a distance, and watched the last stragglers make their way back to their cars on our congested and littered street, and here is the one positive thing we found to say about TOTD (I felt SOMETHING positive should be said):

                      At least it brings people to the neighbourhood and reminds them the Danforth is there. Some of them will come back at other times in the year, just because they had a good time or, if they didn't, to see what the Danforth is like outside of the event. I suppose it keeps some vitality in the area throughout the rest of the year.

                      1. At the risk of sounding like a total snob, I agree with those who class the Lick the Road Festival (tm: Webdude) as a definite must-miss. The crowds become larger and more obnoxious year after year, the food's overpriced - and it's been baking in the sun all day.

                        If I wanted to be forced to eat cheek by jowl with slobbering strangers, I'd never have left high school.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Webdude

                          While I agree it's overcrowded (who wouldn't) I believe it's those insipid middle of the street displays that create the congestion. I mean could you jam in any more booths and signage??? That's what's truly getting larger. Another example of a great event becoming so successful that major corporations have to step in, sponsor, and then inevitably ruin it.

                        2. The Only Cafe
                          (okay, it's not Greek) (okay, it's not part of Taste of the Danforth).
                          It's a cool joint. Great for couples, singles and families.
                          Excellent Breakfast with more fruit than any other place.
                          Dagwood Sandwiches.
                          Nice selection of booze.
                          It is, frankly, the only Bohemian place on the Danforth. And it is a nice break from the rest.
                          Sit in the window or in the dark innards.
                          I know you don't need this info now but it is so much more "real" than most of the other stuff on Danforth. I lived nearby for about 13 years.

                          Also, good Burritos at Burrito House.

                          The Only Cafe and Burrito House are both just west of Donlands station.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: DBooth

                            We've only been to The Only once for breakfast and found the service way to slow. The food was very good, I'll agree. But again, it took pretty close to an hour to get our meals and they weren't even that busy at the time. This was more than 5 years ago, so hopefully they've improved but we've not been back since.

                            1. re: millygirl

                              p.s. so Burrito House is good, eh? I've never seen ANYONE in the place!!!
                              Honestly, I was wondering how they manage to stay afloat. What do you recommend there DBooth?

                              1. re: millygirl

                                in terms of The Only, I can say that the service is certainly better these days. I'm sure you will get your food in less than 3 hours. But, hey, it's about funk, you now? and good food takes time to think about before even start to make it.

                                Burrito House is busy at times. They are not fast, either. I'd suggest sticking with the Burritos. Stay away from textured veg. protein (but I'd say that for every place on earth).

                                The place is a little bit like the little tex-mex places in texas. That is, you get a Burrito and there is a hot table with things on it and you get what you like. Their "special sauce" is good. Chipotile, I think.

                                Neither The Only or Burrito House are expensive. I'd say a burrito with mexican pop is about 7 or 8 bucks. Dagwood sandwiches at The Only are under 10. Amazing brunch is, I think, about 12.

                                (Look, when your kitchen is not much more than an electric skillet nothing will be fast.... But it is good.)

                            2. re: DBooth

                              I*'m really up on the Only. We go often enough to comment on the service issues, or non-issues. never had a problem there, so hopefully it is a onetime thing. It's one of of my favourite brunches in the city.

                              Have to say that I find the Burrito place completely uninspired, though. Tried it once and its just not that good. I mean, its not bad, but the burritos are not cohesive.

                              1. re: bluedog

                                How long has Burrito House been open? I asked someone behind the counter (I made a small trip up to Danforth after returning from a weekend at Mosport)
                                and she said it's been open 2 years. I find that hard to believe, I'm sure I would have noticed it before.

                                1. re: foodyDudey

                                  Yup. Two years. Sorry to be the one to break it to you.

                            3. For the vegetarians in the room - I asked once, and the staff confirmed my fear: the beans at Burrito House are made with lard.