Newbie view of Taste of the Danforth
It is with interest that I read earlier posts on how terrible the crowds and the mediocrity of the food is during this street fair.
I've been in Toronto for over 20 years and believe it or not, it was my first year to go, I took my mom. I had a feeling it would be crowded later on in the afternoon, and I heard about the zoo/mob atmosphere in the evening/night so we parked at Warden and got there around 12:30.
The crowds were manageable at that time and there were lots of smiles. We got off at Chester and walked towards Pape and back again to find interesting food stands. Its amazing how much competition there was out there, and I'm sure at the end of the day, the souvlaki tastes similar at each place. I can understand those who live around there and have Greek food all the time may find the festival boring and monotonous. However, we do not have Greek very often and we do not live in the area so it was interesting.
We found a stand with pork souvlaki for 5 bucks for 3, I think it must have been Mr. Greek, most other places had them for 3 bucks each. Although we wanted to try the lamb chops, we found most places had chops that were tiny and incredibly fatty for the 5 bucks. We did find a stand with rosemary and lamb pastry that was very good for 3 bucks. We also enjoyed the stand with baby back ribs for 5 bucks, I think its called Gabbys and they had a big lineup. I do think there were stands that were ripping off customers, some of the gyros stands had the big gyros rotisserie but when it came to ordering it, I noticed that they were putting miniscule amounts of meat in the pita. I did hear some grumbles about that. For sure they are there to make money, but they shouldn't lose sight of the fact that they are there to win over customers over their competition and the goal is to see the customers come back after the festival is over.
All in all, a fun time. I agree that it wouldn't be much fun if it was too crowded, But it was worth the experience and I'd definitely go again.
I'm really pleased that you had a good time and that the crowds weren't horrible. But this event has become too popular for its own good. If you were really happy with the food you were served at any particular place, do come back and try them under normal circumstances. The Danforth has a great vibe throughout the summer and fall.
Glad you had a good experience. I was in the crowd at about 8:30pm on Saturday. I was going to the IGA and on the Danforth for only a block. That was the longest block of my life. It was like walking in a crowded elevator. People were irritable. PLUS, the IGA was closed! Argh.
I live close by, the food is nothing new. I've never tried Gabby's, though I always wanted to eat baby back ribs.
I've been at every TOTD since the first in 1994 since I live in the area. The first 3 or 4 were pretty good. I used to enjoy the food that AVLI, Pan, Lolita's Lust and Ouzeri had made for the weekend. Ouzeri still has those nice lamb and rosemary pies for $3. It's one of the items that is still the same price and size, and even tastes just as good as they alway have. Allens's usually had bbq chicken on a bun for $4 but they didn't seem to be participating this year.
The longest line was at Messini, it had to be 50 ft!
There are some interesting items available in front of the Big Carrot, and at Dash Kitchen. Then if you are walking west, it's pretty much a food wasteland till you get close to Allen's and Globe Bistro, whicj was serving lake trout on a bed of creamed corn for $3. Yes you'll pass Sher-E-Punjab but the food has often been inedible, such as the very dry pakoras they have served on more than one TOTD.
Near Carlaw, there are usually good deals to be had at Katsu Sushi and Il Fornello. The beef and lamb on a gyro at Greek House looked pretty good also. If you haven't been to Greek House, it's worth a visit if you are in the area. The meats there are quite good, They have some great pastries, and in the freezer at the back are some good spanakopita type pastries that you can pop in the oven for 30 minutes and serve. I served some to friends at the cottage last week and they all loved it. There's a 1kg tray of a feta cheese and leek pastry for $10.99 that is great.
I don't wait for TOTD anymore, it reminds me of the crowds at the CNE, and I never go there. I went on Friday evening and it was too crowded even then.