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Sep 2, 2007 07:50 AM

No uniquely "Toronto" delis

In today's Toronto Star Anna Morgan writes about the dearth of delis unique to this city, unlike ones in Montreal (home of Montreal smoked meat) or especially New York City . She names a couple of of our more prominent Jewish delis "up and down Bathurst Street". But she omits one important one in Toronto's Jewish delis - Pancer's at 3856 Bathurst. Can you thinnk of any others that should have been mentioned, even though they may not be uniquely "Toronto"?

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  1. I agree that there is no uniquely local Jewish deli, whether in the form of a specific food or in terms of a unique place. That's just the way it is. As to other delis in town, I've given my opinions in many other Chowhound threads.

    But beyond the lack of anything uniquely Toronto, Ms Morgan doesn't have her facts straight about anything!

    There is no "top quality" Montreal smoked meat available. There is only the dumbed down version at Centre St and worse. There is no New York style pastrami anywhere. Though Pancer's serves an okay Chicago 58 feed and Katz's makes their own pastrami, neither is truly first rate. While a handful of places can make a satisfying sandwich, they do it with less than the best ingredients.

    There used to be some specific foods that could be called "world class", but these disappeared long before Toronto's "world class" aspirations were even a dream. If one goes back 40 years or more, Shopsy's sold some pretty good franks, corned beef, and pastrami (on Spadina; not at your local supermarket) and Switzer's had knishes and meats that were uniquely, and deliciously, their own. But even then, nothing was uniquely "Toronto style".

    Today's Toronto can't offer a top line Jewish-style hot dog anywhere at any price. Shopsy's knishes taste like English meat pies. Marky's is not but one kosher option, it is the only one, and it is an option best avoided by anyone with a palate.

    Since I'm no food historian, I can't call her theories of how food styles originated overtly inaccurate. So I'll just call them theories, disagree, and let it stand. But with today's industrial, chemical based, meat processing methods, the peameal bacon and pastrami at your local supermarket usually taste virtually the same.

    My (unverified) understanding is that Toronto currently produces North America's best Jewish style rye breads, though they are certainly not indiginous to Toronto.

    2 Replies
    1. re: embee

      Vey is mir! I agree with you totally, embee -- Ms. Morgan's "theories" as to the evolution of smoked meat, bagels, etc. in Toronto, Montreal and New York City are totally groundless and preposterous. Too bad her editor didn't catch her glaring idiocy.

      Feh! Mir ken brekhen!

      1. re: FlavoursGal

        I agree with all of the above.I guess that we will have "settle" for a Pancers.Atleast we have a few to go to still.


    2. I hate to agree ... but its true.
      I've had New York deli, and so far I've yet to find anything memorable in Toronto or Montreal.
      I still remember the taste vividly of the pastrami at the Carnigie Deli in NY, which I consider the best (not that I've travelled the world).

      1 Reply
      1. re: 5andman

        As always, Embee is the expert on these matters.
        It's sad that there's no deli here. It amazes me that, aside from the mediocre Marky's, I don't think there is a single kosher deli in the entire GTA (though "kosher style" delis continue to abound, if not as they once did).
        I'm only in my 30s so I don't remember when Shopsy's was kosher and I do have fond memories of going to Switzer's at least once but it's amazing that in a city with such a vibrant Jewish community there is virtually nothing.