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Good Shawarma in TO?

Medira Sep 4, 2007 11:49 AM

Hello Hounds,

Does anybody know where I can find good shawarma in Toronto? Downtown would be most convenient, but I'd be willing to travel for something really good.

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  1. r
    Roberto7 Sep 4, 2007 12:01 PM

    Good suggestions here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/99125

    I like:

    Naz's Falafel House
    118 John St,

    504 Bloor St. W

    2 Replies
    1. re: Roberto7
      tartiflette Sep 5, 2007 06:54 AM

      Ditto on Ghazale.

      As a bonus, they're right next to the Bloor Cinema, so they're perfect for a pre (or post) movie nosh.

      1. re: tartiflette
        mrbozo Sep 5, 2007 04:22 PM

        Ghazale's second eatery, on College, beside the Fish Store, opened recently. Bigger digs than the mother location. Not sure how the the kitchen compares, though.

    2. Googs Sep 4, 2007 12:09 PM

      I noticed there's a Naz's Falafel on the south side of King St just east of Sherbourne. Keep reading it's mediocre. Is there any one thing they do well?

      1. xtal Sep 6, 2007 06:13 AM

        Though I haven't had the opportunity to try any of the newer ones, there have been a spate of recent shawarma shop openings on Yonge between College & Bloor. I believe there are close to ten in that stretch now, with the best being Red & White (excellent).

        3 Replies
        1. re: xtal
          robb Sep 6, 2007 06:24 AM

          pLease try Babos Donerpoint on Eglinton and Caledonia. Look below for my review which I posted yesterday. Blows away any schwarma/gyros snadwich that I have ever eaten in TO

          1. re: robb
            Yongeman Sep 7, 2007 01:38 PM

            Agreed, robb. It's an awesome place, Turkish, I believe. The 'bread' is homemade, unlike the commercial pita at most places.

          2. re: xtal
            camp1980 Sep 6, 2007 11:27 AM

            While I don't not claim to be an expert on shawarma's I must agree with xtal that Red & White have excellent shawarmas. The only problem is the place is getting so popular there is always a line up. =)

          3. j
            jessi20 Sep 6, 2007 06:33 AM

            the thread mentioned earlier highlights most of the good ones. if you want greek style gyros look to danforth...lots of good places...messini is my personal fav. another balkan style that i enjoy (cevirme) is available all over the east end. there is a good cevirme joint on the north east corner of pharmacy/eglinton in the mall. don't know the name...i think it actually might be "cevirme" but not sure. anyway.....turkish shawarma is served on a large bun that is strangely light and has a minimal amount of toppings...but the meat is much more strongly flavoured than other styles. enjoy!

            1. f
              fleurdesal Sep 10, 2007 07:28 AM

              I also like Falafel World nr Jane subway stn on Bloor. It's about 1-1/2 blocks east of Jane on the north side of the street. The only caveat is that the chix is a bit over-salted for my taste but I haven't tasted a better shawarma in TO. However, I need to try the other places mentioned-- Naz's and Ghazale's.

              1. Mr.D Sep 10, 2007 07:37 AM

                If you dont mind the drive Hannas Shawarma in Richmond Hill is absolutely the best the city has to offer IMHO

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mr.D
                  jeff75 Sep 12, 2007 09:07 AM


                  Can you please advise where in richmond hill this is located. Thanks

                2. w
                  warlock Sep 11, 2007 02:56 AM

                  Based on the recommendationsI tried Ghazale and sorry to say people who recommend it have not had real shwarmas.They "microwaved" it just before putting in the garnishes .The real way to do it is to wrap it and then press in on a panini grill.....I had the beef and the chicken,the meat were already shaved off like hours ago as it had a dry look. I am regular along the Lawrence avenue strip for shwarmas,personal fave is Farhat on warden and Lawrence......

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: warlock
                    Yongeman Sep 11, 2007 05:20 AM

                    I have to agree with you, warlock. I finally tried a shawarma at Ghazele and was less than impressed. Pita was dry and meat lacked flavour. Farhat is also one of my first choices, but you really ought to give Babos Donerpoint a try. It's on Eglinton W. at Caledonia. It's a Turkish spot which I've recommended on CH before.

                    1. re: Yongeman
                      capetowngirlie Sep 11, 2007 06:18 AM

                      For really great shwarma, may I suggest you take a ride out to Lawrence and Warden aka Lawrence of Arabia and try:
                      Ibrahim, 1967 Lawrence Ave E, my favourite, reliable, tasty, clean, great service. For a slightly greasy version, Farhats also on Lawrence E when they're on their game they're great.
                      Both places have the 2 for $5.99 special!

                      1. re: Yongeman
                        warlock Sep 11, 2007 12:00 PM

                        Yongeman..will tryout this place over the weekend
                        capetowngirlie...there are more than few good shwarma place in the Lawrence strip,infact I cant remember all the name of the places I have had shwarmas but I have never been disapponted...downtown shwarmas ,now that is another story

                    2. s
                      snackboy Sep 11, 2007 08:14 PM

                      Hi All,

                      I live around the corner for a la turke (might have spelled that wrong) . . . It's at Wellesley and Church just north of Wellesley on Church

                      Check them out . . . They are huge and tasty!! . . .and they are really friendly

                      Let me know what you think...


                      1. c
                        childofthestorm Sep 12, 2007 10:28 AM

                        I'm going to catch hell for saying this, but Toronto really isn't a good shawarma town. First thing I crave when I get back home to Montreal - before poutine, before smoked meat, before bagels even - is a nice shish taouk platter from somewhere like Boustan. Shaved hot from the spit and NEVER thrown on a flattop grill or microwaved, with a beautiful crust and spicing I can never find here. Get it with the potatoes and garlic sauce, oh yeaaaaahhhhhh...

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: childofthestorm
                          Yongeman Sep 12, 2007 12:16 PM

                          That's not a fair statement unless you've tried every shawarma place in the city--there must be hundreds, each with a different twist. It's ok to have a soft spot for your favourite hometown spot, but not to put down every place in TO while doing so. I've read more than one ex-pat Montrealer with the same attitude. There's your 'hell', cots.

                          1. re: Yongeman
                            Chester Eleganté Sep 12, 2007 01:20 PM

                            COTS, there's definitely something special about Boustan, though I think they've slipped slightly the past couple times I've been there (granted, it's like once a year).

                            Best places are more uptown. My top spot out of the dozens I've been to is Yakamoz (Persian with Israeli styles) on Wilson just west of Bathurst. I'll come up with a more detailed list once I've tried Babos and Farhat.

                            Hannah's is at the NE corner of Bathurst and Carrville (aka 16th Ave). Pretty good, not the best.

                            Ghazale's plain sucks.

                            1. re: Yongeman
                              hungry_pangolin Sep 12, 2007 08:06 PM

                              I have to agree. So often we read Montrealers complaining about the poor quality of so many things in Toronto. There was a recent thread initiatated by a Haligonian lamenting the paucity of "true Halifax style" shawarmas/doners in Toronto. Apparently it's a style rather peculiar to Halifax, or so the subsequent discussion evinced. What it comes down to, is that we often miss "home", even if it's the thing that we fled.

                              1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                childofthestorm Sep 13, 2007 02:34 PM

                                I'm not that kind of Montrealer, I love a lot of the food here. But I'm pretty sure I could put all of you through a blind taste-test of the best that Montreal and Toronto has to offer shawarma-wise, and the vast majority would vote for Montreal.

                                Really, not biased or even homesick really!

                                1. re: childofthestorm
                                  hungry_pangolin Sep 13, 2007 09:19 PM


                                  1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                    childofthestorm Sep 14, 2007 11:26 AM

                                    Yes sir, I know, sir. Ever eaten shish taouk in Montreal?

                                    1. re: childofthestorm
                                      Chester Eleganté Sep 14, 2007 12:59 PM

                                      When I talk to the Lebanese proprietors here and ask why they don't make shish taouk, they respond, regretfully, that the preparation process is too long and it's just not worth it. So I ask why the places in Montreal still make it, and they laugh and say that those guys are crazy...they'll still do it cuz that's how much they love it.

                                      My caveat being that over there, they tend to refer to our shawarma as taouk, so it's not like all their places make it.

                                      There's a place on Yonge btw Wellesley and College called Jasmine.. fella there seems to know what he's doing. Beef shawarma can be really good at times...very nice sauces as well. He has taouk on the menu though I haven't tried it.

                                      1. re: childofthestorm
                                        hungry_pangolin Sep 15, 2007 02:14 PM

                                        childofthestorm... shawarma or shish taouk? Should not shish taouk be a single brochette, as an individual serving, rather than shaved from the spit (like chicken shawarma)? I think that you're discussing different things.

                                        1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                          mrbozo Sep 15, 2007 03:38 PM

                                          Indeed. Brochette is king/queen in Montreal/Ottawa. Shaving reigns supreme in Toronto. Nice to have both options available though.

                                          1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                            Leslieville Sep 15, 2007 04:53 PM

                                            You're right hungry pangolin (not that I ever doubted you,but I did look it up)! .Shawarma and shish taouk are two entirely different things. Shish taouk is Turkish and the Greek version is shish kabab. Comparing shawarma and shish Taouk doesn't make any sense.

                                            1. re: Leslieville
                                              Chester Eleganté Sep 16, 2007 02:06 AM

                                              It was just me somewhat conflating the two. I just said that in Mtl they mostly call our shawarma shish taouk.

                                              1. re: Chester Eleganté
                                                childofthestorm Sep 16, 2007 03:02 PM

                                                What we call shawarma in Toronto, in Montreal is called shish taouk. It's on a spit, shaved directly onto the plate...like I said before, never thrown on the flattop and never ever microwaved.

                                                From Wikipedia: "In Montreal, Canada, the term Shish taouk is commonly used to refer to chicken shawarma rather than skewered chicken."

                                                And I think Chester Eleganté is right when he talks about the "crazy" process Lebanese places in Montreal use, because the flavour is just really unique and complex. Not trying to be a rah-rah Montreal booster - trust me and try a good shish taouk place next time one of you is in Montreal!

                                                1. re: childofthestorm
                                                  Chester Eleganté Sep 16, 2007 04:46 PM

                                                  It's weird. Over there they mainly refer to chicken shawarma as shish taouk, while their beef shawarma is just called shawarma. Although if you go to Boustan, they are adamant about not calling it taouk at all.

                                                  1. re: Chester Eleganté
                                                    childofthestorm Sep 16, 2007 06:51 PM

                                                    Yeah the guy at Boustan is forever trying to correct the mistake.

                                                    It's also my favourite shawarma in Montreal. I could go for some right now.

                              2. duckdown Sep 12, 2007 12:46 PM

                                I was driving down Yonge st. last night and passed this Red & White that everyone is talking about, but I couldn't find a place to pull over and get out and walk .. Does anyone know of a place you can temporarily pull over and run out around there

                                1. a
                                  Awni Sep 12, 2007 01:16 PM

                                  OK, Since people are giving suggestions outside of the downtown core, I would add two in Mississauga that are my favorites...

                                  Tarbouch - family run restaurant that has amazing shawerma's as well as other Lebanese treats.

                                  Paramount - This used to be a bakery that has expanded and now also has a restaurant. They BBQ their food on charcoal and have fresh baked bread with shawerma and kebob orders.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: Awni
                                    capetowngirlie Sep 12, 2007 04:08 PM

                                    Picked up shwarma at Ibrahim's tonight and yummy as usual!
                                    Warlock, I'm interested in trying any suggestions for good shwarma, especially in the Lawrence Warden area, for convenience. My sister and I spent some time in spring doing a shwarma taste test, trying out postings found on CH, but once we hit Ibrahims, we stopped. We checked Empire, Nasibs, Farhats, Armenian Kitchen. Glad to have the hunt continue, looking forward to the update from Chester Elegante.

                                    1. re: capetowngirlie
                                      warlock Sep 13, 2007 01:54 PM

                                      Farhats is definitely the best but Nasibs is also really nice,long line ups in the evening,thought the meats there are a bit greasy.

                                      Nasib's Shawarma & Falafel
                                      1867 Lawrence Avenue East
                                      Toronto, ON
                                      (416) 285-7223

                                    2. re: Awni
                                      duckdown Sep 12, 2007 07:34 PM

                                      Thank you for the Mississauga suggestions! Have not ever heard of Tarbouch and am thinking of venturing there right now. Paramount, while a great bakery, had very very plain shawarma. My favorite 2 places in Mississauga is Montfort's (Two locations, I visit the Hurontario & Bristol location) or Nick's Famous Pita at Eglinton and Dixie I believe

                                      Two favorite places in Brampton I guess would be Falafel Garden and Vita Pita

                                      edit: I cannot find any restaurant named "Tarbouch" in Mississauga, even typing "tarbouch mississauga" into google yields 0 results... Are you sure thats what its called?

                                      MORE PEEL REGION suggestions requested!!!

                                      1. re: duckdown
                                        Tuffter Sep 15, 2007 05:59 AM

                                        The best I shawarma I have had in the Toronto area is Tarboosh @ 3050 Confederation Pky in Mississauga. You have to wait a while, but it is well worth it. I have had tried Lawrence Ave and Yonge St, and its the only one around that compares with ones I have had in the Detroit area which has the best in North America.
                                        Two others that are OK are Amasi at 3038 Hurontario St and Sarah's on Bloor.

                                        1. re: Tuffter
                                          duckdown Sep 16, 2007 04:32 PM

                                          Just tried Amasi tonight , I had never heard of it, not one of my favorites at all... Meat was pre-shaved and heated up on a grill, and was entirely dark meat (with some quite fatty pieces).. The flavor of the chicken was odd, it tasted like cinnamon and all-spice.... And it was very expensive. They even charged me $1.99 to upgraded my "Garden Salad" into a Caesar Salad, and it doesn't even come with cheese or anything.. Was somewhat disappointed but will look for this Tarboosh this week... I had a hard time finding it today; do you know where exactly it is? Thanks again

                                          1. re: duckdown
                                            Tuffter Sep 16, 2007 06:38 PM

                                            Tarboosh is easily the best that I have tried around here. They fire up the spit when you make your order, thats why it takes a little longer. From Hurontario go west on Dundas. Go north on Conferdation Parkway and it is on your left side (west). You have to park in behind near where the trailer park is and then go up the steps. I believe there is an Indian and an Asian restaurant in there as well. I have also tried Aladdin - 3085 Hurontario Street, Pita Nutsy - Streetsville, Sindbad - 2567 Hurontario, Paramount, Pita & Gril - 5030 Maingate and the one in Square One food court. There is also a relatively new one called "Yummy" I think at 1000 Burnhamthorpe West on the south side. It used to be called Marouche but changed its name. Shawarma there was OK, but nothing yet has topped Tarboosh.

                                            1. re: Tuffter
                                              duckdown Sep 18, 2007 01:08 AM

                                              Great man, thanks alot.. I was looking at the few reviews I could find on the web, while all positive, none mentioned take-out and kept referring to some sort of Buffet so I was a little worried they wouldn't be used to take-out..

                                              Will visit tomorrow, thanks again!! :)

                                              1. re: duckdown
                                                Tuffter Sep 18, 2007 03:44 AM

                                                They have a hot vegetarian buffet which I got once. Every other time I just get the shawarma and usually read the Toronto Star they have there while I wait. Go easy on the hot sauce so you dont overpower the taste.

                                            2. re: duckdown
                                              Tuffter Sep 16, 2007 07:05 PM

                                              If you looking for something on Lawrence I have also tried about half a dozen places there and found the best shawarma at Ameer at 2034 Lawrence. Again, you have to wait a while but it was quite good. As with Tarboosh, I order them take out and enjoy them in the car.

                                      2. Full tummy Sep 14, 2007 11:54 AM

                                        I admit to being a shawarma newbie, but I ate it recently at Champion on Danforth just west of Donlands. It was shaved off the spit and onto the plate. No microwaves or sitting in grease. Very tasty. Has anybody eaten shawarma at Champion, and how do they compare, in your opinion?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Full tummy
                                          mzmcgee Sep 15, 2007 02:43 AM

                                          One more vote for greasy downtown.. Queen Falafel at Queen & Bathurst. Sentimental I admit, drinking and dining? Perhaps... but good, hazy memories of that one.

                                          1. re: mzmcgee
                                            xnoxinx Nov 6, 2007 06:59 AM

                                            In Newmarket, about 45 mins north of the city. There is a plaza across from the GO Bus Terminal, in this plaza is a small restaraunt that has amazingly tasty Shwarmas, they are wrapped tightly almost burrito style in their pita. And then pressed in a almost Foreman Grill type device. The burrito style wrap job makes the shwarma really easy to eat and not messy at all. The hot sauce and garlic sauce is intense in flavour (which I personally love) prices are reasonable at 5 dollars a Shwarma (beef or chicken, or a mix of the 2) taxes included. I must find out the actual name of the place, but it's literally 30 feet from the bus terminal, in the only plaza thats directly beside it. Check it out!

                                            *please mind my posting, I read the ettiquite but maybe i've made a mistake by responding to one persons reply, I dont know, love this site though!*

                                        2. Delish Nov 6, 2007 07:54 AM

                                          I recently had a most delicious shwarma at what was formerly Falafel Jarah at 858 Bloor St. W. It is now call A Falafel House. It is on the north side of the street, east of Roxton.

                                          What makes it so extra delicious are the sauces. She makes all her own from the hot sauce to the tehina. Yum, yum, yummmy. I wanted to buy some off of her, but I don't think she quite understood what I was saying.

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