what's good in the Lawrence Manor 'hood?
I'm in the midst of packing for a move up to the Lawrence/Bathurst/Wilson/Avenue sector, and I was wondering what sort of chow tips people might have for restaurants and groceries... So far I've had a rather hectic falafel at Tov-li, giggled a bit at the notion of kosher Chinese, and made a plan to investigate Paprika, but I haven't looked much further afield yet. Thanks for any suggestions!
Not all that much in the area that is discussed regularly on CH, but some good spots, nevertheless. Magic and juno have gone a good job unearthing a lot of places. Some of the best bagel places in the city (magic mentions Bagel House--very good Mtl. style) including Gryfe's on Bathurst at Melrose, and Bagel World on Wilson, west of Bathurst. One bakery that's not frequently mentioned is Haymishe on Bathurst, just south of Lawrence. Bagels are quite good, but breads and baked goods are very good. Interesting and very tasty prepared foods--servers with lots of character.
One of my favourite Italian bakeries/hot tables is a little west, at Dufferin and Wilson--Trezanno has great bread, and some amazing sandwiches, especially at lunchtime. Don't forget that the only Toronto location of Mary Brown's fried chicken is on Dufferin, north of Lawrence, too.
Paprika has incredible schnitzel and nokedli but you gotta hound them for extra sauce for the nokedli or you'll be eating lovely plain dumplings. Blah. Service is nice but atrocious, and insanely slow. And they only do cash - no credit cards (at the very least no Visa). This might have changed, I haven't been in over a year.
United Bakers at Bathurst/Lawrence has great Jewish dairy food and mindblowing latkes.
Greek Gourmet at Ave/Lawrence has delish food, very basic restaurant, but damn good. Especially the moussaka, gyros, and pan fried sole.
For shopping, of course Pusateri's at Avenue/Lawrence. And my fave Montreal style bagels are at Bagel House on Avenue Rd, couple mins N. of Lawrence.
Other places but perhaps others will mention those. These are among my faves/well known.
If it's Hungarian food you hunger for, you'll probably do better at Europa, on Bathurst just south of Lawrence, than at Paprika, where you can die of old age waiting for your entree. Service at Paprika is legendarily slow, which is no fun in a joint without a licence. I gave up on it a year ago. The shnitzels at Europa are tasty, the soups substantial, the desserts not up to much, and it all gets to you in a timely manner - and the price is right, though they try mightily to make it up on the wine prices. Severe markups on undistinguished bottles.
You already know that Tov-Li is a brawl, but if you get into the spirit of the place and use your elbows in the cafeteria-like setting, you'll finally get your falafel sandwich - and it'll invariably be good, as will the many fresh salads the not-always-cheerful staff will heap upon it at your request.
Coleman's, a Jewish-style deli on Bathurst just north of Lawrence, is sometimes good, sometimes not so good, depending, I suppose, on who's on duty in the kitchen. A more consistent bet for deli is Moe Pancer's, on Bathurst north of Wilson - a bit of a drive for you, I suppose, but if you want to be absolutely sure of ingesting a decent pastrami sandwich, a drive you must make.
Also up that way, putting out a good, substantial chicken shawarma, is Yakamov, a Russian-Israeli hole-in-the-wall on Wilson just west of Bathurst, which I first learned of on this board (one of the best fast-food tips I've ever had on Chowhound). I've only had the chicken shawarma there, but judging from satisfied lip-smacking going on around me, all else is pretty good, too. Probably best for lunch as it has no licence. But Paese, just around the corner, on Bathurst a few blocks north of Wilson, has a licence, and a long, long wine list at not-outrageous prices - and, a nice touch, allows you to bring your own wine most nights without a corkage fee. (I think they put their foot down only on Saturdays). The food is good, too - more of a modern take on Italian than an old-fashioned one. Moderate prices, good service. If you want more of an old-fashioned take, you'll want Coppi, on Yonge St. north of Lawrence, which has no pizza but does wonderful pasta and other entrees. It's very good, though more expensive than Paese. Superb service, especially when Fausto, the owner, is on the premises, as he usually is. Most of the other Italian joints on Yonge between Lawrence and the City Limits - there are at least a dozen - are competent, if not outstanding.
On Avenue Rd. north of Lawrence, I rather like Bon Vivant, a vaguely Ital-French spot that does lamb rather well. It's in the Entertainment Book, offering two entrees for the price of one - one of the few joints in that book that are worth it even at regular prices. I haven't been there in a year, though.
For shopping, Pusateri's is lotsa fun, but bring lotsa money. A lot of Pusateri's customers buy those one-of-a-kind items they love at Pusateri's, then drive a few blocks north on Avenue Rd. to Food Basics for cheaper staples and surprisingly good fresh fruits and veggies (and some decent meats). It all helps keep Pusateri's from going too, too over-the-top on prices.
Re Coleman's, I used to go there for smoked meat and fries until they decided to go ''Green''. Their fries turned to be awful. -- Juno, thanks for all those good tips and reviews. Re Pusateri's I go there when I want something very fancy and hard to find. Like Domi said : ''Bring with you a bunch of one hundred dollar bills''. Otherwise I would go to Bloor West Village or one of the Five Thieves. That's when I feel like being ripped off... which is not very often.
Perl's on Bathurst (at Prince Charles) : A1 schnitzels etc. See their site at http://www.perls.ca/ -- Really worth a visit.
Also Bruno's : 2055 Avenue Road (Just south of the 401)
(416) 481 - 5530 (416) 481 - 5866 Catering services are available - Chef Siva. A1 steaks and fresh produce. As expensive as Pusateri's, but just as good.
Pancer's (Moe Pancer's Delicatessen 3856 Bathurst Street 416) 633-1230):
I never tried it but I heard (and read) lots of good about it. Not friendly over the phone, though, depending on who happens to answer your call.