Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Jan 18, 2008 10:48 AM


OK, have not spent any time in the neighborhood - and we are looking for a place for a casual - no reservation dinner. I read about Allen's for Burgers, Aji Sai for sushi/sashimi. Globe Bistro is too fancy for now - any other suggestions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Allen's is good. It's one of the few places in the city that combines a good pub vibe with decent food. And the burgers are excellent. The food is simple, honest cooking, with a strong Irish/British sensibility (with a bit of the occasional Sri Lankan accent, given Chef Viji's background) so don't expect anything really fancy though. Other reliable dishes on the menu are Viji's shrimp curry (it has some kick to it), the Manhattan capon wings, blackened potato salad, Guinness stew, and braised short ribs.

    Most nights of the week they have a specials menu that typically includes some very good seafood dishes, and a number of "designated origin" meat dishes featuring organically and/or sustainably raised meats from small farm producers in Canada and the U.S., mainly from Ontario. If you order something like beef or lamb my suggestion is to order it one level rarer than you might normally; the kitchen has a tendency to over-cook beef, pork and lamb dishes.

    They have a good beer list, the best selection of Scotch in the city, and a VQA-only wine list that has some gems on it (as well as a few crap wines, however).

    Globe does have a bar menu that is cheaper than the dining room menu. On weekends the bar section is pretty busy and has a good atmosphere, but you can still typically get a table without a reservation.

    Despite the large number of restaurants on the Danforth, there are surprisingly few places except for Allen's and Globe that really stand out. Most of the Greek restaurants aren't very good, and many of the other restaurants (Thai, Japanese, other...) are nowhere near as good as others in other parts of the city. If you do want to try Greek, Mezes and Avli are ok. I've heard good things about Lambros (a new Tapas-style Greek place that opened recently; Joannes Kates reviewed it last weekend), but I haven't eaten there myself yet.

    143 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1N2, CA

    11 Replies
    1. re: cybergod

      I can think of a couple of Japanese places downtown that aren't as good as Aji Sai near Pape/Danforth.

      Allens is great, on Friday night I had the designated origin 12oz. striploin with a baked potato and some bitter greens and a glass of house red. Very nice, simple but well done. I really liked the atmosphere too.

      1. re: 50firstdatesguy

        I disagree with the rec for Allen's. Am I the only one that thinks this place is very over-rated? The last time I went, I ordered the 'bruschetta on foccacia' and the wings. The bruschetta arrived and was a measly bottom-half of a hamburger bun (complete with a few sesame seeds) topped with a few diced tomatoes. I asked the waitress where the foccacia was, and she said, "this is what our foccacia looks like". What? I didn't want to make a stink in the place, but later emailed the management to give my thoughts, and never got a reply. I really should have said something in person.

        1. re: Tara9000

          No you are not. Their food is overpriced and their attitude stinks. I do love the burgers, but since they are not listed on the menu I cannot tell you how much they cost. And try getting a decent side for them, I have yet to find one that would be good at half the price.

          1. re: Tara9000

            I agree with Tara9000, Allen's is very over rated. Their food is mediocre at best. The owners seems to have a "how dare you attitude". I have been treated as both a star and a bum. I have long thought that if there was a decent chef to match the atmosphere it would be a destination spot ,but I just can not seem to warm to the mgmt. Who am I to argue with success.

            1. re: Mr. Millygirl

              while i admit allen's isn't perfect, i feel like i should defend one of my favourite haunts. the food isn't always awesome, but some dishes are consistently excellent, and they make a serious effort to buy local meats and introduce their guests to organic wild meats & game. i sometimes wish their wine menu wasn't all local Canadian wines, but i admire them for their conviction (and usually drink guinness anyway).
              the owners are lovely, passionate people and i like that they throw a lot of special celebrations throughout the year- i went to their sri lankan dinner last year & everyone was super nice and welcoming.
              as far as local places go, i think allen's provides a warm, easy environment, where i can go and have a bite to eat at the bar by myself and just read the paper or chat with everyone around me & have it be ok either way. more than i can say for most places in the neighbourhood.

              1. re: MartiniGirls

                Fair enough MartiniGirls. Allen's is a safe and relaxed place. However, I wish they were more consistant (quality of food). Also, I have never had anything but a positive experience with the staff, or clientel.

                1. re: Mr. Millygirl

                  agreed on the food. i love the shrimp curry in winter, and anything simple & grilled (fish or meat) is good quality, other than that, i don't experiment much.

              2. re: Mr. Millygirl

                Why is it so common in this city for people to go to the same place and have such completely different experiences all the time? Frustrating, for sure... I've occasionally run into a grumpy server at Allen's, but usually the staff there have been really friendly.

                I agree with MartiniGirls and Mr. Millygirl. Allen's is by no means even close to being on my top picks list for dining in the city, and certain things on the menu are expensive for what they are. However, for a local neighbourhood pub their food is a big step up from chain pub grub, and there are many affordable dishes on the list that are really good (plus the hamburger, of course). You just have to pick and choose a bit, as not every dish is a winner, and some are over-priced.

                1. re: cybergod

                  i love how we all have a sliding scale on 'over-priced'. allen's capon wings are overpriced, Colbourne Lane's $16 soup is.... not?

                  1. re: MartiniGirls

                    Haha, so true! Like when my parents think a $30 steak (sourced from Cumbrae's or another ethical, quality-focused producer) at one of our favourite neighbourhood restaurants is over-priced, whereas a cheap piece of badly cooked meat at the Keg is not...

                    Mmmm.... I think I'll go have some of those capon wings :-)

                    1. re: cybergod

                      Well, what about when you argue with the host over your desired table, read a paragaph-long description of that $30 steak (farm, feed and length of aging), then get a steak that is half gristle, and your server doesn't care?

                      They just don't live up to their own hype. Every meal I've ordered there other than the burger has been disappointing, ranging from inedible to eh, could have done better myself.

        2. A little farther up is ten feet tall. Its a busy little spot, very casual, with live jazz playing some nights. The food is pretty good for the price, especially the sweet potato fries with different dipping sauces plus they have good specials every day in addition to their menu

          2 Replies
          1. re: hungryabbey

            I second Ten Feet Tall, although it is te a bit east of Pape.

            Bibiche Bistro, near Greenwood and Pape, is another option, good food, casual neighbour spot.

            2326 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4E, CA

            Ten Feet Tall
            1381 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J, CA

            1. re: hungryabbey

              Ten Feet is seriously hit or miss. The first time I went, my family and I had a fantastic meal with wonderful service in the middle of the week. A great meal combined with a cozy and funky atmosphere made me drag my BF back... and that time, the food was horrible and service was almost nonexistent. He pronounced it one of the worst meals of his life.

              Could have been an off night, and I'm willing to give it another try.. though I haven't read good stuff about it overall on the board.

            2. If you want to try something different, you can go to Dukem at Danforth and Donlands for some good Ethiopian food.

              15 Replies
              1. re: pescatarian

                Actually Aji Sai at Jones and Danforth is very good. Excellent suishi.

                1. re: millygirl

                  I agree Aji Sai is excellent and well priced compared to downtown; been going there for years. Fantastic selection and non-sushi eaters can eat there too

                2. re: pescatarian

                  Rendezvous at Greenwood/Danforth (slightly east) is great for Ethiopian food too.

                  Also at Donlands/Danforth there's a great Pakistani place called Makkah, which is more of a take-out place but they have a dining area in the back. It's not really a sitdown restaurant but the food's worth it.

                  Quite a few Greek resos in that area, I haven't spent much time there myself despite living so close but I do know that I really liked Pantheon for Greek food near Chester station.

                  1. re: 50firstdatesguy

                    Have you tried the Auld Spot at Danforth and Chester? The menu is fantastic, I would highly recommend the Crab Mac n' Cheese.
                    It has become one of my favourite places in the city, the staff make you feel welcome and " one of the gang" which is hard to find at other locals in the area.


                    1. re: books

                      I haven't been there in a couple of years but I recall the food as being pretty good. Also noticed they've done a bit of a reno last month. Must revisit one of these days.

                      1. re: millygirl

                        A few years ago, the food at the Auld Spot was quite good. Then the female chef left, an it really went downhill. I mentioned that to the servers, they said the new chef was just as good and we were just complaining. SInce that is the response we got, we stopped going. Maybe now (2 years later) it's improved but I'm not going to waste anyt time there to fine out.

                        1. re: foodyDudey

                          Went to the Auld Spot tonight with a friend. I was first made aware of this pub on this board. After looking at their menu and seeing many of my fav pub fare, I wanted to visit and try for myself.

                          Unfortunately my dinner companion and I were both disappointed with our meal. I started with the soup of the day which was apple and pumpkin. The size was surprisingly generous but was TOO sweet. I am quite certain the chef added sugar to the soup. I was really looking forward my main, the crab mac & cheese. The m&c was really dry but the side salad had a tasty dressing. My friend had a side of onion rings which were quite good and large for $5. He also had the lamb bangers and mash - the bangers were also really dry.

                          Our conclusion - the service was friendly and attentive, the atmosphere was cozy, the sides were good but the mains were 'nothing to write home about'. Did we catch them on an 'off' night and give them another try?

                          1. re: wasabi_girl

                            The Auld Spot went downhill about 2 years ago, when the female chef left. I've posted on this topic in the past but I'm sure those posts were deleted. I was recently at "Lambros" (besdide AVLI) and 3 of us had a really nice meal for around $150


                      2. re: books

                        I have not, but I would like to! I have seen it and often wondered what it was like. Their prices seem very reasonable too based on their online menu. Next time I need good pub food and ale I will be sure to check them out.

                        1. re: books

                          Haven't been since the ownership change, but now I will go based on your recommendation. Thanks!

                          1. re: books

                            2nd this rec for Auld Spot. Great service and solid good pub food which I think is a notch above Allen's. Had the burger a couple of weeks ago, very good.

                            1. re: Mila

                              Oh didn't realize they had a change in ownership....interesting.

                              1. re: millygirl

                                The change in ownership of the Auld Spot happened a few years back.
                                Mila I agree the burger is fantastic, I am partial to the fish and chips there and the creme brulee. Not that I have ever just ordered dessert in lieu of dinner that would be wrong....oh so wrong :-)

                                1. re: millygirl

                                  The previous owner had a fatal heart attack on the sidewalk one evening, if I remember correctly.

                                2. re: Mila

                                  I agree, the food here is terrific Had a nice pulled pork sandwich a few weeks back.... I also agree with Jules Rules above in that Allen's is overpriced and over-rated.

                          2. I'm moving to Pape and Danforth area (closer to Cosburn than Danforth, but still close) in about a month and a half. I'd be interested in any other good suggestions. I am somewhat familiar with the area and have tried some things. I'm happy to be close to Fresh from the Farm and Dukem.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: pescatarian

                              I am jealous. You're close to Fresh from the Farm AND Bona Pizza (across the street)

                              1. re: merlot143

                                Oh, cool. I've heard about Bona Pizza on here, but I haven't tried it yet.

                                1. re: pescatarian

                                  You won't get a flyer in your mailbox (at least we never have). Their menu is online -

                                  Hang on to your bill the first time they deliver because it has all the menu choices (plus the ones you ordered are ticked off).

                                  431 Donlands Ave, Toronto, ON M4J3S2, CA

                                  1. re: JamieK

                                    Give the old greasy spoon King's Park Souvlaki Place a try at Pape and Mortimer. It's really cheap and has an amazing patio in summer. Some of the best souvlaki I've had! Been eating there since I went to college at Centennial, just across the street. About 12 years now and it's still good.

                                  2. re: pescatarian

                                    Bona is the Best...been ordering from them for 10 years
                                    They have some fantastic specialty pizzas like Greek, California and Mexican
                                    You get free pop and salad depending on how much you order

                                    1. re: gwenchick

                                      I ordered pizza from Bona last weekend. I got the California pizza with hot peppers added (I hadn't even read your post ;) and it was very good. I ordered a pepperoni pizza too, but for other people so I didn't try it. It came with salad which was fresh and the dressing was good.

                              2. I ate at a place called Three's Company on the weekend. South side of Danforth just east of Pape. I had their special superbowl poutine - pulled pork on fries toped with grated cheese. Very nice. The bf had eggs bennie and said they were good as well.