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Visitor to your fair city needs good some recommendations

mr mangia Feb 26, 2008 01:00 PM


Living in Boston & being a fellow 'hound many people write to us asking for recommendations so now it's my turn. I am visiting friends in Toronto this weekend and if you would to be as kind to give me some tips on best ethnic (middle eastern, indian, etc) places that are vegetarian friendly, I would be grateful.

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  1. JamieK RE: mr mangia Feb 26, 2008 02:57 PM

    I would suggest 93 Harbord for great middle-eastern.
    Here's a review from the National Post -

    Globe & Mail -

    And if you do a search (or click on the place link) you'll find many favourable comments on this board. You'll need to make a reservation. Hope you enjoy yourself in TO!

    93 Harbord
    93 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

    1. m
      miranda RE: mr mangia Feb 26, 2008 05:06 PM

      Lee's on King West is great...Miranda

      1. l
        LemonLauren RE: mr mangia Feb 26, 2008 05:41 PM

        The good news is you'll have no shortage of places and recs, if you search the board wisely.

        For middle eastern, 93 Harbord is a lovely, swanky room with stunningly complex food and imbeccable service, though on the high end of my (admittedly student) budget.

        My favourite for something off the beaten track would be Mezzetta on St. Clair West. Not downtown, but worth the subway ride/drive. It's mezes - meaning small plates, med-style: dips (hummous, baba), stews (eggplant, tomato), skewers (shrimp, chicken, etc) plus traditional fare like moussaka and stuffed vine leaves. they have tonne of veggie choices like an amazing tabule, really yummy yams, and the best green beans i have ever had. and the city's best baklava. and live jazz on Wednesdays! i can't say enough. it's affordable, and authentic, and homey. very unique.

        for Indian, the city is riding a new "high end" or "haute" indian wave with places like Amaya, Tabla, Kama Sutra, etc. search the board - the opinions are very diverse. for truly veg-friendly indian, i recommend Saravana Bhavan, again, way out of the way in either Scarborough or Mississauga, but you won't be dissapointed. Dosas, lovely smoky curries, stews, daals, etc, and it's all vegetarian.

        those are my faves - not too mainstream, but worth it i promise!

        681 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C1A7, CA

        Saravanaa Bhavan
        1571 Sandhurst Cir, Toronto, ON M1V1V2, CA

        1. t
          torontofoodiegirl RE: mr mangia Feb 26, 2008 10:22 PM

          What area will you be staying in? If you're Midtown, Tabule (Middle Eastern) on Yonge St. north of Davisville is really good and has a pretty decent veg selection. I've never been to Jerusalem (at Eglinton and Bathurst) but it's meant to be excellent as well (though perhaps not as nice an atmosphere?). Tabla (Indian restaurant on Yonge b/w Eglinton and Lawrence) has gotten rave reviews on this site, and I just tried it last weekend and was duly impressed. It has a good veg selection - if you go, try the Eggplant Bhartha (sp?), as it's terrific.

          1. y
            Yum2MyTum RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 05:29 AM

            Hi Mr. Mangia,
            Welcome to our city! I have family in Boston and one thing they really miss is the Chinese (Cantonese) food in Toronto, which is far better priced and of better quality, in my opinion.

            Someone suggested Saravanaa Bhavan; in the same plaza is Ruby's Chinese Restaurant, which has cheap (but only mediocre) dim sum, but phenomenal dishes (including many vegetarian options) at dinner.

            There's also Grand Chinese Restaurant in the Doubletree Hilton in Mississauga which offers (in my opinion) some of the best dim sum in the city.

            Enjoy your stay!

            1571 Sandhurst Cir, Toronto, ON M1V1V2, CA

            1 Reply
            1. re: Yum2MyTum
              T Long RE: Yum2MyTum Feb 29, 2008 06:14 AM

              Picky point perhaps, but the Doubletree is in Toronto... close to Mississauga.

            2. m
              mr mangia RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 05:48 AM

              Thanks everyone for the great suggestions ! I will be staying on Yonge St & will have access to wheels so I should be able to get around. Looks like that I won't go hungry ! If anyone ever needs places in Boston I can certainly point you in the right direction !

              3 Replies
              1. re: mr mangia
                currycue RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 07:12 AM

                If you're staying at the Days Inn, Delta Chelsea or Mariott Courtyard area, there are some good close by options. Kathmandu restaurant serves a great curry. (try the butter chicken or the lamb sali bothi) There is Red & White for a cheap, filling shawarma plate and there is Doner Kebab for a quick sandwich (open late)

                1. re: mr mangia
                  KevinB RE: mr mangia Feb 28, 2008 05:27 PM

                  OK, it was almost 30 years ago, and as I was in university, much of it was spent in a drunken haze.. but I do remember the scrod and shrimp at the "No Name" in the harbour, and some place near Framingham that offered a small steak and a 12 oz. cocktail for less than $10; I had a 12 oz Rusty Nail. According to my friends, I spent an hour swimming in circles in the pond out the back of their house - seemingly unable to find my way to the 30 yards to shore, to their considerable amusement - before they finally showed some mercy, and pulled me in.

                  1. re: KevinB
                    mr mangia RE: KevinB Feb 29, 2008 05:25 AM

                    the no name stinks now. it is more corporate and since they got a liquor license the days of bringing a case of beer in while waiting in line is over. the crazy greek waiter no long offer beer chugging contests for the paycheck either. oh well. all things must pass ! good thing your friends pulled you in from the pond, mine probably wouldn't !!! lol.

                2. estufarian RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 06:28 AM

                  So many choices.
                  You've already received excellent replies on the best Middle Eastern.
                  For Indian vegetarian (and unbelievably cheap) try Rashnaa on Wellesley East (mainly Sri Lankan - Southern Indian, and a couple of meat dishes).
                  For a dining out place (more meat dishes, but still good choice of vegetarian) then Tabla (on Yonge) is probably the best Indian place in town.
                  If you want others - let us know the cuisine

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: estufarian
                    mr mangia RE: estufarian Feb 27, 2008 11:37 AM

                    how about pizza ?

                    1. re: mr mangia
                      estufarian RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 01:05 PM

                      I'm not an expert on Pizza - too many disappointing versions here. But other Board members highly recommend Terroni (on Yonge south of St Clair at Balmoral).

                      1. re: mr mangia
                        Minnow RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 01:08 PM

                        That's always a huge debate in Toronto, but Terroni is a good bet (also great pasta.) Multiple locations, one on Adelaide east of Yonge, one on Queen West and one on Yonge in the north (hopefully someone else has an address for that one.)

                        57 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ON M5C1K6, CA

                        1. re: Minnow
                          pinstripeprincess RE: Minnow Feb 27, 2008 01:29 PM

                          terroni is just a love it or hate it kind of place. if you like your crust almost cracker like and a sort of rustic trendy feel to the place then it works. not everything is a hit there (stay far far away from their orichette) and the service is passable... but it's like a great local chain to chow down with friends.

                    2. s
                      Scary Bill RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 06:57 AM

                      If dim sum is a preference (etc?), there are arguably ( as there are endless arguments on this board about dim sum) dozens of excellent destinations, though two generally stand out, Lai Wah Heen and Lai Toh Heen. They are more expensive than your usual dim sum, but more creative, and neither will empty your wallet like so many restaurants in the city can.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Scary Bill
                        pinstripeprincess RE: Scary Bill Feb 27, 2008 11:37 AM

                        how veg friendly is lai wah heen? just a thought.. but we do have a few veg friendly focused chinese restos in toronto that you might be interested in. the only one i've been to closed so i can't vouch for any others but i'm sure someone else will chime in.

                        one style of food that hasn't been mentioned yet is caribbean/west indies. while my favourite roti filling is goat, you can easily get a vegetarian version and some doubles (deep fried fluffy dough pieces stuffed with channa). for the best version this city has to offer, go out to drupati's in etobicoke. there's also a few other other items that i'm blanking out on that are delish.

                        1. re: pinstripeprincess
                          mr mangia RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 27, 2008 11:40 AM

                          i love roti ! i usually get the veg with curry pumpkin here in boston. i also love doubles too. in boston you really have to go to a special area for roti since for some reason the regualr populace hasn't caught up to it yet. their loss i say !!!

                          1. re: mr mangia
                            pinstripeprincess RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 12:08 PM

                            we do actually have quite a few places downtown (though you have to keep your eyes open for them) and i'm not personally a fan of most/any of them so i wait until the trek out to etobicoke.

                            but... after saying that, you may want to consider going to island foods downtown if etobicoke doesn't interest you. there are a few locations around (dundas and king west) and they're certainly passable. and as an fyi, my tastebuds tend to lean towards the guyanese style.

                            1. re: pinstripeprincess
                              mr mangia RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 27, 2008 12:12 PM

                              i guess i am more familiar to the trini style but i bet guyanese is great too.

                              1. re: mr mangia
                                Snarf RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 12:18 PM

                                Island Foods is definitely good Caribean. I would also recommend Irie on Queen around Bathurst, which is very good, with maybe a bit more atmosphere. Any interest in South American?

                                1. re: Snarf
                                  mr mangia RE: Snarf Feb 27, 2008 01:14 PM

                                  sure, i love everything !

                                  1. re: mr mangia
                                    Snarf RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 02:47 PM

                                    There's a very good south american tapas place on Augusta in Kensington Market called Torito. Very popular, medium priced range. The sort of place where people talk between tables. Evenings.

                                    Across the street is a very casual mexican taco place called El Trompo, which does good tacos, and very good margaritas. They do a very interesting burrito with cheese and huitlacoche, which is a truffle-tasting fungus that grows on corn. lunch and dinner.

                                    If you want a good wander, Kensington is good for street food, also. El Gordo does 40 flavours of empanada, and there is a great coffee shop on St Andrew called Moonbeam. Enjoy!

                          2. re: pinstripeprincess
                            Jean Anthelme RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 27, 2008 01:35 PM

                            If I remember correctly, Lai Wah Heen has a vegetarian spring roll, a scallion-filled pastry, and a fantastically delicious vegetarian roll with truffle, mushrooms, and bean curd. It is located downtown.

                            Drupati's is OK. Better executions of both doubles and roti can be had at Bara's Hut Doubles and Roti on Dundas Street East in Mississauga. Not downtown, of course, but only a bit further than Etobicoke.

                          3. re: Scary Bill
                            skylineR33 RE: Scary Bill Feb 27, 2008 11:47 AM

                            If cost is not a factor, Lai Wah Heen is just the best dim sum experience "overall" that Toronto can offer, period. Expected to pay $35 or more per head to have a satisfy dim sum meal there, which I think is not really too bad.

                            1. re: skylineR33
                              estufarian RE: skylineR33 Feb 27, 2008 01:11 PM

                              That's a great suggestion! Not cheap, but this is a place that doesn't seem to have a comparison in Boston. I often recommend this to out-of-town visitors as something Toronto does well. The other recommendation is Chiado - very upscale Portuguese (again rare in North America) but the meat content there is MUCH higher.

                          4. hangrygirl RE: mr mangia Feb 27, 2008 12:17 PM

                            Sushi on Bloor is GREAT for sushi, and I think it's got the best prices I've ever paid for sushi....

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: hangrygirl
                              estufarian RE: hangrygirl Feb 27, 2008 01:07 PM

                              Seriously guys (of all genders). Why would you send someone from Boston to ANY seafood based cuisine in Toronto? What a letdown it will be!

                              1. re: estufarian
                                mr mangia RE: estufarian Feb 27, 2008 01:15 PM

                                how about that lake you have ? lol !

                                1. re: mr mangia
                                  Scary Bill RE: mr mangia Feb 28, 2008 05:54 AM

                                  If you come across a restaurant serving pickerel (aka walleye) it is almost certainly from Canadian waters, though it may not be from Lake Ontario.
                                  Fresh pickerel, simply pan fried, can't be beat! (ok, ok, not vegetarian)

                                  1. re: Scary Bill
                                    phoenikia RE: Scary Bill Feb 28, 2008 07:48 AM

                                    Except maybe by Lake Huron whitefish, or Lake Erie perch;) I love Lake Erie perch.

                                  2. re: mr mangia
                                    jcanncuk RE: mr mangia Feb 28, 2008 05:14 PM

                                    If you want a "local" (menu sourced from local products and reflect international flavour of TO) upscale experience with veg options, try out JK at the Gardiner for lunch. Truly divine experience and lots of paired Ontario wines to try as well. The Sri Lankan veggie hopper is really tasty. It's a lovely setting and convenient (right across from the ROM at the Gardiner Ceramic Museum). I lived in Beantown for 4 years and would honestly say no TO dimsum is as good as China Pearl as far as price & quality combined are concerned......

                                    1. re: jcanncuk
                                      LemonLauren RE: jcanncuk Feb 28, 2008 05:25 PM

                                      ooooooooh yeah second the gardiner and the hopper - a great way to combine the indian you (the OP) are looking for (well, close) and a great touch of Canadiana - the wine list is all amazing small, local stuff, paired perfectly. JK Gardiner all the way!

                                      1. re: jcanncuk
                                        JamieK RE: jcanncuk Feb 28, 2008 05:58 PM

                                        Yeah, I so second JK at the Gardiner. I had the hopper and it was great but what i loved even better was the black cod and oxtail ragout, yum! And the frites as well as the beets & pecorino salad were excellent, along with the wine pairings.

                                        Also a very interesting exhibit of Staffordshire figures on right now if you're into that --

                                        Jamie Kennedy Gardiner
                                        111 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

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