Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Aug 22, 2008 09:57 AM

CNE - new food discoveries? (+pics)

After reading all the posts on how absolutely horrendous everyone finds the food at The Exhibition Place, I thought I would start a thread on recent discoveries. Everyone knows the good ol’ favourites of yesteryears, and for locals, we will always treasure those fond memories. Unfortunately, for those coming in from outside the city, or are relatively new to this Canadian tradition, I can see how going through the food building could be a scary experience. With the sky-high prices, and food that we love more for the emotions they evoke rather than how they scintillate the taste buds – I can see this as being very daunting.

(This menu sums up perfectly, IMO, my opinion of food choices at the Ex: )

Has anyone had any recent discoveries of food items at the Ex? I’m not talking about the tried and true favourites of ours, such as the ones found on the other threads (Tiny Tom’s, Candied Apples, Waffles, Hot Dogs, fudge, Peameal Bacon, etc.) – I am talking about new entries that have popped up in the last few years (mostly ethnic cuisine). Is there anything that is good, solid food that one would actually consume outside the fair (OK - on a day that you’re famished and there is not much else available in the neighbourhood and you only have $20 in your pocket).

Sausages & Sauerkraut:
Tiny Tom’s:
Tiny Tom’s 2:
$1.25 Jumbo Dogs:
Candied Apples:
CNE Lollies:

I went there just the other day and found that the chicken wings from St. Louis Wings are not too shabby. They are nice and dry - coated with a tangy sauce ($10).

St. Louis Wings:

Another one that I sampled (I didn’t have a full order, as I had unfortunately already stuffed myself on old favourites) was the shawarma at Anoush. It was not too bad – the chicken was moist and the seasoning was pleasant. As a dish on its own, if you don’t compare it to what there is outside the fair, it was beyond edible ($7).

Chicken Shawarma:
Shawarma toppings:

I was wondering if anyone else had any insider tips on the less frequented food options around the CNE?

Cheers and Happy Eating!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Excellent photos!
    Much more ethnic food compared to previous CNEs

    1 Reply
    1. re: jayt90

      Thanks jayt90. Trying to see what else is out there, but I just had to get some photos of my all-time favourites as well (for memories' sake)

    2. I found a delicious corn beef sandwich at the CNE this year:

      And the cabbage roll wasn't bad either:

      The $1.00 pasta isn't bad if you're a real cheapie :P

      4 Replies
      1. re: ndawg

        Was on the Midway or was it carnie alley today.. lol
        Just outside and south of the National Trade ctr. I was needing something and found this Pretzel outlet.
        I must say I was very impressed with a hot soft pretzel and I ordered it with a grated parmesan cheese coating. I think it was about 3.75 or something like that but very enjoyable.
        Rest of the family went for the cheap along with me. 2 of us ordered the 1.25 hotdog and 2 of us had the 3.00 peameal bacon on a bun. The peameal on a bun wasn't bad this year. Better than the last couple of years as they served up 3 decent sized peices of peameal on the bun. Only condiments they have are mustard and ketchup, that's it. But for the price, it is what it is and that was, edible.

        1. re: ndawg

          great, ndawg and Poorboy.

          ndawg - do you know the names of the purveyors? Poorboy, was there a name for the pretzel maker?

          1. re: BokChoi

            Sorry BokChoi, the names escaped me. I know that the corn beef sandwich place was right beside a Tiny Tom place in the food building. I believe they also sold pickle on a stick.

            1. re: ndawg

              Sounds good. Just trying to put together a directory on this thread for other users, so no worries.

        2. Funniest food offering is the place just outside the west doors of the trade centre selling Jamaican Beef Patties for the princly sum of $3.50 EACH!!!!

          3 Replies
          1. re: bbbradk

            Another tip is do not buy your corn on the cob on the midway, they want $6.00 for corn and a pop, go into the food building, there is a sausage place in the Northeast corner across from the pizza on a stick guys who sells corn for $2.00 and they have a great herbed butter they put on it

            1. re: bbbradk

              Thanks bbbradk. Truly highway robbery in action like nowhere else.

              1. re: bbbradk

                Hey bbbradk, I took up your suggestion and got my corn at that sausage place in the northeast corner of the Food Building (I think it is called European Sausages for anyone heading down for tomorrow's last day). Although you were dead on about the price ($2) the herb butter was the exact same butter you get at any corn stand on the midway. It wasn't anything special to say the least. The corn and butter were very good mind you, but I also had one on the midway. They were identical. Butter and all. The herb butter consists of maybe 5 flecks of some indiscernible dried herb that contributed nothing to the corn at all. And the corn on the midway had the exact some thing. Not that your suggestion is unwelcome -- your tip can save people a bit of money (midway corn is $3.50). I just think, price aside, there is nothing to distinguish the corn at that sausage place from corn on the midway. Both are fine, both have basic butter without herbs, and your sausage place recommendation is cheaper. So for that, I do thank you. The sausages at this place were bloody awful btw.

                The rest of my food report:

                I agree with Ginsugirl about Sangam. For essentially food court Indian it is not bad. I LOVE their veggie samosas. But I tried their veggie pakoras and basically spit it out. Don't waste the calories. Stick with their veg samosas. Nice with their (free!) tamarind and cilantro sauces.

                Tiny Toms. Love it. Don't care what other people say. Love it. Love it. Love it. Fresh warm, gorgeous tasty little donuts. Love it.

                Maggie’s. Their peameal bacon sandwiches are just awesome.

                Memphis BBQ. Got a half-rack of ribs. $13. Much ado has been said about these Woodbridge BBQers on Chowhound rib and BBQ threads -- mostly bad. But I must say the ribs I had today were not too bad at all. Certainly not the best ribs I’ve ever had but pretty decent. A fruity sweet and smoky sauce over the ribs. The ribs themselves were nice. Not great, but nice. Smoky, but not overwhelmingly so. My biggest gripe was they weren’t overly meaty. Which for $13 ($12 at their restaurant apparently) is a bit iffy. Otherwise, I really did enjoy them. I'm sure others might have comments on this, but what can I say... they were pretty decent. The pulled pork looked amazing. And for $6 a sandwich, I must say I almost chose the pulled pork over the pricier ribs.

                Btw, bbbradk I saw those beef patties for $3.50. My god what a rip off. Wouldn’t dare buy one, just on general principal. They were the only food vendors on the whole grounds without a line. At $3.50 per pop I can see why. Not sure where they get the nerve. Even for CNE markup, that is absurd.

                My biggest surprise at the EX this year were the lines. My god they were just awful. Unbearable even. I've been going to the EX for decades now. The last time I was there was 5 years ago. This was the first time I've seen lines like this. Even at 9:30 at night (when I left the CNE). Huge lines at every single vendor. Even Pizza Pizza and other generic nothing special vendors had lines around the corner! Generally speaking I've never seen the Ex so crowded. Not sure what has happened over the last 5 years since I was there last but my God. Makes me want to rethink going there next year. It was just too much.

                Overall the food at the Ex is really nothing special. And I say this with love. I've been going my whole life, since I was a little kid, so I say this with respect for what the Ex means to Torontonians. It is a wonderful institution that deserves our respect. But as I get older I really am realizing the food is pretty blah for the most part. Don't get me wrong, there are some things they do very well -- Tiny Toms, Corn, Corn Dogs, Deep fried Mars, Maggie's bacon sandwiches. And a few others. But overall, a pretty big food court basically sums it up. With prices that are getting more and more ludicrous as time goes on.

                And with the increasing crowds I'm not so sure it's worth the trek out there for the food. Maybe for the Tiny Toms:)

            2. Oh, the FOOD BUILDING! The classics are there (I've a new appreciation for 99cent spaghetti, when fussy kids are in tow), corn dogs are my yearly vice (you'll pay $2 more for a foot-long on the midway), and I have a strange affection for perogies and cabbage rolls of a quality I'd send back on Roncesvalles.
              I don't think much of this year's addition, the "pizza on a stick"; wasn't 'za already portable? The real story are some overlooked spots:
              The Philipine Deli, makes us love meat on sticks again (try the pork, it rocks)
              Sangram is your basic very good Indian fare, but they do a kick-ass Masala Dosa, which is like a French Crepe stuffed with veggie curry awesomeness
              Island Foods have the only great beef patty; the spicy ones often sell out by noon
              Oh, the best deal on cotton candy is in the trade centre, not far from the Army Display. When you're full and need to wash all this down, the patio near the trade centre has way cheaper beer than the one outside the BMO stadium.

              1 Reply
              1. Hi going tomorrow...tell me more about the 'fudge place'...hopefully it's NOT 'ye old fudge whatever'....have just gotten back from Wakefield, Quebec where I have found Fudge to die for! Will try your discovery..can you supply name/location? Thanks sweetly!

                3 Replies
                1. re: pearlD

                  Hi pearlD. I have never tried ye old fudge..whatever. I'm guessing from your post that it is lucky that I haven't! I go to the one inside the Arts & Crafts building. I had maple (stand-by favourite) and pumpkin the last time I went. The pumpkin was amazing IMO, tasted like pumpkin pie in fudge form. Hope you enjoy it! Any chance the Quebec place has a branch in Toronto..?

                  1. re: BokChoi

                    I just looked it up and found it..much to my delight...
           I will try to order some soon and I too, love plain maple fudge. I have written on CH before about Fudge and I also suggest contacting 'Murdick's Fudge' on Martha's Vineyard if you are as much a lover of really good fudge as I am. They do deliver to Canada but the price will probably be 'higher' than using a Canadian company.

                    1. re: pearlD

                      Alas, it is a bit far for me for fudge! Thank you for the link. I will try to stop by the next time I am in the area. I should try to get fudge delivered, but I worry about the waistline. Food fairs are few and far between, hence I have been spared the dreaded 'love-handle' effect usually bestowed upon fudge-lovers like ourselves, for now...That's the only way I have learned to survive. Must attempt to avoid home-delivered fudge...