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Hidden gems on St. Clair W?

I live in the Oakwood/St. Clair area and would love any tips on cheapish eats on the st. clair strip. I know most of the well-known spots (i.e. Alberts, Marcellos) but I'm always on the prowl for that little hole in the wall. Any pointers would be much obliged.

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  1. There is a restaurant called Orizzonte Restaurant at 760 St. Clair Ave. West. that makes great pizza. It is owned by Luigi Sabatini and he wil occasionally sing to the customers. It is located on St. Clair and Arlington.


    1. I like G Danz, or is it D Ganz? Owner used to cook at the Tulip and you can get a full steak dinner with salad, dessert and coffee for under $15. Pretty good, too. West of Oakwood on the south side near those Latin restaurants.

      1. Here's a few.

        You may already know boom breakfast. It's very close to you, although its website does not seem to be up http://www.boombreakfast.com/. It's not as cheap as some, yet it's very busy on the weekends.

        You could check out the new Tortilleria place just west of you. http://www.latortilleria.ca/ Rebozos on Rogers is a short bike ride away for a second place for inexpensive Tacos, Pozole etc.

        Just up Oakwood from you is Costa Verde for takeout Portuguese chicken grilled or rotisserie. Compare it to the goods from Churrasco of St Clair at Christie. Don't bother with the Portogrill's (near Lansdowne). Their chicken is not as good as either place, nor are its parisienne potatoes.

        Like Edith S., I enjoy D-Ganz, although more for Saturday at breakfast steak and eggs. That said, they do good inexpensive steak on weekday evenings. It’s actually east of Oakwood on St Clair.

        The patio at Caffe Novecento, west of Dufferin, is nice for coffee and dessert in the warmer months-it’s still nice on the inside. I had their gelato recently. Not bad. Tricolore has hot table in the back and their coffee is good. I’m sure you know La Paloma near Lansdowne has pretty good gelato. If it’s after 11pm don’t look down your nose at the Big Slice. It’s a hell of a lot better than its cousin on Yonge St.

        17 Replies
        1. re: mikeb

          Funny. I just tried La Tortilleria last week and I have to say, the tacos are dynamite. There never seems to be anyone eating inside, so I hope business picks up. Thanks for all the suggestions!

          1. re: snackysmore

            I actually didn't like La Tortilleria at all. The mole taco was decent, the chorizo & potato one was missing the chorizo and the pork was so dry, it was inedible. The tortillas were undercooked. Those bright yellow walls are blinding, they really should tone it down somehow.

            I much prefer Rebozos on Rogers. Their tacos and tortas are well executed. Their salsas are great, especially the hot one.

            We tried the tacos at Tita La Guanita also, their al pastor is much better than La Tortilleria but not as good as Rebozos. Their pupusas on the other hand were very tasty. Their tamale, not so much. The chicken filling was good but miniscule in that gigantic lukewarm tamale.

            The veggie combo platter from La Habesha is very good. The lentils are nice and smokey. The tibs on the otherhand were tough so I would probably stick with the veggie plate when I return.

            I found the cupcakes at the Cupcakery on the dry side but others on this board seem to enjoy them as is.

            Marcello's is great. Frank’s Pizza House not so much. Royal Caribbean has good ackee. Tre Mari makes great baguettes and almond cookies. Their hot counter is weak. The hot counter at Centro’s across the street is a little better. I still like the Big Ragu, their sardines rock. La Paloma works for me (they have soy options). Love the soups at Khmer Thai. Didn’t enjoy Vanipha at all. D Ganz is a nice option in the hood. Mezzatta is good. Pho Rang Dong was disappointing. Pho St Clair is better. Novecento has nice sandwiches also. Anatolian Pizza was average. Much prefer Babos donerpoint on Eglinton. Eden was mediocre. La Brushetta was okay.

            There’s a big sign outside the Hungarian building about a “cabbage roll and bake sale” this weekend. That might be worth checking out. There’s a new Italian restaurant opening up called Zo. Curious to see how that will do when it opens. Sad to see Nova Era on Oakwood closed up to be replaced by Joe’s (I think that’s the name). Their breads and pastries didn’t deliver for us so we’re trekking it out to the Nova Era at Caledonia instead. I have yet to find La Fiesta open, shame since I really like their pork plate from the farmers market at Nathan Philips. Anyone know anything about the Coco Pan place behind Albert’s and in front of Dutch Dreams? Might need to pop in and see what it’s all about.

            1. re: fickle

              Although I've only bought from them twice, I'm with you on the Cupcakery. They didn't have a great selection on hand and they were a bit dry. I did feel sorry for them in the summer weekends when the lines from Boom kept blocking their entrance.

              I buy the Vienna sticks and amaretti from Tre Mari too. Their cannolis aren't bad if you get them walking in with a fresh tray and eat them right away. http://www.tremaribakery.ca/

              The former California Sandwiches then Miami Sandwiches at Via Italia has undergone a change of ownership. I forget the name, but the veal sandwiches are not as good as they used to be. The sauce seems different, runnier, and the veal wasn't cooked correctly. It's new so maybe they'll get better.

              1. re: fickle

                My tacos at la tortilleria were moist and tasty, but maybe I got lucky that day. I'm eager to try Rebozos and I've recently started venturing up to Eglington though I have yet to check out the caribbean places I've heard so much about. That'll be this weekend.

                1. re: snackysmore

                  Today, I noticed a sign in the window of Big Thai, west of Dufferin. It's being converted into a Young Thailand. Not sure whether it's a second location to the one on Dundas W or whether they're moving again. Let's hope Wandee Young will be in the kitchen. It would be great to have decent Thai food in this neighbourhood.

                  1. re: mikeb

                    They opened tonight. I just walked by it on my way home and they're up for business. Woo hoo. New place to check out.

                    1. re: fickle

                      The space has been turned into Sunnyville Grill. They offer all day breakfast. I've only been the once--the eggs were cooked to order and the staff were eager. The decor is basic, but it's much better value than Boom.

                      1. re: mikeb

                        There's also a new sushi restaurant at Via Italia & St Clair. I think it was where the old sushi restaurant was. Called Benkei Sushi. It looks like a New Generation/Sushi Time kind of a place (more about the mayo rolls and deep fried selections than the raw fish). Has anyone tried it yet?

                2. re: fickle

                  Thanks for the Rebozos tip. I needed a destination to take my son for his stroller nap, so I swung by for some tacos. Oh...my...god. Absolutely incredible. I retract any praise for La Tortilleria, as this place offers hands-down the greatest Mexican fare I have ever had in this city. What an amazingly friendly family as well. I had the marinated pork, chorizo and pulled pork tacos (are we seeing a theme here?) and they were so incredibly flavourful, spicy, succulent: the works. I will definitely go back on a regular basis. Thanks!

                  1. re: snackysmore

                    Their tortas and tongue tacos are great too at Rebozos. If you're heading up to Eglinton, check out Mr Jerk (north side at Oakwood) for their jerk pork. Fantastic. Randy's on the south side for their patties is very good.

                    mikeb: thanks for the tip about Big Thai. It would be nice to have some thai of any kind in the hood. The renovations at Thai Shai Inn looks like they're coming along nicely also. Now if we can get a sushi place closer to Dufferin, that would be awesome. Still need to check out Nama one day.

                    1. re: fickle

                      Checked out Thai Shan Inn finally in their new space. We never made it to their old location so now that they're settled in on Dufferin we thought we would give it a go. The space has been nicely renovated, the service was very efficient. The chinese staff were very friendly. Unfortunately the food did nothing for us. We found the tom ka gai soup too sweet and the lime overpowering. The deep fried spring rolls were greasy. The accompanying sauce watery. The cold chicken & shrimp roll was bland. The chicken was missing and the unripe lettuce too large in relation to the other ingredients in the roll. The pud thai was soupy and oily. The penang beef had competing flavours. The peanuts needed to be chopped finer as some pieces were as big as the beef shards. Looks like we'll still need to head across town to Suhkothai when the craving for thai hits.

                      1. re: fickle

                        They have a website now, although it lacks pictures. http://thaishaninn.com

                        I just looked at their menu. They still put green and red peppers in half the dishes. Do they still use the plastic tablecloths as bags for cleanup?

                        1. re: mikeb

                          Yes, same stack of plastic tablecloths used in dim sum restaurants for fast turnover.

                  2. re: fickle

                    I was thinking of going to La Habesha but the mailbox is full. Any idea if this place is still going?

                    1. re: Ediblethoughts

                      Yes Habesha is still there. Let me know what you think if you end up trying it. I haven't been back there in a while so I'm not sure if the veggie platter is still up to par.

                      1. re: fickle

                        We tried it on the weekend and the veggie platter was very good. For some odd reason, I thought this place was middle eastern! So I was surprised to see Ethiopian/Italian options on the menu! Anyway, my companion had the spaghetti with meat sauce and very much enjoyed it. The veggie platter was very good and the injera was nice--not too, too sour.

                  3. re: snackysmore

                    Another Mexican place to avoid.

                    I went to La Tortillaria 1040 St Clair West for lunch. It was un-speakable. Four dreadful tacos for just under $10 the contents of which were worse than the foulest in Oaxaca market. http://www.latortilleria.ca/ ( I notice they have a branch in Kensington Market, maybe it is better


                    Quote from:http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1051...

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                    AzulH Dec 12, 2008 11:46AM

                3. Excellent Thai place - Vanipha Lanna. Very vibrant flavours. And they have a few items with duck in them which is always welcome. I've had probably 10 meals there and it's definitely one of my favourites on St. Clair West, if not my favourite when I want to have a mid-priced meal. Definitely trumps Taste of Thai and Khmer Thai.

                  And yeah... what's with Coco Pan?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: nick_s

                    Have you been to "VANNI'S" yet...it's on St. Clair (North side) at Christie...I got home from the winter down south on March 1st and have since been 4 times...I love it! .The Chef used to be at Ferro I've been told, wasn't a regular there so I don't know....what I do know is that VANNI'S is terrific...I am addicted to the Mushroom Risotto and have had it on every visit..The Menu is really varied..with something for everyone from Fish, Meat, Pasta & Pizza....took my sister in law on Saturday for Lunch and she had a wonderful Ham & Cheese Omlette, I had Mussels in a Tomato Fennel sauce...was a bit worried because I am not a huge fan of Fennel but the sauce was very mellow and wasn't redolent of Licorice...lots of mussels and copious amounts of sauce with nice warm rolls to dip...We didn't have dessert but she had a glass of wine and I had my usual Diet Coke ...with the tip it was $46.00 which I think is pretty reasonable and particularly so given the size of the portions.....This place is a KEEPER! I hope they survive the damn mess of construction on St.Clair West...park on Christie and approach from Davenport is what I would strongly recommend...

                    1. re: nick_s

                      I couldn't bring myself to go into Coco Pan, I read their menu from the outside and it just didn't sound appealing enough.

                      I didn't like Vanipha so I haven't been back there. I do like the soups from Khmer Thai (they're more Cambodian then Thai) on a cold chilly night.

                      I'm so sad that D-Ganz is now closed. It's now an indian place instead. Mikeb: do you know what happened to D-Ganz?

                      I'm excited about Stockyards BBQ coming in. Any more update on when they're opening?

                      Mr Jerk on Eglinton is also gone, their space is for lease. I need another option for jerk pork on the west side. Any ideas?

                      1. re: fickle

                        Actually, Coco Pan is surprisingly good. Very fresh japanese stir-fries, creditable soups, fresh dumplings, and very reasonable.

                        Think of a Made in Japan or Teriyaki Experience if the food were actually good. It took me years to set foot in there (it doesn't invite you in off the street), but since visiting, I've been back 3 or 4 times and it's been very good each time.

                        Also, it's really, really cheap. Almost the definition of a hidden gem.

                        1. re: fickle

                          The Stockyards opened on Saturday. I stopped in today and quite enjoyed myself. Posted my thoughts and photos on the Stockyards thread.


                        1. Pain Perdu is delicious for croissants and brunch-y goodness. I just reviewed it here:


                          1. World Class Bakers. A few doors east of Pain Perdu. Best croissant I've had in Toronto, no contest. Rahier, Pain Perdu, Celestin don't come close for me. For some reason it's just not well known. Too bad, they are outstanding. Hot table too, with really good tasty food.... as far as hot table standards go. Delish, cheesy arancini.

                            Not all their baked goods are stellar, you have to sample the good and see what you like, but the croissants, especially the regular croissants, are the bomb diggity. Great bright place to sit and read and fiddle on a laptop too.

                            Also: Eastern Twist for cheap but good Indian style buttery paratha wraps and El Fogon for Peruvian. Very nice.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: magic

                              I too enjoy vannis. if you want honest to goodness home made pizza, try out dave's gourmet pizza, st clair just west of christie (north side) they dry the sausage on site. the service is friendly if a bit slow but that is because everything is made fresh. friendly good and a decent price.

                              1. re: magic

                                curious about this croissant, any more details on texture and flavour? i like one that tastes a bit sweet and salty to really amp up the awesomeness of good butter. a nice crisp exterior is one of the best parts as well... i am known to pick up all crumbs with my fingers!

                                so far my faves on st clair west are mezzetta for very reasonably priced middle eastern/mediterranean style tapas. not the best highest quality but quite good for the variety and price. i would stay away from the seafood mostly there and be aware of their daily specials all week long. could mean cheap beer or cheap food!

                                la paisa... the only thing i've gotten here are their columbian empanadas and if these aren't the tops well then... columbian empanadas are such amazing no fail items. the really crisp and seemingly greaseless corn flour shell holds a nice mash of mildly spiced potato and beef. the two textures are wonderful and then the addition of the vinegary salsa is just too good to be true. the vinegar cuts into the richness to balance it well and has fantastic flavour. they freeze really well too, jsut toss 'em in the oven or toaster to get back their crunch.

                                there is a string of great viet places there too. each one specializes in a different type of dish though and i don't recall their names well enough to endorse them individually but you'll notice that everyone dining there will be eating the specialty. awesome fresh bahn cuon along this strip.

                                i'm almost sad i'm not in this vicinity more often!

                                btw, la paloma is disgusting! and while anatolia wasn't bad for lahmajun and the like... i prefer what i used to get at nasr.

                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                  The croissants at World Class Bakers are great. They certainly do have a crisp exterior. On biting into one, crispy shards of buttery goodness break off and make a bit of a fun mess. The interior is perfectly soft with a slight and pleasant chew. Often I find croissants have a muted buttery taste.....it's there but it can be hard to detect sometimes. Not the case with these croissants, you definitely taste the butter. Awesome. Not sure how salty it is, but given your post I think you'd like these croissants. I've talked them up before on other threads but they remain largely unknown. I think they're better than the well known patisseries. But hey, that's just me. Try them for yourself sometime. Hope you enjoy! : )

                                  I also like Chico’s for pizza and rotisserie chicken but according to another thread the St. Clair location recently closed. If it’s true, I’m not surprised. It was a real dump that was run like a madhouse. But I did like their pizza and chicken.

                                2. More support for trying Vannis:
                                  Arecommendation of Taste Of Thai House, Vaughan Rd./St. Clair
                                  and casting the net a little wider:

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: AzulH

                                    I'm glad to see support for Vannis -- I had my doubts when it first opened -- the big TV made me think it was just another bad sports bar. We really want to try it out.

                                  2. Surprised no one has mentioned Churrasco of St. Clair for take out.


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: currycue

                                      I agree - Churrasco of St. Clair is fantastic. Also, they do chicken two ways - spit-roasted (delicious, "moist" - which means a little greasy), and grilled (also delicious). Try them both. I prefer grilled by a narrow margin.

                                    2. I really like Eastern Twist on St. Clair and have had wraps there a couple of times. The problem is the service which varies from very slow to appalling. Went in there once with my husband on a Saturday and the kid working just ignored us and walked into the back -- didn't come out for minutes and we finally just turned around and left (he looked like he'd been partying hard the night before and hadn't quite recovered). Have had much better luck there in the week (although I'm usually trying to get my lunch and get back to work fast so don't go there as often as I normally would 'cause it's slow). So good though.

                                      1. The Big Ragu at St. Clair and Lansdowne is a really good Italian restaurant... but you probably already know that.

                                        1. My absoulute favorite is Pain Perdu. As soon as you walk in you feel like you're in France...or at least Montreal! I love the quiche for brunch and all the pastries look great. The pain au chocolat are the best in the city.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Kane_TO

                                            Their pissaladiere is fabulous, too, and I love their croissants.

                                          2. Hello there,

                                            One of my favourite spots is Centro Trattoria & Formaggio, located at 1224 St. Clair Avenue West. They have a gorgeous selection of cheese, Italian salamis, and imported Italian goods. At the very back, there's a wonderful cafeteria style diner, where nice little Italian ladies make home made food at oh so reasonable prices: lasagna, sausage and rapini, spaghetti and meatballs, etc. Fantastic!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Giulia_F

                                              Can you recommend anything specific from there? I have been in a few times and for some reason I can't seem to connect with the place (can't ever seem to find what I'm looking for). Which cheeses are your favourites and what are the best dishes in the resto? I would like to try it again.

                                              1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                                                Hi again,
                                                My favourite cheeses are gorgonzola, fontina, ricotta, etc., anything, really. If you have a favourite cheese, ask them for it, and I'm sure they'll have it. The quality is very good and the prices are better than the St. Lawrence Market. As for the resto, pick anything that looks good to you...don't be afraid...you won't know unless you try it.....have fun!!