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"East Coast" Style Donairs in Toronto?

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I realize it's hardly fine dining, but I'm a huge fan of the donairs one can find on the east coast, particularly in Halifax. There's something about the meat that is that much tastier than any gyro, shawarma or what passes as a donair here in Toronto. Not to mention, the sweet donair sauce, which is a mixture of sugar, vinegar, garlic, and evaporated milk.

King of Donair had a brief run in Kingston, primarily serving the late-night drunken Queen's students, but sadly is no longer there.

Is anybody aware of where I can get my donair fix in town?

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  1. College Falafel on Ossington and College claims to serve authentic Halifax style donairs. They seem to have a very loyal client base, which is a good sign. BF has tried their donair but he thought th sauce was too sweet and the meat was too tough. I do love their falafel though.
    http://collegefalafel.com/menu.htm

    when it's not too busy, i recommend sipping their Turkish coffee on cold night. I have only had it once - worked like a redbull.

    7 Replies
    1. re: happycamper

      My wife and I were in Halifax during the summer and tried the donairs at a couple of the popular places. I don't know how someone could enjoy having a desert topping on a meat sandwich. We got some donair sauce on the side (after reading about its sweetness on this board) and about 1/6th of a teaspoon was tolerable. We ordered the donair with tzatziki instead and it was excellent, but not all the places offer tzatziki.

      1. re: acd123

        We did the same thing on a trip to Halifax last summer. Getting a donair in Halifax seemed like getting poutine in Montreal. The sweetness turned me off at the time, I was super hungry and ended up gobbling the whole thing up anyway. Since then I've been sort of craving another one! Donairs in Toronto have had what almost tastes like a fruity sauce that's not really very good or even similar to the sauce in Halifax. (BTW they put donair sauce on pizza slices out there too!) I'd be interested in checking out an east coast style donair here too!

        Also isn't a donair sans donair sauce but with tatziki essentially a beef gyro?

      2. re: happycamper

        I've heard there is a really good "authentic" place in Orangeville; but that's definitely outside Toronto.

        I will see if I can remember the name

        1. re: duckdown

          Absolutely let us know the name if you find out. I drive through Orangeville on a reasonably regular basis, so I'd love to knwo where it is.

          1. re: duckdown

            Do you remember the name or location? Also was it for donair pizza or a regular donair? I see that a place called Johnny's sells donair pizzas, but not sure about a donair.

            Headed there tonight so I thought I would ask...

            1. re: duckdown

              Have you tried the Halifax donair at Shawarma and Grill on Fisherman Drive off Highway 10 north of Bovaird? It was really quite delicious but the last time I had a donair in Halifax was 2005 so my memory of "authentic" is foggy.

            2. re: happycamper

              This is the only place that I've found that has anything close to an authentic Halifax donair.

              Let us know if you find something better!

            3. I'm new to Toronto and I had no idea what a "halifax donair" was but I just googled it and it looks like the type of donair you find all over Calgary. I Loooooooove the sweet sauce and finding out it comes from the east gives me another reason to look forward to visiting there someday soon!

              Sorry for the no content, but I've been craving a good donair since I moved out to Toronto.

              1. If you are really desperate for donair go to the donut shop downtown Toronto at Adelaide St W & Sheppard St (across the street from First Canadian Place). It used to be a Greco express and they've kept the greco recipe. It ain't King of Donair but it will do in a pinch.
                One quick edit...don't bother with College Falafel if you are looking for east coast style donairs. They make a decent 'sandwich' but tastes nothing like Halifax donairs.

                4 Replies
                1. re: A flock of seagulls

                  Can't actually vouch for the 'East-Coast Authenticity" of Babos Donerpoint on Eglinton and Caledonia (mentioned often on this site), but it appears to be definately authentic Turkish based on national pride of the owners and the client base. More importantly though, they make one wicked donair/.gyros/schwarma. I get the combo with both chicken and beef, hot sauce, garlic sauce and sweet sauce. Bring a bib and a large appetite. Best I have eaten in TO by far!!

                  1. re: robb

                    It amazes me how little attention Babos Donerpoint, which is definitely not Halifax style, receives on the Ontario boards. Not that they need the business (they do well enough on their own) but easily one of the best, maybe the best donair/shawarma I've found in Toronto so far. Great stuff. And I have Chowhound to thank for this find. Just surprises me that it doesn't receive more chatter.

                    1. re: magic

                      I've been wanting to get to Babos for months after reading about it on this board. Maybe tomorrow. It's hard because when I crave shawarma, I usually head straight for King Falafel.

                      1. re: acd123

                        Yeah, give Babos a try. They have a small parking lot too. Convenient. I love both King Falafel and Babos. But they are very different. Both excellent. I think you'll enjoy.

                        (I like getting to Caledonia via Roselawn/Castlefield btw.... moves better than Eglinton)

                2. Nova Deli in Belleville has east coast donairs. He imports meat from Brothers meats in Halifax. It's the real deal

                  1. We received a flyer from Domino's PIzza last week advertising a donair pizza. We had to try it, of course, and I'd have to say it's the closest thing to a Maritime donair I've had this far west. I actually make my own donairs from a fantastic recipe in an old IWK fundraiser cookbook, because I just can't get the real thing here. I work in First Cdn Place, so will have to cross the street for lunch one of these days, but next to my homemade yummies, the Domino's pizza is pretty darn good, I must say.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Phrizzie

                      It has been some years since I had a East Coast donair/donair pizza, so when I saw the Domino's Flyer I was quite excited. Unfortunately, it did not match my memory of the ones I had in PEI. I found the donair meat too thin and tasteless, and there was not nearly enough donair sauce, which for me makes the whole dish. I guess another trip to the Island is called for.

                      1. re: Phrizzie

                        So I checked out the little place on Adelaide. The interior is a bit rundown and tired, but the staff are friendly enough and the donair was decent. Not a Revana by any means (although they've gone downhill in the past few years), and it was pre-prepared (sauce and all) in a display case just waiting to be re-heated, but it was tasty enough and much better meant than the Domino's pizza. I'll go back occasionally for a quick fix, but for now I'll keep making my own. Re Domino's, I agree about the meat being thin, but we requested double-meat on the pizza so perhaps ours had a bit more flavour; their sauce was the best I've had in Ontario other than homemade.

                      2. King of Donair is still in Kingston. It's just moved West of Division on Princess. It was actually closed during drunken student time last time i was there. Students don't seem to venture West of Division.

                        http://www.geocities.com/famouskingof...

                        1. Both College Falafel and Dominos dont have authentic donair.. I lived in Halifax for 7 years and I always have donair cravings! On my birthday last year I actually drove out to Milton to Halifax Donair - http://www.halifaxdonairandpizza.com/ to get an authentic donair and garlic fingers.. This is the real deal, and tastes just like pizza corner donairs! Totally worth the drive...
                          I so wish they would open up a place in downtown Toronto!
                          I work near First Canadian so I think I'll try out the donut place people have mentioned.

                          -----
                          College Falafel
                          450 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6G3T2, CA

                          Halifax Donair
                          295 Main St E, Milton, ON L9T1P1, CA

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: sparkle232

                            Just wondering sparkle232, but what is college falafel missing that would make it authentic? I'm not saying you are wrong by any means( I have never lived out east) but I'd just like to know what would make it authentic. Thanks

                            1. re: mlukan

                              I would guess the sauce, it's supposedly a sweet sauce.

                              I've never tried one, because I despise raw onions, and aren't crazy about a bunch of raw tomatoes in my sandwich either. Too bad you can't get it topped with lettuce or something

                              1. re: duckdown

                                The sauce at College is definitely sweet. Almost to the point of being a little bit of an acquired taste. That's sort of the reason I assumed it was authentic.

                              2. re: mlukan

                                Sorry I'm responding over a year later :) Anyway - authentic donair is served with just tomatoes, onions and donair sauce. Also, the meat has a specific taste and is made with a specific spice blend. The place at College St definitely has the sauce, but the meat tasted different to me (I don't think it was freshly shaved off either) and they had varied toppings... for me, anything other than onions and tomatoes don't taste right in a donair! I was in Halifax again last year... heavenly :)

                                1. re: mlukan

                                  Not what's it's missing, but what's extra. The sauce and the meat at College Falafel are done right, but they also put tabuleh and hummus on the pita.

                                  Personally, I think its an improvement to the authentic NS Donair... just not authentic.

                                  And if it matters, I'm from Nova Scotia.

                                2. re: sparkle232

                                  I can recommend the place in Milton posted above... I think they recently opened up a Burlington location too (sure it is on their website).

                                3. I track down the supplier for Greco, a Bonte foods. They make a donait kit with the pita, spiced meat and the sweet sauce. You just add your own tomato and onions and your all set. probably the best I found in toronto. but the thing is, the Price Choppers grocery chain seems to be the only place that even knows about these donair kits and i've only found one that actually carries them. The price choppers just north of the dundas west subway station. the freezers in the back left or ask the meat dept. they should know. just remember to run the pita under cold water for a second and fry the meat to get it all greasy. you should be able to capture that "east coast" style pretty well. good luck.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: dion1976

                                    Not in TO by any stretch of the imagination but Sammy's donairs in Burlington is the real deal. My BIL was from Sydney, NS and he always asked us to bring him some donairs from Sammy's whenever we went to the island to visit him - they are that good! Sammy's is in a plazza at New Street and Guelph line - about 10 minutes south of the QEW.

                                    1. re: mrgrog

                                      Alas, Toronto is a Shawarma and Gyro town.

                                      You might consider trying Leaf Donair Hut(I think thats the name) which is on Hurontario in Mississauga. I havent tried the Donair there but had a shawarma and it was really good. The best part of this place is that they make their own pita from scratch, and each is flattened and cooked to when you order.

                                      Im pretty sure they have that sweet donair sauce but I passed on it, but it might be worth a try.

                                    2. re: dion1976

                                      I'm used to the donairs in Calgary and there are claims they are similar to the East Coast style. Sobeys carries the Bonte donair kit. Well I can at least vouche that the one on Broadview and Mortimer does. $6.99 for a kit of 4. Easy to put together. Just add tomatoes and onions after heating the meat and pitas.

                                    3. If you are in the Milton or Burlington area you have to check out Halifax Donair....it is the real deal!!! They originally worked in those Halifax locations and brought it to the GTA for us to try,,,it's our new addicition...almost embarrassed to say they know us by name...although they have the friendly east coast welcome way about them!

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: 905gasguy

                                        Read great reviews about this place on here a few times and have been meaning to go. Had it once down east and it was great. Wrote the address down this time, so that should set me on my road restaurant trip with Hubby.

                                        1. re: 905gasguy

                                          Definitely is the real deal! And I agree - they used to work at pizza corner in Halifax.. They have authentic garlic fingers with donair sauce and donair pizza as well! Now I have a craving and may consider making the trek out to Milton next week!

                                          1. re: sparkle232

                                            I mentioned this on another post,but i noticed a donair joint in Kensington Market yesterday.The name escapes me though..

                                            1. re: petek

                                              I'm so excited to hear this! :) I'll go exploring this weekend.

                                              1. re: sparkle232

                                                I think it's right beside Perolas Market.

                                                -----
                                                Perola
                                                247 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                                        2. Chicken Master in Brampton has decent donairs, nothing like the east coast though, its located at Highway 10 and Fisherman Drive. BTW, does anyone know of any place i can find a Donair in Markham?

                                          -----
                                          Chicken Master
                                          13 Fisherman Dr, Brampton, ON L7A2X9, CA

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: willius19

                                            I live near here, and have driven past this place literally hundreds of times yet never stopped in. What is good there?

                                            The only Donair worth having near the Toronto area is from Halifax Donair in Milton or Burlington

                                            -----
                                            Halifax Donair
                                            295 Main St E, Milton, ON L9T1P1, CA

                                            1. re: duckdown

                                              I've been eating donairs since 1980...my first donair ever was at Sammy's old location in Burlington. Since then, I've had donairs in Halifax, in Edmonton, Thunder Bay, Belleville, and Calgary. I'm not a "bluenoser", but I might as well be when it comes to donair.

                                              Based on this post, and others, I just had to drive from Pickering, to Milton today, to try Halifax Donair.

                                              Not impressed in the slightest. Maybe they have started to skimp on the ingredients since they first opened, and got all the rave reviews, but I ordered a large, ate about 1/4 of it, and threw the rest in the trash.

                                              The donair meat is the right texture, and is shaved off the spit, and then put on a flattop to heat through. But it is TASTELESS!!. Where are the spices? Way too bland!!! I couldn't taste any garlic, onion powder, Italian seasoning, black pepper, paprika, etc. The meat is supposed to be the savoury to the sweet of the sauce. And then there's the sauce...thin, watery, no sweetness, no vinegar, no garlic power.....I was very, very disappointed. Only positive I can think of is the large is more than enough for one person, and the pita was the traditional thin type. Onions and tomatoes were so-so in terms of freshness. I've made better donairs at home in my own oven.

                                              Also...for anyone looking to sit down and eat....this place is almost strictly takeout...there are two stools to sit and eat at, but they are really there for people picking up. And...be advised...no air conditioning...when I went today (July 3rd, 2012), it must have been over 45 C in there.

                                              I just recently tried The Fuzz Box...far superior product IMO. I do have to say that I would prefer the meat be spit roasted, and then heated through on a flat top, as I found the meat to be a bit too "crunchy", but was told after eating I could ask for less "crunch". Excellent sauce...and I enjoyed the thicker pita.

                                              1. re: buckybruce

                                                Sounds like if Halifax Donair and Fuzzbox collaborated, between the two of them they might be able to get it right. HD the spit and texture, Fuzzbox the spice and sauce.

                                                1. re: buckybruce

                                                  Where on earth did you get a good donair in Thunder Bay? I'm dying to know.

                                                  I was just there and had a shawarma at what I thought was the only place in town

                                                  Also I strongly disagree with you on Halifax Donair, I think it's pretty damn good. And the sauce is definitely not thin and watery. I have no idea what you had but I go there a good few times a year and it's always good except for the odd time the meat has been pre-shaved and a bit dry

                                                  I'm headed to Nova Scotia (Coxheath, in the Cape) for the first time to stay at the in laws place next month and I'm told a place called Island Greek is fantastic for donairs, and will hopefully try them from several other places as well (King of Donair maybe?). Can't wait to try the real deal...

                                                  1. re: duckdown

                                                    If yo'ure going to try King of Donair in Halifax, you should also check out the donairs at Tony's (Robie & Cunard) - this is my go to place when I'm in NS.

                                                    1. re: sman

                                                      Awesome, making a note of it now. Thanks!

                                                      Any other favorites you can think of, let me know. Only in Halifax for one night though, spending the majority of the vacation in the Cape (10 days or so)

                                                      1. re: duckdown

                                                        Just a quick request -- if you do have further suggestions, can you add them on the Atlantic Canada board? That way the tips will help everyone looking for that info. Thanks!

                                            2. The Fuzz Box just opened on the Danforth. Danforth Ave and Greenwood. Great great donairs that just melt in your mouth and great service too! Look for the sign that says "Nova Scotian Donairs" rather than The Fuzz Box. Enjoy! http://www.thefuzzbox.ca/

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Misskisscake

                                                I agree with jmeggs comment. Fuzzbox definitely has the flavour right, but the texture isn't quite how it should be. Also, I would prefer the option of a regular pita and not a greek pita. I haven't been to Halifax Donair in years - it used to be great!

                                              2. Has anyone tried the Donair at Hopgoods food liner?

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                  I haven't personally but my BF -- who is from New Brunswick -- thought it was good, if a little small (especially for that price). I mean, he says it's never quite the same as home, but it's still pretty tasty.

                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                    You get 2 smaller donairs on a paper bag (not a plate!) for $14 at Hopgood's Foodliner. They are excellent, though not too sweet. The new bartender is from NB and mixes a mean Paper Plane. Was nice to know that Chef Hopgood is from Nova Scotia and that a lot of the food is east coast style seafood or fish.

                                                  2. There is an east coast donair place in downtown Oshawa as well. They do a mighty fine job of them as well. I can't remember the name although thye are on Bond St just east of simcoe on the south side of the road. Really very good indeed

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: BusterRhino

                                                      Thanks for the tip! Down East Donairs is at 23 Bond St in Oshawa. 905-728-3030

                                                      Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RealDonairs

                                                      A link to a CH post about the place: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831495

                                                      YouTube: http://youtu.be/zW8VP_GElN4

                                                      1. re: Dr Butcher

                                                        that's them, and they are good, very good.

                                                      2. re: BusterRhino

                                                        Just passed by today (on the way back from an excellent lunch at Buster Rhino's in fact!), and did a double take. Immediately searched this board to see if it had a mention and there it was. Oshawa is a bit of a pilgrimage for me, but it sure is tempting.

                                                        Also mentioned in its own thread by torontotonto here:
                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831495

                                                        Down East Donairs
                                                        23 Bond E, Oshawa, ON L1G 1A8
                                                        905-728-3030

                                                        1. re: non sequitur

                                                          tried out down east donairs recently.

                                                          found the sauce to be sweet, but thin. i can see why some like it, but it wasn't my cup of tea. the fact that the meat came off the rotisserie cold and had to be reheated in a pan on an induction cooker didn't improve the final product, either.

                                                          worth a try, but not going to repeat. . .

                                                      3. I'm aware of the difficulties in finding the type of the donair it talking about. I've traveled most of Canada and have only come address them in Alberta and Nova Scotia. The primary difference is the sweet garlic cause as opposed to tziki Sauer u find in a gyro. Other main diff will be the cheese real motza instead of feta baked briefly in a pizza oven

                                                        1. Hey Meatball at College & Crawford does an East Coast Connection Sandwich, which is their variation on the donair. The meat isn't quite as trashy as Halifax donair meat and it's served on a ciabatta bun rather than a pita, but it's still the best donair substitute this Haligonian has encountered in Toronto.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: Ms. Peel

                                                            Have you tried Fuzz Box or Hopgood's?

                                                            1. re: szw

                                                              Not yet.

                                                            2. re: Ms. Peel

                                                              "Trashy", that's pretty insulting

                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                Might be a compliment. Donairs feature on Trailer Park Boys and their message boards on their website. For a smarter url check out: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~gpetitpa...
                                                                I would classify humble ground beef donair as down there with hamburger helper. King of Donair and the remaining 2 at Pizza Corner are often lauded as the places to go for the original authentic version.

                                                                1. re: duckdown

                                                                  Donairs are good trashy. It's street food best enjoyed at 2 a.m. when you're drunk.

                                                                  1. re: Ms. Peel

                                                                    I kind of agree. I've had them a few times (including in Halifax), and although they're good, they're not *that* good... but, I was sober every time I've had them, sooo...

                                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                                      Donairs are the consolation prize if you don't pick up at the bar that night.

                                                              2. There is a place in downtown Oshawa called Down East Donairs and they are authentic and very very good. They also stock other Maritime favourites like Ganong chocolates.