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ethnically diverse street food comes to Toronto

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Pantz Mar 17, 2009 12:32 PM

Toronto a la Cart street food program has announced the successful applicants -

http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/it/newsrel...

Here's the list -

The new vendors will be at the following locations:

Location - Ethnic Origin of Food - Sample Menu Item
Mel Lastman Square - Thai - Pad Thai with fresh rolls
Metro Hall - Afghani/Central Asian - Chapli kebabs
Nathan Phillips Square - Central Asian/Persian - Biryani
Nathan Philips Square - Greek - Souvlaki
Queen’s Park - Middle Eastern - Chicken/beef kebab wraps
Roundhouse Park - Eritrean - Injera
Yonge and Eglinton - Korean - Bulgogi with seasonal kimchi
Yonge and St. Clair - Caribfusion - Jerk chicken

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  1. r
    radiopolitic RE: Pantz Mar 17, 2009 12:52 PM

    When can these be expected to be fully functioning?

    1 Reply
    1. re: radiopolitic
      TorontoJo RE: radiopolitic Mar 17, 2009 01:31 PM

      On CBC radio, they said Victoria Day weekend.

    2. spades RE: Pantz Mar 17, 2009 01:16 PM

      well... it's a start

      1. Ediblethoughts RE: Pantz Mar 17, 2009 01:40 PM

        Good to know--though I really want to see empanadas and enchiladas. I wonder if the Biryani will include a veg version. Most of the above sound pretty meaty (with the exception of the kimchi which isn't one of my faves).

        1. mogo RE: Pantz Mar 17, 2009 01:48 PM

          Woo! This list is not as lame as I thought it would be.
          Bring on the takoyaki, martabak, es cendol, and crepes!

          1. pinstripeprincess RE: Pantz Mar 17, 2009 01:57 PM

            i have a bit of concern for how widely spread out they are and i know the world doesn't revolve around downtown but i think that this might backfire just based on location and interest will be minimized.

            new york doesn't seem to have as many carts en masse as philadelphia, but i think there is a method to the madness they have over there with so many carts all within spitting distance of each other.

            1. e
              embee RE: Pantz Mar 17, 2009 01:57 PM

              Well, it's a start and only a few years late.

              It'll be a nice change from sausages for tourists and government employees, but none of these locations are geographically accessible to most of us most of the time. I'm hardly going to travel to taste kebabs at Queen's Park or injera (hopefully with something on it) at Roundhouse Park. YMMV, of course.

              Hopefully, the bureaucrats won't screw it up and we'll see more in the future, but their track record to date ain't a good one.

              2 Replies
              1. re: embee
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                pearlD RE: embee Mar 17, 2009 02:23 PM

                I couldn't agree more but I feel the same as 'embee'... I'm hardly going to go up to Mel Lastman Square (or the others) when I live and spend most of my time downtown (living in the Annex(ish?) ! It would be fun if they took a 'public poll' in the first month or so to determine the most popular choices with the public at large... I think that would be an interesting read but hopefully they get get the vendors up and running before 'deciding' who stays and who goes..it is probably pretty close to impossible to figure out what the 'public' will support and where the Vendors should be for an 'interesting/varied mix of 'foods' and also where they would be supported/patronised...just a thought...happy to see movement on this issue at last....

                1. re: embee
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                  Pantz RE: embee Mar 17, 2009 02:29 PM

                  I notice the list has a "sample menu item", so hopefully, these carts will be serving more than the items listed.

                  As I work up there, I'll be trying the cart at Mel Lastman Square. I almost feel a sense of obligation to become a regular just to make sure this pilot project works and we then get some more interesting options. Tacos or Bento would be nice.

                2. Kagemusha RE: Pantz Mar 17, 2009 03:23 PM

                  ZZZzzz. This isn't exactly adventuresome grub. TO's still waiting for a taco truck or yakitori stand. Anything to speed up evolution from meat on a bun to meat on a stick to whatever would be welcome.

                  1. aser RE: Pantz Mar 17, 2009 09:07 PM

                    The main problem is, Toronto just doesn't have the foot traffic that a city like NYC or insert your Asian city has.

                    They should've concentrated it to downtown at first because of this. Part of the fun of street food is the multitude of options available at a mere stones throw away. Smelling different aromas on each block....

                    Still, anything is better than our current hot dog/sausage only situation.

                    1. mlukan RE: Pantz Mar 17, 2009 11:05 PM

                      This could be the start of something good. Let's not be too Canadian and already start complaining. We all know that Toronto is a city of regulation and things move slow here. But let's hope this opens the floodgates to lots of good street food. We have the potential for something great as our city has so many great cuisines. I won't make a special trip, but if I'm walking by its a must.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mlukan
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                        piccola RE: mlukan Mar 18, 2009 04:46 AM

                        I agree, but at the same time, it seems like the city's regulations are meant to make this fail -- no home cooking? judged on taste and nutrition? I'm all for healthy food, but why apply tougher restrictions on carts than on restaurants?

                        I think the city should enforce food safety regulations and let good old supply and demand take care of the rest,

                        1. re: mlukan
                          Davwud RE: mlukan Mar 18, 2009 06:02 AM

                          Thanks mlukan.

                          I was all set to roll my eyes and cast aspersions upon these carts and wait for it to fail.
                          I will however take your more positive bent and hope that this is the start of something great.
                          I'll keep my eyes crossed.

                          DT

                        2. squingy RE: Pantz Mar 18, 2009 05:25 AM

                          Here's another link with various other links under resources including exact cart locations and cart information.

                          http://www.toronto.ca/alacart/index.htm

                          1. OnDaGo RE: Pantz Mar 18, 2009 05:42 AM

                            I was hoping for a dimsum cart on Spadina..., fish & chips on Queens Quay,.. pretzles on Bay Street...

                            1. atomeyes RE: Pantz Mar 18, 2009 05:48 AM

                              i think people are forgetting that the food carts will cater to those who work in those areas and who need a quick lunch or after-work meal. I don't think the intentions were to ever make a street food cart a drive-to meal destination.

                              so no matter what, its a win....except for the street vendors who had to pay $40 000 for the cart and licensing fees. so i sincerely hope they make money hand over fist in their first 1-2 years of operating so they can recoup those ridiculous costs

                              19 Replies
                              1. re: atomeyes
                                Davwud RE: atomeyes Mar 18, 2009 06:03 AM

                                Good point on the cost. I drive a service vehicle and have pretty good flexibility. I will do my best to sample each cart this spring/summer and I encourage everyone who can to do the same. If they succeed, maybe this little pilot project will grow into something great.

                                DT

                                1. re: Davwud
                                  jayt90 RE: Davwud Mar 18, 2009 06:41 AM

                                  Looking at the locations, they are all difficult to park for a couple of minutes, or longer if there is a line up. Let us know if there are any sweet spots for vehicles.

                                2. re: atomeyes
                                  pinstripeprincess RE: atomeyes Mar 18, 2009 07:20 AM

                                  i haven't forgotten that the majority of people visiting these carts will inevitably be workers during the day and the lunch rush, i still see problems with this pilot project. i don't want to be negative about this but looking at how this is arranged makes me wonder if it is doomed to fail. it is a pilot, so what is this pilot based on exactly? momentum a la demand for these carts vs other carts or that they survive and will want to continue for more than the 1-2 year project? what is their longevity based on?

                                  my concern is that with the cities i mentioned before, philadelphia and nyc, their street carts are clustered within particular areas/streets/etc. while they provide competition for each other they also provide a good amount of competition for the restaurants around them because of variety and price. the locations of these carts will inevitably have someone in various parts of the city considering hotdog vs thai vs any neighbourhood restaurant, or hotdog vs injera vs any neighbourhood restaurant, etc. you get my point. so if those are your options... how many times will someone choose injera or thai over one neighbourhood restaurant or another to make sure that everyone in their lunch group will have a reasonable menu to choose from. now if we had hotdog, injera, thai, kebabs etc all within spitting distance of each other a whole large group could disperse for all of 5 minutes and come back with dishes they all wanted in the first place for hopefully lower prices. a group or even a single would be more tempted to drop by these carts if they knew they had such options... but limiting the options just makes it another easy thing to cross off the list.

                                  i'll support this as much as i can but i think kebabs are the only thing remotely accessible to me and i don't intend to eat kebabs every weekend. i just earnestly wished they chose to have a corridor of carts, it would have been magnificent.

                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess
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                                    Dean Tudor RE: pinstripeprincess Mar 18, 2009 07:37 AM

                                    Maybe like TTC musicians the street vendors will be rotated around town every few months.

                                    1. re: Dean Tudor
                                      pinstripeprincess RE: Dean Tudor Mar 18, 2009 07:46 AM

                                      you know what would have been more amazing... if they did rotate them in clusters around the city. let's say for 4 months they were in the financial district, 4 months near dundas square, 4 months up somewhere midtown, 4 months in one of the more accessible parks, etc... demand for these carts would be more accurate.

                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                        Davwud RE: pinstripeprincess Mar 18, 2009 07:53 AM

                                        Really, this issue here is the over governing of these things. Let the vendors go where they figure they can make a good go of it. If there's two withing spitting distance, so be it.

                                        Also, why only 5?? Why not 50?? While I want to be encouraged, it just smacks of something doomed to failure. As if they don't want it and then could point to it and say "SEE!!!! We gave them to you and you didn't support them."

                                        DT

                                        1. re: Davwud
                                          OnDaGo RE: Davwud Mar 18, 2009 07:58 AM

                                          Because if they put 50 new carts on teh streets the hot dog vendors and restaurants in the areas the carts are will be screaming that the city is taking away business from them in a recession.. they had to pick under represented areas.. ie Nathon Phillips & queens park where tehy will not be taking away business from others.. Politics at its best...

                                          1. re: OnDaGo
                                            Davwud RE: OnDaGo Mar 18, 2009 08:05 AM

                                            Yes, it's TO and they "We don't want to offend anyone" syndrom. Never mind that it could bring a whole new dimension to the food scene and more tax and licensing income.

                                            50 wasn't really a realistic number. Just something I threw out to illustrate my point that these carts seem to be too few.

                                            DT

                                      2. re: Dean Tudor
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                                        embee RE: Dean Tudor Mar 18, 2009 08:51 AM

                                        No, they are licensed for specific locations.

                                      3. re: pinstripeprincess
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                                        Pincus RE: pinstripeprincess Mar 18, 2009 08:01 AM

                                        If you have to fork over $40000 to get in the door with a cart, I can see why there isn't a critical mass of vendors building.

                                        Does anyone know the comparable fees in these American cities everyone keeps referencing?

                                        1. re: Pincus
                                          pinstripeprincess RE: Pincus Mar 18, 2009 08:05 AM

                                          i'm not asking for 50 vendors, i'm asking for the 5 that will exist to cluster in a reasonable spot. i stand by the concept that variety within close proximity will breed better business... i see it every day at lunch when i'm in philadelphia.

                                        2. re: pinstripeprincess
                                          GoodGravy RE: pinstripeprincess Mar 18, 2009 08:04 AM

                                          These carts will be great for office workers who just want to grab something substantial, and bring it back to their desk to eat. And since there's public spaces around those areas, people who want to eat al fresco will have a few more choices. The locations were probably chosen w/ that in mind to give the vendors a sizable pool of potential customers to support them. The more options for lunch, the better.

                                          1. re: GoodGravy
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                                            rapsrealm RE: GoodGravy Mar 18, 2009 08:49 AM

                                            I agree that this looks like the project is doomed to fail. The locations aren't even in high cluster areas they should have picked spots around Dundas Square, Union Station, Rogers Centre/CN Tower area

                                            1. re: rapsrealm
                                              Teep RE: rapsrealm Mar 18, 2009 09:56 AM

                                              Roundhouse Park is south of the CN Tower/Convention Centre. Would be interesting to see if the people going to baseball games and car shows would go for the Injera! I live in that area so I'll definite try it out.

                                              But I think they should rotate the vendors so there'd be more variety at the selected locations.

                                              1. re: Teep
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                                                CoffeeAddict416 RE: Teep Mar 18, 2009 10:03 AM

                                                I hope the roundhouse park location survives
                                                I see a small hut-like structure beside the covered trains there. I'm wondering if that's for the vendor or if that's part of the railway museum?

                                                I worry aboutt the roundhouse as even in the best of times it's a pretty sparsely populated area even when there is a large event happening.

                                                I'll be there for Injera for sure though!

                                                1. re: CoffeeAddict416
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                                                  embee RE: CoffeeAddict416 Mar 18, 2009 11:05 AM

                                                  Most of it is going to be a Leon's Furniture Warehouse store :-(

                                                  1. re: embee
                                                    Otonabee RE: embee Mar 18, 2009 02:58 PM

                                                    I think the Brick location was nixed wasn't it? I recall hearing something like Steamwhistle was going to take to whole spot. Judging from the looks of it the park there should really be something!

                                                    1. re: Otonabee
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                                                      embee RE: Otonabee Mar 18, 2009 03:08 PM

                                                      I wasn't aware that the furniture store was off the table. My understanding was that there was a solid lease agreement already in place. I certainly hope you are right about this.

                                                      1. re: embee
                                                        Otonabee RE: embee Mar 18, 2009 07:03 PM

                                                        Darn, maybe I spoke too soon.... Must have just been wishful thinking.

                                      4. e
                                        embee RE: Pantz Mar 18, 2009 08:53 AM

                                        Let's market the hell out of Toronto's new, unique concept: Institutional food from street vendors!!!

                                        1. p
                                          Pantz RE: Pantz Mar 18, 2009 10:37 AM

                                          Reading the bylaw, I now have a lot of respect for the brave heroes who have ponied up the dough to take part in this project.

                                          I guess with all the hoops, this is still easier than opening a restaurant?

                                          The bylaw on a whole seems to be a standard exercise in compromise. Some of it is political, some of it is well meaning attempts to keep everyone happy. While I agree with a lot of the opinions posted so far, I do recognize that an extensive amount of planning and management needs to take place in order to ensure standards are maintained. As I was told by my significant other this morning: "Don't tell me about street food in Singapore or wherever. Sure you get fresh food, but you also run the risk of (I'm paraphrasing here) extreme gastro-intestinal distress."

                                          About the "Healthy Eating" portion of the bylaw; it seems to me that council chose to use the opportunity to pass a "Healthy Eating" act that they were not ready to enforce with restaurants in the city. Perhaps it's a foot in the door for future bylaws?

                                          The decision to license to specific locations was probably a political one to keep various wards represented in the project. Despite amalgamation, we still seem to work with all the old boroughs. Controlling competition was probably also a factor. They specifically wanted no one within 25 meters of a competing restaurant serving the same food. There may have been some reasoning that competition amongst several carts who just paid out expensive license fees may also be counterproductive. As in, "Biryani cart is killing my business! Move him or me!"

                                          Personally, I think three or four carts per location is a positive. The locations they've chosen are probably not that bad. They all are heavy traffic areas and may become destinations if this thing works. Nathan Philips Square and Mel Lastman Square are both littered with people at lunch, especially in warm weather.

                                          I think the biggest problem with the bylaw is the insistence that no raw food be cooked at the cart. Surely we have the technology and the ability to do so and still work within food safety standards? I see a future of dried out meatsticks...

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Pantz
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                                            embee RE: Pantz Mar 18, 2009 11:35 AM

                                            I suspect the 70% rule will be a major obstacle. It constrains a vendor's ability to get another job while staying open if cart sales are slow. (This is eerily similar to the rules that make "Ambassador" cab drivers work 20/7 weeks to earn a living.)

                                            I believe the lack of choice everywhere but City Hall will impede the development of any critical mass. There are good reasons why food carts (and fast food restaurants) tend to cluster together.

                                            They chose places where at least some business is probably guaranteed (though I wonder about Roundhouse Park as a full time business). They certainly didn't choose by ward, since there is nothing anywhere near where I live.

                                            This will be a bonanza for parking control if drivers try to patronize the pilot locations. I can see officers stationed there all day and evening, just waiting to pounce. Most of these are "no stopping anytime" locations.

                                            The minuscule priority given to "taste" is an abomination. Taste should have been number one! Given my personal experience with all the foods mentioned, I can only say good luck! Reheated precooked food? The Eritrean food should survive. The biryani has a fighting chance. But precooked and reheated kebabs, jerk chicken, and pad Thai? Hours old "fresh rolls"? I do not salivate at the prospect.

                                            I share Pantz' respect for the "brave heroes who have ponied up the dough to take part in this project". I do hope the bureaucracy won't smother it upfront.

                                            BTW, I don't have stats in front of me, but I'll bet that Singapore street food, in particular, is extremely safe.

                                            1. re: embee
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                                              Pantz RE: embee Mar 18, 2009 12:49 PM

                                              The Star has some more details -

                                              http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/artic...

                                              1. re: embee
                                                OnDaGo RE: embee Mar 18, 2009 02:01 PM

                                                The city has always controlled the location and the density of food carts. You can see some sidewalk paint under many of the carts indicating where they are allowed to be and the flexibility is inches. The reason some carts cluster together (ie yonge & bloor in front of the bay) is that the city has said that is a spot where there is large sidwalk and does not interfere with other restaurants so they have allocated multiple spots there.

                                                The operator cannot all of a sudden decide he want to locate his cart in Yorkville one day... So I assumed this would be the same with the new carts and it is...

                                                1. re: OnDaGo
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                                                  embee RE: OnDaGo Mar 18, 2009 03:17 PM

                                                  Yes, it certainly is. When this was first announced, I had hoped we would see some great new chow ideas. We won't. Reheated jerk chicken and kebabs...yum.

                                                  Sure, I expected the city to get involved in choosing specific locations. That's unfortunate, given that they sometimes turf established vendors from places they occupied for decades. But that's Toronto.

                                                  Committees choosing acceptable cuisines, dishes, etc, etc, with taste ranking near the bottom of the scale, is absurd. Let the market decide what succeeds.

                                                  And why everything precooked? Just enforce the applicable health standards. If someone is willing to invest in refrigeration and cooking equipment for their cart, why the hell not? It's no different from a catering truck -- just smaller.

                                                  1. re: embee
                                                    GoodGravy RE: embee Mar 18, 2009 06:05 PM

                                                    So the only way to get something fresh is to get there early before the pre-cooked food dries out? That doesn't sound too appealing if you eat lunch late.

                                            2. l
                                              lister RE: Pantz Mar 18, 2009 01:09 PM

                                              It's unbelievable at how long this has taken and it's unbelievable at how managed this is by the politicians and bureaucrats. The government should have nothing to do with this other than collecting licensing fees and inspecting carts to make sure the food is safely handled, cooked, etc. Let all the existing vendors and new vendors have at this with no restrictions on locations other than for crowding.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: lister
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                                                Bigtigger RE: lister Mar 18, 2009 07:35 PM

                                                Agree 100% Lister. Typical Canadian-David Miller belief in the Nanny State, "there oughter be a law." For heaven's sake, it's street food. This is NOT a serious question of social policy. Let the vendors battle it out for supremacy and let the market decide if it wants hot dogs and burgers or diverse ethnic food or both and where. As Lister says, the government should butt out except for health inspections - and for downtown streets, some overcrowding provisions.

                                              2. Misskisscake RE: Pantz Mar 24, 2009 08:14 AM

                                                OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! I can't wait! I will drive down from Whitby/Ajax just to try all this out. :)

                                                1. j
                                                  jtamin RE: Pantz May 19, 2009 07:52 AM

                                                  Anyone try the new Indian and Greek food carts in front of City Hall?

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: jtamin
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                                                    acd123 RE: jtamin May 19, 2009 08:01 AM

                                                    Or how about the jerk chicken at Yonge at St. Clair?

                                                    1. re: acd123
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                                                      wickalicious RE: acd123 Jun 5, 2009 03:58 PM

                                                      I work in the area, and gave the cart a shot last week. I would give it a solid 'not bad'. It's essentially a grilled chicken breast with jerk seasoning, sliced and heated on the grill, wrapped in a thick whole-wheat pita with some lettuce and mango salad. the mango salad was great - very ripe mango, lime juice and some onion (maybe? can't quite remember). the hot sauce had a really nice burn to it (the ladies working the cart laughed when they told me the sauce was really hot, and i said 'great!')...but doesn't flay your face off. i will admit, though, that the hot sauce was hot enough that it obscured the jerk flavour for me - the friend who got the mild version said she thought the jerk spicing was excellent. my one real complaint is that by the time i got it back to my office (about a 10 min walk), it was damn near cold. they were having some issues managing the volume of sales when i was there...the lineup was about 4 people deep and it seemed like they felt they really needed to move people through quickly, at the expense of the temperature of the food - next time i would ask them to leave my chicken on the grill a lot longer. so...while not the most fabulous sandwich i've ever had, i thought it was an excellent $5 heatlhy lunch option (there's lots of stuff in the neighbourhood, but the combination of healthy and cheap is pretty damn hard to come by). definitely preferable to street meat IMHO.

                                                    2. re: jtamin
                                                      t
                                                      tweenietoes RE: jtamin May 19, 2009 02:37 PM

                                                      went to check out the new carts at nathan phillips yesterday afternoon. corey mintz's review in the star was pretty accurate

                                                      but the only thing I'd like to add is that his complaint of the "spiceless biryani" fortunately will be short lived. on speaking with the owners yesterday (who were really nice, so I hope they make the appropriate changes to make this a success), they purposely toned down the spice on the first day as to not "scare people away". unfortunately, this doesn't solve the problem of the rice being lukewarm when I ate it.

                                                      the "salsa" (a 7-lentil burrito style pita) was even more of a disappointment. the fillings were stingy and uninspired (essentially just the lentils and some lettuce).

                                                      the souvlaki stand on the west side of the square was sold out of meat when i got there, so i can't speak to their quality.

                                                    3. l
                                                      LemonLauren RE: Pantz May 19, 2009 08:05 AM

                                                      here is some media on the new carts:

                                                      http://torontoist.com/2009/05/smart_c...
                                                      http://www.cetoblog.com/2009/05/first...

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: LemonLauren
                                                        Wahooty RE: LemonLauren May 19, 2009 08:19 AM

                                                        Don't forget the Star:

                                                        http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/...

                                                        I'd say early reviews are...mixed. I would expect nothing less from our lovely city. :)

                                                        1. re: Wahooty
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                                                          embee RE: Wahooty May 19, 2009 08:57 AM

                                                          Since the vendors have gone into hock up to their eyeballs, and recipes can't even be changed without bureaucratic authorization, all I can say is it leaves me sad. Not at all surprised, since I expected this, but still sad.

                                                          Spiceless biryani and Mexican inspired bland stew as Indian? Precooked souvlaki? Our local government can't get anything right. This was easy - just be sure the food is safe when sold. End.

                                                          Oy :-(

                                                          1. re: embee
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                                                            acd123 RE: embee May 19, 2009 09:01 AM

                                                            I'll add a Vey at the end of your Oy.

                                                            1. re: embee
                                                              Full tummy RE: embee May 21, 2009 05:10 PM

                                                              That is rubbish, said Toronto Councillor Gord Perks. "We live in a biological world where we have learned to cope – we wash things," he said.

                                                              This was the response, as printed in The Star, to concern over the fact that cloth bags used to carry groceries home can harbour bacteria. Double standard...

                                                              1. re: embee
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                                                                Snarf RE: embee May 21, 2009 05:47 PM

                                                                Embee, in responding to this post, I'm taking what you say at face value. Having read a number of posts, that seems a risk worth taking.

                                                                Health inspectors should have the authority and the tools to inspect, generally on the basis of temperature, bacterial cultures, observation of practices, and all the usual parameters. Food delivery mechanisms, whether they be manifested in kitchen design or style and function of appliance, should be left to the designers, manufacturers, and their insurers, unless inspections indicate there is a design flaw.

                                                                When a regulator extends their limited authority to the design of a food cart, and not just a food cart, but also the specific unit, and controls the price, then an unnatural monopoly is being created. An unnatural monopoly is generally an abuse, or prone to abuse of the marketplace.

                                                                Everything that we're reading points to that becoming manifest. I feel bad for the vendors that have bought into this system. They are clearly being hosed and micro-managed.

                                                                It might be worth considering whether creating a new thread might be of merit. The best 'street food' which is not being served in soulless metrocarts. Our favourite corner stores in various parts of the city are doing this with the different restrictions that have proven to be safe to date. Any takers?

                                                              2. re: Wahooty
                                                                aser RE: Wahooty May 19, 2009 11:16 AM

                                                                The comments from The Star article are ridiculous to say the least. Most of them wouldn't even come near street food to begin with, yet they felt the need to voice their useless opinion. If they've experienced the joys of street food in faraway places like Asia or even somewhere closer to home (NYC), they would know what we've been deprived of all these years. Clearly they would much rather have a hotdog/sausage, very whitebread tastes, germaphobes too. Someone asked about working sinks? Are you crazy? IT'S STREET FOOD!

                                                                I do feel for the vendors, they're stuck between a rock and a hard place. One key element of advertising is taken away from them, the visual impact of seeing food being cooked, plus the aroma it generates. Great selling points, which they now lack.

                                                                1. re: aser
                                                                  mogo RE: aser May 19, 2009 01:02 PM

                                                                  ...not to mention those uniformly soulless carts. Why does the signage read "toronto a la cart" and not "Biryani Hut" or what have you? They even have the same uniforms. It's like the city purposely tried to suck all the life out of them.

                                                                  1. re: mogo
                                                                    Teep RE: mogo May 19, 2009 01:16 PM

                                                                    Maybe they don't want to scare the "white bread" folks, who don't know what a "biryani" is.

                                                                    1. re: Teep
                                                                      Ediblethoughts RE: Teep May 20, 2009 08:21 AM

                                                                      You'd think they'd realize the white bread folk aren't going to be going any where near those carts for the most part. People who love ethnic food are the ones who will make or break this project. How can that not be obvious to them?

                                                            2. s
                                                              Snarf RE: Pantz May 19, 2009 02:46 PM

                                                              When I consider the concept of interesting street food, I generally head down to Kensngton for a Jamaican patty, some doubles, tamales, tacos, empanadas, or pupusas. Sometimes a bowl of chile, sometimes some of the dessert empanadas. The sum total of technology involved is griddle, refrigerator, warming oven, burner with boiling water. If this can be done in small corners at the back/front of stores, you'd think they could put a cart together that could handle it.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Snarf
                                                                Ediblethoughts RE: Snarf May 20, 2009 08:21 AM

                                                                That would be one awesome little cart!

                                                              2. j
                                                                jtamin RE: Pantz Jun 14, 2009 08:16 AM

                                                                Having just gone to Luminato's 1000 Tastes of Toronto with live cooking and a variety of cuisines, I was wondering how they got exempt from the strict rules these carts are faced with. The festival down at Queen's Quay seemed like street food to me.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: jtamin
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                                                                  embee RE: jtamin Jun 14, 2009 10:42 AM

                                                                  I'm sure David Miller can conjure up a suitably bureaucratic answer :-)

                                                                  1. re: jtamin
                                                                    flying101 RE: jtamin Jun 14, 2009 10:47 AM

                                                                    key word, festival. i believe street vendor permits do not apply. Same goes for any festival in the city that offers food.

                                                                    1. re: flying101
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                                                                      embee RE: flying101 Jun 14, 2009 11:10 AM

                                                                      So a temporary "festival" vendor is capable of safely preparing, cooking, and serving food but a permanent "street" vendor is not? Of course! How could I have missed something so obvious...

                                                                      1. re: embee
                                                                        Full tummy RE: embee Jun 14, 2009 11:28 AM

                                                                        Why not have a summer-long street food festival. That should help...

                                                                        1. re: embee
                                                                          flying101 RE: embee Jun 14, 2009 12:42 PM

                                                                          I am not sure about the laws and regulations.

                                                                          But a festival might fall into the same categories as a banquet/fundraiser. Were food standards and regulations is very grey. Wild caught game meat, raw milk products, raw products in general etc... can all be served.

                                                                          don't get me wrong, I am all for more street food. I hate not having it, and the regulations are very bad for the city. I think the city fears that its public doesn't have an immune system or street vendors don't know how to fully cook food. or the scare of grease/oil fires is to great? Don't know why, but maybe more events like this might open up city councils eyes.

                                                                          1. re: flying101
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                                                                            embee RE: flying101 Jun 14, 2009 03:29 PM

                                                                            Festivals such as Taste of the Danforth typically involve restaurants that cook in front of their own premises. I'm not sure of the precise regulations that apply, but this is generally true across the board.

                                                                            There have been a few great vendors in front of some Kensington Market restos over the years, and Rap's cooks fabulous jerk on the Eglinton sidewalk. Banquets and such are usually held in premises with licensed kitchens.

                                                                            There's a very wacko mindset in Toronto government that has existed for as long as I can remember. It's why they tend to over regulate great ideas into irrelevance. They did it with pedestrian streets and with street and home garbage bins. Now they are doing it with street food vendors.

                                                                        2. re: flying101
                                                                          pinstripeprincess RE: flying101 Jun 14, 2009 09:04 PM

                                                                          there are temporary vendor permits that apply to events and specific hot dog cart permits. i'm not sure if the street food cart permits are distinct.

                                                                          the basics of all set-ups are pretty much equivalent but i've noticed that one item seems to distinguish itself as to what determines if you can participate in a particular vending style or not - access to a handwashing station with potable water and soap.

                                                                          speaking in terms of temporary events... a permit is gotten for the event as a whole rather than individual stalls though they still each need to have their food handling certificates. handwashing stations aren't required on an individual stall basis unless raw meats are being cooked on site. if you're wondering about the water at luminato.... there were these handy dandy dual-sided grey units placed between every few stalls, the same units were available at toronto taste.

                                                                          i think that restaurants can extend their cooking space into the street without much complication because they still have access to handwashing stations within the restaurant just a few feet away. their permit just might not apply to extending their operation past the front door but otherwise the health and safety are the same no matter where they are operating.

                                                                          the hot dog carts all apparently have individual handwashing stations (i've never noticed this but it is a requirement) and i would assume the new street food vendors would have the same requirement. because they aren't sharing a permit they need to each have their own, even if they were side by side.

                                                                          i think all other requirements are pretty much the same across the board - temperatures, utensils, etc otherwise.

                                                                      2. Full tummy RE: Pantz Jun 14, 2009 05:10 PM

                                                                        I have noticed a "Real Jerk" outdoor stand at the "Shops on Don Mills" near the Teaopia. Anyone tried it?

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Full tummy
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                                                                          morefoodplz RE: Full tummy Jun 14, 2009 10:52 PM

                                                                          I had the Jerk Chicken Dinner a couple weeks ago. The chicken was acceptable - not very spicy at all, but given the clientele, I can't really blame them for keeping it mild. The rice was decent as well, and there was a tiny portion of salad that was there more for decoration than anything else. I think it was $8? Not bad, considering that there's really nothing else that's decent to eat at this mall at that price point. However, it's not street food as defined by the City, since they do have a grill for cooking at the site. I was a little amused that so many people bought hot dogs at this place though (this was before the mall got exclusive hot dog vendors).

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