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May 24, 2009 07:51 PM

Greektown: any new Greek beacons of light?

Just wondering if there are any Greek restaurants that would be above average for dinner.
Not sure if any of the Greektown/Danforth restos have changed their menus or chefs.

And, if there are any restaurants that are quite good, can you recommend something special to try on their menu? Something tells me "souvlaki" never falls under this category.


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  1. There's a lot more than souvlaki available. Both the places I am mentioning are not new, but have good food. They are also barely mentioned on CH.

    If you haven't eaten at Lolita's Lust or Lambros, give them a try as I think most people would be quite happy with the food there.


    6 Replies
    1. re: foodyDudey

      Lambros has closed. Lolita's Lust isn't really a "Greek restaurant".

      1. re: embee

        I hadn't walked by in a few weeks so didn't realise it closed as each time we had to go past it, my wife had suggested walking on the North side of Danforth Ave. Here's a link to what Sreven Davey had to say about the closing:

        I remember going to Lambros last fall and we had to wait for a seat, it was packed. Most particaipants on CH never mentioned it as they were either more interested in saying there was only souvlaki available in Greektown, or were on the hunt for AYCE sushi and "the best burger".

        Yes it's true, Lolita's lust is not a "Greek" restaurant but they have a few good Greek influenced dishes on the menu.

        1. re: foodyDudey

          Lambros is re-launching itself as Lambros Meze and Martini bar on Wednesday, May 27th, with a more casual atmosphere.

          I haven't seen a new menu or website yet, but will post once I've had a chance to try it out.

          1. re: phoenikia

            Hi phoenikia, where did you hear that? I'll have to go over and have a look.

            1. re: foodyDudey

              Found out through a friend who lives in the neighbourhood.

        2. re: embee

          I went to Avli last week and Lambros was open. Maybe it was just a weekend makeover, as phoenikia mentioned? I would definitely try their new menu. Avli/Lambros is my favourite Greek place in TO.

      2. No. Avli has the most interesting menu, followed by Ouzeri, but neither has been on what I could call an uptick.

        3 Replies
        1. re: embee

          I was at Pan recently, for the first time in 10 years, and I was surprised that they were serving several dishes I haven't seen elsewhere. Their version of grapeleaves was a little more interesting flavourwise that most you find on the Danforth- more cinnamon, maybe cumin. It's been a couple weeks, but the flavours seemed to be closer to what I associate with Greek home-cooking.

          The food at Pan isn't innovative the way it was 10 years ago, but they do have some dishes that help make their menu a little more interesting than most.

          I agree with embee that Avli has the most interesting menu on the Danforth. Pan would be the place I would consider the runner-up for an interesting Greek menu.

          Pan on the Danforth
          516 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P6, CA

          1. re: phoenikia

            It's about time for another visit to Pan. That's where I took Mrs foodyDudey on our first date back in May 1998. We've only been back once since then, about 4 or 5 years ago. It was still pretty good, even though I've read negative reviews on here about it. Back in the early to mid nineties, it was my favourite restaurant in Greektown.

            1. re: foodyDudey

              The food served right now is rustic/traditional/home-style, and better than average care seems to be taken in the kitchen with respect to the balance of flavours, but the food is not pushing the envelope in any way these days, the way it was in the 90s when it was owned by Michael K, and Laura Prentice was in the kitchen.

              So, if you & Mrs foodyDudey go to Pan, I'd encourage you to compare it to the other current family-style Greek restaurants on the strip, rather than to the groundbreaking Pan that existed in the 90s, just to avoid any disappointments ;-) But, that being said, for a reasonably priced, interesting yet traditional Greek meal, I find Pan to be quite tasty ;-)

          1. In terms of quality of food, the best place remains Pantheon. If you are looking for something quicker and not as costly, the Greek Grill is actually really good and they have the most reasonable prices.

            9 Replies
            1. re: odysseas

              IMO, in terms of quality of seafood, Pantheon is the best on the Danforth. I wouldn't choose to order non-seafood dishes at Pantheon. Their meat dishes, in my experience, haven't been any better than what I'd consider decent on the Danforth (about equal to Megas, Ouzeri or Kalyvia).

              For overall quality in my books, Avli is likely the place I'd consider the best overall, followed by Mezes, then maybe Pan or Ouzeri. I end up elsewhere more often than I end up at Avli, Mezes or Pantheon because I'm fairly focused in the dishes I order- and not necessarily seeking a restaurant that does most things well.

              For overall selection of vegetable mezes, I usually head to Mezes, for dolmades I'd choose Pan.

              For souvlaki, I like Asteria east of Pape for budget souvlaki, and Ouzeri for souvlaki in a slightly upscale atmosphere. For spanakopita, most dips, housemade loukaniko, rabbit pie and chicken pie, I like Avli (but have not enjoyed their versions of calamari or avgolemono)

              For keftedes and maroulosalata, I like Kalyvia.

              For avgolemono soup (with extra lemon on the side), I end up at Zorba's.

              For village salad (when Toronto tomatoes are in season, not when the hothouse tomatoes are being used), I like Messini.

              Haven't found a moussaka, pastitso, yemista or giouvetsi on the Danforth I like enough to order a second time.

              Not sure where the best Greek-style lamb (stew, chops, roast lamb or souvlaki) would be found lately- my guess would be Avli. I cook a lot of Ontario lamb at home so I don't usually order it when I'm out.

              1. re: phoenikia

                Have you been to Avli recently, though? That was my go Greek place. I found a continuing loss of quality for a long time and haven't been back in the last year.

                1. re: embee

                  I do agree that there had (or maybe has) been a continuing loss of quality at Avli, but I still think it probably is the best overall on the Danforth. It seems to me that more care is taken in their kitchen with regards to spicing/cooking/presentation compared to a place like Mezes.

                  I dined at Avli in January, and was impressed by their loukaniko (probably the best I've had, and much better than what most places serve), and their village salad was decent considering it was wintertime. I have stopped ordering the fried calamari ( I don't order fried grilled calamari anywhere in TO anymore), seafood pie, and avgolemono soup at Avli after disappointing experiences.

                  I plan to return to Avli to experience the current state of their dips, spanakopita, and chicken or rabbit pies, to see whether I should be recommending them wholeheartedly ;-)

                  1. re: phoenikia

                    We've stopped going to Avli as we also noticed a slide in quality. Our go-to places for the past year or two have been Pantheon and The Palace. I've never had a disappointing dish nor heard any negative comments from my guests about theirs at either place.

                    1. re: OTFOODIE

                      My last dinner at Pantheon last November was regrettable and I haven't been back. The grilled calamari could have been the same grilled calamari served at Astoria. The calamari were tough, on the thick side (maybe because they were teenage squid, not baby squid), and whatever was brushed on the calamari had a commercial short cut "seasoning salt" kind of taste. The roast potatoes and tzatziki were average. I didn't like the calamari enough to finish it, and I wished I had ordered something else after the first bite.

                      What dishes do you recommend at Pantheon?

                      What dishes do you recommend at the Palace?

                      1. re: phoenikia

                        Hmm, strange. Every time I've had the grilled calamari at Pantheon it has been tender enough to cut with a fork, and has never been over-sized. The calamari is my favorite dish there, with the grilled octopodia my second-favorite.

                        The Palace is probably my favorite place for grilled seafood. If I ask for snapper and the waiter says, "You'll probably enjoy the sea bass more," take the hint, since he's steering you to the fresher fish. Sometimes we order the platter so that we can share and sample various things. They have yummy grilled shrimp, quail and the meats (steaks & chops) are dependably good, but not fantastically better than elsewhere. Once a dining partner friend of a friend ordered baby beef liver (which was not on the menu) so I followed suit, requesting it grilled rare. It was covered in sauteed onions and as good as a steak in most places and you could cut it with a fork.

                        1. re: OTFOODIE

                          Thanks for your comments OTFOODIE- maybe it was just an off night the last time I went to Pantheon.
                          Will have to try the Palace one of these days.

                      2. re: OTFOODIE

                        Finally some people have noticed the slide at AVLI that started around 2001 or 2002. We haven't eaten there since that time. But Lambros had changed the menu recently at AVLI so I'll have to go back and try it out. It was our favourite place in the past, then we started eating at Pantheon, which is also suffering from a slide in quality and we haven't eaten here since last fall. Now we eat at Globe or Lolita's Lust, and would eat at Lambros original incarnation every few months also. They just had the re-opening yesterday evening but it was not properly advertised and barely anyone showed up. In the 35 minutes I spent there, I did not get a chance to try any mezes which the invite said would be flowing out of the kitchen on a regular basis, as nothing appeared.

                    2. re: embee

                      I would agree. Was there last summer and they should have been ashamed of the quality of the food they served. I swear, their gigantes came out of can. And their service was apalling...only 2 tables in the place.

                2. I've lived in the neighbourhood for years, and the best food at the best prices is from Asteria, between Chester and Broadview on Danforth. There are a number of Asterias/Astorias on the Danforth, so it's easy to mix them up. It's a nice family restaurant with good food in big portions. I've always found Kalyvia to be greasy, Avli and Pantheon over-rated. Asteria is my go-to restaurant. It ain't chic, but I like it.