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TORONTO - WE NEED TURKISH FOOD

j
JJLOVESFOOD Aug 31, 2009 05:08 PM

Other than Anatolia...where else can we go? We have a star Turk playing for the Raptors, Turkish Airlines flies direct Toronto to Istanbul...and what do we have for food? Nada...I think. Prove me wrong. PLEASE!!!

  1. l
    LansdowneFoodie Dec 19, 2011 09:05 PM

    Try Mersin Mediterranean Cuisine on Bloor between Keele and Dundas West subway stations.

    The ingredients are fresh and everthing is delicious. The shepherds salad is exquisite...fresh mint is the secret ingredient which makes this salad so extraordinary. My new favourite entree is the Iskender...Large pieces of tender beef nestled with large pieces of Turkish pita covered in a rich, flavourful tomato sauce...accompanied by traditional yogurt. For those of you who have never tried Turkish food..it is not spicy...it is just deliciously flavourful!

    Of course you cannot leave without trying some traditional Turkish desserts. My favourite being the baklava drenched in honey. Don't forget to order the Turkish tea...served in beautiful traditional glasses.

    3 Replies
    1. re: LansdowneFoodie
      elvisahmed Dec 19, 2011 09:42 PM

      Thanks for sharing landsomefoodie. Did anyone try the pide? with the quality having gone down at Pizza Pide and mediocre iteration at Allara and Mr. Pide I crave it once in a while and need to get my fix.

      1. re: elvisahmed
        j
        juno Dec 20, 2011 12:18 AM

        A friend and I took a shot recently on Kervan Turkish Grill, mentioned above, in a bleak strip plaza on Wilson Ave. west of Dufferin St. And while we have nothing to compare it to, having never had Turkish food before, we found it pretty damn tasty. The menu's similar to many Middle East joints, with assorted kebobs and such, but with enough taste twists to keep it interesting. Particularly good: the assorted appetizer tray, the lentil soup, and the home-made sfolia dishes. You don't have to go near a kebob to eat well there. For some reason, the owner treated us to baklava and Turkish tea, probably because there was no one else in the place and he was bored. Modestly priced. No liquor, though, which tends to put a damper on the evening for me. Still, a worthwhile flyer every now and then.

        1. re: juno
          c
          cokeandsnickers Apr 10, 2012 10:51 AM

          I completely disagree with MunchieHK on Turkish food. I've had access to fantastic meat-free dishes every time I've visited (I've gone at least once a year for the last twenty years), and have a vegan cousin living in Istanbul and feasting.

          Regarding Turkish food in Toronto, the situation is somewhat bleak but I would recommend Pizza Pide, as well as Mr. Pide, which just opened on the Danforth and is apparently being run by one of the guys who was working at Pizza Pide. Although Mr. Pide is a bit greasier than Pizza Pide, I thought it was substantially better, even better than some pides I've eaten in Turkey! Donair Kebab House also has excellent doner, and although it is served with an abundance of sauces (contrary to Turkish style), their hot sauce is excellent.

          There's also a new place opening at Danforth and Broadview which is going to be offering Turkish roadside grub like kumpir (stuffed, baked potato), tost (grilled cheese panini), and kumru (grilled sandwiches). I'm curious to see how it will turn out.

          Donair Kebab House
          391 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B1S1, CA

          Mr. Pide
          800 Danforth Avenue Toronto, ON M4J 1L6

          Pizza Pide
          949 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

    2. ToxicJungle Feb 6, 2011 04:18 PM

      Donair Kebab House

      -----
      Donair Kebab House
      391 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B1S1, CA

      1. m
        maritimah Aug 26, 2010 12:21 PM

        Not quite what this thread is talking about, but it looks like a kumpir place could be opening up in the food court thing that used to have the Ben & Jerry's etc. in it just east of John on Queen!! I can't remember what the sign says it's going to be called but I do remember the pictures of baked potatoes stuffed with sausages and tuna. Kumpir was my favourite snack when I was in Istanbul a few months ago!

        2 Replies
        1. re: maritimah
          Manybears Aug 26, 2010 12:25 PM

          Mr. Spud, I presume?

          1. re: Manybears
            m
            maritimah Aug 26, 2010 12:28 PM

            Perhaps? I don't remember the name just the pictures. Are you going to tell me that this is just a stuffed baked potato chain spot? I was really hoping it was going to be kumpir.

        2. p
          pakmode Aug 26, 2010 09:08 AM

          I don't think anybody has mentioned Leaf Donair in Mississauga yet.

          This is a must-go place, if only for the fresh baked pita made to order for every sandwich.

          All they sell is beef donair and chicken shawarma, but they bake the bread fresh for you before stuffing it with whatever you like.
          There hot sauce is as good as any in the city as well.

          If you're in Mississauga check them out, they're on Hurontario, just north of Dundas in the Aladdin's Plaza.

          1. j
            julesrules Aug 25, 2010 12:27 PM

            There is a shwarma place on Pape near Cosburne that some time last winter put up "under new management " signs along with not one, but two pictorial menus with all kids of yummy looking pides, manti, borek.
            HOWEVER, when I stopped in a few times at lunch, the nice, good-looking man told me that they didn't currently have just about everything I asked for. He would kinda squint and think about it and then turn me down... making me wonder if he just wasn't willing to make these things up for a single order during lunch? He generally was able to bake up cheese or spinach borek in about 10 minutes' time, which I found okay but kinda heavy/gummy - but I have nothing to compare to, maybe that's just how they are. Once I ordered a falafel, and that was bad, clearly not fresh fried and I didn't like the toppings.
            Anyway, someone should go in at dinner time and see if they actually makeTurkish food here!

            1. Kagemusha May 18, 2010 12:12 PM

              There's Tahsin Market in Mississauga:

              http://www.torontolife.com/guide/food...

              2 Replies
              1. re: Kagemusha
                sasgirl May 19, 2010 07:47 AM

                There's also the Turkish Kitchen which is also in Mississauga. It's behind the Anatolia Islamic Centre in Misissauga. I've only been once for their pide but we always drop by to pick up their delicious baklavas. I'm not a big fan of baklava but I do quite enjoy their version of it. It's cash only.

                http://turkishkitchen.weebly.com/inde...

                1. re: Kagemusha
                  Full tummy May 28, 2010 04:48 PM

                  Good call, Kagemusha. They used to be on Danforth near Donlands. At that time, the owner's mother made all kinds of Turkish foods (available in the refrigerator, and some frozen), though I haven't been since their move and don't know if that is still the case.

                2. elvisahmed May 16, 2010 10:05 PM

                  Well I am no expert on Turkish Food but really like Pizza Pide for lahmachun and Pide. Friends from Turkey commented that its right up their with best in Istanbul. As for Alara I agree their Pide is not as good but their kebabs were above average for sure. If you like this kind of food try Me Va Mie (not turkish food but good kebeab) on Bathrust and Steels. Usually packed but better than the other kebab places in my opinion.

                  -----
                  Pizza Pide
                  949 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                  Alara Restaurant
                  2044 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M2J, CA

                  1. o
                    obixlink Sep 22, 2009 01:29 PM

                    There is great Turkish food around Dufferin and Wilson Ave. area. There are two restaurants which stick out in my mind. First is Turkish Grill, which is run by a husband and wife who prepares really tasty mezes, ekmek, saç kavurma, ali nazik, kebabs. Their homemade bread is really incredible. Also, just a block down across the street is Doy Doy, and they have shish tawuk, adana kebab, kofte, etc. Doy Doy is a bit more casual food that Turkish Grill, but they both have their charms. And having been to Anatolia, I can say that Turkish Grill is just as good.

                    1. a
                      ascendance Sep 13, 2009 06:48 PM

                      The Doner Kebab place at Gerrard and Yonge (yellow sign, on the SE corner) is probably one of the most authentic doners I've had in Toronto. Locals might find it greasy, but the level of grease and the flavor profile is pretty comparable to what I've had on the street in Istanbul. The topping selection is also pretty comparable to what you would find over there, except for the lack of that thick, flavorful spice paste.

                      1. r
                        radiopolitic Sep 12, 2009 04:46 PM

                        I haven't had any good Turkish food in Toronto for years.

                        Anatolia was decent enough when it first opened but I haven't been in many years.

                        Pizza Pide was better when it first opened and has since made their portions smaller and not as tasty.

                        Alara's pide's aren't very good when I tried them even though the original guy from Pizza Pide now runs that place.

                        I did try Babos at one point and I thought the doner wrap was alright but it has definitely been westernized - too many sauces and toppings.

                        Balkan Bistro was a popular place for many Turkish international students since it was very close to U of T and they had some pretty tasty stuff but I found it very inconsistent.

                        My main gripe with Turkish restaurants here is that the selection of dishes is extremely limited so I tend to stick to making Turkish food at home. Couple that with the fact that I just spent over a month in Turkey visiting family and friends and I wouldn't touch Turkish food at an establishment here with a 10 ft pole.

                        31 Replies
                        1. re: radiopolitic
                          k
                          KitchenVoodoo May 16, 2010 07:31 PM

                          I rate Turkisk cuisine as one of THE best in the world, particularly their vegatarian offerings - and I'm not even a vegetarian! It's sad there is no really great Turkisk place in Toronto. Puzzling?
                          One of the best meals of my life was at a Turksish place in Manhatten. On my next visit it will be my first port of call! For the stewed baby leeks alone.

                          1. re: radiopolitic
                            k
                            KitchenVoodoo May 16, 2010 07:54 PM

                            http://maps.google.ca/maps/place?hl=e...
                            These Turkish guys are giving it a pretty good shot - the room might suggest food court quality but the grub is way above that - there are people in the back kitchen slapping the kibbe and the fallafel together, so it's authentic stuff, and I encourage all hounders to give them a try.
                            If for no other reason than to experience Turkish hospitality - the lovely young man behind the counter will offer you a sampler of their addictive lentil soup when you walk in. He gave me a sampler of the donair kebab in a sliver of pita bread - I was sold!
                            I took home a tub of their lentil soup to be devoured later.
                            I also took away the beef donair plate - rice & lentils, beef slashed off the rotating donair grill, homous, a caggage slaw..... I could have added other things but what I had was enough. Once home, on the couch, wow, it was enough for two meals, and although a tiny bit too salty for me I must say it was extremely tasty the beef bits managed to be both crispy AND juicy, yet not leave a beef tallow film on the teeth the next day?
                            A miracle food!

                            1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                              1sweetpea May 17, 2010 10:02 AM

                              How was the lentil soup, Kitchen Voodoo? I absolutely loved the food in Turkey and long for a place offering mezes, good pide, kebabs, stuffed mussels, etc. I'm going to give Zeitoun a try the next time I'm in Toronto. Thanks for posting about it.

                              1. re: 1sweetpea
                                k
                                KitchenVoodoo May 18, 2010 09:27 AM

                                The lentil soup was great - it's a sort of dark reddish brown colour, fairly thick, and very tasty, with a flavour that I couldn't identify (should have asked DUH: :) Apparently the nearby fire house liked it so much that a succession of trucks pulled up to grab some take out, leading customers to flee thinking there actually was a fire!

                                1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                  1sweetpea May 18, 2010 10:27 AM

                                  I have a Turkish lentil soup recipe that calls for split red lentils and bulgur. What darkens the colour is a little bit of tomato paste added while cooking. If Zeitoun is doing a similar preparation, I'm very psyched to try it out, along with the doner.

                                  1. re: 1sweetpea
                                    k
                                    KitchenVoodoo May 18, 2010 07:18 PM

                                    Please do try Zeitoun - it's not gourmet or anything, but they are so hospitable and generous, and their food seems to be prepared with care and pride, and a very welcome additon to the 'hood. Let us know your opinions!

                                    1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                      r
                                      radiopolitic May 18, 2010 07:44 PM

                                      I've noticed this place. I believe it's where Champion used to be.

                                      I'll check it out next time I'm around there.

                                      1. re: radiopolitic
                                        foodyDudey May 19, 2010 12:30 AM

                                        I had not noticed it as the Champion was so bad, I never look towards it as I pass by. The pictures at the link that KV supplied look interesting, I'll have to try this place out soon.

                              2. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                p
                                Pincus May 18, 2010 10:10 AM

                                I saw this place walking around on the weekend, but I didn't go in because of the decor. Now I will give it a try for sure, thanks!

                                1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                  munchieHK May 18, 2010 07:55 PM

                                  Hummous is not Turkish. Neither is falafel or coleslaw. As for vegetarian Turkish food, please don't make me laugh. My British flatmate in Ankara was vegetarian and ended up being hospitalised with aplastic anaemia. Basically that means malnutrition. He was forced to live pretty much on cheese pides, as the concept of vegetarianism is completely alien in Turkey. Go ahead, try and order a meal without meat. If you say "no meat", they will serve you something with lamb, because they don't seem to regard it as meat.
                                  Speaking of lamb, that is the ONLY authentic filling for a Doner Kebap. You will not find one made from beef anywhere - it is unheard of, although I am told chicken is starting to appear as an option in the big cities. Also, a Doner in Turkey is served on a crusty French style loaf (Ekmekarası) or in a lavaş, never pita. Pita is not Turkish at all and is only seen in Lebanese restaurants in Ankara or Istanbul. In my opinion, Canadian kebabs, shawarmas etc. are a repulsive travesty, mostly made with industrial 'mystery meat'. I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole.
                                  Turkish food in Toronto does not exist. There is a little place near Makkah on the Danforth that has started serving a few basic Turkish dishes like Taze Fasulye, but they are appallingly bad. Pizza Pide does a passable pide, but it's hardly representative of the cuisine. When some place opens where I can get a fix of Iskender Kebap or Cig Kofte, or even some Biber Dolma, then I'll get excited. It is very hard to find good Turkish food outside Turkey. The closest place I can think of is Amsterdam.

                                  -----
                                  Pizza Pide
                                  949 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                                  Makkah Restaurant
                                  1020 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1M2, CA

                                  1. re: munchieHK
                                    r
                                    radiopolitic May 18, 2010 11:14 PM

                                    You're right in that hummus isn't historically Turkish but it has been a staple of south-eastern Turkish cuisine for decades and is very normal to find at restaurants and in villages. It generally has a thicker consistency compared to the Levantine version. The same goes for falafel - you can find different variations on the classic Arabic standard in south-eastern Turkey in many locales.

                                    I don't know about your friends situation in Ankara but if you know what to eat and where to eat it you can definitely subsist and subsist very well on a vegi diet in Turkey. In Ankara it may be tough for someone to find the right places for that kind of food as Ankara is a bit of a weird city when it comes to cuisine (and in general) but you cant go to your standard restaurants for vegi food. I've eaten many vegi meals with multiple courses in Turkey over the years and there are tons of vegi dishes in what one could call the 'Turkish cookbook.'

                                    You're quite right on the doner kebap point, however, chicken has been available in touristy areas for quite some time.

                                    I find the kasarli sucuklu pide at Pizza Pide to probably be their best option but it used to be much better back in 2005. Don't get your hopes up about a place with cig kofte or anything of that sort. Will probably never happen.

                                    -----
                                    Pizza Pide
                                    949 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                                    1. re: radiopolitic
                                      munchieHK May 19, 2010 07:33 AM

                                      I really can't speak with authority on south eastern Turkey. The furthest east I ever got was a trip to Trabzon. My girlfriend at the time was a Kurd from Simak, but she was a major carnivore too. I can only speak for the cities in which I lived, Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul, which I think encapsulate what most people think of as Turkish food and I certainly stand by what I said.
                                      You could probably survive as a pescetarian in Istanbul, but as a vegetarian it would be hard, at least when I lived there. Ankara? Forget about it. I know that city like the back of my hand and it really can't be done. Personally, I think the best food is in Ulus, but my friends would never go with me for fear of getting mugged or murdered. It has the same reputation among Ankarans as Jane/Finch has in Toronto, although I never had a problem. Ankara is actually a great foodie town if you know where to go and love meat. In many ways I prefer it to Istanbul.
                                      I suppose it might be possible to subsist on veges in the cities, but if you are working and have no time to hunt down some obscure joint in the arse end of Osmanbey you are going to suffer, no question. Turkey is meat-centric, like most west Asian countries. The only place I would fancy my chances as a veg in that neck of the woods is Lebanon.

                                      1. re: munchieHK
                                        r
                                        radiopolitic May 19, 2010 08:35 AM

                                        How long ago were you in Istanbul? It is quite easy to be a vegi these days. I have friends who are living there who are vegi's. I was last in Ankara about a year ago and didn't have issues finding veg food. Most places that serve a tabldot or serving ev yemegi will have quite a few veggie options. The cafeteria I frequent always has a veg option every day for lunch.

                                        No doubt Turkey is a meat-centric country, especially in the southeast, but as I said before there are countless dishes in the cuisine that are veggie. Most of the Turkish food I make at home is veggie.

                                        And if you're from the Aegean parts of Turkey being a vegi is much easier compared to the east. My father ate meat on a very infrequent basis growing up as a kid in those parts.

                                        1. re: radiopolitic
                                          munchieHK May 19, 2010 09:12 AM

                                          I concede that things might have changed. I lived in Istanbul for 18 months and Ankara for 2 years, but this was in 1988 - 1991. I have been back a few times. I would certainly be prepared to believe that Istanbul and Ankara could have evolved in that respect. I know Istanbul has made huge strides over the last decade. I'll be going for a visit in the fall, so I will pay close attention to the veggie cuisine!

                                          1. re: radiopolitic
                                            The Chowhound Team May 19, 2010 09:26 AM

                                            Turkish cuisine in Turkey is off-topic for this board, so we'd ask that anyone who wants to continue this conversation either start a thread over on the Europe board: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/87 (for specific discussion of places to eat in Turkey) or on the General Topics board: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/27 (for more general discussion of Turkish food).

                                      2. re: munchieHK
                                        foodyDudey May 19, 2010 12:40 AM

                                        Which is the bad place you mentioned? Is it Zeitoun? That is quite close to Makkah so I'm thinking that is the one you are thinking of.

                                        -----
                                        Makkah Restaurant
                                        1020 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1M2, CA

                                        1. re: foodyDudey
                                          munchieHK May 19, 2010 07:44 AM

                                          I'm unsure of the name. I will check when I pass by again. It is on the next block west of Makkah, about 2 or 3 doors down. It is a little shawarma joint run by Turks and they have started selling a few items from bain maries near the counter. I was thrilled when I noticed, but substantially less thrilled when I took the first bite. My daughter, who is used to Turkish food in Amsterdam, knew it was wrong just by smell. Her favourite dish is Kabak Dolmasi (stuffed zucchini), which they were selling, but she wouldn't take a bite. After I did so, I concluded that she is much smarter than me. Appalling is really being too kind. I can't speak about the quality of their shawarmas, but their prepared food is sub-amateur at best.

                                          -----
                                          Makkah Restaurant
                                          1020 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1M2, CA

                                          1. re: munchieHK
                                            shekamoo May 29, 2010 06:52 AM

                                            "Canadian kebabs, shawarmas etc. are a repulsive travesty, mostly made with industrial 'mystery meat'. I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole"

                                            How sad that I have to agree with you 100%. something should be done about this

                                        2. re: munchieHK
                                          haggisdragon May 19, 2010 08:04 AM

                                          Tell us what you really think. See my post above for some of the dishes you seem to think don't exist in Toronto.

                                          1. re: haggisdragon
                                            munchieHK May 19, 2010 08:13 AM

                                            That's what the board is here for, to say what we really think, no?
                                            I know about Turkuaz, it's a pan-mediterannean fast food joint with a couple of items that are vaguely Turkish-ish. We are talking about real Turkish food, not some lightweight approximation. It's also in the back end of nowhere. Don't think I'll be hauling my butt to Sheppard and Keele for a beef donair, thanks.

                                            1. re: munchieHK
                                              Jacquilynne May 19, 2010 08:27 AM

                                              Have you tried any of their daily specials? They list a special dish for each weekday, and while I've never tried any of them, I assume they're more authentic -- or at least more work -- than the usual stuff on the menu.

                                              1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                munchieHK May 19, 2010 08:36 AM

                                                Nope and I have no intention of going. All I need to know is that they make their Iskender Kebap with chicken. Yuck!

                                                1. re: munchieHK
                                                  Jacquilynne May 19, 2010 08:53 AM

                                                  Chicken or beef -- but I guess that's not likely to be appropriately authentic either.

                                                  My assumption about the menu is that the stuff that's on the regular menu is there because it's relatively easy to make and easy to sell at a profit, but that the specials are going to be the more authentic stuff. I wouldn't know enough about what I was looking for to tell, though. It just seems unfortunate to bypass what might be precisely what you're looking for because their regular menu for the masses doesn't measure up. Would you like me to grab a brochure with the names of the dishes so you can see if they're the sort of thing you're looking for?

                                                  All of that said, I'm finding the food there much more variable in quality than it used to be. It's usually okay at lunch, but the later in the day it gets, the less good the shawarma is, and the more they seem to overcook stuff on the grill. The former I can understand because after a certain point, they're steam-tabling it, but the only explanation I've dreamt up for the latter is that when they're busy at lunch they cook things less to get them out the door faster.

                                          2. re: munchieHK
                                            Juniper May 28, 2010 12:20 AM

                                            MunchieHK, your summation of Turkish food and Turkish food in Toronto is spot on. I've been married to a Turk for 10 years and I totally agree that there is no authentically Turkish restaurant in Toronto that executes well, particularly when it comes to Ottoman cuisine. They are all poor imitations of what one would find elsewhere in the world.

                                            I usually end up making Turkish food at home, but every once in a while we'll venture out to Pizza Pide when my husband is looking for some junk food and an excuse to eat out. Otherwise, we have tried just about every Turkish restaurant in the GTA (only exception being Zeitoun) and while Alara, Sofra and Turkish Grill are the ones that are closest to being even acceptable (and only for certain dishes) we just can't bring ourselves to spend the time and effort to get up to those places from where we are. They are simply not worth the travel to get to.

                                            There are multiple reasons for the deplorable state of Turkish food in Toronto. First, many of the 20K or so Turkish immigrants in Toronto come to Canada with advanced degrees (most often engineering) and thus end up with jobs in those fields and not in the restaurant industry. Of the ones in Toronto that don't come with advanced degrees, many of them come through the skilled trades program and end up in construction or other similar trades. That leaves the remaining portion of Turkish immigrants who come to Toronto with neither of these credentials, and some of these are the ones who are opening the restaurants and pizza/lahmacun shops.

                                            Now, the folks that end up opening the restaurants don't generally have much business experience in general, let alone business experience in Canada. So even if their product is good at the start, that consistency and quality never continues because of a combination of cash-flow problems (they usually sink their life savings into these ventures and leave very little for contingency) and quick turnover of the staff, ownership, etc. This inconsistency of course leads to fewer customers, which many restaurant owners wrongly attribute to Torontonians having no appreciation for Turkish food. This leads them to then add random things to their menu like hummus, chicken wings, etc., which works to attract a couple more customers here and there, but they've effectively pushed away any potential for loyal and long-term customers. And they end up in a massive downward spiral, where eventually they've completely diluted their product, their brand and their customer base, and they are forced to sell to the next set of Turkish immigrants who think they have been given a great business opportunity, and the cycle starts again.

                                            In fact, this pattern is something I see in so many restaurants out there (not just Turkish ones) it's actually sad. But that's a whole other post... I digress.

                                            Another reason I think Turkish food is lacking here is that we already have a multitude of Greek, Lebanese, Armenian and other ethnic cuisines that can closely approximate the most basic food staples of Turkey (since the Ottoman Empire essentially mined these cultures for their best and brightest for so many centuries). Therefore, Turks don't necessarily have a strong need to demand a specifically Turkish restaurant (although it's not quite like home it's good enough for many of them to hold them over until they travel to Turkey again). If they want borek, they can go to just about any Eastern European deli and get something similar. If they want lentil soup, icli kofte, or the like, any Lebanese place will have it. If they want sucuk, they can go to an Armenian place to find it. And so on and so forth.

                                            I also think that a strong contributor to the dearth of Turkish cuisine in Toronto is the fact that there is not a cohesive community of Turks like there are Chinese, Indian, and so on. Many Indians that come to Canada belong to the Sikh faith and are very diligent at practicing their faith with their community. This means there is a common interest to invest in things like places of worship, community centres, restaurants, and other social gathering places and that in turn forms concentrated pockets of people to support these businesses and organizations. For Turks, because the country is officially secular, they don't generally practice Islam in a regular way and so lack the sense of community that religion can bring to immigrant populations.

                                            For the Chinese, what brings them together is the relatively insular nature of the culture, but also the fact that many Chinese that came to Canada came in waves that featured common socio-economic foundations. Meaning that the various waves of Chinese immigrants shared demographic similarities as far as education level, income level, work experience, etc., and that allowed them to quickly identify and organize to serve their common needs. Turks, however, have not had that sort of uniformity in their immigration patterns and it is another reason why the community here is less cohesive.

                                            Anyway, my point is that there are countless reasons as to why Toronto lacks good Turkish food. And I can go on at length with further social analysis, but I won't.

                                            I will, however, corroborate MunchieHK's friend's situation of aplastic anaemia while in Turkey -- it is totally possible and I am not at all surprised. Many mezes are "braised" in olive oil and hence lose much of their nutritional value. Additionally, any vegetarian style stews and home cooked foods are cooked to the point of being mushy (Turks have a cultural thing for when they cook food, they really truly cook it all the way through and thoroughly -- steak that isn't totally cooked to the point of being shoe leather will be immediately sent back to the kitchen) and the foods again lose a lot of their nutritional value as a result. They also almost exclusively eat white bread, which has limited nutritional value.

                                            Additionally the concept of vegetarianism is foreign to most Turks, particularly outside of the major tourist areas. To most Turks a stew that is made of either ground meat (as opposed to chunks of it) or white meat (including fish and seafood) is for all intents and purposes vegetarian. My husband says I serve him vegetarian food all the time since I try to watch the amount of red meats we consume.

                                            -----
                                            Pizza Pide
                                            949 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                                            Alara Restaurant
                                            2044 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M2J, CA

                                            1. re: Juniper
                                              shekamoo May 29, 2010 06:58 AM

                                              Spot-on analysis about the causes of the generally shared fate of Turkish restaurants. The same goes for Persian restaurants here as well, similar root causes and consequences

                                          3. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                            k
                                            kitfo Jun 16, 2010 06:51 PM

                                            On a slight tangent, I thought I saw a sign that said Burak Supermarket is opening soon on Danforth, right by Zeitoun near Donlands. Does anyone know if this a second location of the Keele and Finch store, or if they are moving down there? (Either way, it's better for downtown dwellers like myself - I miss Tahsin Market in the 'hood.)

                                            1. re: kitfo
                                              t
                                              the foodexpert Aug 25, 2010 10:20 AM

                                              In regards to your question about Burak Supermarket this will be their second location and it looks like this is the one of the best locations for a store of that kind. Their current location of Keele and Finch will also continue to do business.

                                          4. re: radiopolitic
                                            p
                                            Pincus May 18, 2010 10:09 AM

                                            If the pides at Alara are mediocre, I look forward to the future when I try a better pide, because I find the Alara pides darn tasty.

                                            1. re: Pincus
                                              r
                                              radiopolitic May 19, 2010 08:44 AM

                                              I was there when they first opened and haven't returned since. I'll check it out again if I'm in the hood.

                                              1. re: radiopolitic
                                                p
                                                Pincus May 19, 2010 10:25 AM

                                                i am in possession of a brand-new takeout menu from them which proclaims "Under new management". Maybe a change for the better?

                                              2. re: Pincus
                                                Juniper May 28, 2010 12:56 AM

                                                Pincus, I actually think the pides at Alara were quite decent when I was last there (which was last summer so not sure if anything has changed since then). However, people will always compare it what they knew at Pizza Pide, where the head cook first made his mark. The main complaints about Alara are, as usual with Turkish restaurants in Toronto, about consistency. Additionally, things like thickness and texture of the crust, ratio of fillings to crust, toppings combinations, and quality of the ingredients (particularly of the sucuk and the cheeses used) could all be improved to varying degrees but overall, I think it's a good option if you're in the area and you're craving pide. That said, I don't enjoy anything else they have on the menu -- the kebabs, soups and other stuff wavered between technically edible to poor.

                                                -----
                                                Pizza Pide
                                                949 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                                                Alara Restaurant
                                                2044 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M2J, CA

                                            2. s
                                              shpeizmaven Sep 1, 2009 01:51 PM

                                              Spotted an interesting looking place on St Clair on the south side between Christie and Dufferin. Can't remember the name and he was out of cards and menus when I dropped in. What I saw of the food looked good (I work in Turkey during the summer).

                                              There are surprisingly a lot of Turkish restos that are masquerading as pizza places but have doner and otehr Turkish stuff.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: shpeizmaven
                                                f
                                                fickle Sep 1, 2009 05:43 PM

                                                Are you thinking of Anatolian Pizza & Doner Kebab House? It's west of Dufferin on St Clair on the south side. The one time I went I found it very weak, overcooked and flavourless. I prefer Babos Donerpoint for my fix.

                                              2. l
                                                LUV_TO_EAT Sep 1, 2009 11:49 AM

                                                See this post re. Alara. On Sheppard Ave west of Vic Park.

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/633487

                                                Alara is the former owner of Pizza Pide. FYI Pizza Pide was referenced on the Turkish Street Eats show http://www.streeteatstv.com/episode_g...

                                                1. s
                                                  Santeria Sep 1, 2009 06:23 AM

                                                  I would suggest Sofra Istanbul at steeles and the 400. So far everything I tried has been amazing: pide, kebabs, even the sides like plain rice. It's mostly a take-out spot but the dining room is always busy and the menu is quite extensive.

                                                  1. haggisdragon Sep 1, 2009 05:40 AM

                                                    There's Turkuaz Grill at Keele and Sheppard. I've had lucnch there many times. Grumpy service, good food.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: haggisdragon
                                                      1sweetpea Sep 1, 2009 06:05 AM

                                                      There used to be a place called Balkan Bistro in Toronto, owned by a Turkish couple. They packed up and moved to Windsor a few years ago to open their restaurant in a lovely heritage house. The only problem is that the house was not in a well trafficked area for locals or tourists. Combine that with a terrible economy and unadventurous eaters and the place failed. I suspect the couple will make their way back to Toronto and open a new restaurant one of these days. If that isn't their intention, I implore them to reconsider, since there are many Torontonians that would welcome their imam bayildi, cacik, dolma, doner, iskender kebab, manti, antep ezme, etc. The food was very tasty, but I would recommend that they have an all-Turkish menu at any new restaurant they intend to open, rather than a half-Turkish, half-pan Mediterranean menu. IMHO, people are either interested in experimenting with Turkish cuisine or they aren't. I think Torontonians definitely want Turkish food as an option when dining out, and not just pide at Pizza Pide on Gerrard.

                                                    2. num nums Aug 31, 2009 07:06 PM

                                                      there's babos donerpoint. it's a very casual mostly takeout, but decidedly not "fast food" place. they have pide, lahmacun, doner, and burek. they make all their flatbread/wrappings fresh to order. so it does take a while for them to prepare your food, but worth the wait.

                                                      http://babos.110mb.com/index.html

                                                      1. Dimbulb Aug 31, 2009 06:54 PM

                                                        Pizza Pide.

                                                        1. b
                                                          bluesbreaker1969 Aug 31, 2009 06:09 PM

                                                          what is turkish food? kebabs? gus? tikka? riza? dolmades? hommous? tahina? Start with Assyrian food, move to Greek and Iranian, you got your "turkish food."

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