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looking for recs - Greek restaurant for Mom's birthday

It's my Mom's birthday Xmas eve, she wants to go out for dinner on Boxing Day and has decided she wants to go for Greek food.

Does anyone have any recs for a good restaurant, either on the Danforth or in the Richmond Hill/Thornhill area? I have heard from several Greek friends that the Danforth has some really good restaurants. We live near the TTC but are not averse to driving a bit for good food. There are a couple of chain restaurants near where I live, but I'd like to stay away from those. I'm looking for a good, authentic place.

Should be mid-priced, mains around $20-$30 per person. There will be 6 of us in the group, so if the restaurant takes reservations that would be a plus.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Some Chowhounds will post negative replies about the state of Greek food in Toronto. Take those comments with a grain of salt. Greek food on the Danforth is fine for what it is- comfort food at reasonable prices. Some restaurants do specific Greek dishes well. No Greek restaurants on the Danforth do all their Greek dishes well.

    Most mains at Greek restaurants on the Danforth are under $25.

    I've been happy with recent meals at Mezes, the Ouzeri, Pan, and Avli.

    Mezes has the largest selection of mezes (hot/cold appetizers to be shared), but it can be loud and busy, although most restaurants on the Danforth won't be too busy on Boxing Day. http://www.mezes.ca/

    The Ouzeri serves decent food, in a slightly more polished environment, and it would be my choice if I was dining with non-Greek people looking for standard Greek menu items like souvlaki and Greek salad (expect winter tomatoes this time of year). Beware of the hard sell of the house-made pita bread. A breadbasket comes with the mains, but orders of pita bread (which they encourage you to order if you order dips) are tacked onto the bill. http://www.ouzeri.com/

    I found some of Pan's dishes to be more interesting that most standard Greek restaurants' options. I liked their version of stuffed grape leaves. http://www.panonthedanforth.com/menu_...

    I like the loukaniko at Avli, and it's my favourite in terms of the space. They also serve some dishes that aren't found elsewhere such as rabbit pie and giouvetsi. http://www.avlirestaurant.com/dinner....

    If you mostly want seafood, the Pantheon is where most Greek families go for their grilled/fried calamari fix. They also serve several Greek fishes at market price. Their non-seafood dishes are fairly ordinary. http://www.pantheonrestaurant.com/men...

    As far as I know, Panthon, Avli, Pan and Ouzeri take reservations. I'd call and check if Mezes takes reservations- they might when it's a group of 6. And call to check that they're open on Boxing Day. At least a few of the Greek restaurants will be open, especially since many Greeks celebrate Xmas on Jan 6th.

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    Pantheon
    407 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

    Avli
    401 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

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

    Mezes
    456 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P4, CA

    Ouzeri
    500A Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K 1P6, CA

    10 Replies
    1. re: phoenikia

      Take you mother out twice, once to My Big Fat Greek Buffet on Dixie south of the 401. There actually is a Greek family running it, and the mother is in the kitchen, in charge, and it is cheap. Lunch is a better deal, but I don't know about holiday prices.

      I gave up on the Danforth about 15 years ago.

      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

        >. Vinnie boychick said: I gave up on the Danforth about 15 years ago.

        Perhaps you are just ahead of your time. There is still decent food to be found, and I agree with what phoenikia said in her post.

      2. re: phoenikia

        I have enjoyed Mezes and Pantheon relatively recently.

        Had a very unpleasant experience at Ouzeri--ordered moussaka and couldn't find anything much except for a thick layer of white sauce. I just felt it was unbelievably overpriced. The others at the table were similarly unimpressed. Maybe it depends what you order...

        1. re: Full tummy

          I haven't found any good versions of moussaka or vegetarian moussaka on the Danforth, so the Ouzeri is certainly not alone re: serving a less than optimal moussaka ;-)

          Moussaka is a labour-intensive dish when done properly, and as far as I can tell, most restaurants take too many shortcuts. Same goes for avgolemono soup, and pastitso on the Danforth.

          Has anyone had a good moussaka anywhere on the Danforth?

          1. re: phoenikia

            That is too bad!!! I love moussaka. Anyone have a moussaka worth recommending?

            1. re: phoenikia

              Don't know where to find decent moussaka in a resto but to cure a craving try the fozen heat and serve version from Select Bakery on Donlands. Not quite as good as yiayia's, but decent.

            2. re: Full tummy

              On the topic of unpleasant experiences at Ouzeri- I would avoid based on the condition of their washrooms. Went a few weeks ago with friends- the food was generally pleasant, but any establishment with such filthy facilities just isn't worth it.

              On the other hand, I've attended a couple of lovely birthdays at Pantheon. Warm service, decent food and clean facilities.

              1. re: phoenikia

                The goivetsi is listed on the menu at Avli as Lamb Shank, definitely a must-try!!!

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                Avli
                401 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

              2. I ate at Zorba's on the Danforth for the first time recently (birthday party). Although the decor is total schlock the food was fabulous.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Boodah

                  I'm also in agreement with phoenikia's selections - these restaurants stand out from the rest without having to look too hard for many reasons....as for great moussaka on the Danforth....sadly, still no luck for me.

                  1. re: oliveoilemporium

                    I'm no Greek food expert, so I'm curious what is considered great moussaka?

                    1. re: oliveoilemporium

                      I'd have to say that Avli's moussaka comes second only to my grandmother's, but I will admit that it is hard to find a moussaka that will match yiayia's after she spent 8 hours making it.

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                      Avli
                      401 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

                  2. Except for a few nontrad places like Myth, Greek food is so standardized and uniform in Toronto that despite some opinions, it doesn't really matter where you go. If you want some attempt at decor and ambiance, Santorini at least has nice murals painted on the ways. You pay for them, though.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: evansl

                      I'm no expert either but I like the moussaka at Select Bakery on Donlands.

                      1. re: evansl

                        Myth was pretty good when they first opened up but then they fell into the trap of trying to be a night club and failed. I would like to see what they try doing at Legion Sports Bar which will take their spot

                      2. I went to Ouzeri today. I've been a number of times over the past 15 years but I have to say things are a bit on the decline. First I will mention what I liked. Very nice hot bread brought to us at the start of the meal. Friendly service. Delicious saganaki. The grilled calamari was quite good and the salad was pleasing, not overly salty like you get from Mr Greek franchises. The negative - the pita bread was dreadful. It looked dark and could have been wholewheat. It tasted like sawdust.

                        I long for when they made their own white pita bread years ago. It was a mistake to abandon that recipe or to abandon making it period. We ordered a lamb skewer. It was a very forgettable, largely flavourless piece of meat. I could hardly taste lamb. And I could hardly taste any herbs or spices. My wife asked if the meat tasted old. It certainly did not taste like it was freshly purchased marinated and cooked. I could make better tasting lamb, so this was pretty disappointing.

                        Does anyone have a recommendation for best lamb on the Danforth? At any rate, I think lamb should stand out on a greek menu - and this item was, as I said forgettable even dunked in tzaksiki. I think this was once a great restaurant that has been allowed to slip downhill. It was once the place I would go without question, but I'm looking for a new Danforth Destination.

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                        Ouzeri
                        500A Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K 1P6, CA

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: eggoman

                          Ouzeri is a shell of its original incarnation some 20 years ago when Aristides opened it. It was unique and quirky. Lambros, the chef/owner at Avli was one of the original cooks at Ouzeri.

                          -----
                          Avli
                          401 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

                          Ouzeri
                          500A Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K 1P6, CA

                          1. re: eggoman

                            eggoman, you might want to try the lamb kleftiko at the Palace Restaurant. I haven't tried it, but I've heard good things about their food, and the clientele tends to be more Greek than other restaurants in the area, if that means anything when it comes to the state of the lamb. http://www.eatatpalace.com/tpr_menu_d...

                            Also, for what it's worth, my friend's Greek Cdn father likes the lamb at Megas. I haven't tried it.

                            -----
                            Megas
                            402 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

                            Palace Restaurant
                            722 Pape Ave, Toronto, ON M4K3S7, CA