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Shawerma - suggestions for locations in Scarborough, Markham & Pickering

  • xssnrg Dec 26, 2009 01:20 PM

I have just been initiated into the wonderful world of shawermas. The one I located is out in the west end where I used to go for business. I'm never on Hurontario now and would love to locate a few location suggestions for great shawerma in the east end.

Your advice appreciated!

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  1. The best I've found are on Lawrence just west of Warden in Scarborough. My favourites are:

    1. Shawarma Empire
    2. Ibrahim's

    Some love Nasib's but I find them a bit bland.

    In Durham I am still looking for good shawarma, a very solid falafel can be found in Oshawa at one of the two Pita Deli locations. Huge, huge sandwiches at a decent price.

    1. Try Pita Land at Morningside and Kingston Road.

      6 Replies
      1. re: SMBC

        I find it difficult to believe that a chain restaurant would be in the same league as Shawarma Empire. What's so special about it?

        -----
        Shawarma Empire
        1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

        1. re: Googs

          You would be right.. Pita Land isn't good at all, tried more than 1 location

          Wish I could try this notorious Shawarma Empire but I haven't been to that neighbourhood in like... ever

          1. re: duckdown

            There is a street festival of mid eastern foods there every spring (June maybe?).
            Usually mentioned in Chow, and worth going to if you figure out the parking.

          2. re: Googs

            I'm not sure that SMBC was stating that one was better than the other... just that the OP might want to try SMBC's suggestion.

            In regards to Pita Land, I've been to the one at Gerrard/Jarvis and it was pretty good. I’ve been there dozens of times, mainly when it operated as La Zeez, but in my couple of times back since Pita Land took it over the quality had not dipped. That said it’s been a couple of years so who knows. At any rate, I think SMBC’s suggestion seemed genuine and innocuous enough.

            1. re: Googs

              Took your recommendations and enjoyed 2 shawarma. Tender, juicy and delicious with just the right blend of toppings. I like spicy hot sauce and these did not disappoint. Only draw back is the appearance of messiness and the ambiance means you HAVE to take out. Also for newbies - you order and get your food before paying. They handled an order of 16 just before me - did it all in 10 min. Those guys really move!

              -----
              Shawarma Empire
              1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

              1. re: xssnrg

                It may be a little dishevelled inside, but it's never ever dirty. I dine there about half the time I go. Hot food, hot sauce, hot DAMN!

          3. Also, do consider going to a place like Arz Bakery on Lawrence just east of Pharmacy and pick up the ingredients yourself. I love doing Shawarma with chicken breast on the barbecue in the summer. The marinade is really easy. Look it up on line, but I think it involves about 8 cloves of garlic and a 1/4 tsp of both cinnamon and allspice along with olive oil and lemon.

            -----
            Arz
            1909 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

            1. If you don't mind driving a few miles farther try Pita Deli in Whitby which is on Thickson rd. near the 401

              -----
              Pita Deli
              1600 Champlain Avenue, Whitby, ON L1N 9B2, CA

              1. In addition to the places mentioned on the Lawrence/Warden strip, I really like Johnny's Shawarma at Kennedy/Ellesmere.

                8 Replies
                1. re: magic

                  mmm Johnny's Shawarma is great, i always get Shawarma with a chicken and beef mix, and their fries are pretty good too, fresh cut and tasty. Best part is they have cards where you buy 9, get your 10th free!

                  Id say its more expensive then Ibrahims

                  1. re: jmarcroyal

                    Johnny's rocks. Johnny is a real nice guy too.

                    1. re: magic

                      its a shame they close so damn early!

                  2. re: magic

                    I just tried Johnny's today after reading this. IMHO not that great. Doesn't compare to Shawarma Empire, Milo's, or Yakamoz (my 3 favs). It was a lot like Pita Land. I also got a piece of steel wool in my sandwich, but that's beside the point.

                    -----
                    Yakamoz
                    373 Wilson Ave, Toronto, ON M3H1T3, CA

                    Shawarma Empire
                    1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

                    1. re: haggisdragon

                      Holy smokes, a piece of steel wool in your sandwich isn't a major point?? I got a bone in my burrito from Burrito Boyz once and I still haven't let them live it down

                      1. re: duckdown

                        Yeah well, I just mean that I thought the sandwich itself was just okay. If I hadn't got the steel wool it still would have been just okay. I'm a pretty hardy individual and although I wasn't pleased with the extra ingredient, it didn't really phase me.

                      2. re: haggisdragon

                        Oh that's too bad. Apolgies for your bad experience. :(

                        1. re: magic

                          No worries, he WAS a pretty nice guy.

                    2. "I'm never on Hurontario now" -- which was the place on Hurontario you liked so much?

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: duckdown

                        if he means the same place Im thinking about, its near that Aladdin place with the shisha, maybe a bit north of dundas. That place(the name escapes me) is run by a turkish guy, so its not the lebanese shawarma, but its really good. This guy makes the pita from scratch, cooking it in the oven before he gets the shawarma ready.

                        The pita alone makes it that much better, plus the guy that was there when i went was a nice guy, and I left completely satisfied.

                        1. re: jmarcroyal

                          You mean he prepares a pita by rolling out the dough for every order? That would be killer. Or he warms the pita in the oven?

                          1. re: Yongeman

                            he takes the dough, rolls it out and tosses it in the oven(like a pizza oven), in about 2 minutes the Pita is done and its all puffy like a balloon, then after he takes it out, he opens it up and the air comes out and you got a nice super fresh pita. Ive never seen them made before so it was a real treat!

                            1. re: jmarcroyal

                              Awesome! Now that is fresh!

                              1. re: jmarcroyal

                                I'd really like to know which place this is, sounds very intriguing!

                                1. re: duckdown

                                  Its on Hurontario north of Dundas I believe on the East side of the street in a little mall/plaza type place, The same as that Aladdin Shisha Bar(or whatever its called). The place doesnt look amazing, just like any fast food place with a few tables inside. I know the place has a storefront facing Hurontario so you should see it from the road easily.

                                  1. re: jmarcroyal

                                    Okay. You guys are making me crazy. Is it Leaf Donair House?

                                    1. re: Googs

                                      yea i think thats it, they do sell shawarma and it it was pretty good

                                      1. re: jmarcroyal

                                        As long as it's not Aladdins, because that place is a complete craphole. I have not tried anything else in that plaza or nearby strip, except Montfort's which is at the intersection.. I will report back soon, I'm gonna detour out of my way there soon. Do they have chicken shawarma?

                                        Thanks for the info!

                                        1. re: duckdown

                                          yea they have Chicken and Beef, I got a Mix. I wouldnt say the Shawarma is amazing or anything, but the fact that its fresh made pita makes it that much better. Its worth trying for sure...

                                          Oh, and they sell homemade Baklava, it was ok when I had it...

                                2. re: jmarcroyal

                                  You guys are killing me!!
                                  I have been hyping up this place for the last couple months.
                                  You have to try out Leaf Donair House - if only for the made-to-order pita bread.

                                  There are 3 kinds of sandwiches you can order:

                                  1. 'Burger' - essentially a round pita stuffed - a la Shawarma Empire style.
                                  2. 'Cheese Sandwich' - panzerotti shaped, baked with cheese inside - then stuffed similar to the 'burger'.
                                  3. 'Durum' Sandwich - a larger circular pita that has the toppings placed on topped then rolled like a cigar.

                                  1. re: pakmode

                                    Which fillings do you reccomend? Like meat-wise?

                                    So this place is indeed Leaf Donair House then? I will google for the address

                                    Thanks !

                                    1. re: duckdown

                                      They only have veal and chicken. Haven't tried the falafel ever.

                                      The red sauce is as good as the Turkish donair place on Yonge/Gerrard. Good heat to it, but not overwhelming.

                                      I like that they use red cabbage along with coleslaw...adds nice texture and a good crunch to it.

                          2. Does Shawarma Empire has 'lamb'?

                            Also, notice Farat has moved to a nearby new location. How's the food now? Used to be my handsdown favourite until I read some negative postings. Don't want to risk driving all the way from Richmond Hill to be disappointed!

                            -----
                            Shawarma Empire
                            1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              SE doesn't have lamb. As much as I've loved lamb shawarma in the past, I don't think SE needs to excess fat to be tasty. Beef & chicken do just fine.

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                That's interesting, Charles. I'd also be interested to find out if they have got it back together. I used to love that place until it went downhill. Hopefully, they'll get their act together because it used to serve one helluva lamb shawarma.

                                1. re: Yongeman

                                  I'll try out the new Farhat sometime soon and report back.
                                  That place has been a disaster the past couple years - especially after their failed restaurant debacle. That place lasted a whole 6 minutes before closing down.

                                  -----
                                  Farhat
                                  2020 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Z1, CA

                                  1. re: pakmode

                                    I wouldn't give Farhat the opportunity to disappoint you. Their transgressions show a clear disregard for their patrons.

                                    1. re: Googs

                                      Googs, I've never been to Farhat, mainly because of your several negative postings. But I'm just curious about why you hate them so much?

                                      -----
                                      Farhat
                                      2020 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Z1, CA

                                      1. re: haggisdragon

                                        ive had some good Shawarma there, Ive also had some not so good, which is usually because of the odd time Id get unedible meat, like a piece of bone or cartilidge. I dont know, is it too much to expect only meat, no bones or other bits?

                                        Anyway, when its good, its pretty good. They have Chicken, Beef and Lamb, I like to get a mix of Chicken and Beef, or one of each. If you go at the right time, which is I guess during peak business hours, the ingredients are fresh and the meat is good, but ive gone and the ingredients looked like theyve been sitting around for a while and had some meat that was crispy but a bit dry and tough.

                                        Last night I went to Ibrahims and I swear it was the best shawarma Ive had in a while, I got chicken and Beef mix, the meat was soo juicy and tender and flavorful, the vegetables and all were very fresh and there was just the right amount of heat, and best part is no bones or other bad crap, which for me anyway just ruins the entire mouthful when you bite into it!

                                        1. re: jmarcroyal

                                          Coincidently, I was at Ibrahim the day before you, jmarcroyal. As usual, the shawarma was as you said, "...juicy and tender and flavourful". In addition, they had ramped up their hot sauce with what seemed to be a jalapeno-based concoction...quite hot--the guy even warned us about it, and let us taste it first. It was excellent in my chicken shawarma.

                                          1. re: jmarcroyal

                                            At its best, Farhat's lamb was one the best in town!

                                            -----
                                            Farhat
                                            2020 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Z1, CA

                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                              I will agree with you on that one, Charles

                                            2. re: jmarcroyal

                                              I started out at Farhat and it was great, I didn't even bother with any of the other locations in the area, over time the place started getting dirtier and falling apart, the lack of storage caused them to store things all over the restaurant (a shopping cart full of pita in the dining area) and then the freshness of their toppings went downhill. Finally their meat always seemed dry and lacked flavour.

                                              I switched to Ibrahim for a while, they are great, other than being a little salty from time to time. I'd give them my business 100% of the time..... If I hadn't run into Shawarma Empire.

                                              SE has a very unique flavour that I don't associate with traditional shawarma. Their hot sauce gives their product an extra layer of flavour that the other local places don't have. I get upset sometimes because I'll go in for lunch and people are ordering 10, 12, 16 shawarmas at a time. It tells you something....

                                              -----
                                              Shawarma Empire
                                              1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

                                              1. re: Dr Butcher

                                                This is not to refute anything you've said about Shawarma Empire, Dr. Butcher, but Ibrahim's hot sauce was killer when I was there last week, and I know that it didn't used to be so spicy as recently as a month ago.

                                                -----
                                                Shawarma Empire
                                                1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

                                                1. re: Yongeman

                                                  yea that hot sauce is great, its jalapeno I believe but it has a nice flavor and kick. Get extra hot sauce and you'll be feeling it for sure. The only other place Ive seen that hot sauce is at this place at Wilson Heights and Sheppard, just a bit north on the west side. It seems more like a bar but they have Shawarma and its tasty with that hot sauce!

                                                  I gotta try Shawarma Empire soon, I keep hearing good things about it, what time is that place open til?

                                                  -----
                                                  Shawarma Empire
                                                  1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

                                                  1. re: Yongeman

                                                    Finally tried Ibrahim's a few days ago. Cannot believe it has taken so long.

                                                    I was kinda disappointed. First off, the place was run like a total s$t show. Chaotic, slow moving, dirty, rickety tables, no board menus (!!!!!), toothpicks spilled all over the floor no one was bothering to clean up. To be fair, it was the dinner rush and they were slammed. Still, what do I care. It looked horrible, and was not a pleasant atmosphere to dine in. I mean, I don’t expect much from Shawarma joints, but this was ridiculous.

                                                    The shawarmas were so-so. Super fresh, but even then they were not blowing me away. Not even close. And watching the staff furiously stuff and roll the pitas with reckless abandon I just knew they were going to fall apart or be difficult to eat. Luckily they did not fall apart horribly but they were fairly difficult to eat. The jalapeno sauce.... meh. It was minced jalapenos mixed with maybe some vegetable oil to make it spreadable. It provided some kick, but not much in terms of flavour. Overall the shawarma was kinda salty (possibly due to too many pickles and turnips being thrown on with careless indifference) but also bland if that is possible.

                                                    All in all, it was fine. But nothing I would choose over Sharma Empire, which I love and where they at least run some kind of orderly and friendly establishment.

                                                    I would even hit Nasib's (which I think is fairly decent) over Ibrahim’s based on this first visit. Who knows, maybe my second visit would go better. It's just that even though the veggies were super fresh and abundant and the chicken was nice and fresh -- even then I thought I'd rather be at Shawarma Max at Yonge/Finch, or King Falafel (though they are not in Scarborough, this thread's focus) near me – both of which I would enjoy much more.

                                                    But hey, this is just one person's opinion. I respect that it is very well regarded, and I realize that this review will irk a lot of die-hards. Ah well. What can I do.

                                                    Never been to Farhat, as reviews have been universally dismal for years.

                                                    1. re: magic

                                                      Thats a pretty fair description of Ibrahims, although personally Id never eat inside the place, Id rather go eat in the car or something. The place inside decor-wise isnt anything special by any means, but I just look at as a take-out place with chairs, not as a sit-down restaurant.

                                                      I went just a little while ago to grab a shawarma and I headed to Shawarma Empire because ive been dying to try it there, but unfortunately they closed at 9, and I got there at 9:30. I was a bit disappointed but what can I do, atleast now I know. I settled for Ibrahims. The shawarma wasnt as good today as the last time I went but it was still decent. Unfortunately the dude making the Shawarma didnt seem all there tonight, I asked for a chicken/beef mix and he just made them with chicken, but It was all good I guess.

                                                      I agree with the salty comment, I think those pickles are too salty, maybe next time Ill get it without.

                                                      -----
                                                      Shawarma Empire
                                                      1823 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

                                                    2. re: Yongeman

                                                      I'll have to try Ibrahim's again, I haven't been in a long while because the Empire has been getting all my business. The last time I was there, the hot sauce didn't add much in the way of flavour, mostly heat.

                                                      I always thought they were generous with their portions and especially sauces, which often end up all over my shirt. The saltiness (and I'm not saying SE innocent either) was off the charts sometimes.

                                                      I found Nasib's pretty bland in comparison to SE and Ibrahim.

                                                      -----
                                                      Nasib's
                                                      1867 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Y3, CA

                                              2. re: Googs

                                                Years ago I would have crawled across the parking lot for one of those lamb shawarmas. However, today I'd rather eat in a toilet than at Farhat.

                                                -----
                                                Farhat
                                                2020 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R2Z1, CA

                                                1. re: Googs

                                                  Hey I know when ever the topic of shawarmas comes up we all lean toward the Lawrence stretch but as a Scarbirian I have to say when ever I'm in the west end I JUMP at the chance to visit Osmow's in Streetsville. Hands down my fav!

                                                  -----
                                                  Osmow's
                                                  470 Chrysler Dr, Brampton, ON L6S0C1, CA