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CNE is coming....what to eat?

I know the CNE is not what it used to be, however I still enjoy going. If nothing, for the food!

I know there will be a rib-fest each day which I plan to try out. I also enjoy scouring the Food building endlessly, not being able to make up my mind; I usually end up with roti!

We also end the day at the CNE with a bag of Tiny Toms and a ice cream waffle sandwich....mmmm.

What is everyone's CNE food pick and any tips to share?

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  1. The Purple Pig guys will be there. I think under the name Big Bone BBQ. That's good place to start.


    Purple Pig
    1 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5H3W4, CA

    1. Im dreaming about corn dogs. dont tell my wife or my doctor.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Everythingtarian

        ME TOO! And my chef bf will be shaking his head and me while I enjoy every bite!!!

      2. There's an article in the Star today about deep fried BUTTER and chocolate covered bacon. I'm down with the bacon, but the butter? yeesh.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MeMeMe

          I'm hoping the EMS will be there.......

          1. re: MeMeMe

            Actually it looked pretty tasty. I wouldn't have more than one though :)

          2. I'm hoping that the Poutinery in the Food building will be there... :)

            7 Replies
            1. re: HSz

              Growing up as a kid going to the Ex I used to always get a slice of pizza from Pizza Nova. Jerk Chicken on Rice is pretty good. I seem to recall Spagetti as well.

              As far as desserts, Tiny Toms are an absolute must buy, its probably best to get 2 dozen, one to eat right away and the rest to take home!

              Im not sure if they have Beaver Tails at the Ex, if they do, I highly recommend that as well, its really become more of an event or festival food. Cinnamon Sugar is delicious but Lemon and Sugar is tasty too!

              Ofcourse, Ice Cream waffle sandwiches are always good!

              Oh, and one thing I always did at the Ex was stock up on Billy Bee honey! They always had a booth in the food building so Id get some golden and some creamy honey, I dont know if its such a novelty anymore however...

              1. re: jmarcroyal

                Beaver Tails in the Food building Yup yup...

                Mmmmmm corn dogs!

                1. re: jmarcroyal

                  No offense intended but as a U.S .transplant it puzzles me that people consder a Pizza Nova slice at the CNE a tradition. I've heard this from coworkers as well that the first thing they do is head to the food building to grab a "insert chain food that's available throughout the GTA" right away!

                  We're heading to the CNE next week and I'm super excited that it sounds like they've upped the ante on fried foods! Hand dipped corn dogs make me salivate just thinking about em! Fried butter will be tried and on the news they mentioned "pizza on a stick". I'm all about having a huge salad for lunch then planning a heart attack via fried foods on sticks for dinner at the CNE. What makes it special and rational is that I can only have it once a year! I can get a Pizza Nove slice anytime.

                  1. re: abigllama

                    I cannot find the proper reference to last year's CNE Food thread, but I remembered the pizza on a stick and it was the usual slice threaded through a paint-stick-stirrer-type of stick and not quite worth the hullabaloo of being able to walk around with a slice in hand. ^_^;

                    1. re: abigllama

                      As a Torontonian born & bred I am also puzzled... yesterday was talking to people who were excited to hear that Swiss Chalet is now an option at the Ex. I guess if nothing else that tells us how bad the usual options are?!?!? At least the Tiny Toms have that once-a-year appeal, let's ignore the actual taste (and the fact they have a year-round outlet now).

                      1. re: julesrules

                        I think it says more about the people of the city. When faced with a bevy of unique offerings, they opt for the same old slop.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          With all the crowds, line ups and crazy prices it doesn't make any sense to me. Kids that are picky eaters will do that because they want to stick with the known so that's generally why I assumed they had this stuff there. But I'm hearing this from adults. I'll gladly go through the CNE mayhem and pay top dollar for a hand dipped corn dog but why bother with something that can be delivered to your living room 365 days a year?

                          The pizza on a stick sounds pretty lame. Nothing that hasn't spent time in a deep fryer and comes from an overn should be on a stick, ever! I still have high hopes for the butter and will always stick to the the standby of the hand dipped corn dog as well.

                2. blue snow cone
                  99 cent spaghetti at the food building
                  corn dog
                  more popcorn
                  candy floss
                  pizza slice
                  cheese demonstration in the better living building
                  pepperettes from the smoked meat stall
                  large pickles from the farm building food court
                  more popcorn
                  candy apple for the ride home
                  pepto bismol

                  1. i always make a stop at The Philippine Deli for some authentic Filipino Food... i think it's beside beaver tails... also they have some British vendors that sell unique snacks and baked goods like sausage rolls...and for your sweet tooth ii pick up a sugar waffle/sugar puff... thinner and crispy version of the typical waffle with the works (ice cream and strawberry topping)....

                    1. The fried Mars bar was as special as my daughter promised. I felt the topping of powdered sugar after the deep frying in sweet batter was a very nice touch.

                      1. In the Better Living Centre, I discovered "Edna's Pickles" today.
                        It's a small booth run by a Goan lady who makes Indian pickles/achaars.
                        Holy moly, the Hot Eggplant is really good. A bit pricey at $10 a jar, but probably my best find at the Ex this year.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Hondapendragon

                          had the deep fried butter and I loved it.
                          had perogies that were fried and the cheese was processed inside. - had one and threw out the rest.
                          had deep fried macaroni and cheese - needed hot sauce or ketchup.

                        2. Was excited to see a new booth in the food building selling mac n cheese.

                          could have been cheesier, but was good

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bbbradk

                            I had the classic mac and cheese. It was awful. The pasta was overcooked, so it was quite mushy. Chedder cheese was just melted on top. I did not like it. It tasted quite bland even though they tried to put some spices onto the pasta.

                            I like Daytona Wings with the honey garlic sauce. The sauce taste good on the yummy fries too.
                            Beaver Tails
                            Tiny Tom's donuts...so yummy

                          2. Tried to poutine in the food building (combo #2)... it was... alright I guess? Nothing to write home about

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: 00CP

                              Ribfest will get my attention this year :) Hmmmm maybe a corn dog too

                              1. re: 00CP

                                The poutine is such a blatant rip off of Smokes, but they have real gravy, not that weird stuff Smoke's serves

                                1. re: bbbradk

                                  According to this article, the same family runs both Mac & Cheesery and Bouchard's Poutinery....


                                2. re: 00CP

                                  There are two locations of the poutinery in the food building. We went to the bigger one. The gravy was okay, better than Smoke's, but still merely okay. The curds were okay. The fries however were undercooked.

                                3. went to the ex today
                                  ate/shared the following...
                                  1. pizza nova pepperoni slice - food building - greasy, but classic
                                  2. schnitzel on a bun - food building - tasteless
                                  3. 99¢ bowl of spaghetti (with 39¢ cheese added) - food building- you get what you pay for
                                  4. grape slushy - midway vendor - refreshing
                                  5. corn dog - midway vendor - only had a bite, not my fav
                                  6. curly fries - midway vendor - oily
                                  7. maple/chocolate fudge - international fair - not the greatest
                                  8. tiny tom donuts - midway vendor - icing sugar coated
                                  9. deep fried butter - midway vendor - waited in line for 1 hour - would ask for no sauce on top - sweet butter deep fried in a funnel cake batter - dreamy
                                  10. ended our gluttony at a random sushi place we found on queen west called 'To-ne Sushi' - apparently it has been open 10 months, it was reasonable and tasty

                                  4 Replies
                                    1. re: spankyfinch

                                      the line up for the butter made me laugh, couldn't believe it, and the funniest part was watching people try it, none of them looked blown away

                                      1. re: bbbradk

                                        Is Honeydew orange drink still sold at the Ex?

                                        1. re: jamie

                                          Sadly I did not see their booth this year, not that they ever had any Honeydew on hand, it was always empty, but they did make a great corn dog

                                    2. There is a new Portuguese place in the food building where New York Fries used to be. Tried the custard tarts and they were very good--definitely worth seeking out.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: ParsleySage

                                        I tried the deep fried butter at the ex. Waited in line for about 10-15 mins in evening 9ish. I thought it was overrated. The butter melted by the time who took a bite, so it was soaked into the crust of the ball. It tasted like a timbit but a bit crispier on the outside and it was a little salty in the inside. Could only eat one ball. Thank goodness I shared the rest.
                                        Had the deep fried mac and cheese - smelled good. Coating was okay and tasty, the inside was bland and mushy. Needs to be more creamy or cheesy in the middle. We had to add ketchup and hot sauce. Could only eat one ball..quite oily. Thank goodness I shared the rest as well.
                                        Had a Beaver tail with nutella and banana...that was sooo good!!!
                                        Ribs from the Memphis Stand was pretty tastey too!!

                                        1. re: ParsleySage

                                          Had the warm custard tart too, wow it was a nice change

                                        2. Ribs from Memphis BBQ and Tiny Tom donuts.

                                          Memphis BBQ
                                          8074 Islington Ave, Woodbridge, ON L4L1W5, CA

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: pocky

                                            Where was the Memphis BBQ place? I saw three ribbers by the Bandshell where they were playing Avatar last night. Didn't look like any of them were Memphis BBQ. I ended up having the Smitty BBQ one. It was okay, nothing too special though. I saw another Rib place in the Food Building itself, but, didn't walk around the whole thing so might have missed others.

                                            Also had teh deep fried Mac and Cheese (agreed with others that it was lacking in cheesy taste).

                                            Line up for deep fried butter was HUGE for most of the time we were there but around 10:15 while the final pyro/circus show was on it seemed smaller. THey said the booth is open until midnight. If that booth was staffed correctly they could serve way more butter. The two guys working in there seemed to be moving pretty slow. Yeah, sure, being there for long shifts could probably do that to you but why not bring in extra staff, the owners had a goldmine on their hands. In the end, we went for a deep fried Mars bar at another booth instead (was okay, not as good as the one I had at a pub off of Elm/Bay area one time).

                                            Overall a fun night, worth it for the $5 after 5pm deal (Mon to Thur, excluding labour day). The ice show was really good as was the final performance (circus show).

                                            Memphis BBQ
                                            8074 Islington Ave, Woodbridge, ON L4L1W5, CA

                                            1. re: ylsf

                                              Memphis BBQ is in the food building.

                                              Memphis BBQ
                                              8074 Islington Ave, Woodbridge, ON L4L1W5, CA

                                            2. re: pocky

                                              Memphis BBQ at The Ex is certainly the best of a bad lot. I had their ribs twice this year. On a slow day, they're fall off the bone with a crispy finish and a pretty tasty bbq sauce. On a busy day, they're less than tender but still perfectly acceptable for Fair Food.

                                              BTW Memphis BBQ's year-round store in Newmarket is called Big Bone BBQ & Wicked Wings.

                                              And a big shout out to the maestro of the hand made corn dog, Monster Mike's near the Fireball ride. Nasty delicious.

                                              1. re: Googs

                                                Monster Mikes's hand dipped corn dogs by Curtis made the whole EX for me. It was amazingly delicious. Second runner up is the fried butter - it's like biting into a pancake with a huge slab of melted butter on it.

                                            3. Going tonight...Looks like there is a deal for $5 admission after 5pm Monday to Wednesday...(posted details below).

                                              The friend I am going with is a vegetarian. Any suggestions for decent vegetarian food ?

                                              Visit the CNE after 5 pm - Get in for $5!
                                              Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays!

                                              Come to the CNE after 5 pm on Mondays*, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays and pay only $5 for admission. This special offer is only available on site at a CNE ticket booth. It is not available online.

                                              *Does not include Labour Day Monday


                                                1. Going back this weekend, not sure what is left to try, the butter balls got bad reviews all around, plus I don't want to line up.
                                                  Tried the mac n cheese, and while I was excited to see something new in the food building, it was bland, so I doubt I'll try the fried mac balls.

                                                  Really liked the warmed portugese tarts though, so will visit there again, although the pork sandwich I got from the same place was horrible, it was served cold?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: bbbradk

                                                    I went last night, $5 to get in why not. I was surprise to see it not that busy. I enjoyed the corn dog at the first outdoor vendor nearest the main gates, then immediatly went and got tiny tom donuts. Went by the fried butter vendor too long of a line so went right into the food building, don't get anything from H. Salt fish and chips, it lookes good but there is no fish inside, can't beleive they have four location in the building. Tried the mexican poutine from Bouchard's Poutinery would have been real good if the fries were fried longer, some of the cheese curds were still cold. Tried the deep fried porogies too gressy not much flavour.

                                                    I was there around 7:00 and I got to say stuff on display looked pretty picked over and not too fresh. I couldn't get that childhood memory back.....

                                                  2. Well I tried the deep fried butter, the actual block of butter is really small, like 1cm square, I would've actually preferred a bit more leaking butter and a nice salty and sweet contrast with the batter.

                                                    Everything else was not really note worthy but the Portuguese tarts from the food building are really good.

                                                    1. So we made our annual trek to the Ex yesterday, a tradition since I was 8yrs old...

                                                      At 10am first stop is always the food building. Did the usual "drive by" walking past all vendors to check out what's on offer. Noted the new spots I'd read about here and in the end, couldn't resist the Deep Fried Mac & Cheese, despite underwhelming reviews here. This was a MISTAKE. Please, if you haven't been to the Ex yet, don't waste your money here. I was optimistic when the 4 golf-ball sized morsels were served up in a nice Asian take-out inspired box with proper serviettes and quality plastic utensils. Heeding the advice of Chowhounds, I filled mini-cups w ketchup and Frank's hot sauce. After a quick sprinkling of salt I was all set to enjoy! What a disappointment! The outer breading was rock-hard and really tough to cut into, despite the higher end plastic knife. The breading itself had some indiscernible seasoning in it but the overwhelming flavour was grease. The kind of greasiness that leaves a nasty coat on your tongue and the roof of your mouth! The macaroni inside was clearly an afterthought, completely flavourless and, over-cooked. I ate 1 1/4 of the four balls, and simply couldn't stomach the rest despite feeling guilty about wasting $7.+ - had to toss them.

                                                      Hubby had fried chx w rice & peas and plantain (extra $2 charge) from the "Jamaica" booth. Food smelled tasty and he was happy with his choice saying flavours were good. He opted for jerk sauce on the rice. Chicken was a bit greasy but, maintained its crispiness. Overall, a bit pricy for "food-court" CNE food - total cost $12.45 including plantains...no beverage.

                                                      Needless to say, I was still hungry so I headed to the Portuguese bakery for a warm custard tart since I'd read nothing but positive comments here. FYI, the spot is called Jack's Bakery & Pastry and the tarts did not disappoint! Service was friendly and the tart was tasty. Nice crispy, flaky crust and a tender, creamy, warm custard centre. Left the food building with smiles on our faces.

                                                      With the air show cancelled, we left earlier than anticipated so the only other food we purchased were the Tiny Tom's for the ride home. True to form, the Tommy's were warm and tasty! Huge line-up as usual and, no coupons being handed out this year. Donuts are $5 per dozen (is this more expensive than usual?????) or, 4 dozen for $15.

                                                      If we'd have stayed longer, I'd have definitely grabbed a corn dog on the midway...freshly made and smelling great. Ditto for the grilled corn on the cob. A new temptation this year were the "blue" candy apples...so wrong but so appealing!

                                                      Note there's a pdf map of the food building at the Ex website this year which can make life easier.