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Mom n' Pop Eats For TIFF

steiny33 Aug 25, 2010 01:23 PM

Been scanning the board for restaurants for a few hours now for my upcoming trip to Toronto for the film festival. I've found a few good recs so far: SLM, The Black Hoof/Cafe, Lee Garden.

I stumbled upon a thread where someone suggested that mom n' pop restos are one of the great culinary delights of Toronto. That got me thinking that the TIFF crowd will likely go to the bigger named, shinier places, so I should probably avoid those like the plague to stay away from line ups and long waits.

What are some good mom n' pop restos or just smaller, cozier, off the beaten path type places near Downtown Toronto that are either walking distance or rail distance? Price is not an issue, though I wouldn't expect anything high end from these type of establishments. Local produce, meats, etc and/or organic type places preferred but not required. Newer, gourmet style or home cooking all acceptable.

Lee Garden Restaurant
331 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

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  1. Splendid Wine Snob RE: steiny33 Aug 25, 2010 02:07 PM

    Here's a thread already started in a similar vein:


    My picks would be:

    Le Paradis for simple French bistro fare
    Sidecar for a great prix fixe from Sunday-Wednesday
    Black Camel for their pulled pork sandwich
    Swatow for the Shrimp dumpling soup
    Sukhothai for the Khao Soi-a little out there but still accessible via streetcar
    Caplansky's deli for the smoked meat sandwich and amazing fries
    Tacos El Asador for the tacos and pupusas

    Hope that gets you started...


    Le Paradis
    166 Bedford Road, Toronto, ON M5R 2K9, CA

    Tacos El Asador
    690 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L2, CA

    Black Camel
    4 Crescent Rd, Toronto, ON M4W1S9, CA

    309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

    356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
      steiny33 RE: Splendid Wine Snob Aug 25, 2010 02:39 PM

      Thanks SWS. Those all sound great.

      I checked that thread. Other than Burrito Boyz, there's not much info there, unfortunately. Mostly people saying pack a lunch or recommending "decent" places, but nothing that sounds exciting.

      I'm thinking Canteen will be packed so probably should avoid that.

      Someone recommended Chipotle which is just bizarre.

      Burrito Boyz
      218 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H1W7, CA

      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
        froglegs RE: Splendid Wine Snob Sep 5, 2010 08:35 AM

        But some of these places are not downtown or within walking distances to TIFF.
        I would skip Caplansky's. Not one of my favourites.

        356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

      2. p
        phoenikia RE: steiny33 Aug 25, 2010 02:30 PM

        Second Sukhothai. It's a popular place, and quite small, so go early if you don't want to chance a line-up.

        The Coffee Mill is my go-to for Hungarian almost-home cooking when I need to eat near the Varsity or Cumberland 4 theatres. I like their chicken paprikash, goulash and palascinta.

        Not sure if any showings you'll be seeing are near the Bloor Cinema (Bloor & Bathurst). I like Maroli for Keralan Indian food (at 630 Bloor W between Christie and Bathurst), as well as the Korean bakery on the north side of Bloor that sells walnut cakes.

        Coffee Mill
        99 Yorkville, Toronto, ON M5R3K5, CA

        630 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

        5 Replies
        1. re: phoenikia
          Splendid Wine Snob RE: phoenikia Aug 25, 2010 02:49 PM

          How could I have forgotten Maroli and the Coffee Mill?! Good suggestions Phoenikia.

          Coffee Mill
          99 Yorkville, Toronto, ON M5R3K5, CA

          630 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
            phoenikia RE: Splendid Wine Snob Aug 25, 2010 03:06 PM

            Aww, thanks SWS ;-)

            1. re: phoenikia
              steiny33 RE: phoenikia Aug 26, 2010 08:13 PM

              OK Phoenikia, thanks for the recs. I haven't had Hungarian in a while...can't even think of a Hungarian resto here in LA, so looking forward to that.

              I'll put Maroli on the stand-by list as I've eaten way too much Indian the last few months and I'm on a bit of a hiatus.

              630 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

          2. re: phoenikia
            detritus RE: phoenikia Aug 25, 2010 07:40 PM

            There aren't any festival venues near the Bloor, unfortunately. TIFF is screening almost entirely south of Dundas these days.

            For the reference of people making food recommendations, there are three main regions where there are screenings:

            - Yonge/Dundas: AMC, Ryerson, Elgin & Winter Garden (the majority of screenings are in this area)
            - Yorkville: Varsity & Isabel Bader (no more screenings at the Cumberland)
            - Entertainment District: Scotiabank, Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall & AGO

            Elgin Cafe
            100 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P5K8, CA

            1. re: phoenikia
              markdsgraham RE: phoenikia Sep 5, 2010 04:26 AM

              Coffee Mill is definitely a great suggestion! I'd also add Ethiopia House, which is close enough to the Yorkville TIFF events and is basically and Mom 'n Pop type place.

              A few subway stops away is Zorba's on the Danforth (Toronto's Greek town). This should really fit the bill. Mezes on the Danforth is a little more upscale and also very good.

              Coffee Mill
              99 Yorkville, Toronto, ON M5R3K5, CA

              681 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1L2, CA

              456 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P4, CA

            2. num nums RE: steiny33 Aug 26, 2010 09:33 PM

              for a good lunch time spot, there's ravisoups. they're on adelaide east of peter street. so it's right around the corner from both scotiabank theatre and bell lightbox. as the name suggests, they have great soups, but also good wraps and stews. they also have an unlikely patio in the back that would be nice if the weather stays warm then.

              here's a link to a recent profile in blogto:

              1. num nums RE: steiny33 Aug 26, 2010 09:52 PM

                just thought of another place near scotiabank theatre. the avenue open kitchen is an old school greasy spoon in the good sense. very inexpensive. just stick to their daily specials and soups which are all scratch made. their braised short beef ribs are legendary. it's on camden street, which is a side street just south of richmond on the west side of spadina. it's a tiny spot that's open for breakfast and lunch.

                Avenue Open Kitchen
                7 Camden St, Toronto, ON M5V1V2, CA

                4 Replies
                1. re: num nums
                  steiny33 RE: num nums Sep 5, 2010 12:29 AM

                  Those look like solid spots, num nums. Thanks. And they're both close to my hotel.

                  I probably should have specified breakfast, lunch and dinner above...seems like I might be short on breakfast places to try. Though now I can add Avenue Open Kitchen to the list.

                  Avenue Open Kitchen
                  7 Camden St, Toronto, ON M5V1V2, CA

                  1. re: steiny33
                    Herb RE: steiny33 Sep 5, 2010 04:45 AM

                    If you're looking for breakfast close to your hotel, do not go to Cora's. There's always a lineup and the frozen franchise food is dreadful, tho they give you a ton of not-very ripe fruit with nearly everything. Whoopdi-doo.

                    There used to be lots of cheap greasy spoons around there, but not anymore. The Avenue's the last one left! The sorta new BQM Diner at Queen and Spadina may be one of those $10 gourmet burger places but it opens early (8 am?) for basic bacon 'n' egg breakfast. Locals remember it as the Stem, a true spoon that was there since the 50s when breakfast was $3.95 instead of $8.95.

                    If you're up for a 10 minute walk, the Prague on Queen just west of Bathurst has hearty Czeck-style goulash and such from 7:30 am.

                    Or you could walk up to the Chinatown at Dundas and Spadina for 24-hour pho at Pho Pasteur or cheap dim sum at Rol San. Opens at 9:30. Don't go on the weekend or you'll stand in line.

                    And the new Canteen at King & John has cheap ham and fried egg sandwiches for $4 to $6 bucks depending on how fancy. Opens 7 am weekdays, 8 am weekends but there'll likely be lineups during the fest since the TIFF offices are there. Go early.

                    Rol San
                    323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

                    Prague Fine Food Emporium
                    638 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                    Pho Pasteur
                    525 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T1H4, CA

                    BQM Diner
                    354 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V2A2, CA

                    1. re: Herb
                      Dimbulb RE: Herb Sep 5, 2010 10:29 AM

                      And Zupa's on Adelaide just west of Peter for cheap deli breakfasts. Open 7 am?

                      Zupa's Resturant & Deli
                      342 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V1R7, CA

                      1. re: Dimbulb
                        steiny33 RE: Dimbulb Sep 7, 2010 10:09 PM

                        Thanks Herb and Dimbulb. I just got into town and I'm adding your recs to my Google Maps "My Maps" list of restos. Very excited to taste Toronto. Let the eating begin!

                2. s
                  steiny33 RE: steiny33 Sep 8, 2010 07:00 PM

                  First day in town I ate at Canteen for breakfast and Kenzo Ramen for dinner.

                  I really wanted to like Canteen's breakfast, but the execution just wasn't there. Service was pretty good, but the food had been sitting around for a few minutes because it was luke warm along with my coffee. It was a pretty standard breakfast, eggs, maple bacon, sausage, and potatoes. Everything tasted average, however the home made sauce for the potatoes was probably the best thing about the meal. Heating issue aside, I just wasn't that impressed, especially for the price. Even though I like the overall design and interior of the place, it was a fail the first go round. I will give it another shot for breakfast or lunch to see if it was just a one time thing.

                  Kenzo Ramen was the opposite. Ramen was amazing, service sub-par. For some reason I think the wait staff was new or having some issue but they ignored me for 10 minutes and then there was a series of miscommunications that was quite frustrating that delayed my order. In the end, the Netsu Ramen blew my mind. The savory and spicy taste was better than Ramen I've had in Tokyo. I'll definitely go back, just hoping the service thing was a fluke.

                  Kenzo Ramen
                  6180 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2M, CA

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