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Jan 10, 2011 09:42 AM

Israeli restaurants in Toronto or North York?

Do you know of any good Israeli food restaurants in Toronto or North York. I don't mean Kosher Jewish food, but typical Israeli food.


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  1. A lot of people rave about Me Va Me at Yonge and Steeles. The couple of times I've been there it's been quite good but crowded with uneven service.

    Closer to home for me, I enjoy MashuMashu in Forest Hill Village (Spadina north of St. Clair). My favourites there are the shawarma platter, falafel, and their salads (I usually order the "chopped" - which isn't). Good hummus and baba ganouch, as well.

    There's also Jerusalem on Eglinton between Bathurst and Allen Rd. I believe it's Palestinian-owned; the food is consistently good; I especially like their fried eggplant slices, fried tomatoes, kubbeh, and fattoush salad.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Tatai

      Thanks Tatai, so far I also heard good things about MashuMashu.

      1. re: Tatai

        I agree at bout MeVaMe though we have not gone in a long time because the wait times are always too long when you have small kids waiting for dinner.
        It's quite a bit farther west of Yonge on Steeles if you mean the Restaurant and not the take out location. Both of which had insane wait times during busy periods. Call ahead to see what wait time you are in for, even the takout has painfully long waits at peak times.
        Their hummus and marshmallow-soft pita are like crack. Their patio is pleasant in season.
        My husband loves their lamb kabob and schnitzel chicken. I've had their fish dish and their salads are very fresh. I pass on the beets though. I try to eat lunch there because the portions are large. Stay away from the fries, very greasy and weird, I cringe when people I eat with order them.
        I can't wait to try Jerusalem and Mashu Mashu since they are way closer.

        Mashu Mashu
        387 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5P, CA

        1. re: Tatai

          Me Va Me is at Bathurst and Steeles, not Yonge and Steeles, and it's currently considered the medium-priced uptown benchmark for Israeli/Middle East/Russian cuisine. Very, very popular. If you go at the regular dinner hour, you may have to wait awhile for a table, especially on weekends. There's a takeout version of Me Va Me a little further east on Steeles, about halfway between Bathurst and Yonge St. Also good is Sababa, in the same neighborhood, also on Steeles between Yonge and Bathurst. Very strong on starters, salads and hot and cold appetizers, which you can easily make a meal of. They're not shy with the garlic. Maybe that's why I like it so much..

          Most Israeli restos have pretty much the same menu and prices - except the aforementioned, not-quite-Israeli Jerusalem on Eglinton Ave. W., which is a bit more adventurous. But the second Jerusalem outlet, uptown, on Leslie St. north of Sheppard Ave. E., is just a buffet and not ordinarily up to much. Mashu Mashu, also mentioned by Tatai, is solid, probably the best all-round Israeli menu execution in town, though prices are creeping up. Damn good rainbow trout, though. Mashu Mashu can even make rice taste acceptable.. Shoom Shoom, on Bayview Ave. north of Steeles, is respectable as well, as is the smallish Mister Combo, on Sheppard Ave. just east of Bathurst. Several Israeli places on Bathurst St. considerably north of Steeles all have flaws of one kind or another, usually scattered, forgetful service and/or indifferent menu execution .

          Tabule, on Yonge St. south of Eglinton, probably doesn't quite fit in the Israeli slot - it's more of a general Middle Eastern menu - but it's certainly a winner. Slightly higher in price than the average Israeli joint, and slightly fancier (it has an actual wine list). Most Israeli spots are pretty utilitarian. But then, you don't go to such places to dine. You go for a good feed of substantial portions at easy-to-take prices. You can usually get out of such restos for $40-$45 a couple, all in.

          1. re: Tatai

            We ate at Me Va Me (Bathurst and Steeles location) on a Friday around 9:00 pm in early December, and only had to wait about 3 minutes for a table. Soon after we were eating, many more tables were available. One thing I remember is how the young waitresses were very attentive and checked on us every so often, and were generally very helpful. That is quite a departure from the wait staff at many other low priced restaurants. I'm mentioning this as we had great service, and I'm waiting to go back there. It's just a long way from Greektown or I'd be eating there once a week.

            1. re: foodyDudey

              Thank you all for your amazing suggestions, I think the first place we'll go to will be Mashu Mashu.

              Mashu Mashu
              387 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5P, CA

              1. re: sophie80

                Can I also suggest Shoom Shoom at Bayview north of Steeles, which is owned by the same people as Mashu Mashu, as well as Hannah's Shwarma at Rutherford and Bathurst.

                1. re: kwass

                  i've heard good things about Hannah's Shwarma (never been).
                  i've been to Orly's once - i think its Bathurst and Major Mac. they do israeli-style grilled meats

                  1. re: kwass

                    I'll second Shoom Shoom: generous portions (three of us shared the chicken shwarma and the appetizer plate) and very attentive wait staff.

                2. re: foodyDudey

                  If I ate Me Va Me at 9pm I would be comatose and asleep in the car ride home :)
                  I find I totally overeat because I never make such creamy hummus and babaganoush at home and their baked potatoes!!!!! OMG.
                  Carb overdose everytime.
                  I went to Mashu Mashu last night and their food is quite similar but I didn't notice a baked potato.side..Does anyone know how to get a baked potato like Me Va Me at home?
                  So soft it seems steamed inside.. Awesome.

                  Mashu Mashu
                  387 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5P, CA

              2. I second Shoom Shoom on Bayview north of Steeles. Not exactly North York but just north of Steeles. Its our go to place for take out or eat-in. All food is freshly prepared, wonderful salads, and grilled meats and fish. But as others said it's owned by Mashu Mashu owners so of course its great.

                While the food at Me Va Me is fine, personally the atmoshpere and crowds have turned us off the place..

                Mashu Mashu
                387 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5P, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: breezey

                  Very excited to check it out, the site looks great! I wish Shoom Shoom and Mashu Mashu would also do home delivery. Would be convenient for those of us who don't have a car :-)

                  Mashu Mashu
                  387 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5P, CA

                2. Would Tov-Li qualify? They remind me of a typical Israeli pizza and falafel restaurant - and they make both VERY WELL.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: MeMeMe

                    The OP specifically said he/she didn't want kosher, and Tov-Li is definitely kosher. But if kosher is okay, then Tov-Li - as MeMeMe attests - does a damn good falafel sandwich with numerous tasty toppings at no extra charge, as well as solid kosher pizzas at decent prices, along with a number of freshly-made salads and assorted other light dishes. Cafeteria-style service, sometimes chaotic atmosphere, mostly pleasant servers behind the counter - and the usual idiosyncrasies of kosher restos everywhere. For example, it closes even for the most obscure Jewish holidays that many non-observant Jews didn't know even existed - till they arrive at the resto and discover the shades drawn and the place closed. Just when I'm aching for a falafel. Two locations on Bathurst St. I prefer the one south of the 401. Neither location, though, is particularly restful. You line up, you order, you eat, and then you get out of there.

                    1. re: juno

                      Kosher is fine, but I wasn't particularly looking for Kosher food, but Israeli food. All recommendations are wonderful, we can't wait to check them out :-)!

                      1. re: sophie80

                        If kosher is fine, then Tov-Li is worth a visit because - as my Israeli friends inform me - it's reasonably close to the Israeli snack bars they recall from times past (though not, they invariably hasten to add, never quite as good as their Tel Aviv favorites). And Tov-Li is, in effect, a slightly upscale snack bar, better, in my view, for a light lunch than dinner. The major drawback, for those who don't care about kosher one way or another, are the annoying paper plates (the city's thinnest ), styrofoam soup bowls and throwaway plastic cutlery, de rigeur for any joint catering to the surrounding observant community, but compromising the taste nonetheless. And, needless to say, being kosher usually adds about 20% to the price of anything on the menu. Still worth it, in my opinion, given the quality of most everything on the premises. Any place that doesn't start cooking the falafel balls until they're actually ordered (rather than leaving them to dry out on the steam table) has my vote every time.

                    2. re: MeMeMe

                      Can you describe what the pizza is like there? I've always wondered about it, but I love the falafel, so have never gotten anything else!

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        It will make you realize why cheese needs rennet. Something along the lines of melted candle wax or worse, soy cheese. Yes, I realize I ranked melted candle wax as more palatable than soy cheese.

                    3. My personal favourite for falafel and shawarma is at Finch and Keele, a place called Falafel Express. It's a bit of a dive, but their food is very good.

                      At Dufferin and Steeles, there's Ravivo Jr, which is an Israeli place that may or may not be related to Ravivo Restaurant on Centre Street just East of Dufferin. I noticed that another Ravivo-type place opened up on John street near Bayview.

                      There's also a larger banquet place that I think is called Paka Paka now, on the north side of Steeles, west of dufferin. It was where Meron Brothers restaurant was located after they sold their location at Bathurst north of Steeles. The last time I was there (original location, post-sale, many years ago) they still did a good whole fish.

                      Last but not least, there's Sababa on Steeles between Yonge and Bathurst. That place gets a lot of love from some people, and a lot of hate from others (health code issues ahem). I rank it in the middle since it doesn't do much for me as far as price or taste goes, but it meets the criteria you posted, so there.

                      390 Steeles W, Thornhill, ON L4J6X6, CA

                      Falafel Express Restaurant
                      1300 Finch Ave W, Toronto, ON M3J3K2, CA

                      Meron Restaurant
                      7117 Bathurst St, Thornhill, ON L4J2J6, CA

                      Paka Paka Restaurant
                      1600 Steeles Av W, Thornhill, ON L4K4M2, CA

                      1. I've been to the Me Va Me takeout location (never been to the restaurant location) and am always happy with what I get. The schnitzel is damn good, breaded chicken breast with sesame seeds