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support the little guys in the GTA- grocers, butchers, greengrocers, delis, etc.

Here are some of the smaller independent delis, butchers, grocers, grocery stores and smaller TO-based grocery chains I like to frequent:

Ararat on Avenue Road north of Lawrence
Serano Grocery (next to the Serano Bakery) on Pape near Mortimer
Starsky
La Salumeria
Lady York
Cumbrae's
Oliffe
La Boucherie in St. Lawrence Market
Scheffler's
Grande Cheese
Alex Farms
Honey Bear Deli on Sheppard

Please add your favourites.

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  1. Agree with prima and I do support many on the list...however the husband and wife at Ararat are the most unwelcoming!! Love Honeybear...awesome schnitzel!

    7 Replies
    1. re: robb

      I've always had the opposite experience at Ararat. They are so friendly, always offering me a complimentary coffee... And I'm not a very frequent customer, so it's not because they know me.

      1. re: Tatai

        I too shop infrequently at Ararat, and have never had a service issue there.

        Cheese Emporium at Avenue/Melrose, just South of Ararat, is also on my list of decent local shops.

        1. re: gimel

          Good to know, I should check out Cheese Emporium.

          I like Pino Bakery, too.

        2. re: Tatai

          I've also had friendly service at Ararat.

        3. re: robb

          I also had very unfriendly service at Ararat. I was texting and they thought I was taking pictures (of what I have no idea) and confronted me after eyeing me like a criminal for a few minutes. I left and never went back.

          Dave Young
          Bologna Pastificio
          Odessa Deli

          1. re: magic

            Too bad about your experience at Ararat.

            Will have to check out Odessa Deli. Hadn't heard about it before now.

            1. re: prima

              Odessa Deli is a little shop, with a friendly staff. They sell eastern European and Russian delights, much like Ararat but on Marlee.

              I like their Pelmeni dumplings selection in their freezer - the veal stuffed Pelmeni are a great addition to any soup!

        4. Frequently at Starsky'. Also like Brandts and it's too bad they are closed on Sunday

          1. On Kingston Road -

            Art of Cheese
            Close to the Bone
            Knead Bakery

            1 Reply
            1. re: Otonabee

              Don't forget about Courage Foods on Kingston Rd - they have some great stuff! Also, Carload, a green grocer on Queen East in the Beach.

            2. I like this thread!

              At this moment, I'm stuck to the GTA West but here's a list of places that I keep coming back to because of the great friendly staff and food quality.

              Michael-angelo's marketplace on Erin Mills
              Palma Pasta in the same plaza (amazing fresh pasta)
              Every Saturday at the Etobicoke farmers market, there are 4 real farmers that are phenomenal.

              The mushroom farmer who's oyster mushroom taste like delicious smokey steak are great.
              The leafy vegetable farmer besides the chicken truck is amazing. I've never had spinach, Boston Bibb, and rainbow beets taste so great and sweet.
              The fruit only farmer closest to the corner of East Mall and Burnhamthorpe. She specializes in stone fruit and her peaches this year are wonderful.
              The tiny little deli truck right outside the library step is maned by a cute Eastern Euro couple. I love the pancetta.
              Honourable mention goes to the fruit farmer right front of the deli truck. They have incredible selection of fruits. I think they might be half farmer and half reseller. They have the best tasting apples especially Honey Crisp. They also have lots of seconds fruit at great prices.

              I'm still trying to find a good fish market ad butcher in Mississauga

              7 Replies
              1. re: Nevy

                We live in New Toronto and shop at Michaelangelos - we followed Angelo there from Sunkist at Danforth and Carlaw (now that's a long time ago!)

                Is the Etobicoke market you refer to the one at the old City Hall?

                1. re: ElizabethS

                  Yes the Etobicoke market at Civic Centre (near 427 and Burnhamthorpe). It's not a huge market like Square One or Sherway but I find all the vendors there really great. I think there's only really 2 100% resellers (unlike Sherway or Square One where I find more than half are resellers). Most are real farmers or farmers that resell some more items that their crops.

                  I went again this Saturday and there's another good farmer that just arrived. It is just between the baker and lettuce vegetable farmer. They're a much smaller scale farm so there they do not have a lot of quantity but their quality is so good. I bought peaches and cream corn $6/dozen and they were so sweet! No butter or salt needed... just placed them on the grill and they were beautiful.

                  1. re: Nevy

                    Went yesterday - it's a lovely market. What's the story with the chicken truck? Never fewer than 8 people in line. We watched to see what people were buying and it appeared mostly eggs but curious as to why they're so popular.

                    1. re: ElizabethS

                      I think their price for the eggs and the size is quite good. It is always packed. Too bad you missed one of the fun 'farmers'. There usually is a group that has fresh baked goods that are quite delicious. They weren't there yesterday because they had another event. Their butter tarts and fresh sourdough breads are quite wonderful.

                      1. re: Nevy

                        Butter tarts - my downfall! The mushroom guy had a great selection at good prices - will be back next week for more and hope the baked goods people are there.

                        1. re: ElizabethS

                          Completely agree with you on the mushroom farmer. I love the oyster mushrooms there. It's quite novel they have pink oyster mushrooms. I do recommend to try the shimuzi (spelling?). It imparts a gorgeous smokey flavour when pan fried with butter.

                          I also recommend the rainbow candy beets by the farmer beside the chicken vendor. They don't stain but they are so juicy and sweet when roasted in a foil packet with a bit of butter.

                          1. re: Nevy

                            We asked him for rainbow beets but none this week - did buy some lovely golden ones though....he said maybe next week.

              2. Not a specialty shop but just a great neighbourhood spot: Bloorcourt Market at Bloor and Delaware. Good produce and a surprising selection of South American ingredients, including everything you could possibly need to make posole. It's family-run by some of the nicest people around and they're open every day except Christmas Day from about 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. A total life-saver on holidays when everything else is closed, or just when you don't feel like trekking out to the four or five major grocery stores within a 15-minute walk.