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street food

fresco May 13, 2003 01:38 PM

When Toronto warms up, sausage and hot dog vendors sprout on just about every downtown street corner. I'm sure there are some licencing issues involved, but why can't this city with its famously diverse population support an equally diverse street cuisine?

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  1. m
    Mr. Guy RE: fresco May 13, 2003 02:24 PM

    ... Well, there are always corn vendors in Little India in the summer! Unfortunately, given the strict licensing requirements (e.g., hot dog vendors cannot offer cheese as a condiment for fear of spoilage), and the lack of a street food tradition in TO, I wouldn't expect things to change terribly much here.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Mr. Guy
      danbird RE: Mr. Guy May 13, 2003 05:57 PM

      that's not true... almost every vendor has cheese.

      1. re: danbird
        estufarian RE: danbird May 13, 2003 06:41 PM

        It was the cooked onions that were banned.

        1. re: estufarian
          danbird RE: estufarian May 13, 2003 11:31 PM

          good lord, why? what possible health hazard could cooked onions be?

          1. re: danbird
            Completely Paranoid RE: danbird May 14, 2003 12:04 PM

            Clostridium botulinum aka Botulism. Not good.

            1. re: Completely Paranoid
              danbird RE: Completely Paranoid May 14, 2003 03:45 PM


              in *cooked* onions?

              1. re: danbird
                fresco RE: danbird May 14, 2003 04:46 PM

                I'm surprised municipal officials even allow vendors to sell hot dogs and sausages on the street. Don't they clog your arteries, posing a significant health risk?

                1. re: fresco
                  BlaBlaBla RE: fresco May 15, 2003 03:34 AM

                  The guys at the northeast corner of Queen and Spadina offer the biggest selection of condiments in the city. Anything you could ever imagine putting on a hot dog or sausage, these guys have.
                  As well, apparently Ernie at Ryerson is pretty good. He offers cheese.
                  Toronto should consider itself lucky with re/ to street meat. A few months ago I was in Times Square and decided to try a New York dog, thinking NYC's fare would destroy Toronto's. How sadly mistaken I was. After handing the guy $3 American and asking for him to put everything on it, he pulled a tiny cigarette-sized dog out of a steel box full of water and proceeded to give me 'the works,' which consisted of some ketchup and sauerkraut. What a bloody disappointment that was. I couldn't believe how terrible New York dogs were.

                  1. re: BlaBlaBla
                    danbird RE: BlaBlaBla May 15, 2003 04:51 PM

                    "tastes like shit, but you can live on it"

                2. re: danbird
                  Otonabee RE: danbird May 14, 2003 08:47 PM

                  Yeah, sadly I beleive Paranoid is right. The issue is not the cooked onion. Its the fact that in many cases the onion would be cooked in the morning then left around for the day at a tepid temperature. Hence the whole buggy issue.

                  Granted I am still highly miffed that I can't seem to get mayo for the hot dogs anymore. Does anyone know of any vendors in the core that still offers this?

                  1. re: Otonabee
                    fresco RE: Otonabee May 15, 2003 04:41 AM

                    Come to think of it, though, all the rules go out the window for the Taste of the Danforth. For three days you get hundreds of thousands of people munching mountains of souvlaki, pakoras, samosas and other stuff AND drinking beer as they make their way down the street. What makes these three days different from all the other days?

                    1. re: fresco
                      james RE: fresco May 15, 2003 01:29 PM

                      But I would think that during Taste of the Danforth the turnover rate for food is so high that this wouldn't be too much of a problem...besides, the restaurant the food originated from is not far away, so it wouldn't be necessary to keep a whole day's supply at the stand.

                      1. re: james
                        julesrules RE: james May 20, 2003 11:05 PM

                        They had uniformed health inspectors all over Taste of the Danforth last year, and I heard them telling vendors to make changes to the way they were storing the food. I live around the corner and was there every day (little incentive to cook that weekend!).

                    2. re: Otonabee
                      Goober RE: Otonabee May 18, 2003 09:28 PM

                      The people at the southwest corner of University and College have many toppings: squeeze cheeze, mayo, bacon bits! (don't remember if real), corn relish, fried onions i think, sauerkraut......i think i'm going tomorrow!!

          2. re: Mr. Guy
            Amy RE: Mr. Guy Jun 11, 2003 05:05 PM

            Hate to disagree with most of you, but I'm pretty sure that Mr. Guy's right about the cheese. Lots of the vendors still offer it, but I don't think they're allowed to. I've seen lots of posters to that effect.

          3. g
            gourmaniac RE: fresco May 13, 2003 03:18 PM

            I hope that you are appreciative of how excellent your hot dog vendors are! They are the best and I look forward to them on every visit to your fair city.

            7 Replies
            1. re: gourmaniac
              fresco RE: gourmaniac May 13, 2003 03:26 PM

              It's good to know that we have the best of the wurst.

              1. re: fresco
                danbird RE: fresco May 13, 2003 03:27 PM


                that was terrible... you're such a brat!

                that said.. i think it's a psychological thing. we expect fast food to be greasy and tasteless.. i would love to see some japanese street food. stuff like yakitori, and udon, and such.

                1. re: danbird
                  fresco RE: danbird May 13, 2003 03:33 PM

                  Agree completely about more Asian street food. I'm told that Singapore, which is one of the more tightly regulated places in the world (hefty fines for spitting or chewing gum) has great, and greatly varied, street food. Even Mel ("they might put me in a pot and eat me if I go to Africa) Lastman should be able to see the tourism potential in great street eats.

                  1. re: danbird
                    Heather RE: danbird May 13, 2003 11:52 PM

                    Yes! Yes! Yakitori, yakisoba, udon, ramen, oden...all that wonderful "yatai" (street stall) food. -sigh-

                    Seriously, I can't eat any more hot dogs or truck fries. I don't know what health/sanitation issues the City of Toronto is so uptight about, but if street food can be eaten all over Asia, why not here?

                  2. re: fresco
                    Heather RE: fresco May 13, 2003 03:31 PM

                    Aaaaaaargh! You ought to be pun-ished and put into a pun-itentiary!!!

                    1. re: Heather
                      fresco RE: Heather May 13, 2003 03:35 PM

                      I thought this board encouraged pundits.

                      1. re: Heather
                        fresco RE: Heather May 13, 2003 03:35 PM

                        I thought this board encouraged pundits.

                  3. g
                    Goober RE: fresco May 13, 2003 05:42 PM

                    from my uoft days.....the best damn sausages are at the southwest corner of University Ave./Queen's Park Cir. right in front of the subway station.

                    spicy and juicy...yummm

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Goober
                      Francesco RE: Goober May 13, 2003 06:20 PM

                      For some good street food, you have to go to Robarts. Woking on Wheels helped me get through many hunger pains during exams. I still visit on ocassion to see if they still measure up - and they do.
                      I can recommend their chicken and chinese green on rice. Just the right mix of hoisin (I think) and black beans.

                      1. re: Francesco
                        Goober RE: Francesco May 15, 2003 03:35 PM

                        I enjoyed the St. George chicken.....imagine, naming a dish after the street!

                        There's a few more chinese food trucks in the area. One near Sidney Smith Hall...which sold me rotten food one time by the way.

                        Another near College....not alot of options...he has like 5 combos (BBQ pork and rice, chicken and rice, etc.)...also sells fries

                        Then there's another guy just north of the one mentioned above. He has the chinese food in little containers ready to go....unless you ask, you will never know he sells chinese food cause his main products are gum/chips/chocolate/other canteen truck stuff

                        1. re: Francesco
                          Peter Bremner RE: Francesco May 15, 2003 04:23 PM

                          Man, that brings back memories! Coming out of the library on a cold afternoon, right into the heavenly smell of the chinese food coming from that truck. Love it!!

                        2. re: Goober
                          Chili RE: Goober May 14, 2003 06:48 PM

                          I lived (and somehow survived) off street dogs during my early university days. I think I bought a spicy sausage almost daily from the same lady right in front of Sid Smith hall on St. George St. I walked by recently and she was still there, the exact same spot...15 years later!

                          1. re: Chili
                            Peff RE: Chili Jun 13, 2003 11:07 AM

                            My first year at u of t was 1990. I recently returned to upgrade my degree and the woman I ALWAYS bought my dogs and sausages from is still there - she has the cart closest to the corner of Willcocks and St. George, in front of Sid Smith. She's the friendliest dog vendor I've found in the city and the buns are always steamed - unless she has a big line up of people.
                            She also knows how to heat a veggie dog - so many vendors try to char the hell out of them like they were Italian sausages - they end up rubbery.

                            I also agree that the vendor in front of the ROM is great (and can also cook a veggie dog) but my sid smith vendor is the fave.

                          2. re: Goober
                            Trefusis RE: Goober May 27, 2003 10:54 PM

                            Good lord yes... that guy was my fave 2 years ago when at U of T. The other was the one cart on St George in the middle of campus that had carmelized onions she'd keep warm on the grill even on cold winter days... she always gave me a sausage and then some. I long for the days.

                          3. m
                            mikeb RE: fresco May 15, 2003 03:09 PM

                            What ever happened to those guys on the red carts that used to sell popcorn, hot nuts, toys and other such things? They used to be all over the place in Toronto, but now seem to be a rarety.

                            I did see one recently but I can't for the life of me remember where it was.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: mikeb
                              julesrules RE: mikeb May 21, 2003 11:08 PM

                              I think the last time I saw one of those recently was by the ROM, on a Saturday or Sunday.

                              1. re: julesrules
                                mikeb RE: julesrules Jun 11, 2003 05:43 PM

                                Yes they definitly still exist. I saw one at crossing the street at Dundas and Spadina last Friday after lunch. Unfortunately I was too full of Bahn Mi to order anything.

                            2. l
                              lex RE: fresco Jun 13, 2003 09:23 AM

                              What I've heard is that the city is out of street vendor food licences... However, some interesting stuff is happening with stores sharing their patio/doorstep space... like

                              Kali's Crepe Stand, 16 Baldwin, has created a big patio in front of the natural food store. Serves "parisian street crepes"

                              On Church in front of the winemaking shop someone has setup an icecream stand...

                              On Bloor W, just W of Spadina, in front of an internet cafe someone has setup a hot dog/hamburger stand...

                              has anyone seen more of these shared space places??

                              Link: http://www.cheapeatstoronto.com

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: lex
                                lex RE: lex Jun 13, 2003 02:03 PM

                                And just saw another one outside Sam the Record Man... sadly it looks like they have removed a Toronto landmark in making this outdoor patio/cafe - the game boards are gone!!! Looks like no more street chess! Very disappointing.

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