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May 13, 2003 01:38 PM

street food

  • f

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. ... 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

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

      1. re: danbird

        It was the cooked onions that were banned.

        1. re: estufarian

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

          1. re: danbird
            Completely Paranoid

            Clostridium botulinum aka Botulism. Not good.

            1. re: Completely Paranoid


              in *cooked* onions?

              1. re: danbird

                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

                  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

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

                2. re: danbird

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                      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

            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. 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

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

              1. re: fresco


                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

                  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

                    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

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

                    1. re: Heather

                      I thought this board encouraged pundits.

                      1. re: Heather

                        I thought this board encouraged pundits.

                  3. 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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                          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

                            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

                            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. 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

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

                              1. re: julesrules

                                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. 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??


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: lex

                                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.