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East York people, places, events & insights

The Tastes of East York & area 2017

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From fresh produce & meats to special dishes in cozy diners, east end TO has it all!

 

Farmers markets like the one at East Lynn Park abound in summer time. -GARY W-P

Farmers markets like the one at East Lynn Park abound in summer time. -GARY W-P

From community gardens to corner fruit and vegetable stalls and farmers markets in five locations all summer and early fall —plus butchers, bakers and even an occasional fishmonger!— East York and area is rich in available fresh food that you can use to rustle up a repast for a regal diner at home.

But for those nights when you feel like being pampered in a nice restaurant, afternoons on the go when you need to grab a quick but nourishing bite away from home, or on lazy mornings when you want to let someone else do the cooking and washing up, there are plenty of great eatery options to explore in the area these days.

While the Taste of The Danforth celebrates Greek cuisine along that strip Aug. 11-13, in this special section we take the opportunity to give you a little peek into the myriad of tasty alternatives nearby.

-Gary Webb-Proctor

NOTE: SCROLL TO END OF POST FOR DIRECTORY OF SELECTED EAST YORK AREA EATERIES

Palace attracts celebrity diners

Recommended by Alan Redway

The Palace on Pape.

The Palace on Pape.

If you like Greek cuisine as I do, then The Palace, at 722 Pape Avenue just north of the Danforth and directly across the street from the Pape subway station, may be the restaurant for you.

It has been a favourite of East Yorkers for years so you will almost always see someone you know there.   Peter the owner greets you at the door with a handshake or a hug before showing you to a table of your choice where you may just find Greek Orthodox Archbishop Sotirios sitting at the next table.

We dined there last week with East York friends.  Two of them chose a lamb dish while my wife, Louise, had her favorite chicken, but our waiter Tommy (he is a special guy) recommended the striped bass and together with a Greek house wine it was terrific.

Great food at a reasonable price, you can’t beat the Palace.

Greek Grill 031

Meet MP Julie Dabrusin at EY Farmers Market

By Toronto-Danforth MP Julie Dabrusin

East York Farmers Market -JENN WILSON

East York Farmers Market -JENN WILSON

One of my favourite tastes of East York is the East York Farmer’s Market.  The market is held Tuesdays from 8am to 2pm every week during the summer at the East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Ave. between Mortimer Ave. and Memorial Park Avenue.

I visit it regularly to buy farm-fresh local fruits and vegetables, tasty Indian food, as well as home-cooked baked goods.  The many vendors come from our community and further afield, and help our neighbourhood access the fresh healthy food that is so important to living well.

As a matter of fact, I will be holding a Food Policy for Canada Consultation as part of that week’s market on Tuesday, August 22nd.  Please come talk to me about your thoughts on how we can set a long-term vision for the health, environmental, social and economic goals related to food.

I hope to see you on August 22nd.

Reader Helen Toulis likes fresh, fast Bulging Burgers

I would highly recommend the Bulging Burger restaurant at 2459 Queen St. E.  The delicious home burgers are freshly made on sight as are the fries and milk shakes.  This family owned business is popular in the community for its fast, friendly service and great food.  -Helen Toulis

Cake Town’s the place for coffee klatch with sis

Recommended by writer Andrea Freedman

Although there are many unique restaurants and cafes in East York, one of my favorite places to eat lunch or enjoy a coffee with my sister is the Cake Town Café at 2039 Danforth Avenue near Woodbine.

A simple thing like a turkey sandwich is made that much better when grilled on Cake Town Café’s fresh Panini bread with just the right amount of Swiss cheese on top.  A cup of their freshly brewed coffee is the perfect complement.  Of course there are other sandwich choices as well as lunch specials and comfort foods.

Donlands Diner 032fullIf you are in the mood for something sweet, take a look at Cake Town’s delicious selection of home-baked cookies, cakes, brownies, muffins, handmade scones baked fresh daily and more.  All items are reasonably priced for the value and the service is friendly and efficient.

What I really like most is the relaxing, cozy atmosphere. Tables are set up so that patrons can enjoy a quiet get-together with a friend or spend a peaceful lunch hour alone, sitting on one of the couches at the front of the restaurant or reading one of the various newspapers or magazines that are available for customers’ use.

The décor is casual but lovely and bright enough that it never feels dreary, no matter what the weather is like outside.  The establishment is spotlessly clean, including the washroom, which is just another reason why I like it so much.

If you can’t get enough of Cake Town’s coffee or tea while you are there, coffee beans and loose leaf tea are available to take home. You can also purchase Montreal style or gluten free bagels, which are just one of the other tasty items on the menu.

Whether you are there for a quick lunch break or for a leisurely coffee or other hot or cold beverage on your next day off, Cake Town Cafe is definitely a special place in the neighborhood that is worth visiting.

Mary likes El Greco and Donlands Diner

Recommended by Mary Fragedakis, Ward 29 Councillor

Mayor John Tory and Ward 29 Councillor Mary Fragedakis were among the dignitaries at the May 29 Grand Reopening o fully renovated Donlands Diner.

Mayor John Tory and Ward 29 Councillor Mary Fragedakis were among the dignitaries at the May 29 Grand Reopening of fully renovated Donlands Diner.

Nostalgia and charm can add the delights of enjoying everything from a coffee to a hearty meal.

El Greco at Pape and Floyd is a great place to savour Greek-style coffee.  Two favourites on the menu are Fredo Cappuccino and Greek Coffee.  Old-world hospitality and a patio add to the café’s appeal.  You can also enjoy some classic Greek comfort food like Bougatsa, Spanakopita and Tiropita —of which spanakopita, the phyllo pastry spinach pie, is probably most well-known.  They can all make for a great breakfast or substantive snack later in the day.  You might also find a football game on the TV or some wonderful muffins.

Another East York eatery offering traditional comfort food is the Donlands Diner.  This is a sort of a classic diner —all day breakfasts and burgers— with craft beer on tap.  Recently renovated, it has a very bright and cheery décor.  It’s the kind of place you can really hunker down with friends and family for a delicious and filling meal.  I am inclined to the veggie burger.

Both places have great deserts for those with a sweet tooth but only the Donlands Diner is licensed.

MIRROR IMAGE 032 'Salvador's Deli'

Lifestyle blogger Kevin Hartley recommends…

Why I ought’a give you a Knuckle Sandwich.  No really! Don’t walk, run, and get your own at Knuckle Sandwich at 969 Coxwell (at O’Connor).  Casual, cheerful service and a great selection of craft brewed suds; Shrimp Po Boy and Buttermilk Fried Chicken are my favs to date.  Great for lunch with friends or clients.  Brunch too!

At the risk of creating a longer queue, I share with you this hidden gem found in a warehouse at 177 Wicksteed Ave., known as Adamson Barbecue.  The food presentation and decor won’t be featured on the cover of any snazzy foodie magazines, but the value sure is on the butcher paper “plates” and your palate.  Bring a friend with an appetite, it’s a great foodie experience. And, bring a bib if you’re headed back to work (or not) and be prepared to queue up for some truly authentic tasting Texas-style BBQ with classic fix’ins (pulled pork and brisket can sell out).  Limited hours Tuesday through Sunday; eat in or take out.

MP Nate Erskine-Smith’s favourite lunch & meet spots

Recommended by Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Beaches-East York MP

Our East York office is at 1902 Danforth Ave, so my main recommendations are places close by places that I rely on for lunch.  My regular spots are Relish, East of York, Lucy Ethiopian Kitchen and Retro Burger.

We’ve also held a number of meet and greets around the riding and Family Bakery Cafe, Nostalgia Coffee Company and Jawny Bakers stand out as great places.

Family-owned Thai restaurant a favourite

Recommended by Tina Novotny

Thai Wok exterior -TINA NOVOTNY

Thai Wok exterior -TINA NOVOTNY

Want to explore the culinary side of East York?  Look no further than the corner of Woodbine, Lumsden and Mortimer, where you’ll find Thai Wok restaurant at 1235 Woodbine Avenue.

The menu boasts “Authentic Thai Cuisine and Delicious Chinese Cuisine” — and that’s a lot of truth in advertising!  The family owned and operated restaurant opened in 1999, taken over from her parents in 2009 by current proprietor Wendy Wu.

The year it opened is the same one I moved to East York, and I was quickly told about the wonderful Pad Thai served up at the restaurant.  It is that good and there are lots of vegetarian options for customers too.

Another one of my favourites are the cold Thai Spring Rolls, and the chicken wings are also amazing.  Flavours on the Chinese cuisine side are equally excellent, with legendary Lemon Chicken, sensational Singapore Noodles and many other terrific dishes.

The restaurant is happy to include or exclude certain ingredients, make the spicy level to your liking, and has special coupon deals available with free additions over certain dollar amounts.

The restaurant décor was recently updated for a chic new dine-in experience or there’s free delivery over $20.  If you’re not already one of Wendy’s regular customers, give Thai Wok a try and I guarantee you will be soon.

MPP Arthur Potts is on the go -to the Bus Terminal

Recommended by Arthur Potts, Beaches-East York MPP

I’m a fan of the revived Bus Terminal restaurant on Danforth near Coxwell Ave.  It’s got great food —especially the Rueben sandwich— and a fun retro vibe.  Perfect spot for a lunch-time drop in.

Frog and the Crown 032

EY activist Justin Van Dette likes his breakfast and sweets

Recommended by EY activist Justin Van Dette

There are so many wonderful places to dine in our community and one location that’s worth the visit is Rise & Dine Eatery at 2714 St. Clair Ave. East.  Whether you’re in a rush or looking to eat with family and friends, they open early and serve a delicious breakfast or lunch.  The staff are friendly and the service is terrific.  And their prices are very reasonable.

If you’re on the west side of East York and in need of something sensational for your sweet tooth, then Select Bakery is the place to be.  Located at 405 Donlands Avenue, the Katsimakas family, who are proud East Yorkers, have a number of delicious pastries for you to choose from.

Our writers sure love their Relish!

Reviewed by Philippa Wild

There’s a lot of live music on the Danforth these days.  But not only does Relish at 2152 Danforth Ave. have live music, it also serves up some very good food.

Long narrow room at Relish has many seating options. _GARY W-P

Long narrow room at Relish has many seating options. _GARY W-P

It’s a long narrow room and if you want to see the entertainment, your best bet is to sit either at the bar or on the high stools at the bistro style tables.  If you want to concentrate on your food and talk, you can choose a quieter table at the back.  Relish offers live music seven nights a week, which is wonderful in an era where a lot of places that used to offer live music just don’t anymore.  You’ll hear local groups doing original tunes and covers.

Relish attracts a mixed crowd; millennials, seniors, young couples having a night out, sometimes with a child in tow. The mood is informal, no need to dress up.  And it’s not noisy, just has a nice enjoyable buzz about it.

The menu offers a large variety of tapas, an assortment of small plates with small amounts of food.  I love this way of eating; you get to taste more stuff without, well, stuffing yourself.  I’ve had the polenta ($9) a couple of times and it may be my favourite.   It’s baked cornmeal in small pieces, served with a tomato goat cheese and  pesto sauce.  I’ve also had the calamari ($12) it’s grilled so not heavy, and it’s very good.  There are some pasta options: jumbo pasta shells stuffed with chicken mushroom and garlic, for example, served with a tomato sauce ($10) and handmade vegan gnocci ($12).  And speaking of vegetables, there’s a selection of salads: heirloom tomato, roasted beet, baby spinach, and a vegetable slaw garnished with toasted almonds.

The menu offers lots of choices for vegans and vegetarians and there’s a whole section for those eating gluten free.  There’s also plenty for the carnivore, though.  My husband loved the baby back spareribs ($12).  And I want to try the grilled beef sirloin medallions —at $15, the most expensive menu item. Mike's Fish & Chips 032

I find three dishes is usually enough for two people, it depends whether you order on the lighter side or go for the more substantial choices. But if you find you don’t have enough, just order another tapas, and if you don’t finish, the wait staff will be happy to wrap your leftovers.  (Servers here are both pleasant and efficient. They don’t hurry you but they’re there when you need them.)

One comment on the food: someone in the kitchen loves garlic and it’s in a large number of dishes.  Which is fine if you love garlic.  And some of the tapas are quite spicy, which I like, but that should probably be spelled out on the menu.  However, I have to say, I’ve never received a dish here that I didn’t enjoy.

There’s a large selection of boutique beers, including something called “Flying Monkey’s juicy Ass” ($7.50) which didn’t tempt me for some reason.  Conventional beers are available too, for example, Steam Whistle Pilsner for $7.  Relish has some wines but it doesn’t seem to be an emphasis. Oh, and it’s one of the few places where you can get Prosecco by the glass.

And don’t forget dessert; lemon curd tiramisu ($9) and banana toffee cream pie have been tempting me for a while.  There’s also a vegan chocolate peanut butter pie ($8).

You should definitely try out this little neighbourhood jewel.

Simba 021

 

Recommended by ‘Crafty Tippler’ Peter Mathieson

Tucked away on a cozy street corner at 2152 Danforth Ave, Relish just recently celebrated 12 glorious years of existence.  Relish is the realization of a dream that owner Joanne Clayton had for quite a while.  It’s a restaurant that combines her love of music with her love of good food, and believe me, the food here is marvelous.  It is tapas, which I always think of as the western version of dim sum.

Tapas consists of several dishes of smaller portions. -GARY W-P

Tapas consists of several dishes of smaller portions. -GARY W-P

The tapas here is so good it was awarded the 2015 People’s Choice award from Now Magazine[And is nominated again for this year’s award, with voting now going on -Editor]

For those who may not understand tapas, it is small portions of a food item, and it is recommended that each person order 2 or 3 and share around the group.  The menu is extensive and most regions of the world are represented.

To accompany the food, there is the music.  Most genres are represented with perhaps an emphasis on singer/songwriters.  Toronto’s best players are scrambling over each other to get a chance to play here.

As if all this wasn’t enough, there are 21 taps serving up craft beers and ciders.  Joanne herself is a bit of a beer connoisseur, and all the staff seem knowledgeable about the qualities of each individual beer.  The taps are frequently rotated and new beers seem to arrive here before any other establishment.

I think their motto sums it up nicely: “Come for the food, stay for the music.”  And just in time for the summer, Relish has built a cozy patio that is now open.  Call for reservations at 416-425-4664.

Basso 170802Basso brings Blues & wood oven pizza to east TO

Although it’s located on “the other side of the river” from East York and area, a new east TO restaurant is hoping residents from our side of town will cross over to check out its wood oven pizza and other culinary delights.  To give them and people from all over the city some incentive to visit Basso at 320 Queen St. E. just west of Parliament, owner Jose Corniellis is also offering live music in the eatery’s cozy back room, which is set up like a lounge with fireplace and elegant decor.  Juno winner for Best Blues album and East York resident Julian Fauth was the debut act for the new Friday night-no cover series that continues throughout August.   -Gary 17

 

2017 Tastes Of East York DIRECTORY

BASSO BLUES & PIZZA
Authentic wood-oven pizza and full menu of lunch and dinner items. Cozy rear lounge offers free live music Fridays from 9.  320 Queen St. E.  647-348-3200.

DONLANDS DINER
Tasty, nourishing home-made food. All-day breakfasts, dinner specials, great desserts & Canadian comfort food. Open daily.  417 Donlands Ave. 416-421-8500. www.donlandsdiner.com

DRUMSTICKZ
Fresh and crispy chicken is a must! Chicken pieces, sandwiches, wraps. Daily deals!  Open 7 days a week (see website for details). Eat in, take-out & delivery. 25 Overlea Blvd #8. 647-748-7861. www.drunstickz.ca

FIRKIN ON DANFORTH
British inspired pub offering wide selection of menu items. We pride ourselves on exceeding guest expectations. Drink menu inclues 35 beers, cocktails and a variety of Caesars. 2057 Danforth Ave., 416-693-2057

FROG & CROWN
Now open! Great food and friendly efficient service. Daily specials. Open 7 days a week.  Great spacious patio.  1871 O’Connor Drive just west of Victoria Park (in the Service Ontario plaza) 416-750-3764. www.frogandcrown.com

GREEK GRILL
Authentic Greek cuisine away from the bustle of the Danforth. Kids menu. Patio. Dine-in, take-out, delivery, catering.  128 O’Connor Dr. at Pape. 416-461-5200. www.greekgrill.ca

HIRUT CAFÉ
Superb home-cooked Ethiopian (and North American) dishes. Fully licensed. Reservations. Live entertainment. Visit our Facebook page. 2050 Danforth Ave., 416-551-7560.

MIKE’S FISH & CHIPS
Fish & chips the way they were meant to be prepared and served, to eat in & take out, plus many other menu items.  Open Tues. – Sat. —28 years at 2162 Danforth Ave.; 416-429-4665

MR. SUB EAST YORK
The original Canadian sub sandwich and still the best! Lots of new options including wraps, new sauces and the awesome new RibFest sub. Open daily at 1068 Coxwell Ave.; 416-467-4777

RELISH
Delicious tapas food, 21 craft beers & cider on tap. Free wifi. Live music 7 nights a week + Sun. Jazz brunch. Vegan and celiac friendly.  Patio! 2152 Danforth Ave., 416-425-4664. www.relishbarandgrill.com

REMARKS
New ownership! Great daily food & drink specials, brunch weekends & holidays. Grand Opening Friday Sept. 15. 1026 Coxwell Ave., 416-429-9889. Visit us on Facebook!

SIMBA GRILL
Memories of East Africa. 100% Halal diner based on famed Simba Grill of Tanzania. Open Wed. – Sun. Catering avail. 375 Donlands Ave., 416-429-6057.  www.simbagrill.ca

 

 

 

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