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East York people, places, events & insights

YUM! 029: All-day brekkie better than ever at renovated retro Donlands Diner

Bright, cheerful and clean, the restaurant is already getting popular again among knowledgeable neighbourhood locals. -STAFF

Bright, cheerful and clean, the restaurant is already getting popular again among knowledgeable neighbourhood locals. -STAFF

\ Yum! Restaurant profile by George Spelvin \

I love it when a Yum! food review actually lives up to its name! And that was most certainly the case one recent Saturday afternoon when I tried out the all-day breakfast at the newly renovated and reborn Donlands Diner.

The coveted corner booth. -STAFF

The coveted corner booth. -STAFF

I’m a fair cook and normally eat breakfast at home, where I can be sure everything is going to be just the way I like it. But having tried this appetizing and affordable alternative that doesn’t require me to do the dishes, I’ll be eating here more often from now on!

The restaurant at 417 Donlands, just south of O’Connor, has been open since 1956 (formerly as Donlands Restaurant) and was always popular among locals in the area at the heart of old East York.

Mirrored walls reflect the retro decored designs. -STAFF

Mirrored walls reflect the retro decored designs. -STAFF

It has always served pretty decent home-style meals at affordable prices and was particularly known for old-time Canadian food favourites like open-faced sandwiches. I used to visit when this paper had its offices just down the street three years ago, but for the past couple of years it was getting dowdy and the previous owner seemed to have lost interest.

Now new owner Anna T (whose family has actually owned the building for decades) has breathed fresh life and energy into this place, renovating and modernizing a few months ago and in the process recapturing all of the charm of its vintage feel in the new retro decor.

Servers Toula and Sharon [left and right] and owner Anna are front line team at Donlands Diner. -STAFF

Servers Toula and Sharon [left and right] and owner Anna are front line team at Donlands Diner. -STAFF

This is my idea of true comfort food: recognizable, nutritious fare served in an ambience that also gives pleasure and relaxes, hearkening back to an earlier, seemingly more gracious, slower-paced time.

Fortunately there’s nothing slow-paced about the service, with long-time waitresses Toula and Sharon still there to cater to you.

The menu includes dinner specials 4-8 Wed.-Sat. (seniors get an extra 10% off Thursdays!) and features food like your mom might serve: pork chops, spaghetti and meat balls, herb-roasted chicken, liver and onions —and roast prime rib Friday!— all with a salad and dessert accompanying. There’s also, btw, a mouth-watering selection of desserts, including hot pies. You can see all the details on their snazzy new website at donlandsdiner.com.

Even the hours are retro! It’s open 7 a.m. till just 4 p.m. Sun.-Tues. and, despite being fully licensed, closes at 8 Wed.-Saturday.

Donlands Diner 029

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