Toronto Kosher Restaurant Outtakes
I’m sure we can find flaws (both serious and humorous) in any restaurant, but there just seems to be an over-abundance of them in the Toronto-based Kosher restaurants. I will aim to point out some of these flaws, while still giving praise where due.
I will start from as south as possible and then work my way up north. Given the extremely high turnover rate of Kosher restaurants in Toronto, some listed may not be around at the time of reading this. I will therefore also include some honorable mentions of some restaurants from the yesteryear:
Starting downtown we have Oasis Cafe. I’m glad this restaurant is situated in the financial sector of Toronto, as the prices generally require the elite of Toronto’s pocketbooks (gladly Canada wasn’t hit as hard by the economic crisis, sans RIM). This place serves a very important purpose as kosher eating business folk can now have lunch with their non-kosher co-workers. The co-workers aren’t even forced to eat kosher as Oasis is strategically placed within the food court. Now, I know they have kosher tables there, but if you are going to bring non-kosher co-workers I’d suggest eating at a regular table as the mashgichim are quite anal about such things….as for food itself? Good food all around – the one funny thing I noticed was one guy who comes every day to get a peanut butter sandwich as a snack before lunch. He couldn’t have his wife pack one?
As we move more north we have the forest hill area dinner type restaurants. Other than high price due to area, not much to poke fun at. Most have good food (Bistro Grande, Maron, etc.).
As we move towards the dreaded Lawrence corridor, we have one stop along the way. Omni Jewels and Java. Great little place, good food, just be careful not to piss off the owner as we wouldn’t want him getting us falsely arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him (hypothetically speaking).
We finally hit the dreaded Lawrence and Bathurst corridor. Home to countless kosher establishments that have failed, but also home to tons that have succeeded. Other than the countless pizza shops that have opened and closed over the years and the few Chinese food establishments, we have the staples;
1) King David Pizza – decent food, always an attitude at the cashier which can be quite humorous. Just don’t bring up his constant price increases or be shunned right out the door. And don’t dare you bring in a bottle of water from the outside – the earphone-laden mashgiach will castrate you.
2) Brooklyn Pizza – decent food – usual comes with a bathroom call within the hour. Come strapped with CASH ONLY!
3) Howie T’s Burger Bar – great fast food burger joint. Something the city was really lacking after the arson at Bais Burger.
4) Chicken Nest – one of the only (if not only) handful of semi-formal (but also informal) dinner restaurants to take the family to left in the city. Great food. Prices aren’t TOO steep for kosher meat standards.
Dr. Laffa South – is a fantastic to go recent addition. The only thing it’s missing is air conditioning if you decide to eat there. See lower down for full review on Dr. Laffa.
As we make our way up to the Bathurst and Baycrest area, one honorable mention that HAS to be included is the old Moti’s Falafel joint. Toronto suffered a HUGE loss when he closed his doors. Famous for the best falafel in town “with the chip on top”, it was one of the first kosher restaurants Toronto had.
Next we have Pantry. One of the few milichik places I can still go to with my non-kosher friends. Food is fantastic. Prices are ok.
On to Milk ‘n Honey. This place has been a fixture in the city for a long time. They do a lot of Sheva Brachos as well as walk in traffic. I love how the main dishes come with a free soup which can be upgraded to a French onion soup for $1 extra. What a bargain! Great food, prices are decent as well.
Obviously we have had failed establishments in the area (failed in the sense that they tried passing off treif cheese as kosher.)
On we move to Tov Li Pizza and Falafel – South. Great little joint for a “quick” meal. Quick being the operative word, as with 10 Filipino help they can’t manage to knock out an order in a timely fashion. Must be all the yeshivish people pushing to get their food with 8 kids each. There is one Filipino lady who’s so incredibly stingy with the portions. She also screws up orders left right and center. But other than her, they’re pretty nice there. Food is good as well.
Across the street we have Dairy Treats. Once was my favorite place in Toronto, it’s been delegated closer to the bottom as it has gone downhill quite a bit in the last few years. Prices have gone up ten-fold, and the quality of good has plummeted drastically.
Last but not least in the “down south” corridor we have Baycrest hospitals cafeteria. Good for a ready made sandwich. And you get the added bonus of old people smell. Always a fun treat.
Let us also not forget the many failed joints in the Bathurst/Wilson strip. Aside from Marky’s (now closed and may it rest in peace) we have tons of failed pizza stores. The one currently there – Pizza Cafe is a great little place. Most stuff is quite oily, but armed with a napkin the food is fantastic! (That wasn’t meant as a sarcastic comment for the record).
It pretty much dries up until Tov Li Pizza North. Basically the same as south, I will just cover the major difference – culture. Great place to see all the Motzei Shabbos hotties. This is where they all flock too.
North of that we have the Bathurst/Steeles joints. Many have failed, many have failed miserably. It’s home to what is now the only kosher Chinese take-out left in the city – Golden Chopsticks – (besides that French place across from Tov Li south. That place is too new for comments on my ends). We also have a Dr. Laffa knockoff (which costs more than the original) called Bali Laffa. Nicer decor than Dr. Laffa but lacking the appeal of amazing Dr. Laffa taste. We also have Hamizrach – which is an incredibly underrated restaurant.
As we move north we have the Chabad Plaza staples such as Yehudales, My Zaidy’s, and Joe Boos Coockoo’s.
Next onto Sobeys plaza, is home to many failed restaurants. One notable one is Miami Grill. I loved that place. It is also home to a current milchik place called D-Lites. Expensive, but amazing food. It’s almost like a non-kosher Yorkville pasta joint.
The infamous Promenade-laden Cafe Sheli is next on my hit-list. What was once a favorite place, is now a place I rarely frequent (if ever). Prices have gone up, food quality down, portion sizes decreased. Given our minute alternatives for kosher sit down, this doesn’t bother me much. What REALLY grinds my gears is that they’re penning for your wallet on every corner. They now charge you for a small container of Parmesan cheese on both pasta and Caesar salad which in any non-kosher place would be free and unlimited. None of my non-kosher friends want to step foot in this place for that reason alone. The final straw for me was when I ordered a Ceasar salad ($10), Parmesan ($2), and a scoop of tuna ($5!!!!). This wasn’t just any generous scoop of tuna. It was at most a teaspoon dropped inside at $5. Bastards….
North of here we have the Westmount King David Pizza, and a few places around Rutherford, such as Bites.
Now that the Bathurst St. corridor has been covered, I will move onto the few other city pockets.
First we have York University kosher caf. I won’t say anything negative or positive as York requires this badly.
Next I will cover the Dufferin St. corridor. What was once an amazing, fancy looking, sit down all you can eat buffet style place sits the closed sign of what could have been the only nice place left to take a shidduch date – King Soloman’s Table. Even though the dual purpose King David and sandwich place by CHAT. Great little place. They have an amazing lunch special with sandwich, soup, drink combo for a good price.
More north we have what could be the restaurant of the century – Dr. Laffa. I have literally ZERO negative things to say about this place. Prices are so low, food quality is so high, portion sizes can kill a cow (literally), and they always give you free stuff for the table. Let us not forget the nice tushies of the Russian-Israeli waitresses – always an added bonus in my humble opinion. I saved Dr. Laffa for last because that is where I hope it will remain. Toronto’s last standing kosher restaurant.
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Posted on December 3, 2012, in Bathurst Street, Chabbad, Charedim, Comedy, Community, Eglinton Avenue, Food, Hockers, Israel, Kosher, Lawrence Avenue, On The Streets, Restaurants, Reviews, Uncategorized and tagged COR, kosher, kosher reviews Toronto, kosher Toronto, Restaurant, Toronto Kosher. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.