A thread about anything Greek, Balkan and/or Turkish in the GTA
Greek, Balkan and/or Turkish restaurants, bars, coffee shops, groceries and bakeries in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area [Danforth] [Scarborough] [Ossington]
On the topic of galatoboureko, I had mentioned Serano and @DrJohn mentioned Athens Pastries as a favourite place for Galatoboureko, which is a Greek phyllo custard pie drizzled with syrup.
Bougatsa is a firmer and flatter cream of wheat custard phyllo pastry, which has a similar flavour profile, which is also available at both bakeries, often dusted with cinnamon sugar.
The style varies, depending partly on family and region.
I like a taller galatoboureko with less phyllo and more syrup, which is similar to what my family recipe is.
There’s no right or wrong here, it’s just a matter of taste.
The central mainland , northern mainland and Peloponessian Greeks tend to serve the flatter pies in my limited experience.
With regards to the other phyllo pies at Athens, I find they are most the flat version. I prefer the taller type, with more herbs and egg added, compared that the type Athens makes.
If you buy frozen spanakopita, tiropita or other savoury pies from Athens or Akropolis, I recommend brushing them with melted butter before heating them in the oven.
The banitsa/ spinach burek at Mak Deli is recommended by one of my friends.
I am a fan of Mustafa Restaurant and highly recommend their Pide and Chicken Kebab (Served weekdays only) They even deliver downtown via UberEats so a no brainer for moi as don’t venture out to that area. A little more pricey than the Pizza Pide (Chef Mustafa started out there eons ago I recall) but comes with a salad as well and way better. There was mix up once where the delivery person picked up someone else’s food they even called and send it over!
Greek food Mamakas is my top pick though it is $$$. Krystos is decent IMO for main stream dishes and a tad better than the mundane offerings on Danforth. Tried Agora a while ago found it to be so so. Have been depending on delivery for the last 2 years and counting for obvious reasons. Hoping to change that soon. Koukla is on the list of places to try.
Bar Neon had been on my list but the offerings are too basic for me right now. LOL.
I was in the mood for a Pikilia (mixed grill or mixed seafood) to-go, and I checked out the offerings at the Danforth standards : Mezes, Kalyvia and Pantheon. Ultimately, I decided I didn’t want to deal with traffic to and from, as well as on the Danforth on Sunday, and I figured it would be busy because it was Mother’s Day.
Traffic had been insanely busy on Saturday.
I then noticed a spot in Burlington that has Cypriot Mezes- I’m going to get takeout from there one of these days, on my way from Toronto to London.
I tried Bar Koukla for brunch last year. It was pretty good, maybe a little gimmicky.
I haven’t tried That Freakin’ Greek on Harbord yet. It’s mostly souvlaki/gyros but they do have Cretan Dakos on the menu (rusks with salad)
I’ll have to check out the Turkish place you mentioned.
I had a good order of manti to-go, from
Anatolia last year.
For Iskender kabob at a fast food level, I’m pretty happy with the Best Istanbul Restaurant in Kensington Market . https://thebestistanbul.com/
Adding Mustafa to my list.
Simit & Chai is a nice coffee shop.
Adding Mustafa’s link for reference.
Mythos in Burlington’s menu, which includes Cypriot mezes, which I have not seen on the Danforth. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5697c9c81c121044d44746de/t/61f1a8ecace509779da65262/1643227373519/Dinner_Menu_JAN2022.pdf
I grew up in Riverdale and thus ate on the Greek Danforth through the 70s and early 80s. After school I used to go to Astoria (which at the time was a grotty diner with an arcade in the back half) and have a souvlaki sandwich while playing pinball machines. Many birthdays with my friends had lots of different Greek pastries and treats.
I still have a fondness for Astoria as I think they still do grilled meats well, including quail, lamb. I also like their simple dessert of yoghurt with quince jelly. We also like Mezes. As mentioned previously, we enjoy both Athens Pastries and Serano.
Many of my other favourite places have long disappeared from the Danforth area. These used to feature dishes that I find harder to find now: fasolakia (green beans and tomatoes), gigandes (big lima type beans with tomatoes), horta (greens, often dandelion, with lemon), dishes with avoglemono sauce (egg and lemon), various stewed meat dishes (used to have rabbit frequently).
We have enjoyed Mamakas but haven’t tried any of the other more upscale Greek places that have sprung up.
For Turkish, Anatolia has been a longstanding favourite (currently looking for a new location). Pizza Pide is a regular for us.
I’ve been to Volos a dozen times, although not recently. The food is good and higher quality. It has a Financial District vibe inside. I’ve dined there before opera and I’ve brought Greek American relatives there for dinner when they were staying nearby. One thing I’ve always found interesting about Volos is that they keep pork off their menu. I presume that’s partly to make it a good choice for clients who don’t eat pork for religious reasons. They have a couple lamb dishes on the menu. https://qrcodes.pro/V6jGid#Dinner%20Menu
It’s owned by the Antoniou family that owns Little Anthony’s, across the street from Volos. I think of it as a lunch place for the Financial District, and a pre-opera place.
I like Mamakas. I consider it to be a restaurant trying to sell Greek food to non-Greeks. The portions are a little too precious, the prices are a little high. It’s a beautiful space. I don’t expect Danforth pricing. I do expect the same value as one would expect at Enoteca Sociale or Union, which pay similar rent to Mamakas, but I find dinner at Mamakas costs more for less, compared to the other better choice stylish restaurants on Ossington and Dundas W.
The food is good, but it’s as much about the space and vibe as the food. A little sceney for me. (I’m feeling old as I push 50) A previous pastry chef (I don’t know who the current one is) didn’t know much about Greek pastry. She would sometimes invent pastries, not realizing a Greek pastry very similar to her invention already existed.
I haven’t eaten inside Astoria for years. I like their pork and lamb souvlaki, which I get to-go.
Asteria also served good souvlaki, but it’s been a while since I got takeout from them. Asteria is the hole-in-the-wall where Greeks in the neighbourhood often get their takeout souvlaki. Souv-Like, on Pape, is another divey spot that is popular with Greeks in the neighbourhood.
You should be able to find fasolakia, gigantes, horta, quail/ortikia, at Kalyvia, Mezes, Megas, Soula’s (owned by the Soula who owned Pan), Christina’s and Pantheon. I order and make most of these dishes.
The Horta are any greens (Hortaculture, it comes from the Greek ) - so Greeks use whatever they have, and cook them. Sometimes it’s a mix. Often dandelion, often spinach,sometimes arugula, mustard greens, beet tops, Swiss chard or purslane, often wild weeds, in Greece there are a dozen others.
The avgolemono dishes are becoming a little more rare. The avgolemono (chicken egg lemon with rice or orzo) soup is available at most full service restaurants. I guess my most recent order of avgolemono soup (Greek penicillin) was at Soula’s. Meat and rice dolmades served hot, with avgolemono are on a few menus, and some restaurants have cabbage rolls with avgolemono occasionally.
For the dishes you mention, I would probably recommend Mezes as your best bet for a places that would do all of these dishes at least fairly well.
Pantheon occasionally has rabbit as a daily special.
I had initially recommended The Palace, which was a restaurant that was still making dishes that are difficult to find, but it has closed permanently.
Thanks. I haven’t been to Kalyvia and Megas in years. I’ve never tried Soula’s, Christina’s, or Pantheon. I see Pantheon has smelt, which I’ve enjoyed from times long ago on the Danforth.
I forgot that we have been to Volos a couple of times and have liked it.
Yeah palace restaurant was decent and I went there a few times. Their grilled platter was well worth it
Hmm Mamakas moussaka was the best I have had period!
Volos was even more pricey than Mamakas I recall
I think it’s the stingy serving sizes at Mamakas that bothered me. The mains might be $40 at Volos, but the portions are generous, like at Milos in Montréal. I know it was at least $100 each the last time we did a girls’ night out at Mamakas.
I haven’t been to either recently, so things might have changed.
Back to discussion of Turkish joints. I tried A La Turk, on Yonge St. south of York Mills, for the first time a few weeks ago. A well-laid-out, more stylish Turkish place - at a more stylish price, naturally. Straightforward menu, with a few nice twists. I can’t, for the life of me, recall what we ordered, but it was all quite tasty. Good presentation. Decent service, though I got the impression that most of the staff seemed to have started yesterday. In short, respectable enough at the price (dinner will be $125-$150 a couple, including a drink apiece). But hardly memorable. Good, if you’re in the neighbourhood, as I am, living almost around the corner.
I tried Doner Chi’s beef durum (doner in lavash). I liked the durum/lavash, but the beef doner wasn’t very good. Minimally spiced, dry meat. No significant crispy bits. It was closer to well-done roast beef than doner kebab.
I prefer the Turkish doner or shawarma at Best Istanbul on Augusta in Kensington Market.
Pristine Fine Foods / Turkish Mart at 339 Evans Ave in Etobicoke has been offering street food outside some Sundays. I haven’t tried it yet.
Yeah agreed Mamakas portions are smaller that’s why I order the Phyllo app that’s very filling. Have been meaning to revisit but they didn’t respond to emails or voicemails! As an odd sized group couldn’t book online.
Ah well switched it to Mythos! Let’s see how it pans out as wasn’t my pick as more of an Instagram and see and be seen kind of a spot on King west to boot
Will report back when I visit
If this is the Myth, where the Brant House was located, should be decent. The 2 guys running it, same
guys who started the Buca empire , briefly ran The Myth on Danforth (other Greeks ran it for 8-10ish years after the 2 guys focused on King W around 2003ish, Louis Cifer is in the old space), Wild Indigo on College, Caché before Brant, Jacobs and all the spin-offs.
I won’t digress further
I hope you enjoy your meal!
Noticed that Petros82 had opened a patio, so we decided to try it.
The patio is right on the sidewalk, though it had a glass partition that meant you felt a bit separated from the pedestrians. It is not covered so you would be exposed if it rained. Also at one point some kitchen staff came out and smoked some weed right near the patio, which didn’t exactly enhance the meal.
Our server was friendly and appeared stretched thin in terms of the tables she was covering. She didn’t know the menu’s details very thoroughly and also took awhile to get back to us with requests (e.g., refill our water glasses). She also seemed to think that all the dishes we ordered should come all at once, instead of pacing them. She was though very apologetic with every issue.
The food ranged from good to excellent - fresh and well-executed, if on the pricey side.
- Santorini Sunrise: cazadores blanco, roots rakomelo, apple cider, reduced fig syrup, dehydrated apples - excellent, lots of fruit with complex bitter nuances
- Kanela sour: Bearface whiskey, roots kanela, simple syrup, lemon juice, egg whites - especially delicious
The we ordered a bottle of Thrace 2019 Anatolikos Vineyards orange wine - great – starts with extremely floral, maybe gardenia then honeysuckle then fades into smokiness. The skins are still in the bottle. Gradually shifted to more mushroom and peat. Over time the flavour was a mix of floral, mushroom, peat and bitter herbals and the smell was more ripe apple.
- Daily crudo: branzino, pickles, flowers, toasty chick peas - lovely and very citrusy
- Octopodi skaras: grilled octopus, braised artichokes, blistered tomatoes, crispy potato coins - lovely smokey octopus, couldn’t really pick out the artichoke though (more of a sauce, although very tasty)
- Crunchy feta: walnut crusted goat feta, corfu kumquat - light, fluffy cheese with nutty coating and kumquat marmalade
Kale salad: figs, pomegranate, hemp pumpkin seed crumble, lemon green olive oil vinaigrette - pleasant, not remarkable
- Pringles: crispy, paper thin zucchini, eggplant, kefalograviera cheese, Petros sauce - good but a little heavy on the coating
- Gigantes: beans, tomato sauce, wilted greens (rapini and chard and other things) - lovely and classic
You can pick out your fresh seafood from a iced display in the main restaurant:
- Soft shell crab special with avocado cream and chick pea popcorn - nicely fried, with some dollops of orange hot sauce with quite a kick, very very delicious
- Red snapper whole fish on horta with lemon and a wonderful herb sauce - like chimichurri but almost sweet. They deboned it but served with head and tail on the plate. Pricey though at $115.
Desserts were good, but not amazing:
- Ek-Mek: layers of katife, custard, infused with honey and topped with Petros 82 signature cream - nice and the better of the two
- Chocolate torta: Greek yoghurt chocolate tart with pistachio crust with chocolate drizzle - pleasant but despite the yoghurt being not too sweet, it was more like a chocolate mousse tart
This place wasn’t on my radar! Thanks, Dr John. I will check it out!
Ok so I made you myth today. I am pleasantly surprised by the good food and service we got today. Portions were decent to very generous for the souvlaki.
The dips were decent, I enjoyed the fritters with the octopus being ok. I tried the souvlaki and had the lobster main. Good stuff.
Cosmos Agora on the north side of Lawrence between Warden and Pharmacy. Just an excellent Greek provisioner. I’ve loved every morsel from the hot table to the butcher counter and all points in between. See something you like, but you feel lazy? They’ll cook it up for you. Hubby and I go every week sometimes many times. Did I mention I LOVE Cosmos Agora?
I ordered Otto’s Berlin Doner veal & lamb Doner Teller on half salad half fries, with garlic sauce, hot sauce and yogurt tonight, and it hit the spot. $14 before tax and tip .
I like the Teller/ plates more than the pitas.