Tacos 101 ~ 101 Dundas St. East ~ (416) 362-8226

tacos 101 sign

Tacos 101 is a brand new Taqueria on the Ryerson campus at Dundas & Church. Now, let’s be honest… it’s all too easy to run up a hefty tab at many downtown taco joints and still be hungry when all is said and done. Chef Julio Campos is aiming to change this, slinging out some of the best-sized tacos in the league. They’re fresh, quick and relatively inexpensive for the portion size ($4 each).

tacos 101 menu

On my first visit, I opt for 3 tacos. The Al Pastor is marinated pork twirling on the gyro spit left behind from the previous Greek restaurant. Garnished with pineapple, cilantro, onion and salsa, this is a winner. Next I dig into the Chicken Adobado, which sees white meat marinated with dry peppers, oregano and lime. It’s holds together well thanks to the dry-rub and would probably travel the best (if takeout is your thing). Finally, I had to try the Fish Taco. It’s often the taco to measure a place by. Tacos 101’s version does not disappoint. Beer battered cod is fried-to-order and garnished with red cabbage, mango, pico de gallo and chipotle mayo. It’s 50-cents more than all of the others, but totally worth it.

tacos 101 food 2

I visit a second time just so I can try everything on the menu. I really like their Veggie Taco, as it’s jammed full of  Cactus, refried beans, diced tomato, onion, cilantro and cheese. This is #meatlessmonday at its best. Last but not least, I order the Carnitas.  The pork shoulder is super tender thanks to being slow-cooked with oranges and a secret array of spices. Garnished with pico de gallo and avocado purée, I truly saved the best for last.

tacos 101 food 3

Homemade Salsas (Tomatillo, Morita and Arbol) are on display on the counter with chips for tasting before you commit. Sides include homemade nachos served with either salsa, guacamole or re-fried beans. There is also a nice selection of Mexican drinks to wash everything down… including Jarritos, Jamaica and Horchata.

tacos 101 guac

Primarily a take-away, there’s a counter in the window where 4 or 5 people can stand and eat comfortably. This is the recommended play, as all of the tacos are so loaded with sauces & toppings that they might not travel well. We’re planning on going back with a small crew this week. You should totally join us.

tacos 101 bags

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Old’s Cool General Store ~ 250 Westlake Ave ~ (416) 425-9084

olds exterior 2

Convenience | Kindness | Community

The Old’s Cool General Store recently popped-up on the NW corner of Westlake & Lumsden, deep in the heart of East York. Formerly D & K’s (originally a butcher shop in the ’50s owned by Greek brothers Demetri & Kostas, followed by a long run as a convenience store), this place is a whole new take on the mom & pop.

os opening

Owners Zahra Dhanani and Mariko Nguyen Dhanani are a couple of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. They pride themselves on convenience, kindness and community. They managed to wrangle the spot away from builders who wanted to tear it down and put up a stack of townhouses.

OS bottles

In the store, they have displayed some of the original relics that date back to the butchery: a butcher block, cash register and old china cabinet. Their logo is a horse, a play on the fact that Westlake Ave used to be a race track.

os snacks

They’ve gone and packed the place to the gills with anything & everything one could possibly need: groceries, lottery, ATM, housewares, hot & cold drinks, baked goods, gift cards, art, books, games, newspapers, ice, wood, notary, soap… and the list goes on.

olds foodaugustasTheir shelves are stocked full of locally-produced gems… including Augusta’s Jerk Sauces, Tiffinday Curries (made at Udupi Palace), P.U. Soaps, aromatic drip coffee and freshly-baked treats (the peanut butter cookies stand out).

os shelves

Perhaps the best part of the whole thing is the community feel. I get introduced or meet someone new each visit. Bikes strewn outside, local kids now have a candy shop. Pet-friendly, there’s also lots of room as an event space.

os games

General store is the name, kitsch is (part of) the game. I really, really like what they have done with the place. So do my wife & daughter. Old’s Cool is a much-needed addition to the ‘hood. So glad we’re neighbors.

olds exterior painting

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Ascari Enoteca ~ 1111 Queen St. E ~ (416) 792-4157

ascari sign

“We love food. We love wine. We love racing.”

Ascari Enoteca is a well-known Italian noodle bar in the heart of Leslieville. Chef John Sinopoli’s menu is simple yet inventive: a variety of interesting apps that are perfect for sharing, fresh-made pasta dishes that range from light to hearty, and one heck of a wine list (true to the enoteca name).

ascari tuna

The appetizer options are extensive and our selections are often based on our wine choice. Salads and salumi boards are ever-present. If you’re looking for something earthy, the Funghi in Padella sees a mix of wild mushrooms get tossed in a delicious red-wine jus, topped with a poached egg. My favourite, the Crostini al Tommo, has olive-oil-poached albacore tuna served atop  smashed white beans, finished with pickled red onion.

ascari heirloom tomato

Mains & specials vary depending on seasonal, local ingredients. My wife recently ordered their pasta special, Tagliatelle al Pomodoro Crudo, which was full of diced heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil. My go-to is always the Linguine alla Puttanesca because I love the saltiness of the anchovy, capers, olives and smoked cod. Yes, smoked cod!

ascari puntanesca

It’s worth noting that Monday night is half-price bottle night on their extensive wine list. Reservations are recommended, and it’s cash & debit only (no credit cards). This is one of our favourite date-places for a reason, and we’re sure to be heading back just as soon as we can find a babysitter.

Posted in Leslieville | Tagged | 1 Comment

St. Jamestown Delicatessen ~ 518 Parliament St ~ (416) 925-7665


Located on the SW corner or Parliament and Winchester, the St. Jamestown Delicatessen is a Cabbagetown institution. When I lived in the neighborhood back in the day, this place flew under my radar. Let’s just say I have been making up for lost time recently, frequenting regularly when I get that hankering for a Soup/Sandwich… or when I need to obtain some fine provisions for the BBQ.


There are about a dozen sandwiches to choose from on the big board. Ordering takes place on a little paper slip. You pick your meat, cheese, bread and toppings; they pile them high. Sides consist of the soup of the day or a variety of fresh salads (the Village Greek and Red-skinned Potato stand out). There is also a daily hot plate special that ranges anywhere from Pierogis to Stews.


The deli is attached to St. Jamestown Steak & Chops, so it’s safe to say that what they’re stacking atop their sandwiches is going to be decent. Here we have fine cuts of beef, house-made sausages and a number of seasoned chicken options ready for the BBQ. Their shelves are stocked with an assortment of gourmet dry goods that will compliment any choices made from the butcher’s block.


There’s something to be said about good deli food. On the east-side of downtown, your choices can be limited. Fear not… the St. Jamestown Delicatessen has got you covered. Come for lunch and take home dinner. Oh, and their side patio is a spectacular vantage point to do some great people watching while enjoying a coffee.


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Pasha Authentic Turkish ~ 64 Overlea Blvd #10 ~ (416) 421-3500

pasha sign 2

I met-up with a fellow food blogger recently. She told me about a Turkish restaurant on Overlea that was a must try. Now, I absolutely love Turkish food. Thing is, I know of very few places in the city to indulge. So glad we found Pasha Authentic Turkish. It’s a super friendly, family-run place that serves-up some very, very tasty eats.

pasha gavurdagi salad

We start by ordering a Gavurdagi Salad. We’re told it’s an important part of the meze spread at kebab houses in Turkey. We quickly see why. Tomatoes, cucumber and red onions are chopped then tossed with walnuts, pomegranate molasses and sumac. There’s lots going on here in both the flavour and texture departments.

pasha cold appetizers

Speaking of mezes, the Cold Appetizer Sampler is a must try. You get a generous serving of hummus and patlican salatasi (Eggplant salads). But what really stands out for me are the Cacik (yogurt, herbs, cucumber, garlic, salt, olive oil, dill and lemon juice) and the Acili Ezme (a salsa-like blend of chopped tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, parsley, EVOO, pomegranate syrup and lemon). I am full after the first two courses… and it turns out that we’re just getting started.

pasha mixed grill 3

I still can’t believe what came out next. Their mixed grill is a veritable pantheon of BBQ’d meats & veggiesAdana kebab, sujuk, chicken, lamb and beef are piled high alongside charred tomatoes, chili peppers and a cool chopped salad. I wrap up a number of different meat/mezes/salad combinations in the fresh-baked flatbread that keeps getting replenished.

There is so much food on the table, it was actually laughable when they brought out the Lahmacun and Pide. They were both absolutely delicious, but we ended-up taking most of the slices home.

pasha lahmacun

I am really looking forward to returning to Pasha Authentic Turkish again soon to try their Manti (boiled lamb dumplings with sour cream) followed by some Kunefe for dessert (think baklava filled with cheese). Both just so happened to be sold out when we visited… a result of the Iftar the evening before. Thanks so much for lunch, Joanna Sable. Really nice to see you again, Bonnie.

pasha kunefeh

Posted in Don Mills, East York, Flemingdon Park | Tagged | Leave a comment

Keeffaa Coffee ~ 368 Queen St E ~ 647-349-0900

keefa sign 2

Keeffaa Coffee is a place I have walked by over a hundred times and always wanted to try. Upon entering, it’s difficult to pinpoint what was more intoxicating: the smell of Ethiopian coffee beans roasting; the Django Reinhart & Stéphane Grappelli music softly spinning; or the unbelievably warm reception I received from the owner, Elsabet Wubie. All I know is that I was immediately hooked, and I hadn’t even seen the menu yet.

keeffa ful

Named after the small Ethiopian city where coffee was first discovered in 1565, Keeffaa Coffee is a rare breed. Half coffee shop, half kitchen, I feel like an honoured guest in Elsabet’s home. The menu has breakfast served number of different ways, versions completed with Eggs, Mixed Veggies and Ful (fava beans stewed in berbere, onion and tomato).


No Ethiopian restaurant is complete without a Vegetarian Platter ($14). Keeffaa’s rendition doesn’t disappoint. Roasted Yam Julienne is served alongside mashed Beets & Dill, a Chopped Salad, and a generous serving of Shiro (a heavily-spiced puree of chickpea-meal).

I opt for the Keeffaa Platter ($15), composed of grilled Lamb Tibs, a Yam/Yellow Pepper/Coconut Milk Mash and a made-to-order Tomato, Onion and Chili Salad. My gluten-free Injera is toasted, offering a nice contrast that softens as it soaks everything up on the plate. I finish quickly despite the large portion size.

keefa lamb

Keeffaa Coffee is a very comfortable place to frequent. Elsabet treats me like family. She certainly feeds me like I’m family. Be sure to pop in the next time you’re walking by, even if it’s just for a hot chocolate on the back patio. I’m confident that you will quickly become a regular customer. Thanks for playing “Misty” for me.

keefa card

Posted in Corktown/Distillery, Regent Park | Tagged | 1 Comment

Tommaso’s Trattoria ~ 400 Eastern Ave ~ (416) 466-0988

tommasos sign2

Tommaso Conti’s trattoria is a bit off the beaten track (Eastern Avenue between Broadview and Logan). Don’t let location fool you… this is the best Italian food on the east side of town. Their Italian Hot Plate draws the lunch crowds on a daily basis. I’m becoming a bit of a regular. Pay them a visit and you’ll see why.

tomasso pizza

There are a number of daily Pizza creations for $4 a slice and Calzones for $5 (Sausage & Rapini is my current favourite). Enormous Italian Sandwiches are also available for $8… everything from Meatball to Chicken, Veal to Cold Cuts.

tomasso veal

The $12 lunch combo affords you a bit of everything from the hot/cold buffet: pastas, meats, sides and salads; all piled high. They really don’t scrimp on the portions… choosing instead to provide you with everything you ask for (and then some). There’s also a massive salad bar ($8-10) for those who don’t dig on the gluten or meat.

tomasso pasta plate

Dinner really has nothing to do with the hot-plate lunch menu, focusing on meaty mains and whole pizza pies. And though I have only ever been for lunch, I’m seriously considering booking our next big dinner here, as there’s ample space for a function in the dining room. It worth noting that catering is also available, and it’s awesome (I work minutes away and often call these guys to bring in lunch). Eastern Avenue love, baby.

tommaso logo

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