Pizza Pide ~ 949 Gerrard St E ~ (416) 462-9666

PPS

Pizza Pide is one of Toronto’s foremost purveyors of Turkish finger food. Mustafa Ozkan’s gas-fired oven churns out close to 20 Turkish favourites for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Pizza Pide has only been a recent discovery for the Toronto Food Blog… a shame, really, seeing as they’ve been around since 2003. I got put on to this place by my Turkish buddy who works across the hall from me. “It’s as close as you get (downtown) to eating in Turkey.” I have been making up for lost time since hearing that sage advice, visiting thrice since July.

PPLa

Item # 1 on the menu is Lahmacun. Homemade dough is rolled wide & thin and gets covered with a spread of ground beef, hot peppers, onions, tomatoes, parsley, and herbs. Fifteen minutes later, the crust comes out very crispy and is a nice contrast to the oily, spicy toppings. The finishing touch is the plate of accouterments (parsley, tomato, hot pepper, raw onion, and lemon) that allow you to give each bite a different taste. Cutlery is not necessary with menu item #1.

Mustafa Ozkan strongly recommends that we also try their Pide. The Kiymali Kasarli (menu item #8) is a conservative pick, stuffed with seasoned ground beef and a salty mozzarella-style cheese. We also order the house special, the Karisik (#18). This is chock-full of an assortment of toppings (Sausage, Chicken, Lamb, Feta & Spinach) that are broken into quarters… making it great for sharing.

PPmix

I think the easiest way to explain (for those who aren’t in the know) is that if Lacmacun is Turkish Pizza, then Pide is like a Turkish Calzone. What I have found is that words really can’t describe the what’s going on here. If you’re like me, you may have driven past this place many times without giving it much thought. Next time, pop in and say hello. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the friendly, family atmosphere and the authentic, flavourful food.

 

 

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McVeigh’s ~ 124 Church St ~ (416) 364-9698

mcv sign

McVeigh’s Irish Pub (formerly known as the New Windsor House) has been a landmark on the SW corner of Church & Richmond for the past 50 years… making it the oldest Irish pub in Toronto. If memory serves (believe me, it’s groggy at best), I used to wait in one heck of a line to grab a Guinness on St. Patrick’s Days of old. It’s only recently that I’ve come to appreciate that McVeigh’s $10 daily lunch specials make it worth visiting on a much more regular basis.

mcv board

There are 8-10 specials on any given day, each written on a chalkboard, erased when sold out. Classic pub favourites like Bangers & Mash, Fish & Chips and Homeburgers & Fries are often daily fixtures. Sandwiches, Chilies, Stews and Soups vary daily and tend to include variations on traditional Irish Beef Stews, Curries, Irish Con Carne, Seafood Chowder, and, my favourite, Braised Short Ribs (pictured below).

shortribs

If a liquid lunch is more of your thing (wink, wink), drinks specials include $10 tax-in doubles, with many of their top-shelf brands included.

mcv bill

Let’s be honest; it’s getting more and more difficult to find anything to eat or drink for $10 downtown these days. So, don’t let the exterior fool you… McVeigh’s is a great local for grabbing a quick pub lunch or a couple of drinks, all at a price that doesn’t break the bank. The clientele varies from a businessman’s lunch to a regular’s appreciation of the finest Irish spirits… meaning it suits for most occasions. Oh, and it’s always service with a smile from the lovely Irish lasses behind the bar.

mcv curry

 

 

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Mamma Martino’s ~ 624B The Queensway ~ (416) 251-3337

MM Sign

Mamma Martino’s has been a fixture on The Queensway for over 25 years. Bruno Martino (with the help of his Mamma) opened the doors in 1983, and has been offering authentic Italian dining at affordable prices ever since. To say this place is baby/family friendly is an understatement.

MM Pizza

Whether you’re into building your own pizza (dine-in & take-out only; no delivery), enjoying a made-from-scratch pasta dish or scarfing down a monster Italian sandwich, Mamma Martino’s promises that you will not be disappointed… and so does the Toronto Food Blog.

MM Spaghetti

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Chick-N-Joy ~ 1483 Queen St E ~ (416) 461-5848

chickenjoysign

Located along the quieter portion of Queen East between Leslieville & the Beach, Chick-N-Joy is a take-out joint that has been frying chicken since 1977. Not to be confused with the inferior-tasting chain restaurant with a similar name, Chick-N-Joy’s bold claim of “Love at First Bite” is not falsely advertised.  Try one of their $6 lunch specials or try and take down their 4-piece Dinner ($8.65) that’s filled to the brim with chook, fresh-cut fries, a side-dish of your choosing and a dinner roll. Somehow I managed to finish it in one sitting.

chickenjoymeal

The portions are huge; the prices are good; the food is tasty. There isn’t really much more that can be (or needs to be) said… other than N-Joy.

chickenjoymenu

 

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Federick Restaurant ~ 1920 Ellesmere Rd ~ (416) 439-9234

federick sign 1

Federick Restaurant is renowned for bringing Hakka food to Toronto. Well, Scarborough actually. And with a recent expansion into a new Markham location, these guys are obviously doing something right (their take-out bag suggests they’ve have been doing so for the past 20 years). I am taken here as a Father’s Day gift. My expectations were exceeded on many levels.

Federick Soup

We start with the Crab & Corn Soup. They encourage us to get the Medium order for sharing, as you get far more soup for the same price as 2 bowls. Makes sense. We each finished a bowl and took the rest home. Full of sweet corn, a liberal amount of crab and plenty of egg, this mild, slippery soup works nicely with both of the chili-infused condiments on the table (pictured below).

Frederick Pakora

I work with someone who told me to try the Chicken Pakoras; that they are the stuff of legend. I thought she may be a bit biased seeing has her husband works in Federick’s kitchen. I have to tell you that they did not disappoint. In fact, they might single-handedly be the best plate of food we’ve had this year. Chili peppers are incorporated right into the batter, flash-fried to seal in the juices. A+

Federick Broccoli

Ordering a plate of vegetables to go with our fried chicken dish seemed like a good idea. The Broccoli w/ Black Mushroom was pictured on the menu, so we tried it out. The Broccoli was crunchy and the mushrooms were chewy… both topped with a Black Bean/Oyster combo sauce that we dipped the Pakoras in.

Frederick chili condiment

Due to my daughter’s nap schedule, we went to Federick in the middle of the afternoon. Even then the place was packed. The restaurant is split in half with a dining room on one side and a take-out window on the other. We can’t wait to go back and try some of the other menu items. The Kan Shue Green Beans and Chili Chicken look especially appetizing.

federick sign 2

Federick Restaurant is extremely baby-friendly. They made us feel right at home and made room for a high chair despite there being a bit of a tight squeeze. It’s no wonder this place was full of families. The vegetarian options are also quite extensive. What a great Father’s Day gift.

 

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Mocha Mocha ~ 489 Danforth Ave ~ (416) 778-7896

MM Sign

Mocha Mocha is an extremely popular, family-friendly café in the heart of Greektown. They have been serving up healthy food and healthy portions since 1991. “Owners Marijan and Mercedes Tripkovic have blended their multi-cultural heritage along with their experience in the hospitality industry to create Mocha Mocha.”

MM Taco (2)

Mocha Mocha is where my wife and I would go to eat after our daughter’s Rainbow Songs classes. It’ll forever hold a special place in my heart. It seems I’m not the only one… strollers and  mat-leavers abound, in search of a healthy lunch and a place to exchange new-mom stories. There are a half-dozen salads available at any one time, and their house vinaigrette is available pre-packaged to take home. I tend to lean towards their sandwich menu; my current favourites being the Clubhouse (above) or their made-to-order Egg Salad. If I’m really hungry I’ll add the Soup of the Day; however, most items come with a side salad so I’m rarely left wanting more.

MM Quesadilla

Not feeling like a soup, salad or sandwich?  Mocha Mocha has a number of hot specials that rotate daily. Some of the menu stalwarts include Chicken Quesadillas (above), Fish Tacos (below) and, perhaps my favourite, East African Chicken Stew (which comes with rice & salad). There are also a number of baked goods & freshly-brewed coffee available if dessert is more your thing.

MM Taco (1)

Many of you reading this have probably eaten here. For those who aren’t yet in the know, you gotta check this place out. Not convinced? I happen to know a couple who travel all the way from Avenue Road and Lawrence once a week to order takeout for dinner. It’s really that good. File this place under the “healthy” section on the Toronto Food Blog. Some might say it’s about time;)

 

 

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Tropical Joe’s ~ Gerrard Square (1000 Gerrard St. E) ~ (416) 461-5030

TJ Sogn

Tucked away at the back of the Gerrard Square lies Tropical Joe’s. These guys are making a name for themselves by serving, perhaps, the best food court fare in the city. I eat here at least every couple of weeks, and each time I do the queue gets a little bit longer. Hopefully after reading this, I’ll be seeing you in line on a regular basis.

TJ Oxtail

Guyanese favourites such as Oxtail, Goat, Curried Beef and Jerk Chicken are served either as a Dinner (small or large w/ Rice & Peas, Curried Potato and Coleslaw) or rolled-up in a Roti (small or large ~ large pictured below). These days, I’m finding that the large is actually too much food for lunch, though I will tend to order a Goat Patty if I opt for the small… and wash everything down with a Ting (as you do).

TJ Roti

Tropical Joe’s has been family-owned and-operated for the past twenty years. It wasn’t until Joe’s son Chris took the helm in 2006 that they moved to Gerrard Square. “This place is home to me,” says Chris. “I try to provide home-cooking that can be enjoyed on a daily basis. It’s what I eat everyday, and the same can be said for our most loyal customers.”

TJ Poutine

A recent menu expansion has provided the regular customer with more options while attracting the local high-school clientele by catering to their tastes. Jerk Chicken Poutine with Oxtail Gravy is a big hit, as are their Jerk Chicken Sandwiches on Coco Bread. “Jerk Chicken is our number-one seller here,” says Chris. Add it to practically anything on the menu, including one of their daily soups. Be sure to ask for their homemade hot sauce. Everything can be spiced-to-taste by request.

TJ Sandwich

We’re all familiar with the old saying, “if you build it, they will come.” Chris has been working hard doing just that: building loyalty through his Guyanese home cooking. Located in the back of a place that, historically speaking, does not have the most foot traffic, slowly but surely Gerrard Square is moving in the right direction. Word’s getting out that it’s worth the trip to Tropical Joe’s. The addition of  some new anchor stores can’t hurt either;)

 

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