Nazareth Restaurant

 969 Bloor Street West

Nazareth is a small narrow restaurant run and owned by one person, Nazareth. Conveniently located at Bloor near Ossington (near Queen of Sheba) this place is a hidden gem in the Bloor corridor between Christie and Lansdowne. The owner is friendly, enthusiastic, and warm. The capacity of the place is not all that large. There are five to six tables arranged in a columnar fashion against the west wall of the restaurant. Seating a group bigger than 5 ? 6 people can be a challenge. The dimly lit atmosphere, paintings and local art covered walls in addition to the visible clientele make it all a true Ethiopian dining experience.

The menu is small, with essentially three choices, beef, chicken or veggie. The platters are huge and can be pleasantly satisfying for two people. The prices are very reasonable. For the two of us (veggie platter + two teas) we paid $13 including tax and tip. Our veggie platter was only $7.50 and it was just enough for two people. It comprised saut饤 chollard greens, peas, two types of mashed lentil dishes, boiled spiced cabbage, and salad.

The Ethiopian spiced tea (black tea) was amazing. It was similar to Indian Chai this tea was essentially Darjeeling or Ceylon or Earl Grey with cardamom, cloves, and ginger. Unlike most Ethiopian restaurants, the food was served hot , as opposed to most places that serve their dishes warm. Another observation was that our injera (like thin sourdough spongy pita) was served warm. Most Ethiopian places serve their injera cold and clammy.

Pria and Martin ordered the tibs dish, which was essentially different types beef cubes with salad and other vegetable dishes. For their meal they had to order another dish but for us, it was just enough food.

The flavours at Nazareth are much better than any I have tasted so far. She cooks the meal right when you order it, as opposed to having it pre-cooked and heating it before serving. This adds an intangible aura of freshness and a distinct irresistible flavour that I have not found anywhere else. I have eaten there for the past year, while frequenting other Ethiopian places on the occasion and have always returned to Nazareth. It could also be the ambiance coupled with her food makes it all the more authentic. Only being served by one person makes it feel more authentic.

The last time i went to Nazareth it was $26 for 4 people (the big veggie platter for 4 people) with a side of salad and the ceremonial Ethiopian coffee. We did not feel ripped off (like other Ethiopian restaurants in the city) and portions were large and plentiful. On this particular visit, Nazareth went crazy on the salt and we found chunks in our food, but overall, the food was piping hot, not too spicy, and perfectly portioned.

Late night dining .. all the way to 1.00 am . As long as she has food in the kitchen she will serve you. On Thursdays and weekends, the place acquires a more bar type atmosphere after 11.00 pm. The music is turned up a notch, with the demographics composed of a casual, super friendly, gregarious and a non-pretentious crowd. Dinner is still served in this atmosphere. Accepts all cards. Liquor license.

Tacos El Asador

690 Bloor West, at Clinton,

This place is super cheap! prices start at $1.95 for a veggie taco, and combos that have a couple of items & a drink range from $5.60 – $7.50, with the all time high price of $16 for a fried fish meal.! After eating in Bistro 990 the day before, this place is the bargain find of the year.

The name says it all – tacos is what they specialize in, but there are also enchiladas, soups, burritos, quesadillas, etc. I had a combo that was an enchilada and a soup. The soup portion was big, and it smelled great. it tasted very fresh & was chock full of vegetables, very yummy. This was definitely a homemade soup too, certainly not your Campbell’s over salted standard.

The atmosphere is decidedly casual, with the picnic tables and plastic cutlery, and tv’s all around, but you really go there for the good value. The service was impressively fast & friendly, and for $7.50, I was stuffed. My dining companion Chris likes to go there on Monday nights to relax and unwind before heading in across the street to catch the Catch 23 Improv show in the back room at Clinton’s.

Judging by the patrons, I think this is a local favourite spot, there was a constant stream of customers for both take out & eat in. This place was so cozy, you would not feel out of place eating alone.

My dinner, drink & dessert with tax & tip came to a grand total of $9.55. You could have done it even cheaper! I will definitely be returning to the comforts of Tacos el Asador.