St. Lawrence Market

Having benefited from working downtown for several years, I had the luxury of trying many different foodstuffs in the downtown core. One of the regular places I visited was the Toronto landmark St. Lawrence Market. The Market is renowned for the “Peameal Bacon Sandwich”. I’ve tried this once and did not particulary enjoy it’s plain, salty taste; so do not expect to see any reviews of the varying degrees of this sandwich below.

Usually bustling with tourists and downtown jobbers over lunch, St. Lawrence Market offers a wide variety of independently owned, fresh and almost homecooked food. Here is a sampling of some of my favourites:

Mustacio’s

My favourite, if not most fattening delight, is surely the famous veal sandwich restaurant located right beside the stairs on the lower level of the Market. Standing in the long but fast moving line, one should decide quickly on their order lest they be berated by one of the quick talking and acting servers. I usually fully load my sandwich with fried onions, mushrooms, hot peppers, tomato sauce, and, if that doesn’t sound like the end of a 30 waist, I top it off with my favourite part: a fried piece of eggplant. This is one of the better veal sandwiches in the city, and is comparable to the best: California Sandwiches. (See review of California Sandwiches).

Dina’s Deli

If you have a craving for some homecooked baklava or stuffed pepper this is the place to go. This friendly, family-owned counter located towards the northern side of the first floor of the market has fresh, eastern-european cuisine that smells and tastes like it was just cooked in your bubby’s (grandmother) kitchen. Breaded chicken breasts, roast chicken stuffed with rice, latkes with fried onions and sour cream, and moussaka are some of the favourites here. Prices are extremely reasonable.

Churrasco of St. Lawrence

While this version of the Portuguese style of churassco chicken does not compare to the St. Clair and Christie original, it still offers up several different good chickeny meals that are sure to fill your stomach and leave you satisified. For a quick and tasty lunch, the chicken on a bun sandwich is a tasty delight. Be aware, if you are eating with someone else, you only need to order one fries due to the borderline obscene portions that are provided. Churassco is located on the upper level just as you enter the northern, west doors.

Carousel Bakery

For a healthy, but tasty alternative check out Carousel Bakery, located on the upper level’s west side. If I am feeling particulary fat, I will check out the house salad which comes either with chicken, tomatoes, and cucumbers or in greek style. I usually substitute the cream dressing in the chicken salad for the oil and vinegar which comes with the greek salad. Carousel also offers delicious pre-made sandwiches including a roasted vegetable sandwich on foccacia. And yes, if you must know, Carousel also is renown for the Peameal bacon sandwich.

Yiannis Kitchen

The greek style restaurant on the lower level directly south of Mustacio’s has friendly staff and good gyro and souvlaki sandwiches. The sandwiches come with either a simple salad or fries. The sides aren’t so great but the actual sandwiches come stuffed and will drip all over you if you are not careful! Be sure to ask to add some chipotle or other hot sauce to your sandwich if you like it spicy.

Pita Break

565 Yonge Street
416- 968-1032

Cheap, fresh, and healthy- this is the theme of this small, bright little fast food joint. Located in the heart of downtown, right near the corner of Yonge and Wellesley, Pita Break is a great spot for a light, healthy, fast, and cheap lunch or dinner. Pita sandwiches come in close to ten varieties and there are many sandwiches one could make. All pitas are grilled and the norm is to graciously accept the corners of the pita to “taste” as a unique appetizer, before accepting this scrumptious pita from the friendly staff.

Portion are generous and the philosophy is simple: healthy, cheap, fast, colourful, and flavourful food. I always have the vegetable sandwich. I select three fillings, (hummus, black bean dip, and grilled eggplant) all the vegetables that can fit into my grilled pita, and one dressing (usually honey mustard or Italian dressing)

Pitas come in a variety of flavours- multigrain, white, whole wheat, pesto, sun dried tomato. I prefer multigrain or whole wheat. Meals are less than $5.00 and I have never had a complaint with whichever friend I’ve gone with in the past. The ambiance is somewhat interesting; kitschy movie posters surround one wall and an eclectic mirror is located on the other wall, giving the illusion of a large space when in fact the restaurant is quite small. The tables are small and kind of close together. There are about 12 tables.

Insomnia

563 Bloor St. W., 416-588-3907

Located right in the Annex at Bloor and Bathurst, this bistro/bar/cafe is named for its late, late hours. The kitchen cooks till 3:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. “Tapas” here means caesar, mesclun and Greek salads, along with crab cakes, soup and calamari. My friend ordered a thick tortilla soup and he said it was very tasty. I did not eat anything but I did take a look at the extensive menu.

They serve many French dishes, like an eight-ounce strip loin with peppercorn ($17.00), Mediterranean dishes (capon stuffed with spinach, peppers and chèvre which is $16.00) and Asian (curried mussels are $8). As you can see there are no vegetarian healthy dishes for me, so the hell with them. They do serve pasta dishes ($13.00–$15.99) and thick-crust pizzas ($11.00–$12.00).

Generous desserts are led by a flourless chocolate cake known as the Climax ($6.00). Prices are way too high for me and there are not enough vegetarian dishes but I may try this place again in the near future.